Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies

Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies

I used to turn my nose up at cakey cookies. Cookies should be dense and textured with crispy crackly edges and chewy centers. Cookies should not be little cakes suffering an identity crisis.

I knew my strict mindset (and tastebuds!) wouldn't benefit me when writing Sally's Cookie Addiction, so I began working on a few cakey cookies that I loved. (Soft maple cookies on page 184!)

From that point, there were red velvet whoopie pies, chocolate whoopie pies, and homemade black and white cookies. And then I tasted my friend's lemon ricotta cookies, easily one of the best cookies I've ever had. Soon after I baked blueberry muffin cookies and lost my mind over their cakelike perfection.

I love cakey cookies!

WHICH BRINGS US TO TODAY!

These sweet cookies are light, airy, and tender. They're flavored with vanilla and a little almond, topped with buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles, and are drop-style so you don't need to break out the rolling pin. They're my homemade version of the fan-favorite Lofthouse cookies sold on grocery store shelves. I say that loosely because they aren't identical since they're from-scratch without the long list of unrecognizable ingredients!

Let's learn how to bake these soft cakey sugar cookies.

These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with creamy pastel pink buttercream and sprinkles. Sour cream is the secret ingredient! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles! Drop sugar cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles! Drop sugar cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

BEHIND THE RECIPE

To make a cookie cakey, you need moisture. The more moisture in your cookie dough, the softer, fluffier, and more tender it will taste. Butter is your best friend, eggs are fantastic, but what's crucial for cake-like cookies is an additional liquid or liquid-y solid. Today that special ingredient is sour cream. While supplying the cookie dough with moisture, the sour cream also gives us an intensely creamy cookie with rich flavor. It is, without a doubt, the main player in these cakey sugar cookies.

The rest of the ingredients are familiars. We've got the usual gang like flour, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and leaveners. The sugar cookies are buttery and sweet with a subtle tang, but what comes forward the most is the combination of vanilla and almond extracts. Sugar cookies have the tendency to taste a little flat and boring, but using just enough vanilla extract and a hint of almond adds a much needed layer of flavor.

The dough is a cookie dough/cake batter hybrid. It's creamy and silky like cake batter, but very thick like cookie dough. This consistency makes it impossible for rolling out and shaping with cookie cutters, so if you're looking for a cut-out sugar cookie with a similar flavor and texture, try my super soft cream cheese cookies.

The cookie dough requires 1 hour in the refrigerator before baking. I tried only 30 minutes in my first batch and the cookies were noticeably flatter. 1 hour of chilling helps guarantee a thick cookie that holds its shape in the oven.

To make your cookie baking experience easier (and less messy!) I recommend a cookie scoop as the dough is pretty sticky. Each cookie is 1.5 Tablespoons of dough, so this medium cookie scoop is perfect!

How to make soft cakey sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com
How to make soft cakey sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com
How to make soft cakey sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Pink buttercream frosting for sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Naturally colored rainbow sprinkles on sallysbakingaddiction.com
These soft cake-like sugar cookies are topped with creamy pastel pink buttercream and sprinkles. Sour cream is the secret ingredient! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

LET'S ACCESSORIZE

These fat and fluffy sugar cookies are nice on their own, but SO MUCH BETTER all dolled up. If there's an opportunity for buttercream, we should take it and since pink is my spirit color, I tinted the frosting dusty rose. Isn't she lovely? (By the way, these are naturally colored rainbow sprinkles. The same ones I used for this pictured cake. I love them!)

I used my vanilla buttercream recipe for topping, but if you have the itch for another flavor, try chocolate, strawberry, or even lemon buttercream.

These sugar cookie cakelettes scream childhood and I have a feeling little bakers will love adorning each cookie with frosting and sprinkles, so grab your kids for this one and have fun!

SUGAR COOKIE COMPARISON

These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles! Drop sugar cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
These soft cake-like sugar cookies are topped with creamy pastel pink buttercream and sprinkles. Sour cream is the secret ingredient! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles! Drop sugar cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies

YIELD

36-40 cookies

PREP TIME

1 hour, 20 minutes

COOK TIME

13 minutes

TOTAL TIME

1 hour, 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups (370g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 235g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • vanilla buttercream and sprinkles for decorating*

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture may look curdled; that's ok. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until combined. The dough will be very thick, creamy, and silky. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour and up to 2-3 days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. Measure cookies to be 1.5 Tablespoons each. I recommend this cookie scoop. Arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until a cookie springs back when lightly poked with your finger. (That's how I test them!) Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. Prepare frosting (I use this vanilla buttercream) and spread onto each cooled cookie. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Frosted cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: You can chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (see step 2), but you can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Unfrosted cookies freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.

RECIPE NOTES

  1. Sour cream is a key ingredient in these cookies. For the best flavor and texture, I strongly recommend full-fat sour cream, but in a pinch light sour cream can work. Do not use fat free. Plain full-fat yogurt can be substituted. I don't suggest subbing the sour cream with a liquid.
  2. Why room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. It really makes a difference!
  3. In these photos, I tinted the buttercream with 1 small drop dusty rose gel food coloring and topped with these natural color rainbow sprinkles.
  4. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

© 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. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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65 Comments

Comments

  1. Faith on June 18, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    I made this recipe last week. The cookies were amazing – everyone loved them!! And I really enjoyed them myself. I did find them a bit hard to scoop, so I ended up with a lot of weirdly shaped cookies. Maybe next time I’ll leave it in the fridge longer to get more evenly shaped cookies when I scoop them out. But great taste! If you are reading this, I definitely recommend serving and eating at room temperature, because the taste is better compared to eating straight out of the fridge (though it is still very tasty directly from the fridge).

    I tried to make your vanilla buttercream recipe, but I did not like how it tasted. There was a very apparent aftertaste that was not very pleasant. So instead I just bought a jar of store bought vanilla icing and mixed it in with some cream cheese. It tasted great with these cookies! thanks sally!

  2. Ann on June 29, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Hi Sally. I made these cookies yesterday and they turned out great. Exactly like a cakey sugar cookie. I did not make the buttercream. I just covered them with powdered sugar. Thanks for another great recipe.

    • Sally on June 29, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      They definitely are good enough to eat without frosting! I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  3. Alex on July 20, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Hey Sally, I was wondering if I should make any adjustments for high altitude baking? If you know that would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  4. Monica on July 23, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Can’t wait to make these! However, I don’t have almond extract. Is it ok to leave it out? Should I sub it for more vanilla extract? Thanks for all your help!

    • Sally on July 23, 2018 at 6:19 am

      Hi Monica! You can just leave out the almond extract completely (though I really do recommend it for best flavor!). No need to replace with vanilla extract, though you certainly can for extra vanilla flavor.

      • Monica on July 23, 2018 at 11:29 am

        Thank you so much for the quick response!



  5. Sophie B on July 24, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    This worked out really well for me I used this recipe to break in my brand new Kitchen Aid Mini and it handled the batter super well!
    Could have left them in the fridge longer as they spread a bit.. but my coworkers had no complaints.

    • Sally on July 25, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Yay for new mixers!! I’m glad they were a hit 🙂

  6. Kim Gamble on July 30, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Can these be made as bars? Does the recipe need to be altered if done that way?

    • Sally on August 1, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Hi Kim! I’m sure it can be. Let me know how they turn out!

  7. Heather on August 7, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Hi Sally. These look delicious.
    Is this recipe in one of your cookbooks?
    Please let me know. Are you going to have
    Anymore cookbook giveaways soon so I could
    Try and win one or two for myself. I am thinking baking addiction and cookie addiction cookbooks Please.
    Please let me know.
    Have a wonderful day.

    • Sally on August 7, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Hi Heather! No, this recipe is exclusive to my blog. I have separate recipes for my cookbooks. You can print this recipe out (without the blog post text) using the print button. I’ll have more giveaways on my blog for my books this year, so check back. You can join my email list so you are always alerted when I have a new blog post up.

Reviews

  1. Jamie on May 25, 2018 at 9:29 am

    I made these last night after seeing them on Sally posted them a few days ago. I love cakey cookies so I was excited to try them. I cannot express how delicious these cookies are! They are so soft and the flavors are awesome. One of the best cookies I have ever had or baked!

  2. Sara Jane on May 29, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    Made these this weekend, made the dough Friday and refrigerated it until Monday when I baked the cookies. I used King Arthur Flour Princess Flavor instead of Almond extract. I got nothing but rave reviews. They just melted in your mouth! So perfect. Will be using this recipe again and hopefully mastering making more uniform dough balls so my cookies are all the same shape!

