Rolling out sugar cookies can be fun and simple, but as I mentioned in my Classic Sugar Cookies post, when I first started making sugar cookies, I had trouble rolling out the dough just right. Some cookies were thinner than others. I had a mess of flour all over the kitchen, yet rarely enough on my rolling pin. My cookies would enter the oven looking lovely and come out looking like weird blobs completely dissimilar from their intended shape. After having high hopes for pretty cookies, I was already bummed and I hadn’t even made the icing. Boo!
I did some serious internet research, tried a ton of different techniques, and came up with a list of tips that literally solved each of my cookie rolling problems. Here they are all together in one neat list. May you never have a dry uneven blobby sugar cookie again!
Last note, some of these tips are universal for sugar cookie recipes, but some work best with the recipe I like. In particular, my note on refrigerating the dough works great with my recipe, but some dough can’t tolerate this chilliness.
And here’s the lay of the land!
- Use cold dough. If your dough is room temperature, you’ll likely have a tough time transferring the cut cookies to the baking sheet without being smooshed. You can refrigerate your dough for an hour before rolling out or start with fairly cold butter. I prefer the former option.
- Use wax paper on your rolling surface instead of flour. Tape a good-sized sheet of wax paper to your surface and rip off another sheet about the same size. I like to use painter’s tape as it sticks well, but is also easy to remove. You’ll place your dough in between the wax paper sheets when rolling out. Wax paper is much easier to work with than flour, plus you don’t have to worry about adding more flour than you want to your dough. Dry cookies are not tasty. Also, tape down the bottom piece of wax paper so it doesn’t wiggle about.
- Don’t be afraid to knead your dough. Kneading will prevent cracks from forming on the edges of your dough after you roll it out. No cracks mean more space to lay out your cutters. Don’t forget to knead in the dry bits! Usually, just a few moments of kneading makes for a much more successful roll out.
- Before cutting your cookies, dip the bottom edge of your cookie cutter in a little oil. I use a dessert plate with just a smidge bit of canola oil. Again, much cleaner than dipping cutters in flour or powdered sugar and just as effective.
- Use small wooden dowels to ensure your dough is rolled out evenly. I bought a single ¼ inch dowel for less than $1 from Michaels and broke the dowel in half. Then I put the dowels on either side of the cookie dough. With wax paper on top, you’re free to roll-out with no worries of making uneven cookies. Rolling pin rings like these will also get the job done.
- Freeze your cut cookies on your baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes. I know this seems like overkill, but I promise you, its worth the extra time. By freezing your cut cookies, you’ll ensure that they hold their form and don’t smooth out in the oven. It’s much easier to decorate a cookie that has retained its shape than a big ol’ blob.
- Use every last bit of dough. Some folks will tell you not to re-roll the dough. Malarky, I say! Your cookie dough is priceless. Don’t waste it. I like to keep a little heart or star cookie cutter around for the last bits of dough.
Perfect cookies. Every time. And remember, a little spreading is just fine. That means your cookie has some lightness to it and trust me, a rock hard cookie (those made without baking powder that doesn’t spread at all) taste super blah!
Here’s an inside joke, I might even add a bit of spaghetti squash to a cookie recipe to spice it up!
Happy baking cookies!