These super soft chocolate sugar cookies have the best of both worlds: a soft and light sugar cookie texture with a rich chocolate flavor. They are easy to make – with no rolling or cutting required. Enjoy them as they are, or top them with chocolate buttercream frosting for an extra special treat!
Gather ’round chocolate lovers, because these super-soft chocolate sugar cookies are making chocolate dreams come true. You’ll love how easy and quick they are to make, so when the craving strikes, you won’t have to wait long.
There has been no shortage of soft sugar cookie recipes around here lately. And for a good reason. The texture is light, soft, fluffy, and basically melts in your mouth …and a little chewy, too. They are so versatile, topped with a variety of frostings, or not, and enjoyed for dessert, tea time, or whenever you need a little pick-me-up.
Drop Cookies – So Easy!
Technically these chocolate sugar cookies are drop cookies because they don’t require any rolling or cutting out of the dough. You simply need to drop the dough and bake.
For this recipe, you will need to gently press the dough down with a sugar-dipped glass, but that’s it. They are not a traditional cut-out sugar cookie, but rather a simple anytime kind of cookie that’s quick and easy to make.
This recipe is based on my all-time favorite soft sugar cookie recipe. So it has a few unexpected ingredients in it, like powdered sugar, vegetable oil, and cream of tartar (which isn’t usually found in chocolate sugar cookies). Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:
- Butter: use unsalted to control the amount of salt in the recipe, and be sure it’s properly softened to room temperature (around 68F) to cream up properly.
- Granulated Sugar
- Powdered Sugar: using powdered sugar in these cookies helps them remain soft; if we had more granulated sugar, they’d crisp up more quickly, so powdered sugar it is for super soft cookies!
- Vegetable Oil: used to help keep the moisture in the cookies.
- Vanilla Extract
- All-Purpose Flour
- Baking Soda
- Cream of Tartar: a traditional ingredient in sugar cookies, it has a little tang and helps the cookie texture as it interacts with the baking soda.
- Cocoa Powder: this recipe was tested using basic unsweetened cocoa powder, which you can easily find in grocery stores.
- Espresso Powder: optional, and while the coffee flavor is completely undetectable, it brings out the rich chocolate flavor in the cookies.
How to Make Super Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies
These sugar cookies are so easy to make, don’t be surprised if you end up making a batch week after week, whenever that chocolate craving strikes. I mean, there’s nothing warm chocolate cookies can’t solve.
- Cream together butter and sugar. This helps create a light and fluffy base for the cookies, so be sure to continue creaming until they’re fully combined and lighter in color. If you’re not sure, keep going, you’ll see the change as it comes together and becomes a pale color, and basically forms into a ball.
- Add vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients. I do recommend sifting the dry ingredients together before adding them to the wet ingredients to make sure they are fully incorporated.
- Chill the dough. Yesssss, ok I do recommend chilling this dough to help the flavor develop and to help it set up in order to not spread too much during the baking process. Here’s my silver lining: you’ll be able to clean up the kitchen and once the cookies are done baking, all you’ll have to do is enjoy them!
- Do you absolutely have to chill the dough? No, I’ve made them wihtout chilling before, and while they spread slightly more than when chilled, it’s not a huge deal. This does depend on the temperature of your home though – mine is pretty cool, which means the dough isn’t too hot to begin with. If it is, please chill the dough!
- Scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet, then press with a sugar-dipped glass. Gently press a flat-bottomed glass that has been dipped in sugar on top of each dollop of dough. Don’t press too hard, you’ll be able to feel once the dough is pressed to the right amount – don’t force it further.
- And bake! The key to soft cookies is slightly underbaking them. Bake these cookies until the edges are set and only ever so slightly turning golden…which you can’t really tell in these chocolate cookies. If the edges look like they’re beginning to set, take them out. If you cook them too long, the edges will be crispy (which tastes fine, it’s just a different texture than what we’re after here).
- Let them cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack. This gives them time to continue setting up before you move them, keeping them together. If they’re already pretty set from baking, do remove them immediately so they don’t overbake.