  3. Faith on June 18, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    I made this recipe last week. The cookies were amazing – everyone loved them!! And I really enjoyed them myself. I did find them a bit hard to scoop, so I ended up with a lot of weirdly shaped cookies. Maybe next time I’ll leave it in the fridge longer to get more evenly shaped cookies when I scoop them out. But great taste! If you are reading this, I definitely recommend serving and eating at room temperature, because the taste is better compared to eating straight out of the fridge (though it is still very tasty directly from the fridge).

    I tried to make your vanilla buttercream recipe, but I did not like how it tasted. There was a very apparent aftertaste that was not very pleasant. So instead I just bought a jar of store bought vanilla icing and mixed it in with some cream cheese. It tasted great with these cookies! thanks sally!

Questions

  1. Emily on May 23, 2018 at 9:28 am

    So excited to try these out! In my home have a rule that if I want a sweet it needs to be homemade, not bought at a store, and these cookies are what I miss the most! How many batches of buttercream are needed for a batch of these?

    • Sally on May 23, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      That’s a good rule! I hope you love these! Just one batch of buttercream should be enough for these cookies 🙂

  2. Devonne on May 23, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Hi, Sally! I love your recipes, and your Baking Addiction book is one of the staple cookbooks in my household. I would love to make this recipe, but I have a nut allergy that prevents me from using things like almond extract. Do you have a suggestion for a substitution?

    • Sally on May 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Devonne, I’m thrilled to read you are enjoying my first book!! For this recipe you can leave out the almond extract due to allergies. Happy baking 🙂

    • Kristen on May 23, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      I think many imitation almond extracts are allergy-safe. You’d want to check the label to make sure, of course 🙂

  3. Sara on May 23, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Hi Sally, I really enjoy your website ,and one of my favorite things to bake is the very vanilla cupcakes .
    I’m not a big fan of almond extract in my baked goods- can I leave out the almond in this recipe?

    • Sally on May 24, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Hi Sara! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. You can leave the almond extract out of these cookies. No need to replace with anything.

  4. Bracha on May 24, 2018 at 11:04 am

    These cookies look amazing!! Do you have any ideas how to put these on a plate and wrap in cellophane without the cream getting messed up?

    • Sally on May 24, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Bracha, Buttercream won’t every dry hard enough to cover tightly with plastic wrap but you might be able to get away with using cellophane and gathering it on top and tying much like a gift basket (so it’s not really touching the top of the cookies) if that makes sense?

  5. Melissa Wilder on May 27, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    My 4 year old daughter and I bake your recipes all the time and we’re very excited to try this recipe!! But she is allergic to all nuts so the almond extract is a no go, could I just add a little more vanilla to the cookies? Or would you add a different non nut extract ?

    • Sally on May 29, 2018 at 6:35 am

      Hi Melissa! You can simply leave out the almond extract. No need to add more vanilla extract unless you want to. Lemon extract would be yummy!

  6. Laura on May 31, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Sally! I am so excited to try these cookies! I am thinking they would be a perfect treat for Father’s Day, but I have the sour cream to use up now! Any tips on making this recipe ahead and freezing? Would you recommend freezing the dough prior to baking or freezing the already baked cookies?

    • Sally on May 31, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Laura, Either way works! See the make ahead tip at the end of the recipe for freezing directions 🙂

  7. Kate on June 7, 2018 at 11:42 am

    These cookies look wonderful! Just was wondering, do they need to be stored in the fridge to prevent the frosting from going bad at room temperature?

    • Sally on June 7, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Kate, Frosted cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  8. Jen Cathey on June 8, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    I LOVED making these cookies!! Do you have a really great container large enough to hold all these cookies that won’t smoosh the frosting??? I love frosted cookies but always have such a hard time storing them without destroying them.

    • Sally on June 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      I don’t! I sometimes just use a plastic Tupperware (the larger and not deep size). They never last that long here but if you find a good one let me know!

  9. Monica on July 23, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Can’t wait to make these! However, I don’t have almond extract. Is it ok to leave it out? Should I sub it for more vanilla extract? Thanks for all your help!

    • Sally on July 23, 2018 at 6:19 am

      Hi Monica! You can just leave out the almond extract completely (though I really do recommend it for best flavor!). No need to replace with vanilla extract, though you certainly can for extra vanilla flavor.

      • Monica on July 23, 2018 at 11:29 am

        Thank you so much for the quick response!



  10. Kim Gamble on July 30, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Can these be made as bars? Does the recipe need to be altered if done that way?

    • Sally on August 1, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Hi Kim! I’m sure it can be. Let me know how they turn out!

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