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. 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 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

180 Comments

  1. What?! You don’t wear safety goggles?!  Even after the smoothie bowl mishap?  😉  I’m making these cookies STAT. And I’m thanking you from me and my coworkers in advance!

  2. I actually baked cookies yesterday and now I’m sad there isn’t any cream cheese frosting involved. This looks & sounds amazing, but maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t see this recipe earlier because I would have eaten the whole batch in one go!

  3. I kind of get where your husband is coming from. I mean, I like sugar cookies, and these look divine. But if someone hands me a peanut butter/chocolate combo, I’d run that way.
    That said, I would also probably grab these on the way. They look so soft and thick!

  4. Omg Sally Dying over that picture of the bowl of frosting! amazing!!!! I completely feel you on Kevin not liking sugar cookies. I too have a crazy husband – he doesn’t like sugar cookies, sweet potatoes, fruit snacks or avocado! Those could be my only food groups I love them so much! Lol! Can’t wait to try making these – the dough does look pretty sturdy, I wonder if it would work for rolling out? Might have to give it a go.

    1. I feel like adding a little extra flour will help with rolling out– maybe an extra 1/4 cup.

      We’d have a serious problem if Kevin didn’t like avocado. I make guacamole on a weekly basis!!

  5. Wow, I bet cream cheese in sugar cookies is amazing. I would love them! And rolling them in beautiful sugar. Blue, for my new school colors. I leave Colorado in two weeks, Sally! Oh my gosh, excited but freaking out over here. I think I need sugar cookies to help me 😀

  6. Wow, wow, WOW! What a great introduction to your blog! I have a feeling that my calorie intake will be strongly increasing once I start exploring your recipes… Can’t wait to try these!

  7. Hi Sally! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I just had a quick question? What is the paddle attachment for the Kitchenaid hand mixer? On another note, these cookies look fantastic and I can’t wait to try them out!

  8. I LOVE, I mean REALLY LOVE Sugar Cookies. I am always on the search for a great sugar cookie. Can’t wait to try these. I love the use of sprinkles… agree with you that everything is better with sprinkles. 🙂

  9. I love new cookie recipes!! These look great! Please, oh please, tell me you are planning another Christmas Cookie Palooza this year?!?!? Yes, I have literally been looking forward to it since last year’s wrapped up! 🙂

  10. Oh Sally, how I just love all your genius recipes! Since summer started I’ve been trying to eat even better and when I do have a treat, making it on the healthier side but my co-workers birthday is this month and I must try these for her! Birthdays after all are a perfect excuse to indulge a little!!! Can’t wait to make these, they sound amazing!

  11. Ok, I need to try these now. Neither of us are usually sugar cookie fans (way too sweet without enough other flavor to balance), but these might just convince me…

  12. These cookies look amazing! I definitely want to try making them. Question – have you ever tried stamping the cookies flat with a cookie stamp? I have some pottery-style cookie stamps and am curious as to if I could stamp these cookies out. They would be flatter than how you did it with the cup, though. Would they spread out too thin?

    1. I don’t think they’d spread too much. I don’t own any cookie stamps but would love to get my hands on some! They make the prettiest cookies.

  13. This sounds like a great recipe, and i am already excited to try them. Question: because there is cream cheese in the frosting, do they need to be refrigerated if not immediately gobbled up? Also thinking of a version with orange extract and zest, dipped ever so slightly into melted dark chocolate.

    1. They’re actually OK at room temperature for awhile. The frosting sort of “sets” after a few hours. You can certainly keep them in the refrigerator though!

  14. I’ve never tried using cream cheese in cookie dough before (other than my mom’s famous pecan tassie crust) but that is going to have to change, like, TODAY. These cookies almost look TOO pillowy and perfect! I just want to dive in, face first….

  15. Just when I think it can’t get any better than you’re cut out sugar cookies, you post a recipe like this! I stumbled upon your cut out sugar cookie recipe mainly because I was looking for a recipe that didn’t have a lot of sugar in the dough. I don’t see the need for crazy sweet dough when they get coated in sugary frosting. And almond extract?! Oh yea, that magical ingredient takes cookies to a whole new level. How do you think this recipe would work for cut out cookies? Same clean edges like your other recipe?

    1. You read my mind! Adding a little extra flour will help with rolling out– maybe an extra 1/4 cup. Make sure you chill the dough longer, too– I’d say at least 3 hours. And, like we do with my cut-out sugar cookies, I would roll out THEN chill.

  16. My favorite family recipe for holiday cut-outs uses cream cheese, and I have to agree that they are richer, softer, and creamier than standard sugar cookie dough.
    This cream cheese frosting looks divine. . .with just a sprinkle of fun and adventure. 🙂

  17. OMG when you suggested rolling the cookie dough balls directly in sprinkles… I’ve GOT to try that! Sugar cookies aren’t one of my more-made cookie desserts because they’re more working and planning than just a batch of chocolate chip or peanut butter is with all the rolling and cutting and chilling and decorating. BUT whenever I make them, I’m sorry I don’t make them more often. Just got to find the next excuse (sorry, REASON OR PARTY) to bake these for next 😉

  18. These cookies sound amazing; I love cream cheese everything! But I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like almond extract. What do you think about a little lemon extract? I’ve had a lemon cream cheese frosting on a cake before and that was a really good combination, so I was hoping that it would work here too! Thanks!

  19. I want to stick a spoon in that cream cheese frosting and sneak away with it for a few moments 😀 sugar cookies are by far a fan favorite, and I can imagine the cream cheese only makes it like 1000x better. Love the sprinkles and purple linen and just everything about these!

  20. For the frosting, is it 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup of butter? I saw the 115g so I want to make sure! These cookies are in the oven now!

  21. This is the perfect gift for my mom.  She has had a rough couple of weeks.  Going to visit her this weekend and this is her favorite cookie!

  22. I am due to make cookies (I think the last few things I made were…chocolate zucchini break, apple pie bars and…some kind of bark) (Oh, and peanut butter brownies). So cookies are next on my schedule. Perfect timing!

    And the best part is I HATE cream cheese, so I won’t be tempted!

  23. So frequently sugar cookies can taste delicious but not look all that special…not the case with these babies. I’m sometimes reluctant to make sugar cookies unless I’m making cut outs, but these are a showstopper all on their own. Can’t wait to try!

  24. Hi Sally, I love your blog & all of your recipes.! I have a quick question about the cream cheese. Do you think I could use marscapone instead of the cream cheese?? Thanks in advance

    1. Actually, I’m not really sure. The two are quite structurally different (although not by much), but there’s only 2 ounces in the dough. I think it could work. But let me know if you try it! I’m curious.

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