Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Cream cheese turns good sugar cookies into GREAT sugar cookies! Soft, tender, chewy, with incredible flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Whoa whoa whoa. It has been way too long since I shared a new cookie recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction. 2 weeks without cookies!?! Is my blog on a diet?

I kid, I kid.

But it has been quite awhile since played around with sugar cookie dough, so I started testing out a different recipe concept this summer. During my mad scientist recipe testing days (science safety goggles, white lab coat and all) I rediscovered that adding cream cheese to cookie dough changes everything.

And I mean everything.

Cream cheese turns good sugar cookies into GREAT sugar cookies! Soft, tender, chewy, with incredible flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Sugar cookies, both drop cookies and cookie cutter, are one of my favorite varieties to bake. I credit this mostly to the fact that there is usually sprinkles and frosting involved. But they’re really just an all-around crowd pleasing cookie. They’re pretty on display, the first to go at bake sales, kids love them, and you can go bonkers with frosting/sprinkle color combinations. I think, above all else, we can agree that sugar cookies are QUEEN of the cookie world. We bow down to you, in all your sprinkle crowned glory!

(But can we talk about the fact that my husband doesn’t like sugar cookies? We certainly don’t need to enjoy all the same foods (hi, beets) but isn’t disliking sugar cookies comparable to disliking teddy bears, unicorns, kittens, and/or rainbows??)

How to make cream cheese sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make cream cheese sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

There are so many ways to make sugar cookies and adding cream cheese is most definitely my new standard. A little bit of cream cheese produces a richer, softer, and creamier sugar cookie. My friend Erin came over, tasted one, and commented on how much she loved the slight tang. And you know what else? I cut down on sugar in the cookie dough. If I had any qualms with sugar cookies, it would most definitely be that they are too cloyingly sweet. Especially when you add a heap of frosting on top! Don’t get me wrong, these will surely spike an energy crash like the best desserts do– but they won’t give you a toothache.

In addition to cream cheese, let’s add a little almond extract. Now, you can definitely leave this out but I have to tell you that almond extract turns a good sugar cookie into a great sugar cookie. I swear by this ingredient! A little goes a long way, so I only use a scant 1/2 teaspoon in the dough. It smells heavenly too.

One thing I love about this cream cheese sugar cookie dough is that you don’t need to chill it for too long. Only about an hour. So these are definitely one of my quicker sugar cookie recipes. The dough is quite sturdy once it’s whipped up, so chilling for hours and hours just isn’t necessary.

How to make cream cheese sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How odd that I just told you I reduced the sugar and now I’m going to tell you to roll the cookie dough in sugar. I really only roll the cookie dough balls in sugar for a little extra sparkle. It’s completely optional, so feel free to skip this step. You could also roll directly into sprinkles or sanding sugar. I won’t fight you on either!

One thing I don’t want you to skip, however, is slightly flattening the cookie dough balls before baking. My first few test batches were a bunch of mounds. They tasted like pure dough inside (and not in a good way) and certainly weren’t winning any beauty contests. Once I began flattening them, things got much tastier. And prettier.

I chose a cream cheese frosting for decorating. Mostly to complement the cream cheese flavor in the actual cookies and partly because it isn’t as sweet as, say, vanilla frosting or royal icing. This is a suuuuper creamy cream cheese frosting that swipes easily onto the tops of each. Love this stuff. ↓ ↓

Cream cheese frosting for sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cream cheese turns good sugar cookies into GREAT sugar cookies! Soft, tender, chewy, with incredible flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie Recap

  • Cream cheese makes the cookies oh-so-soft and tender.
  • Almond extract helps yield the best-tasting sugar cookies, I swear.
  • The cookie dough only needs to chill for 1 hour, give or take.
  • Perfectly sweet without reaching toothache status.
  • Cream cheese frosting makes the perfect crown for these cookie queens.
  • I don’t actually wear safety goggles when testing recipes.

Cream cheese turns good sugar cookies into GREAT sugar cookies! Soft, tender, chewy, with incredible flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 ounces (55g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • optional: 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 ounces (110g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together for 2 minutes on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be thick. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 3-4 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This makes the cookie dough easier to scoop and roll.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside. Pour the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into a bowl.
  6. Scoop and roll balls of dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each. Roll each ball into granulated sugar then place on the baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Using the back of measuring cup or drinking glass, gently press down on each (see photo above).
  7. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time. The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
  8. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until creamy and no lumps remain, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds then increase to high speed until everything is completely combined and the frosting is creamy. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Spread on each cooled cookie, then decorate with sprinkles.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 5. Baked unfrosted cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.

Recipe Notes:

Adapted from funfetti sugar cookies supreme

Check out my top 5 cookie tips before beginning. It includes how to prevent cookies from over-spreading and why room temperature makes a difference.

