Chewy and Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe Without Vanilla

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I’ve made this simple sugar cookie recipe with no vanilla for the people who don’t like vanilla flavor – for some, it overpowers the sweetness of the butter and sugar. 

They’ll love these soft sugar cookies as they have a lovely chewy center – chewy sugar cookies are the best!

Without vanilla extract, we use a bit of lemon zest instead – we like the light fresh flavor. We also mix in a little lemon juice with the powdered sugar icing.

That’s the fun part about baking an easy recipe like this one. You get to add your own flavors and make new recipes – just like our easy biscotti recipe!

soft sugar cookie recipe without vanilla 3 cookies and plate in background

Reasons to Love This Recipe

  • Texture – Soft inside and crispy on the edges – the best of both worlds!
  • Buttery – That buttery melt-in-your-mouth goodness is what the perfect sugar cookie is all about!
  • Versatile – This classic sugar cookie can be dressed up with royal icing and sprinkles or simply enjoyed plain.
  • Customizable – Our sugar cookie recipe is without vanilla, but we’ve left notes below for you to add if you wish.

Now you’ve heard all about the best sugar cookie recipe, let’s bake it together!


sugar cookie recipe without vanilla ingredients image

You’ll find all the simple ingredients to make this cookie recipe without vanilla in your local grocery store:

  • Flour: The all-purpose flour acts as the primary structure of our cookie. 
  • Baking soda: So the cookies rise to the right thickness and fluffiness.
  • Butter: Adds the rich and creamy texture that makes these cookies melt in your mouth. Use softened butter. 
  • Sugar: Using white sugar lends the cookies their classic sweetness. Use brown sugar if you like caramel flavor. 
  • Eggs: Binds the ingredients and gives moisture. Use large eggs at room temperature.
  • Lemon zest: Brings a light citrus flavor, acting as a substitute for vanilla essence.
  • Sprinkles: We use Funfetti sprinkles for a bit of festive fun.

Now if you really think you need vanilla extract in your sugar cookies, by all means, go ahead. I’ve included the measurements in the recipe card below.

How to Make Sugar Cookies Without Vanilla

This sugar cookie recipe without vanilla has simple instructions. Check the recipe card below if you need more help.

  1. Cream the butter with a hand mixer in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, and baking soda in a separate bowl.
  3. Add eggs to the creamed butter, one at a time.
  4. Gradually blend in the flour and sugar mixture.
  5. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed.
  6. Shape the dough into a rectangle, wrap it, and chill for an hour.
  7. Roll the dough in sugar, then use a cookie scoop to form dough balls. 

For best results, you should then chill the dough for about an hour – this helps you get that chewy cookie texture. 

When you’re ready to bake, place the chilled dough on a prepared cookie sheet – spaced apart so they can expand. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 350°F. Place on a cooling rack when finished. 

Now you have your soft and chewy sugar cookies with nice crisp edges – enjoy!

best soft and chewy sugar cookies stacked on top of each other on parchment paper

Cutouts and Pie Crust

If you wish to make cut-out cookies, roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper or use the DoughEZ rolling mat system. Then, use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the cookie dough.

I’ve also had some success using this sugar cookie dough for pie crust. Give it a go!

Expert Sugar Cookies Tips

Follow these expert tips, and these easy Sugar Cookies will be perfect every time:

  • Muscle or Machine?: Blend the sugar and butter using a small hand mixer on low speed. Or if you are feeling strong, you can use a whisk! You can also use a stand mixer – as long as the butter and sugar are light and creamy.
  • Room Temperature: Always use room temperature eggs and butter. They will bind better in the cookie dough and give you an excellent result
  • Uniform Shape: Use a cookie scoop to form the cookie dough balls so that they will be uniform in shape and size. Then flatten with the bottom of a glass or the back of a spoon
  • Watchful Eye: Bake just until the cookies are golden around the edges. Oven temperature can vary – so this isn’t a recipe that you can stick in the oven and walk away from. Maybe bake the first tray and check back often to make sure they don’t burn!

How to Serve

When it comes to serving homemade Sugar Cookies, I like to keep it simple. A cup of hot coffee or tea, or perhaps a glass of milk.

One thing you shouldn’t forget though – is sugar cookies must have sprinkles!

best soft and chewy sugar cookies vertical 3

How to Store

Keeping your Sugar Cookies fresh is simple! First and foremost, always store them in an airtight container to maintain that chewy deliciousness. 

