These rich, deeply chocolate sugar cookies are some of my favorite things to make for the chocolate lovers in my life. Whether the cookies are complemented by a bright peppermint royal icing for Christmas or shaped into hearts for Valentine's Day, this is one of my go-to recipes for cut-out cookies...but with a chocolatey twist. And, with their flat surfaces and sturdy structures, they make great cookies for shipping to lucky recipients!
Why These are, Indeed, "The Best Chocolate Sugar Cookies"
- Rich chocolate flavor: When I wrote my second cookbook, 100 Best Decorated Cookies, I wanted to include a variety of cookie flavors, along with my traditional sugar cookies (Vanilla Orange Sugar Cookies.) Having a rich chocolatey sugar cookie recipe was at the top of my list. I included a generous amount of cocoa powder in the easy recipe to give the cookies a deep flavor that contrasts beautifully with sweet icing.
- Crispy, soft, or chewy cookie? You decide!: Depending on whether you prefer a softer, chewy chocolate sugar cookie or a firmer cookie with crisp edges, you can bake these cookies to your liking. Once the cookies are set on top, stop baking for a softer texture when cooled. Bake them a few minutes more if you like a little "snap" to your decorated sugar cookies.
Three Tips for Baking the Perfect Chocolate Sugar Cookie
- Chilled dough is key: For best results, rolled dough used to shape cut-out cookies should be cold. Cold dough placed in a hot oven is more likely to retain its shape when baking.
- Flour the surface lightly: When rolling out your dough, sprinkle the work surface with only a little bit of flour so that the dough doesn't stick. Too much flour will incorporate into your dough and change both the flavor and the texture of your chocolately sugar cookies
- Cool completely: The final step of this chocolate sugar cookie recipe might also be the hardest....cooling the cookies completely while their tempting aroma fills your kitchen. Only cooled cookies should be decorated, so that their surfaces don't melt the icing. Once they have had 5-10 minutes to cool on baking sheets, transfer the still soft chocolate sugar cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Ingredients and Special Equipment
Please check recipe card, below, for specific quantities!
Chocolate Sugar Cookie Dough Ingredients
- All purpose flour: Substitute equal amounts of a reputable gluten-free flour blend to make these cookies gluten-free.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: You can use dutch-processed cocoa powder, natural cocoa powder or even black cocoa powder, depending on your preferred depth of color and flavor. I used dutch-process when I created and tested this recipe.
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter: Use room temperature butter to ensure that it is evenly incorporated into the dough.
- Large eggs
- Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract whenever possible, as it results in a more authentic vanilla flavor.
- For Royal Icing Recipe (optional for decorating): Powdered sugar and meringue powder
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer: If you don't have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, use a hand mixer. This is a thicker dough, so a hand mixer might require a little more muscle, but it will work!
- Rolling pin: I like to use a tapered rolling pin (pictured above.) I find these are the easiest to use for even rolling, but any model that you own will work.
- Cookie cutters: Baker's choice! This recipe will make anywhere form 24-40 cookies, depending on the size and shape of your cutter(s.)
Step by Step Photos and Instructions
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Beat in the vanilla.
4. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the bowl, beating until combined.
5. Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until cold, or up to 3 days.
6. Preheat your oven to 350℉/180℃. Line 2-4 baking sheets or sheet pans with pieces of parchment paper. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds positions.
7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk to a thickness of just under ¼ inch (.5 cm.)
8. Using your cookie cutter(s) of choice, cut out shapes and carefully transfer them to 2 of the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Reroll scraps as necessary. Repeat the process with the remaining disks of dough.
9. Bake cookies in batches for 11 to 15 minutes, switching positions of the cookie sheets halfway through, until the cookies are set and darkened slightly around the edges.
10. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
11. Repeat Steps 7-10 with remaining dough. Decorate with a variety of my royal icing flavors, including peppermint, almond, orange, or vanilla.
FAQ and Troubleshooting your Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Yes, you can freeze sugar cookies by following these simple steps:
1. Cool the cookies: Cool sugar cookies completely at room temperature.
2. Store: Place the cooled cookies in layers, separate by parchment paper, in an airtight container or a freezer bag.
3. Freeze: Seal the container or bag tightly. Label the container with the date, and then freeze for up to three months.
4. Thaw: Remove cookies from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature.
There are two main types of cocoa powder: natural cocoa powder and Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder.
1. Natural Cocoa Powder: Natural cocoa powder tends to be lighter in color and has a more acidic taste. It's often used in recipes that require baking soda as leavening.
2. Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder: This variety undergoes treatment which neutralizes its acidity. It is darker in color, smoother, and has a mellower, more chocolatey flavor. It's commonly used in recipes that involve baking powder as the leavening agent.
3. There's also a range of specialty cocoa powders, such as black cocoa powder, which has an extremely deep, almost black color and an intense flavor.
Although royal icing might seem intimidating if you've never made it before, it is extremely easy to prepare with just a few ingredients (meringue powder and powdered sugar) in the bowl of an electric mixer. This detailed Royal Icing Recipe is the one that I used for all of my the decorated cookies in my cookbook and it's perfect cookie icing for experienced decorators and beginners, alike.
Ready To Decorate Some Chocolate Sugar Cookies? Check Out These posts:
- 4th of July Cookies
- FUN Football Cookies
- Hocus Pocus Party Cookies
- Spinning Pinwheel Cookies
- Royal Icing Recipe
Tried this recipe and loved it? Take a photo and tag me on Instagram or give it a review!
Cut Out Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 1 Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand mixer
- Cookie cutters of choice
- 2-4 Baking sheets, lined with parchment
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1¼ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 Recipe Royal Icing (see Notes)
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, beating until combined.
- Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until cold, or up to 3 days.
- Preheat your oven to 350℉/180℃. Line 2-4 baking sheets with parchment paper (see Notes) and place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds positions.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of dough to a thickness of just under ¼ inch (.5 cm.)
- Using your cookie cutter(s) of choice, cut out shapes and carefully transfer them to 2 of the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Reroll scraps as necessary. Repeat the process with the remaining disks of dough.
- Bake cookies in batches for 11 to 15 minutes, switching positions of the cookie sheets halfway through, until the cookies are set and darkened slightly around the edges.
- Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely before decorating.
- Repeat Steps 7-10 with remaining dough. Decorate with a variety of my royal icing flavors, including peppermint, almond, orange, or vanilla.
- It's easier to bake these cookies using 4 cookies sheets, rather than 2. While the first batch of cookies is baking, you can roll and cut shapes for the second batch so that they are ready to bake as soon as the first batch is done.
- Cookie sheets should be completely cooled before placing more cut out shapes on top to prevent dough from warming and spreading.
- I love to pair these cookies with complementary royal icing flavors, found in my Royal Icing Recipe Variations. Peppermint, almond, orange, and vanilla are some of my favorites.