I've gotten some questions about using this dough for cookie cutter cookies. Yes, it works! Add 1/4 cup extra flour, then continue with step 3 in my soft cut-out sugar cookies. So, step 3 = divide dough in half, roll out, and chill. Then step 4 cut into shapes, then bake, then frost however you'd like.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

I started this recipe from my funfetti sugar cookies. I added cream cheese, but removed the extra egg yolk. Fat replacing fat– it worked! I was all out of cream of tartar, so I swapped in baking powder for the baking soda and cream of tartar. The 1 and 1/2 teaspoon amount worked wonderfully here. Since the cookies were so soft in the first test batch (from the cream cheese), I took out the cornstarch completely. Still so soft and tender.

funfetti sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cream cheese turns good sugar cookies into GREAT sugar cookies! Soft, tender, chewy, with incredible flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

136 comments

  1. Hi Sally, my dough turned out dry and crumbly. Also, when I tried to flatten, they stuck to the bottom of the glass. What did I do wrong?

    • I’d say to chill the cookie dough for a little longer to prevent the sticking, but that could make the cookies even more crumbly. Did the baked cookies tasty crumbly or dry? Did you follow the recipe exactly?

      • The baked cookies tasted awesome, as has everything else I’ve made of yours! But yes, I followed the recipe exactly.

  2. Thanks for another great cookie receipe Sally..I’m going to make them now but wonder is that regular cream cheese or reduced fat I. Didn’t see that anywhere.

  3. Made the recipe and it was a huge hit! Turned out great. 

  4. Love love loved these cookies. These were a big hit with friends.

  5. Hi Sally! My mom and I were trying to figure out whether these are soft/chewy or soft/cakey or of they have and crunch at all? We both would like a chewy sugar cookie, so I figured I’d ask if you could maybe clarify its “cookie texture class” a little more? 😀 Thank you!

    • (I noticed from your photos that they have a crackling around the edges much like the traditional peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies… Are they somewhat similar in texture to those?)

    • Chewy chewy chewy soft soft soft! 🙂

      • Thanks a bunch for the reply! And, yay perfect! 😀 We will definitely be making these (next week is the plan) and I’ll try to report back. My mom did already spend like 30 minutes hand-writing your recipe into her little recipe book so “she wouldn’t lose it.” We weren’t even sure about the texture, but she was still moved enough to copy down the whole thing permanently! Thanks again!

  6. Going to make these for the families at my local Ronald McDonald House 🙂

    I’m sure the little kiddies will LOVE THEM!!!!

  7. How does your frosting hold up if put in the fridge? Can I make this a day ahead of time and then let it come to room temp when I need it?

    Thanks!

  8. Can I roll it into logs & chill & slice to bake? Also, are the ok not frosted?

  9. Made these, and they tasted great!! However, you mentioned above that they are soft – mine were definitely crisp, dry, and crumbly. I didn’t notice anything go glaringly awry when I was making them, and I don’t mind the crisp texture, but… did I do something wrong?

  10. Love these cookies. Can I double the recipe?

  11. Can I use self rising flour instead of the all purpose flour?

  12. Has anyone tried gluten free flour?

  13. OH My GOD ! These cookies are SUPERB !!! I made them for Christmas and I am sorry I didn’t double the recipe ! Only a few people got to taste these cookies, because I kept eating them ! They are outrageously good !

    The only thing I did differently (I hate messing with your recipe) but I was freezing these after icing them and I was afraid the icing would be too soft and the cookie icing would get messed up in the freezer even though I put them in the fridge first. I added just a tiny bit of corn syrup to the icing so it would harden (not too much since I didn’t want the icing to be overly sweet). I added just a tiny bit extra cream cheese to the icing for the same reason. I absolutely will make these again and again. You are an awesome cookie baker ! I made 3 of your recipes and they were all great ! (Molasses, chocolate chip (yummo) and these). Thank you !

  14. The first sugar cookies I’ve ever made, and I just made my 3rd batch! Sugar cookies aren’t big where I’m from, and the ones you buy at the supermarket do not compare to the exciting flavours, soft crumbs and slightly crispy outside of this cookie right here! Do not label these as a plain old vanilla biscuit and move on – they’re totally worth it. The combination of vanilla, almond and cream cheese come together to make a magical flavour combo I can’t describe. love

  15. Thanks a ton Sally for all the good work! Mine turned out fab in terms of taste and texture! But they did not flatten out much during baking in terms of the difference in your pictures after pressing them down and the final product. Any suggestions on what can be done about this. I also used a steel measuring cup like yours. Thanks!

  16. First sugar cookies I’ve ever made, and they’re sooo delicious (saying this as someone who’s generally not very into sugar cookies). I totally forgot to flatten until they were halfway done baking, so I just popped them out a couple minutes early, flattened them, then stuck them back in to finish baking. Turned out perfectly anyway!! I rolled a few in rainbow nonpareils instead of granulated sugar and they’re adorable 🙂

  17. Delicious!  I considered just omitting the almond extract (because half the cookies are heading to a nut-free classroom), but decided to substitute lemon at the last minute and I’m so glad I did!  The flavor is both rich and bright, and just perfect for the little hints of spring we’re starting to see.

  18. Sally,
    These cookies are so nice.My kids will love them and I am waiting to make them.If you have any recipe on ginger biscuit cookies please publish.Thanks for putting this recipe.

  19. These turned out sooo delicious. Soft and flavorful, just as promised!! Thank you again for a wonderful recipe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *