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Drop Sugar Cookies

Skip the rolling and cutting with these easy Drop Sugar Cookies! Keep them simple with a coating of sugar or add a variety of toppings for a little baking fun!

overhead view of sugar cookies piled on a large white plate with more cookies surrounding the plate

Easy No-Roll Sugar Cookies

I’m a no-fuss kind of baker. I love to bake from scratch, but I prefer simple recipes. Simplifying sugar cookies is a no-brainer for me. Let’s skip rolling and cutting and detailed decorating in favor of scooping and dressing them up in fun ways!

This sugar cookie recipe is great for bakers of all skill levels. If you’re just starting your baking journey, then they’re a great place to start. And if you’ve been baking for years, you’ll appreciate how easy they are to make and how versatile they are!

In their simplest form, these cookies are simply scooped and placed on the baking sheet. For the holiday season, I can’t resist adding some toppings to make them fun and festive. They look so pretty on a cookie tray!

differently decorated sugar cookies piled on a large white plate

A drop cookie is one that is portioned by scooping and placing the dough onto a baking sheet. That’s usually done with a cookie scoop or a spoon. The dough is dropped onto the pan, hence the name. These types of cookies are generally easy to make and don’t require the extra steps of rolled or cut cookies.

Some of the most popular cookies are drop cookies. Traditional chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and oatmeal cookies are all made this way. If you’re in a serious cookie-baking mood, check out all of my drop cookie recipes!

a sugar cookie with a bite missing and with more cookies in the background

What You’ll Need

You’ll just need the basics to make these sugar cookies. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions. Here are some notes about the ingredients you’ll need.

overhead view of ingredients for drop sugar cookies
  • All-purpose flour – For best results, measure by weight or use the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – Allow the butter to soften at room temperature until it holds a thumbprint when pressed but is still cool. Learn more: How to Soften Butter
  • Cream cheese – Let the cream cheese come to room temperature so it will mix easily and smoothly. Full-fat cream cheese works best.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg
  • Vanilla extract – Almond extract is good, too!

Topping Ideas

You can, of course, make these drop sugar cookies in their unadorned form by simply scooping the dough and placing it directly on the baking sheet. You’ll be perfectly happy and content with a super simple sugar cookie.

But if you’ve got a hankering to add a little something, try some of these tasty toppings. At a minimum, I like to roll them in sanding sugar or even just granulated sugar for a little extra sparkle and sweetness. Roll the cookie dough balls in your preferred topping, and bake as directed in the recipe.

overhead view of toppings for sugar cookies
  • Sprinkles – Use a rainbow mix or colors that suit the occasion. Go with nonpareils or jimmies, as they’re less likely to bleed their colors and more likely to hold their shapes.
  • Sanding sugar – A coarse white sugar is perfect for something simple, or a colored sugar works well for holidays, birthdays, and more.
  • Chopped chocolate – Roughly chop dark chocolate bars.
  • Toasted coconut – Lightly toast it, as it will toast a bit more while the cookies bake. Learn more: How to Toast Coconut
  • Chopped nuts – Use your favorite or a combination of nuts!
  • Chopped M&Ms – These add a bit of fun to the cookies and give them an unusual look.
overhead view of sugar cookies on a white plate

How to Make Drop Sugar Cookies

You’ll love how simple it is to make these sugar cookies. Leave your rolling pin in the drawer; just grab your cookie scoop for portioning! Remember to account for the chilling time when you’re planning to bake.

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Combine the wet ingredients. Place the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat these ingredients until they’re fluffy and lightened in color. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Don’t over-mix; mix just until combined.

Chill. Cover the dough and refrigerate. Let it chill for an hour up to overnight.

Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Portion. Using 2 tablespoons of dough at a time (I use a #30 scoop), roll the dough into balls.

Add any toppings. If you want to add toppings, roll the dough balls in the toppings to coat thoroughly. Place the cookies on the prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.

