Unlike many things in the baking world, sugar cookies are meant to be foolproof. They don't have much butter or leavening, so they'll keep their shape when you roll out the dough and cut them. They're sturdy enough to be handled and decorated, but soft and delicious enough to be a Christmastime dessert staple. But there are still ways to totally mess them up. Bon Appétit assistant food editor (and resident baking goddess) Alison Roman gave us the skinny on the most common sugar cookie mistakes.
If you roll this dough out even a little too thin, they'll become fragile. Not good if you're having a cookie-decorating party. But if you roll the dough out too thick, then they won't cook through and become dense and, honestly, pretty gross. The ideal thickness to roll out your sugar cookie dough is about 1/4"—that way, they'll be tough enough to be handled and decorated, but thin enough to stay a little crunchy.
2. Using Intricate Cookie Cutters
Cookie cutters with really small details and tiny pieces might seem like they'll yield a cool cookie, but the tiny pieces of dough won't cook evenly with the rest of the cookie (read: they'll burn). Stick with simple designs and add flair with the decorations (more on that below).
Lots of people bake their sugar cookies until they're a nice golden-brown. DON'T DO THAT! They'll be hard as rocks—and will get harder the longer you keep them around. Because they'll harden naturally as they age, you want to bake them until they're just set. Look for a sandy-blonde color with just a hint of gold.
4. Use Only Frosting to Decorate
Dazzling decorative sugars offer so much crunch and flair, we wouldn't dream of throwing a holiday cookie party without them. Available in a huge range of colors and sizes, they're secret weapons in the baker's arsenal that give any cookie a glam makeover—and you some serious baking cred. Sprinkle a few dragées on thin icebox cookies like the Speculoos Buttons for added height, or roll your favorite ginger-snap in sanding sugar before baking for extra texture. We love vintage-inspired hues like silver and gold, but feel free to color your holidays any way you like.