Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies

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!

sugar cookies topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles on a cooling rack

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.

soft sugar cookies with pink buttercream and sprinkles

sugar cookies topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles on a cooling rack

These sweet cookies are light, airy, and tender. They’re flavored with vanilla and a little almond, topped with buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles, and are drop-style so you don’t need to break out the rolling pin. (We all love sugar cookies, but sometimes you just need to use a cookie scoop!)

They’re my homemade version of the fan-favorite Lofthouse cookies sold on grocery store shelves. I say that loosely because they aren’t identical since they’re from-scratch without the long list of unrecognizable ingredients!

Let’s learn how to bake these soft cakey sugar cookies.

cookie dough in a glass bowl with a cookie scoop

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.

drop style sugar cookie dough on a baking sheet before baking

soft sugar cookies on a baking sheet after baking

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. I love them!)

I used my vanilla buttercream recipe for topping, but if you have the itch for another flavor, try chocolate buttercream, strawberry frosting, 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!

pink buttercream frosting in a glass bowl

soft sugar cookies with pink buttercream and sprinkles on a blue and white plate

Sugar Cookie Recipes Comparison

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sugar cookies topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles on a cooling rack

Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 36-40 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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!


  • 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*


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Prepare frosting (I use this vanilla buttercream) and spread onto each cooled cookie. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Frosted cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Cookie Scoop | Silpat Baking Mat | Baking Sheets | Cooling Rack | Americolor Pastel Kit | Naturally Colored Sprinkles
  3. Sour Cream: 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Pink Frosting: In these photos, I tinted the buttercream with 1 small drop dusty rose gel food coloring and topped with these natural color rainbow sprinkles.
  6. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

side view of a sugar cookie with a bite taken from it topped with pink buttercream and sprinkles on a cooling rack


  1. These are soooooo good. I’ve been working at home since mid-March, and since then we are now on our 4th batch of these cookies. My mom lives with me and is going through cancer treatments, and sometimes she doesn’t want to eat meals…but she will gladly eat these cookies.

    1. For your mama, these are great. I made these for my mom to snack on during chemo because they helped kick the nausea (and they are phenomenal!!) A bit late but prayers for recovery.

  2. Do these cookies need to be frosted?

    1. No, you can skip the frosting if you wish.

  3. I am in awe how every single one of your recipes that I try turn out amazing! I feel like I have unlocked a magical recipe box! These were soft, cakey, just sweet enough and golden brown. Your trick to poke them and see if they bounced back worked perfectly.
    My mom tried one of these and said “these are so much better than the ones I made, you’re a great baker.” I can’t take any of the credit, it’s all your recipes! Thank you so much for taking the time to experiment and test so that we can all enjoy the delicious product!

  4. Is there something I can substitute for the almond extract?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brooke, You can just leave out the almond extract completely (though I really do recommend it for best flavor!). No need to replace with vanilla extract, though you certainly can for extra vanilla flavor.

  5. Hi Sally! Do you think i can replace the sour cream in this recipe with pumpkin?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Avery, We haven’t tested that exact substitution. You may wish to try these pumpkin cookies (feel free to omit the cinnamon chips) or any other of our pumpkin cookie recipes.

  6. These are SO GOOD!! I wanted to make funfetti cookies to ship to my daughter for her birthday. These looked more appealing to me than the other funfetti cookies on the site (more cake like; good for a birthday), so I made these as written and added a LOT of sprinkles at the end of mixing. They are absolutely delicious. ♥️

  7. Can’t wait to try these! Do think these would work in a large letter or number mold for a stacked cookie cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Donna, I’m sure it would although we have never tested it. Let us know if you try it!

  8. Question, with many of my cookies I scoop them, put on cookie sheet to chill and then bake. I have found frequently the dough is easier to scoop soft and helps me get consistent sizing. Do you think that would work with these cookies? Thanks! Happy and healthy holidays to all!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sheryl, This doug is very soft before chilling. You can scoop it before chilling but you will likely need to re-roll each ball after chilling so that it holds its shape better.

  9. Followed recipe exactly.
    These were nothing like the Lofthouse cookies. They were more like sweet biscuits. Unfortunately, a waste of ingredients and time.

  10. Hi Sally. If you wanted to turn this cakey sugar cookie recipe into a chocolate one, would you just ad 3/4 cups cocoa?

  11. Hi! I want to try out your recipe and I was wondering what I can do to leave out sour cream?

  12. these cookies are very addictive!

  13. Hi sally, im going to try this recipe tonight. But i just wanted to say how amazing your recipes are. Every single one i try it turns out amazing! If i ever have someone ask me to make something ive never made before i can always trust that your recipe will turn out amazing! Thank you for all you, you truly help thousands of people. ❤

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for making and trusting our recipes, Mikaiya. Hope you love these cookies!

  14. Hi Sally, these cookies are absolutely delicious and one of my ultimate favorites! I’m planning to try different flavors, starting with chocolate. How much cocoa powder should I put in for these cakey sugar cookies to get that rich chocolate flavor? Do you suggest any other ingredients to go with it?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Danielle, we haven’t tested a soft chocolate sugar cookie, but let us know if you try anything!

  15. Lonnie Threatt says:

    I have been using this recipe for at least a year now recently made some gluten free for a friend and I won’t make them any other way now they taste so good with the gluten free flour amazing recipe thank you so much

  16. Does the frosting harden up a bit? Trying to see how these would be to travel with and don’t want to end up with a mess!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jill! The frosting sets and the cookies are definitely stackable, but the frosting will still get a little sticky from the pressure of the cookies on top of one another.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally