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Do You Have to Refrigerate Cookie Dough for Sugar Cookies?

By Julie Christensen

Sugar cookie dough is a simple dough that consists of sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, flour and large amounts of butter. The high butter content results in a fairly soft dough, which may be difficult to roll out at room temperature. Chill the dough before you roll it out for better results.


Chilling sugar cookies is ideal for rolled and cut sugar cookies because it hardens the butter in the dough. Chilled cookie dough rolls out more easily and sticks to the counter top or floured surface less. Cookies cut with a cookie cutter retain a crisper shape during baking if the dough was chilled first.


After mixing the dough, form it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out. Chill sugar cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight. If the dough is very hard after chilling, allow it to soften for 10 minutes on the counter top before rolling it out. Flour the counter top and roll the cookies 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, depending on your preference. Roll cookies more thinly if you like crisp cookies, more thickly for soft cookies. Cut the cookie dough with cookie cutters and place the cookies on heavy-duty cookie sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Bake for eight minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Do not store sugar cookie dough near onions or other strongly scented food, because the dough may pick up food odors in the refrigerator. Ensure that the plastic bag or wrap is tightly closed so the cookie dough does not dry out. For longer storage, freeze sugar cookie dough for up to three months. Freeze baked sugar cookies in a plastic box instead if you prefer. Thaw them and decorate them with frosting and candies.


Drop sugar cookies do not need chilling before baking. Drop small spoonfuls of dough directly on the pan and bake for eight to 10 minutes until they are golden brown. The cookies will spread to form rounds like other types of cookies. Cool the cookies for five minutes and transfer them to a cooling rack.

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