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Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  8 min
  • Calories: 345
Decorated Sour Cream Sugar Cookies With Icing and sprinkles on a baking rack

Gather loved ones young and old around a batch of these rolled sugar cookies, and settle in for a lazy afternoon of festive decorating and cozy memory-making.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies: Memories in the Making.

Take a moment and reflect on your earliest Christmas memories—being allowed to open a first present on Christmas Eve, laying sleeplessly in bed as you wait for morning to come, standing nervously in a long line, practicing your wish list in your head until it’s finally your turn to meet Santa. Or, maybe your earliest memories of the holidays take place in the kitchen—ours revolve around standing on a chair next to our mothers and grandmothers, eager to “help” roll out the dough for this years’ batch of Christmas cut-out sugar cookies. Now that we have young children of our own, we want to fill their memory banks with moments like these, especially around Christmas time. And so, we make these rolled sugar cookies. We make them often and for many different occasions. Our children sift the flour, pour the sugar, whisk the eggs, but the real “helping” fun begins after the sugar cookies have been rolled out and baked and it’s time to decorate.

Ingredients for Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
Hands rolling out dough for Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

This particular rolled sugar cookie recipe has been handed down through three generations. They’re the quick, easy and perfect sugar cookies your holiday baking dreams are made of—the dough is easy to roll and cut-out, and the final result is deliciously buttery.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookie dough rolled out with Christmas cookie cutters.
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies fresh from the oven on a baking rack.

How to Make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Cut-out cookies really are easy to make, but a little baking technique goes a long way in making sure you get perfect sugar cookies every time. It helps to break the process into a few simple steps.

  1. Sifting: the lightness and tenderness of our rolled sugar cookies begins here. Sifting all of the dry ingredients together (sugar included) helps to aerate your flour and distribute the leavening (baking soda).
  2. Cut the fat into the dry ingredients: for flakey, tender sugar cookies, you want to carefully cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients just as you would for pie crust—resist the urge to use your stand mixer!
  3. No chill time! This is perhaps the best sugar cookie recipe EVER because it doesn’t need any time in the fridge before rolling and cutting. If you’re making this with tiny “helpers”, the value of not having to chill your cookie dough cannot be underestimated.
  4. Rolling out the dough: with just enough flour on your roller to ensure a no-stick situation, roll out your sugar cookie dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and (finally!) it’s time to let your little elves get to work cutting out all of their favorite shapes.
  5. How to know when your cookies are done: these sugar cookies bake fast, so keep an eye on them! Watch for just a touch of light golden brown at the edges of your cookies—this should happen around the 6-8 minute market—and take care not to over bake.
Bowls of colorful sprinkles.

Notes on the Ingredients in Our Sugar Cookies

As we mentioned, this sugar cookie recipe has been handed down through three generations, and while some of the ingredients may look a bit old fashioned it has stood the test of time. Here is a quick look at what make these rolled sugar cookies work so well:

  • Shortening: shortening has fallen out of fashion, but it is one of the reasons these cookies are so perfect for rolling out and cutting. “Shortening”, technically, is a term for any fat that is solid at room temperature. The combination of vegetable shortening and butter in these sugar cookies really helps the dough hold its shape and limits spreading, which is so essential for cut out cookies.
  • Sour cream: sour cream is a true unsung hero of the baking world. It brings moisture and flavorful fat to this otherwise-basic cookie dough, and produces a supremely tender cookie.
  • Vanilla: a small spoonful of vanilla is really the only strong flavor of rolled sugar cookies like these, so use the best you can. We’re huge fans of this brand of Pure Vanilla Extract.
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Christmas sprinkles.

How to Make Your Homemade Sugar Cookies Picture-Perfect

Everyone has their own idea of what Christmas sugar cookies should look like—and isn’t that part of the fun? Especially when we’re making rolled sugar cookies with our kids, we like to pull out all the stops—lay out a table full of cookie cutters, bowls of colored icing, and plenty of sprinkles and let their imaginations do the rest. Here are a few must-haves for dressing up your rolled sugar cookies for the holidays:

  • Cookie cutters: this simple set of snowflake cookie cutters is always a hit, but nothing beats family heirlooms—if your parents or grandparents have a set of cookie cutters, ask to borrow them for this project to make it even more special.
  • Silver dragees: these silver balls are the gold standard (silver standard?) when it comes to making your homemade sugar cookies look polished and professional—not to mention festive.
  • Icing: this icing is luxurious and thick, and using heavy cream instead of milk means that it tastes good, too. If you don’t have piping bags or a silicone frosting bulb, just use a zipper top bag with the tip snipped.
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Christmas sprinkles.
Decorated Sour Cream Sugar Cookies With Icing and sprinkles on a baking rack

Feeling Festive?

If so, check out our other holiday favorites, like our classic Gingerbread Loaf or Santa-ready Crinkle Cookies with Peppermint Cream.

If you make these Christmas cookies, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.

Sina's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  8 min
  • Calories: 345


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup sour cream, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • Sprinkles, optional

For the Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Combine the sugar, salt, baking soda and flour in the base of a food processor and pulse until they are combined, about 5-6 times. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture is uniformly crumbly and sandy, about 25 times. Alternatively, you can sift together the sugar, salt, baking soda and flour into a large bowl, then use a pastry cutter to cut in butter and shortening until the mixture is uniformly crumbly and sandy.
  2. Pour the flour/butter mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the egg, sour cream and vanilla until the cookie dough comes together. Use your hands for the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF with a rack in the center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  4. Using a lightly floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ -inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack.
  7. Make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, heavy cream and salt until smooth. When the cookies have cooled completely, frost and decorate with sprinkles. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories345
  • Protein4 g
  • Carbohydrates47 g
  • Total Fat15 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol38 mg
  • sodium224 mg
  • Total Sugars25 g

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Jessica Marquis

    I made these today and enjoyed the final result, but I had real trouble getting the dough to be workable. I had to add a ton more flour. Like probably an extra cup! It was like sticky biscuit or scone dough before this. Any idea why this might have happened? Everything was cold and I followed the directions closely. I do live in France and perhaps different ingredients (crème fraîche instead of sour cream) had something to do with the surprising result. Thanks for your help!

    I am glad they worked for you. I've made them many times and never had that issue. If I hear of that happening again, I will have the recipe retested. : )

  • Vicki Lawson

    Hi I would love to try this recipe but I really don’t want to use shortening anymore when cooking
    Can I use butter instead ?
    Thank you

    I've never tested it with butter. Let us know how it turns out if you try it.

  • Andrea Phan

    This has been my go-to Christmas sugar cookie for the last 5 years, thanks TMP! ✨

    Oh my gosh! I love this!