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

181 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, I would like to stack the frosted cookies and gift them to my friend. Will the frosting harden in the fridge, or will it smear everywhere? The photos look gorg, btw! 🙂

    1. The frosting sort of “sets” but it would still smear if stacked. When I gave these to my friend to take home, I gave her 2 paper plates with 1 single layer of cookies each. Covered with aluminum foil.

  2. My grandson loves sugar cookies. Unfortunately, he loves the ones that are store bought and ready to be baked. So far he hasn’t been too keen on the ones I’ve made. Definitely trying this recipe. Thank you.

  3. I noticed when making Choc chip cookies that subbing cream cheese for 1/2 to 1/3 of the butter makes for a less greasy but overall more delicious cookie; (where I live flour absorbency is a tad different) so rlly it’s genius! Also wanted to thank you; I bake with my tiny cousin a lot and your recipes are my go-to bc their success rate is high! 😀 So far have made your red velvet cupcakes and choc chip muffins and they haven’t disappointed.

  4. Hi Sally- these look amazing. Do you think these would work for a cookie similar to a peanut blossom, but with those melty mints from pepperidge farms ( those pastel, kiss shaped mints}? Also, would these work like a sugar cookie bar? Btw– thank you soo much for the pizza dough recipe. We have been using that all the time since discovering it. I bought a pizza pan that can go on the grill, and it makes amazing pizza- smoky, melty, delicious.

    1. Hi Barb! Do you mean baked in main muffin pan or baked as cookies? I’ve seen PB blossoms both ways. Regardless, I think either would work.

      Thank you 🙂 It’s REALLY good pizza dough when grilled. I’m so glad you love it!

  5. Sally, you take the most beautiful photos! I love the purple in these. Sometimes I visit your blog just for the food porn! Hahah, the colors are so sunny and refreshing 🙂 Visiting a friend this weekend for a festival, I’ll have to see if I have time to make these!

    1. What a compliment, thank you so much Michelle! Getting used to a NEW photography environment in the new house has been especially challenging this summer. I appreciate the compliment so much, thank you.

  6. Hi Sally,
    I love your site and all your recipes. I have a question, I work all day and when I come home I want to bake a pound cake. Is it safe to leave butter out on the counter all day so that it will be ready (room temp) to use when I get home or is there a “trick” to getting it to room temp qickly?
    Thanks for your help.
    grace

  7. You know, I always thought sugar cookies were especially regal. Now I know why!! I bow down to the Queen of the Cookie World. Is that a cream cheese sugar frosting crown I see? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is. 😉
    Btw, Sally, I LOVE your new cloth/textile napkins! That purple is perfect. Also, royal. Makes perfect sense. 😉 Did I tell you? I just got new napkins too! Gray, mustard yellow, blue, and even one with light gray polka dots because, duh. 😉
    Almond extract, ftw. Always and forever. 😉 That scent is just instant bliss. Hope you’re having an awesome week!
    P.S. There’s a different and really lovely feel to these photos. <3

    1. Thank you so much! Where did you get the napkins? I got this purple one from Williams Sonoma. Washed & dried it so it’s super wrinkly. I love how it looks in photos!

      1. That purple is beautiful! Rustic, but still lively and joyful, if that makes sense. 😉 I got a few from Target, and a few my mom got for me in Vietnam (!!). She was very proud of her finds (me too!) Yeah, I love the texture so much more after a good wash and dry. Before, it’s too perfect, right? 😉

  8. YES to almond extract! My roll-out sugar cookie recipe has almond extract in it and I absolutely LOVE the way they taste! And you can just never go wrong with cream cheese frosting– plus putting it inside of the cookies? Genius. Love these, Sally!