Bake. Place one pan in the oven, and place the remaining cookie dough back in the refrigerator. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges and set in the center. Repeat with the remaining dough.

overhead view of freshly baked sugar cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet

Cool. Place the pans on wire racks, and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies from the pans directly onto a wire rack to cool completely.

overhead view of differently topped sugar cookies on a wire rack

Tips for Success

  • Line the baking sheets. This will keep the bottoms of the cookies from over-browning and make clean up easier! Learn more: Unlined vs Lined Baking Sheets
  • Chill the dough. That time in the refrigerator will help your cookies keep their shape without spreading too much. Consider returning the portioned cookies to the refrigerator briefly (about 15 minutes) before baking if your kitchen is especially warm or if your hands were warm while shaping them.
  • Use a cookie scoop. Not only will a scoop make portioning quick and easy, it will also help ensure even baking by making all of the cookies the same size. Learn more: A Baker’s Guide to Cookie Scoops
  • Reusing a pan? Be sure to let the pan cool completely before adding more dough to it. Otherwise, the cookies may spread too much and the bottoms are likely to over-bake.
  • Have fun! Grab a bunch of different toppings and your favorite bakers to assemble these cookies before baking. What a fun baking project!
stack of sugar cookies on a small white plate with more cookies in the background

How to Store

After the cookies have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container. Decorated cookies will likely benefit from a sheet of parchment paper between layers of cookies. Store at room temperature up to 3 days.

sugar cookies on a wire rack and a large white plate

How to Freeze Drop Sugar Cookies

Place the cooled cookies in a freezer-safe container or bag, layering between sheets of parchment paper. Properly stored, the cookies should keep in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw in a single layer for an hour or so at room temperature.

You can also freeze the unbaked cookie dough. After portioning and shaping the cookies, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and then place them in the freezer until they’re frozen solid (about 3 to 4 hours). Place the frozen dough balls in a freezer bag or container. When you’re ready to bake, simply add another minute or two to the baking time.

various sugar cookies scattered over a marble surface

Drop Sugar Cookies

Yield about 36 cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 36 minutes

These easy no-roll Sugar Cookies are always a favorite, whether you make them plain or with a variety of fun toppings!

overhead view of sugar cookies piled on a large white plate with more cookies surrounding the plate

Ingredients

  • 2 & 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • optional toppings - sanding sugar, sprinkles, nuts, chopped chocolate, etc.

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy and lightened in color. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.
  4. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  6. Using 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls.* Roll the dough balls in your desired toppings. Place the cookies on the prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies.
  7. Bake (one pan at a time) for 14 to 16 minutes, or until lightly browned and set.
  8. Place the pans on wire racks, and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies from the pans directly to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

*The extra step of rolling the dough into balls will help make them rounder and more uniform, but you can also simply scoop the dough and place directly on the baking sheet.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.

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    10 Comments on “Drop Sugar Cookies”

  1. Those look amazing! I’ve just canceled what I was planning on doing… I’m marking these instead! Thanks for the recipe 😊

  2. I have 48 in my freezer now that I will cook in a couple of weeks with the exception of a few I will treat my husband to later this evening. Super easy prep. 
    Will make another full recipe next week. 

  3. It looks like toppings have been added after baking. Just rolling the balls in toppings cant produce the topped result. So….I’m guessing you top them right out of the oven?

  4. Can you also ice these and then add sprinkles or other toppings? Do you have a favorite icing?

  5. These sounded wonderful, and I followed the recipe exactly. Used a variety of sprinkle toppings. They taste fine, but came out more like a scone. They really didn’t spread at all, so they kind of resemble the rolls at Red lobster! I think I’ll go the extra mile and roll out my cookies next time. I used a scoop.

    • Hi, Gwen. I’m sorry you had troubles! I’ve made these cookies or a variation of them many times and not experienced what you described. If you didn’t change anything at all about the recipe, then I don’t know what could have gone wrong. It sounds like the ratios of ingredients were off in your dough, which can come down to something as simple as how you measure. I highly recommend measuring by weight for best results.

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