Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

cream cheese sugar cookies topped with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles

It’s been quite awhile since played around with sugar cookies, 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.

overhead image of cream cheese sugar cookies

Sugar cookies, both drop sugar cookies and cookie cutter sugar cookies, 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!

cream cheese sugar cookie dough in a glass bowl with a hand mixer

cream cheese sugar cookie dough in a glass bowl with a measuring spoon

There are so many ways to make sugar cookies and adding cream cheese is most definitely my new standard. Adding cream cheese produces a richer, softer, and creamier sugar cookie. And, above all else, it adds a little tang. 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.

I even tested this dough with cookie cutters. Making a couple slight adjustments, you can turn this dough into cut out cream cheese sugar cookies with Nutella glaze and raspberry sugar cookies.

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.

using a measuring cup to press down the tops of cream cheese sugar cookie dough balls on a silpat baking mat

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. Since we don’t need too much of it, I reduced the ingredients down from my original cream cheese frosting recipe. Love this stuff. ↓ ↓

Cream cheese frosting in glass bowl with hand mixer

overhead image of cream cheese sugar cookies topped with cream cheese frosting

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 sugar cookies topped with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles

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cream cheese sugar cookies topped with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Cream cheese turns good sugar cookies into GREAT sugar cookies! These cookies are soft, tender, and chewy with incredible flavor.


  • 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


  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.
  9. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Cookie Cutter Cookies: I’ve gotten some questions about using this dough for cookie cutter cookies. Here is the cut out cream cheese sugar cookies with Nutella glaze recipe.
  3. 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.
  4. Adapted from funfetti sugar cookies supreme.

Keywords: cream cheese sugar cookies

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.

sprinkle sugar cookies topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles


  1. Heather Yates says:

    Hey Sally – this recipe is one of my absolute favourites. I am wanting to bake some of these with strawberry frosting. Do you recommend your BEST strawberry frosting for cookies ( Or since these are cookies and we want the frosting to harden slightly, would the frosting from these glazed donuts be better (

    Thank you for your help!!!

    1. Hi Heather! Great question. I recommend the strawberry buttercream frosting.

  2. Being that these cookies have cream cheese in them, do they require additional refrigeration after they have been baked?

    1. Hi Kimm! Not after baking. Here are my recommended storing instructions: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    2. Michelle Morrison says:

      I made my cookie dough Friday 11th stilll in the refrigerator Tuesday the 15th is my dough still good ? Can I freeze it still or bake still.

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Michelle, We usually say the dough is good up to 3 days, but use your best judgement. Was it covered well in the refrigerator? If you bake it today you will want to let the dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so soften up enough to scoop it. Let us know if you try them!

  3. Have you ever tried making these with another extract? I’m thinking of trying coconut extract and maybe some unsweetened coconut. I can’t seem to read the comments for some reason, so forgive me if this has been answered. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sandra! If it helps, here is a direct link to this comment section:

      I personally haven’t tried these sugar cookies with another flavor extract, but I’ve baked other sugar cookies with all different flavors. I know you’ll enjoy these cream cheese sugar cookies with different flavors and coconut would be delicious!

  4. Hi Sally,
    Could I roll the dough and use cookie cutters?

    1. Hi Amanda! No, I don’t recommend it. Here is my roll-out cream cheese sugar cookies recipe.

  5. Could I use this dough with your filling for the cinnamon roll cookies?

    1. Hi Jenny! This dough isn’t suitable for roll-out cookies if that is what you’re asking, but you can use my cream cheese roll-out sugar cookies dough with the cinnamon roll cookies filling.

      1. Thanks Sally, this is exactly what I was looking for.

  6. These cookies are amazing! I remembered at 9:30 pm that I had signed up to bring Christmas cookies to my kids preschool, and so I didn’t have time to refrigerate the dough, or make the icing. I made mini cookies (half size) and rolled them in granulated sugar (with cinnamon and nutmeg) prior to baking. 9 minutes in the over and these creamiest and most delicious concoctions were ready! Thank you, Sally. Everyone thinks I’m a super mom and it’s because of you 🙂

    1. You are welcome, Smitha! I’m so glad that you found a recipe you could make quickly and thrilled that they were such a hit!

  7. Hi Sally,

    Have you ever made sugar cookies with a plain butter cream frosting (no cream cheese)? Or is that too over powering.

    1. Absolutely! They will be sweet though. Here is my favorite vanilla buttercream. 🙂

  8. Sally, I adored these cookies! They are absolutely delicious! The addition of almond extract is excellent! Totally took the cookies to a whole new level. We brought them to a potluck at church and every single one was devoured! I will definitely make these again, they’re now my go-to drop sugar cookie recipe! The addition of cream cheese is fabulous, too!

  9. Hi Sally,

    Thank you for this recipe! These cookies are delicious! The cookie itself is not too sweet so the cream cheese frosting is the perfect compliment. I made them for work and everyone loved them.