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
It’s especially important the butter is at room temperature for this recipe. Room temperature means enough that a fingerprint holds. Not too soft that it is close to melting, and not cold enough that it doesn’t like to budge.
Room temperature butter will cream best with the sugars to create this beautifully soft melt-in-your-mouth texture. If the butter is too cold, it will end up in small clumps and melt in odd ways as the cookies bake.
WEIGH THE INGREDIENTS
…especially the flour! Too much flour and the cookies will be dry. Not enough, they will end up too thin. The best way to properly measure flour for baking is to weigh it out (this also saves on dishes – always a win). If you don’t have a kitchen scale (affiliate link), sift and lightly spoon the flour into a measuring cup, being careful to not pack it down. You want it light, fluffy, and not packed in.
Do Not Overbake
It’s worth repeating: bake the cookies until they are just set around the edges. This will keep the texture of the cookies soft while being slightly chewy.
How to Freeze Sugar Cookies
You can freeze either the baked cookies or the cookie dough for future baking.
To freeze baked cookies, simply let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the freezer. You will likely want to wrap the cookies individually for the best results.
To freeze the cookie dough, I like to use SouperCubes – they make freezing individual dough balls super easy. Otherwise, dollop the dough on a baking sheet and press down, freezing the pucks. Once they’re chilled through, transfer them to a storage bag. To bake, place the frozen dough directly in the oven and bake for an additional minute or two.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
If you are the ultimate chocolate lover, then you probably want to go ahead and spread chocolate buttercream frosting on these chocolate sugar cookies. Chocolate on chocolate? Yes, please!
It’s rich, indulgent, and the most delicious cookie that can be decorated for holidays. Christmas cookie? Check. Birthday cookie? Check. Valentine’s Day cookie? Check. Just grab some festive sprinkles and away you go!
To be clear, these are not cut-out sugar cookies that hold the shape of whatever cutout you use, and then frost. These are old-fashioned sugar cookies, similar to the Lofthouse-style frosted cookies you can find in the store.
These cookies are delicious on their own, but if you’d like to decorate them, you absolutely can! The buttercream frosting recipe I’ve included is soft and spreadable. It’s easy to make ahead of time, too. You can even freeze it so you have it on hand whenever you need it.
Once it’s made, simply spread buttercream frosting on cooled cookies, then add sprinkles, sanding sugar, or a drizzle of caramel or chocolate for fun and festive decorations.
If you want to mix up the frosting, be sure to check out my 6 sugar cookie frosting recipes…peanut butter frosting on these chocolate cookies?! YES, DREAMS DO COME TRUE.
Yes! You can make the dough up to two days in advance. You don’t need to make any additional changes, proceed with baking as directed when you’re ready.
Store the baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
These cookies will last for about 4-5 days, as long as they weren’t overbaked. If they really last that long anyway, they do tend to disappear quickly!
Yes, just bake them longer and they’ll crisp right up, for crisp edges just cook about 2 minutes longer.
Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar, additional for pressing
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (optional)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half
- Pinch fine salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy; the mixture should completely come together like a paste. Add oil, egg, and vanilla extract, continuing to mix until completely combined.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder, if using. Add the dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom as needed.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and pour a small amount of granulated sugar into a small bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop, approximately 1.5 tablespoons, and drop scoops of cookie dough about 2 inches apart.
- Dip a flat-bottomed glass in water, then in the sugar (the water is just so the sugar sticks the first time). Gently press the cookie dollops down about halfway, until they're about 1/2 inch thick, redipping the glass in sugar in between each cookie as needed.
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges are set (see notes about baking sheet color). Let them cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes until sturdy enough to transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely if frosting. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
- Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream room temperature butter until smooth. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and milk to combine. Add a pinch of salt, and powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, beating between each addition until smooth. Continue working until light and fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes on medium speed.
- A light (aluminum) sheet pan will require more cooking time than a darker-colored sheet pan. If using a darker-colored baking sheet, you will likely want to only bake the cookies for 8 minutes – no longer.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.