With just a few simple ingredients and a super simple process, you can make my healthy and easy Sugar Cookies. They have the classic flavor and texture with less sugar. And they’re so super fun to make with the kids!
Easy Sugar Cookies
This time of year is made for cookie baking and I love to have at least one baking session with my girls. Because baking with the kids is often a challenge, this cut-out Sugar Cookie recipe has just a few simple ingredients and requires nothing other than your hands to mix it together.
I love the challenge of developing a recipe that has all of the classic texture and flavor, but with less sugar and in that way, this healthy sugar cookie is a great option. They have a perfectly crisp texture with about 1 gram of sugar per cookie (not counting the icing).
Sometimes I make this whole recipe with the kids and sometimes I bake the cookies and we just decorate them together. It really depends on my energy level and what else we’re up to that day. Both ways are perfect in their own right, if, of course, a little bit messy…because, kids!
(Find more tips for baking with kids here.)
TIP: They’re a perfect option for younger toddlers—or to simply have an easy recipe in your back pocket to bake with kids.
Ingredients You Need
To make these healthy cookies, you’ll need:
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- butter, softened at room temperature
- vanilla extract
- Easy Icing, optional
TIP: These are egg-free, which makes them a nice option for kids with allergies.
Can I use whole-wheat flour?
You can use whole-wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, or half all-purpose and half whole-wheat. The cookies will be darker in color, but the results will otherwise be the same.
Here’s a look at the simple process involved in making these cookies. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full information.
- Form the dough, make a flattened disc of dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven. Roll out the dough.
- Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter.
- Place onto lined baking sheets and bake.
TIP: You can serve these as is, or plan to decorate them with icing and/or sprinkles.
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
You can substitute this gluten-free flour blend if you’d like to make these gluten-free. It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference!
Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies
Yes, you can make these without dairy, but you’ll need to make a few adjustments. Here’s the info:
- Use plain unsweetened nondairy milk in place of dairy milk.
- Use coconut oil, just softened (so not totally liquid, but softer than when it comes out of the jar at room temp). I tested it with about 10 seconds in the microwave in a heat-safe bowl.
- After you initially chill the dough and roll it out, cut out the shapes and put it back into the fridge without trying to get the shapes out. They need to firm up more! Let the sheet pan chill for 10 minutes, then use a flat knife to pop up the shapes. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake as directed.
What do I do if my rolled out dough is sticky?
Or, you can roll out the dough, stamp out the shape, and put the whole thing into the fridge for 10 minutes before transferring the shapes to the prepared baking sheet.
Both are good options!
What kind of icing is best?
I like to use a simple mix of powdered sugar and milk to make the icing for these cookies. It’s super easy to stir together and you can color it with food coloring if you want to. It hardens up as it sets. A little of the icing goes a long way, so while it does add a bit more sugar, you’re still starting off with less in the base of the cookie.
TIP: Alternatively, you can press some sprinkles into the raw cut outs before placing them into the oven to add some color without the icing.
What kind of food coloring do you use?
Tips for Baking with Kids
As I mentioned, I often bake the cookies and then let the kids decorate them. It can be a challenge to bake an entire recipe with two kids in the kitchen—I find it a lot to manage!—but it can also be fun if you’re in the right mental state of mind.
To make it a little easier, bring the ingredients down to a work surface everyone can reach (like the kitchen table), and help the kids remember to do one step at a time.
This dough is relatively forgiving, so it’s okay if it gets mixed well! Here are some specific steps the kids can do:
- Help dump the ingredients into a bowl.
- Mix the butter into the flour with their hands.
- Roll out the dough between the parchment paper.
- Stamp out the cookie cutters. (I recommend that the adult transfers them to the baking sheet.)
- Paint on the icing with a paintbrush!
TIP: You can ALWAYS simplify this down to just one step to do together—that will still be fun!
You can make the dough the night before or a few hours in advance and store it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap. It will need to sit at room temperature for about an hour to soften up, or you can remove it from the plastic, put it onto a plate, and microwave for 5-10 seconds.
(I’m sure someone will call the baking police on me for suggesting that, but I’ve found that sometimes baking with kids requires you to break up the process into smaller steps!)
Tips for Making the Best Easy Sugar Cookies
- Gluten-Free: Use this gluten-free flour.
- Dairy-Free: Use plain unsweetened nondairy milk in place of dairy milk. Use coconut oil, just softened (so not totally liquid, but softer than when it comes out of the jar at room temp). I tested it with about 10 seconds in the microwave in a heat-safe bowl.
- If the dough sticks after you initially chill the dough and roll it out, cut out the shapes and put it back into the fridge without trying to get the shapes out so it firms up more. Let the sheet pan chill for 10 minutes, then use a flat knife to pop up the shapes.
- If the dough is a little crumbly, be sure that it’s throughly combined and then if it’s still crumbly, add 1/2-1 tablespoon additional liquid until it comes together. It shouldn’t take much more so add a small amount at a time.
- To make this dough ahead: Store it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 24 hours. It will need to sit at room temperature for about an hour to soften up, or you can remove it from the plastic, put it onto a plate, and microwave for 5-10 seconds.
- You can use whole-wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, or half all-purpose and half whole-wheat. The cookies will be darker in color, but the results will otherwise be the same.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please comment below to share! I love hearing what you and your kids think of my recipes, so I appreciate each comment and star rating.
Easy Sugar Cookies (Healthy and Delish!)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Easy Icing (optional)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons milk
- 1-2 drops food coloring (optional)
- Place all ingredients into a bowl and use your hand to mix together to form a dough. (If the dough is a little crumbly, be sure that it's throughly combined and then if it's still crumbly, add 1/2-1 tablespoon additional liquid until it comes together.)
- Make a flattened disc of dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate while the oven preheats.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough ¼-inch thick between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper. (The flour will ensure that the cut outs are easy to move.)
- Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-9 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. (If for some reason the cut outs are hard to transfer, place the rolled out dough with the stamped shapes into the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.)
- Remove from the oven, let cool on the baking sheet for a minute, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the icing if using: Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl. You want it to be able to spread easily on the cookies and not be too thick. If you place some on the cookies and it runs right off, add a little more powdered sugar. If it's too thick to spread, add a drop or two of milk. You can color the icing with a drop of food coloring if desired.
- Use a small butter knife or paintbrush to spread on the icing or pipe on as desired. If adding sprinkles or other decorations, add them to the iced cookies right away before it dries.