    On another note, have you ever thought about making a chocolate chip shortbread cookie recipe? I had one at a bakery today and it was perfect. I noticed you did not have a recipe listed. I’m sure if you considered publishing a recipe, it would be a hit! Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for trying these cream cheese sugar cookies! For the shortbread, try my pistachio shortbread cookies and replace the pistachio with mini chocolate chips. 🙂

      1. Great, thanks!

  10. These are amazing! Love the tang of the cream cheese! They are so easy too. Do you think they would work with a lemon cream cheese icing?

    1. Yes, definitely! Add a little lemon juice and/or lemon zest to the frosting. So good and perfect for summertime!

  11. Hi Sally,
    Made these today,gave me 40 medium sized cookies. These were great even without almond extract and frosting. But had to increase time baking time by 5minutes,since the first batch was undercooked in the middle. Still tasted good.

  12. Mary Di Leo Poole says:

    Hi! I want to bring these somewhere on the train without destroying the icing. Any suggestions as to how to transport them? I like them because I make little music notes out of chocolate and put them on top and bring them to opera rehearsals for the cast. But I wonder if there’s a carrying option better than one layer on a foil covered cookie sheet.

    1. Hi Mary, I’m sure there are many options available but I have this cupcake carrier – I use mine for everything, not just cupcakes! The base is reversible so you can transport cookies, brownies, and more all in one place:

  13. My new favorite cookie! They are amazing!

  14. Most delicious sugar cookies I have ever had or made! Everyone thought they were store bought because they were melt in your mouth soft and perfect!! Thank you Sally!!

    1. I’m glad they were a hit, Jasmin!

  15. Hi Sally do you think its possible to add strawberries to this recipe?

    1. I don’t recommend it. Strawberries are too wet for this cookie dough.

  16. Cheryl Ann Fulk says:

    Made these at Christmas and was a hit, now I want to make these for our guests at or church pantry brunch. Can I freeze them with the frosting?

    1. Hi Cheryl! I’m so glad these cookies are a hit 🙂 I fear the frosting won’t look as nice for serving if these cookies are frozen frosted. You can certainly try it though! I’d recommend placing a piece of parchment paper between each layer of cookies.

  17. With the cream cheese frosting for sugar cookies, it’s not recommended to leave at room temperature because of the cream cheese…but I always have with mine as there is 4 cups powdered sugar to 8oz. cream cheese. Do you see any risks involved with this?

    1. Hi LI, when it comes to leaving things at room temperature, use your own best judgement. I’ve frosted these and kept in the refrigerator overnight, then brought to room temperature for a few hours before serving and it’s never been an issue.

  18. Amazing cookies!! I added 1 tsp of lemon juice and about 1 cup of mini m and ms. So yummmmy thanks!!

  19. Hi. I made this recipe and absolutely loved them!!!!!!!!! Was wondering if the recipe doubles without any problems or needed changes. Thanks for your amazing recipes.

    1. Hi Julie! You can double this cookie recipe. I do all the time!

  20. These are THE BEST sugar cookies I’ve ever made. My mom died many years ago and I’ve never been able to recreate the recipe she used (and she happened to be a professional baker too, so her standards were high!). This is the closest thing I’ve found to those childhood memories. Anyway … always being curious, last Christmas, I baked two batches of sugar cookies for my siblings to test. I baked these, and a different cream cheese recipe I found on another site. Hands down, these were the best! They were gone in hours! The other ones lingered and only got eaten when all the other sweets were gone! Thanks Sally for such a great recipe!

  21. I’ve been baking your recipes for years and they are always exceptional! Made these sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting with my boys last night, decorated with blue and white sprinkles and delivered to friends for Hanukkah. Unanimous response was that they were insanely delicious. The frosting alone is just insane. I removed the almond extract as I personally don’t like it but followed everything else as written. Will definitely be making these again! Happy holidays to all!

  22. For *rolled* Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies:

    Is the additional 1/4c. by weight or volume?
    31.5g (based on 3c @ 375g,)
    2oz (based on 8oz/c)
    Or volume 1/4c – sifted or not?

    Would it be a bother to add the weight (in grams, as in the 3c/375g) next to the 1/4c (Xg) in the modification notes?

    Love your site. Have learned *so* much just reading, and the recipes yield really delicious results, too.

    Thank you!

    1. Somehow I’m just seeing your comment/question now so my apologies on the delay responding to you. I actually have a full recipe for the roll out/cookie cutter cream cheese sugar cookies now. Basically the same recipe, but with a bit more cream cheese for flavor and flour to help keep the dough thick. I just updated the notes. Thank you so much for asking!

  23. Hi, can I skip the almond extract entirely or do I need to replace it with something? More vanilla? I don’t usually like the flavor of almond extract. thanks.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ali! Add a little extra vanilla in its place or replace with another extract if you’d like.

      1. Thank you! I’m going to make these for Easter and I think I will just add extra vanilla then.

  24. Precious Mwamba says:

    I froze my dough it month and will be take it out do i
    Put in fridge overnite or leave out room temp
    Roll it and cut

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Precious! Is the dough frozen in dough balls or as one unit of cookie dough? You can bake cookie dough balls from frozen. Otherwise, we would let the dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then allow it to come to room temperature before continuing with step 5.

      1. Precious Mwamba says:

        Awesome thank u for ur response

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