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

Description

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


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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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

64 Comments

  1. My new favorite cookie! They are amazing!

  2. 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!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Hi Sally! First let me say that your funfetti cupcake recipe absolutely blew me away! I’ve made them 4x in ONE MONTH! I also made the chewy chocolate chip recipe with the melted butter and extra yolk .. so I have TWO questions. Do I only use cake flour with cakes, or can I use it in cookies? The cake flour in the cupcakes made such a difference!
    Also can I use melted butter with all my cookies? I found that the melted butter made it so easy to mix and gave me such an amazing batter for an amazing cookie! So when does it call for creamed butter vs. the melted?
    Thanks so much! I’m trying a new recipe of yours EVERY WEEK! Xo

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for the sweet note! We’re thrilled you’ve been enjoying so many of our recipes. Happy to help answer your questions. On the topic of cake flour, it’s really best to use it only when specified by a recipe. It’s much lighter than all-purpose flour and typically would not work well in most cookie recipes (with the other ingredients being too heavy). Even certain cakes (like our chocolate cake) don’t use cake flour, because the weight of the other ingredients would result in a flimsy cake. Same goes for melted butter! We only want to use melted butter when a recipe is specifically formulated for melted butter. Otherwise, the cookies might spread too much and become too thin and crispy. Hope this is helpful, and keep up all the delicious baking!

  11. Thanks so much for the super fast reply and thank you for clarifying. I will definitely follow the recipes! Next on my list are the cream cheese sugar cookies, I’m going to load them up with neon quinns and sprinkles! Because you can NEVER have too many sprinkles! Xo

  12. Wow, Sally! These are fantastic, have to make a double recipe next time! (tip: to make the cookies a bit more ‘playful’ and if you don’t have sprinkles, you should add food colouring to the icing)

    What a showstopper! We love your recipes 🙂

  13. These cookies look delicious. I want to bake them as a treat for a large group and have been asked to individually wrap any cookies I provide. Therefore, I have bought small cellophane bags for the cookies. Is it likely that the frosting would smear on the inside of the bags when I insert the cookies? If so, is there another type of icing that would be drier? If icing isn’t likely to work, what other decorations might work?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Margaret, this cream cheese consistency doesn’t set to a consistency that is suitable for stacking or packaging, but a few other options for you…you could use a traditional buttercream recipe and replace some of the butter with shortening for a crustier frosting. Or, royal icing completely sets and is the most ideal for packaging. Let us know what you try!

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