Topped with creamy vanilla buttercream and colorful sprinkles, these soft cakey sugar cookies are like sweet cupcakes in cookie form. They’re flavored with vanilla and a hint of almond and are terrific for birthdays or other festive celebrations. Plus, they’re easy enough for kids and young children to help in the baking fun.
If you love cakey-style cookies, you’ll also appreciate these homemade black and white cookies, these fresh and zingy lemon ricotta cookies (easily one of the best soft cookies we’ve ever had), and our blueberry muffin cookies.
Tell Me About these Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies
- Texture: Thanks in most part to the sour cream, these cookies bake up fat, soft, tender, and fluffy. The vanilla buttercream on top is smooth and creamy, while the sprinkles add a little texture contrast.
- Flavor: These cookies are buttery and sweet with a subtle tang. The hints of vanilla and almond add another layer of flavor.
- Ease: There’s no rolling pin or cookie cutters required, which makes this recipe a bit less technical than traditional sugar cookies. This dough is pretty sticky, so I recommend a medium cookie scoop for easier baking and less mess.
- Time: The dough comes together quickly, but you’ll need to chill it in the refrigerator for 1 hour before shaping and baking. Chilling is a must. In our recipe testing, we tried reducing the chill time down to 30 minutes, but the cookies were noticeably flatter. 1 hour of chilling helps guarantee a thick cookie that holds its shape in the oven.
Video Tutorial: How to make Soft Cakey Sugar Cookies
The Magic of Sour Cream
The secret to a cakey cookie is moisture. The more moisture in your cookie dough, the softer, fluffier, and more tender it will taste. Butter is your best friend and eggs help with that moisture component, but we need an additional liquid-y solid or wet solid to help. Use sour cream.
- Sour cream adds much-needed moisture you need in the cookie dough.
- It creates an intensely creamy cookie with rich flavor.
- Sour cream also prevents the cakey cookie from becoming too dry.
For the best flavor and texture, use full-fat sour cream. You can use light sour cream in a pinch, but avoid the fat-free version.
These puffy sugar cookies are good on their own, but better when they’re all dolled up with frosting. We used this vanilla buttercream tinted it with dusty rose gel food coloring. If vanilla isn’t your favorite, try chocolate buttercream, strawberry frosting, or even lemon buttercream. These sugar cookie cakelettes are a blank canvas for a variety of frosting options.
Nothing says a party like sprinkles, so be generous when you crown your cookies with the colorful toppers. We often use these naturally colored rainbow sprinkles.
Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipes: A Sweet Comparison
While this recipe is for cake-style sugar cookies, we have many other varieties published on the site. Here’s a breakdown of our favorites:
- Sugar Cookies – These are our classic cut-out sugar cookies with soft centers and crisp edges. This dough is meant for shaping with cookie cutters.
- Chocolate Sugar Cookies – This is the chocolate version of the cookies linked above.
- Drop Sugar Cookies – These boast a very chewy texture and are loaded with sprinkles. (Or you can leave plain.) There’s no rolling pin or cookie cutters required.
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies – These are similar to the drop cookies linked above, except they are flavored with rich brown butter.
- Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies – These drop style cookies are made with cream cheese. They’re thick, rich, and tangy. We often top them with cream cheese frosting.
- Soft Cream Cheese Cookies with Nutella Glaze – These cut-out cookies are super soft and tangy. You can use your favorite shaped cookie cutters.
These soft cakey sugar cookies are topped with creamy vanilla buttercream and sprinkles. Full-fat sour cream is the secret to their tender softness.
- 3 cups (375g) 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 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.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Cookie Scoop | Silpat Baking Mat | Baking Sheets | Cooling Rack | Americolor Pastel Kit | Naturally Colored Sprinkles
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.