These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with creamy pastel pink buttercream and sprinkles. Sour cream is the secret ingredient to this simple and delicious drop sugar cookie recipe!
I used to turn my nose up at cakey cookies. Cookies should be dense and textured with crispy crackly edges and chewy centers. Cookies should not be little cakes suffering an identity crisis. I knew my strict mindset (and tastebuds!) wouldn’t benefit me when writing Sally’s Cookie Addiction, so I began working on a few cakey cookies that I loved. (Soft maple cookies on page 184!)
From that point, there were red velvet whoopie pies, chocolate whoopie pies, and homemade black and white cookies. And then I tasted my friend’s lemon ricotta cookies, easily one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. Soon after I baked blueberry muffin cookies and lost my mind over their cakelike perfection.
Which brings us to today.
Let’s learn how to bake these soft cakey sugar cookies.
How to Make Cakey Sugar Cookies
To make a cookie cakey, you need moisture. The more moisture in your cookie dough, the softer, fluffier, and more tender it will taste. Butter is your best friend, eggs are fantastic, but what’s crucial for cake-like cookies is an additional liquid or liquid-y solid. Today that special ingredient is sour cream. While supplying the cookie dough with moisture, the sour cream also gives us an intensely creamy cookie with rich flavor. It is, without a doubt, the main player in these cakey sugar cookies.
The rest of the ingredients are familiars. We’ve got the usual gang like flour, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and leaveners. The sugar cookies are buttery and sweet with a subtle tang, but what comes forward the most is the combination of vanilla and almond extracts. Sugar cookies have the tendency to taste a little flat and boring, but using just enough vanilla extract and a hint of almond adds a much needed layer of flavor.
The dough is a cookie dough/cake batter hybrid. It’s creamy and silky like cake batter, but very thick like cookie dough. This consistency makes it impossible for rolling out and shaping with cookie cutters, so if you’re looking for a cut-out sugar cookie with a similar flavor and texture, try my super soft cream cheese cookies.
The cookie dough requires 1 hour in the refrigerator before baking. I tried only 30 minutes in my first batch and the cookies were noticeably flatter. 1 hour of chilling helps guarantee a thick cookie that holds its shape in the oven.
To make your cookie baking experience easier (and less messy!) I recommend a cookie scoop as the dough is pretty sticky. Each cookie is 1.5 Tablespoons of dough, so this medium cookie scoop is perfect.
Decorating Sugar Cookies
These fat and fluffy sugar cookies are nice on their own, but SO MUCH BETTER all dolled up. If there’s an opportunity for buttercream, we should take it and since pink is my spirit color, I tinted the frosting dusty rose. Isn’t she lovely? (By the way, these are naturally colored rainbow sprinkles. The same ones I used for this pictured cake. I love them!)
I used my vanilla buttercream recipe for topping, but if you have the itch for another flavor, try chocolate, strawberry, or even lemon buttercream. These sugar cookie cakelettes scream childhood and I have a feeling little bakers will love adorning each cookie with frosting and sprinkles, so grab your kids for this one and have fun!
Sugar Cookie Recipes Comparison
- Soft cut-out sugar cookies – soft centers, crisp edges, use cookie cutters for shaping
- Chocolate sugar cookies – the chocolate version
- Soft-baked funfetti sugar cookies – very chewy and soft drop-style sugar cookies filled with sprinkles
- Brown butter sugar cookies – similar to above, but with brown butter
- Brown sugar sugar cookies – very chewy, thick, and soft drop-style sugar cookies with deep brown sugar flavor
- Cream cheese sugar cookies – thick, tangy, drop-style
- Soft cream cheese cut-out cookies – same as above but use cookie cutters for shaping
Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies
- 3 cups (370g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks; 235g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- vanilla buttercream and sprinkles for decorating*
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture may look curdled; that's ok. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until combined. The dough will be very thick, creamy, and silky. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour and up to 2-3 days.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
- Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. Measure cookies to be 1.5 Tablespoons each. I recommend this cookie scoop. Arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Bake for 13-14 minutes or until a cookie springs back when lightly poked with your finger. (That's how I test them!) Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare frosting (I use this vanilla buttercream) and spread onto each cooled cookie. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.
- Frosted cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: You can chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (see step 2), but you can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Unfrosted cookies freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
- Sour cream is a key ingredient in these cookies. For the best flavor and texture, I strongly recommend full-fat sour cream, but in a pinch light sour cream can work. Do not use fat free. Plain full-fat yogurt can be substituted. I don't suggest subbing the sour cream with a liquid.
- Why room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. It really makes a difference!
- In these photos, I tinted the buttercream with 1 small drop dusty rose gel food coloring and topped with these natural color rainbow sprinkles.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
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