The dough is also freezer-friendly. Just wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag or container. They’ll stay tasty for up to 3 months. 

Given that one batch makes about 30 cookies, there’ll be lots for you to enjoy and freeze for later!


Here are some of the questions people have asked me:

soft sugar cookie recipe without vanilla on white plate

Will my cookies without vanilla extract taste ok?

Absolutely! Vanilla is added to just about every baking recipe or dessert, but it does have a very strong flavor. 

As a slight change, try adding a little lemon zest instead – as I do in this recipe.

Can I freeze the baked sugar cookies?

Yes, which is why this is such a perfect sugar cookie recipe! After the cookies have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They will be fine for up to 3 months.

What other flavoring could I use instead of vanilla?

You could try different extracts, like almond extract, or lemon extract, or sprinkle in a little nutmeg or cinnamon. Or both!

Where did I get my inspiration for this recipe?

I love to bake, and I think that cookie recipes are one thing you can never have too many of right? 

The real inspiration behind these vanilla-less sugar cookies came from a dear friend of mine. She has a peculiar distaste for vanilla – yes, you heard right! 

So, when she tried these cookies, her eyes lit up – I knew I had a winner. They’ve now become a favorite in my baking repertoire!

You might also like…

Looking for more easy cookie recipes? Check these out:

Or, for something a bit different, how about these soft Chocolate Chip “Muffies”?

If you’re really getting into baking – you’ll also want to keep a good stock of the essential ingredients. Our Baker’s Pantry Guide will help you!

closeup image of sugar cookies with sprinkles

Final Thoughts

These are the best sugar cookies – I think the lemon zest gives them a wonderful fresh flavor! 

THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the Pie Lady Bakes community! We’re all about sharing easy-to-make vintage recipes that remind us of the ones our moms and grandmas used to make.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up for my weekly email newsletter using this link. It’s absolutely free, and you’ll never miss out on any of my new recipes.

See you soon!



If you’ve made these delicious Sugar Cookies, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Be sure to give us a 5-star rating!


    soft sugar cookie recipe without vanilla 3 cookies and plate in background

    Chewy & Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe Without Vanilla

    4.66 from 23 votes

    Click to Rate!

    Judy Kahansky
    a soft and chewy sugar cookie without vanilla recipe that is full of old fashioned goodness. We include two ways to make them in the instructions!
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    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Additional Time 1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
    Course Cookies and Squares
    Cuisine North American
    Calories 195 kcal


    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cups unsalted butter
    • 1.5 cups white sugar
    • 2 eggs at room temperature
    • 1 tsp lemon zest instead of vanilla - or 1 ½ tsp vanilla (use pure extract
    • Funfetti sprinkles for decoration
    • ¼ cup white sugar for rolling the cookie dough balls in


    • Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
      In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda,and put the flour mixture to the side while you complete the next step.

      In a large bowl, cream together the unsalted butter and 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the lemon zest*. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until just blended.

      Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

      Use a teaspoon or cookie scoop to get the same amount of dough each time, and roll the dough into small balls. Then roll the balls in the 1/4 cup of sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets and flatten slightly. Tip: I use the bottom of a small glass to do this – or the back of a large spoon

      Add some sprinkles to each cookie (optional) or wait until the cookies are baked and cooled, then you add some frosting and sprinkles (again, totally optional)

      Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned at the edges. I bake in a convection oven at 350F for 10 minutes and the sugar cookies are perfect

      Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure you let them really cool down because if not they will break.

      Instructions for a cutout sugar cookies:

      After the dough has chilled for 1 hour, separate the dough into two balls –

      Using a rolling pin, roll out the cookie dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (waxed paper) or my fave, the DoughEZ rolling system

      Carefully cut out the cookies using your favorite cookie cutters.

      Bake at the same temp and times, and just until the cookies are golden around the edges. Oven temperatures vary according to heating method, make and model, and altitude. So this isn’t a recipe that you can stick in the oven and walk away from. Maybe bake the first tray and check back often to make sure they don’t burn!




    Serving: 1g | Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 64mg | Sugar: 15g

    These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

    Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment, star rating or post your photo on Instagram and tag @pieladybakes

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    collage of sugar cookies, stacked, on plate and one single cookie

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    Judy Kahansky is an experienced writer and baker, creating delicious desserts (including pie!) for over 40 years. She loves to take classic and vintage recipes and update them to fit the busy lives of her readers. When not baking, Judy and her husband Mark are passionate golfers, travelers and dog lovers, spending as much time as they can with their sweet pup Millie.