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

Print

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. 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.
  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.

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

178 Comments

  1. Hi Sally. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Since I wasn’t cooking yesterday, I made these cookies. This recipe is a keeper. I’m actually making them again today to give to a friend.

  2. 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 (https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2017/02/05/strawberry-frosting/)? Or since these are cookies and we want the frosting to harden slightly, would the frosting from these glazed donuts be better (https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/07/05/strawberry-frosted-donuts/)?

    Thank you for your help!!!
    Heather

    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.

  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!

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

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