  9. I’ve made the soft cut-out sugar cookies before, and my only problem with them was that they were so sugary and heavy! This sounds like the perfect recipe. I’ve always wanted to try a cream cheese sugar cookie dough. Or possibly the cream cheese frosting…..once I whipped some up for some cupcakes, but ended up eating it by spoon myself! 😉 <3 <3 <3

  10. I agree with Kevin on this one. I’d much rather have a chocolate chip cookie any day then a sugar cookie!!!!!!! But I’m gonna give this recipe a try sans almond extract… 🙂

  11. Sally!

    It’s not exaclty connected to this post and recipe, but would you please upload more pictures about the stages of preparation in the future? Not like every single step, just a few directions. It was so good to see them in this recipe, I could have used some pics in other ones as well, you know, just to compare the texture, etc… make sure we’re getting everything right! I would be soooo thankful!

  12. I can’t wait to try this recipe, because standard sugar cookies are wa-a-a-a-ay too sweet for me.  And I love cream cheese.  And I love sprinkles on frosting.  I’m thinking of baking them and carrying them on the airplane in my carry-on from Colorado to North Carolina, then frosting them in N.C.  Should boost my popularity in the travel group exponentially!

  13. I’ve never tried sugar cookies with cream cheese, that sounds absolutely delicious. Oh, you just gave me a craving for cherry almond sugar cookies, that cream cheese will take it up a notch…
    You always give me good ideas, Sally!

  14. Maybe your new cookbook should be “Sally’s Cookie Addiction”. I’d be the first to buy if it’d happen 😉

    That aside, this recipe could not have come at a mre perfect time especially when I have four 8-oz blocks of cream cheese expiring next week. So, I made them yesterday and am so in love with it. That cream cheese frosting is so light and fluffy and tasty. YUM! 

    Right now, I’m thawing some more cream cheese and I am preparing to make your oreo truffles (YUM!)

    Thanks for sharing such delightful recipes

  15. Made them the other day and my family and I devoured them!!!! I love to bake and my 14 year old isn’t into too many sweets the one thing she loves is sugar cookies however. I hated them and never really made an effort to make them until this recipe and am so happy that I did. She said that they were the best sugar cookies that she ever tasted!!! I would love to post the pic they came out wonderful, coming from a previous sugar cookie detester lol if that is even a word.

  16. Any suggestions for an almond extract substitute? The husband is allergic to almonds – and most other nuts except peanuts… Thanks for the great recipes/instructions!

    1. You can simply leave it out– or maybe replace with a lemon, butter, coconut, or orange extract. All flavors would be wonderful in these.

  17. I was going to make your funfetti supreme sugar cookies this weekend, now I am wondering if I should make these instead, I love cream cheese! Would these be able to handle the sprinkles mixed into the dough? I will be travelling with them so don’t plan to frost them, and I think my boys would love the sprinkle look. Thanks!

      1. I made these with the sprinkles, they are amazing! I used gluten free flour, the substitution worked great. I made a batch and froze some of the dough, can’t wait to make them again soon. My 4 year old said “I love them, I love them, I love them forever”! Thanks for a great recipe, this will be my new go-to sugar cookie recipe!

  18. Will this dough work for cutout cookies? My grandson’s newest request is for batman cookies but I’d love to try this recipe.

  19. Why do modern recipes say to “whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together . . . ” Why not just sift?  It it quick and easy and saves getting an extra bowl dirty.  I also think it incorporates the ingredients better.  Love, loved, love your butter pecan cookies and these sound scrumptious.  Can’t wait to try them.  So glad I have found your baking addiction!  I’m addicted too! 

    1. Sometimes sifting aerates the flour much more than the recipe needs. I love those butter pecan cookies around the holidays! Let me know how you like these cream cheese sugar cookies if you give them a try 🙂

  20. I made these this past Thursday evening and I loved them! I was a little worried that I may eat the entire batch myself the next day, so I sent them to work with my husband Friday morning. He texted me at lunch and told me that the entire batch was already gone. He said 3 different people told him these were the best sugar cookies they’d ever had! On a side note, I also made your whole wheat banana bread last week, replacing the walnuts with equal parts dried cranberries and slivered almonds. It was so popular that I’m headed to the kitchen right now to make another loaf for a friend who raved over it. Thanks for the great recipes!

    1. Cookies for breakfast in the office, it doesn’t get much better than that! And I love the additions you made to the whole wheat banana bread. I’m going to try it!

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