the best soft sugar cookies

sugar cookie dough frosted christmas shapes

Perfectly soft sugar cookies topped with luscious cream cheese frosting just begging for sprinkles!


sugar cookie dough frosted christmas shapes

You guys. These are it. Gone are the days of crispy + crunchy sugar cookies. Because in my personal opinion, if it ain’t soft, it’s just not right.

My other issue with sugar cookies is the icing. I totally love the look of royal icing [aka the kind that is thin then hardens beautifully], but it just doesn’t do as much for my taste buds. Cream cheese frosting, on the other hand. That makes my heart sing.

So while it’s trickier to make cream cheese frosting look as perfect as royal icing — what you sacrifice in appearance, we 100% make up for in flavor! Cream cheese based sugar cookie recipes has been a staple in my family every holiday season, and I’ve finally combined some of my favorite aspects of different recipes into my own holy grail!

cream cheese sugar cookie dough

A couple things to note about the recipe before we dive in. First, there’s several ingredients that need to be room temperature before we start. Especially for the icing. However. I know that life gets in the way sometimes, so we don’t always have the time [read: patience, in my case], to wait for it to warm up on the counter.

I’ve had success beating cold cream cheese really fast for several minutes then adding softened butter [via the microwave] and continue to beat on high until totally incorporated. It’s not the ideal scenario, but it can be done in a pinch! Room temperature ingredients are required for the frosting though, no way around that one!

kitchenaid mixer creaming butter

Second, almond extract is a must! I learned this tip from the lovely Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction. It completely takes the flavor of these cookies over the top. It may or may not be an ingredient you already have in your pantry, but it’s worth a quick trip to the store for this recipe!

sugar cookie dough rolling pin

Third, this recipes makes a good bit of dough, but the number of cookies totally depends on the size of your cookie cutters. As does the baking time. If you have small or thinner shapes, you’ll need to watch carefully + cut back on the baking time. Same goes for larger or thicker sizes: keep them in the oven a bit longer.

sugar cookie dough christmas shapes

Lastly, this dough is great to make ahead! You can chill it in the fridge for about 3 days or freeze it for weeks. You can move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before for it to thaw before baking.

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we do. I wouldn’t titled them the best if I didn’t truly believe it, after all!

the best soft sugar cookies

  • Prep Time: 3h
  • Cook Time: 10m
  • Total Time: 3h 30m
  • Yield: 50+ cookies
  • Category:


Cookie Dough

  • 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/4 cups (655 g) all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (315 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)


Cookie Dough

  1. Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream together the butter + cream cheese until completely smooth.
  2. Add sugar + beat until fully incorporated and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Adjust to medium speed, and add egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, and salt until combined.
  4. On low speed, slowly add flour in ~1/2 cup increments. Mix until just combined.
  5. Chill the dough for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  7. On a floured surface, roll cookie dough to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick before using cookie cutters to achieve desired shapes.
  8. Bake for 8-12 minutes, adjusting time as needed based on size of cookie shapes. Cookies will still look slightly underdone + soft. You do not want to have any browning on the cookie to avoid crisp, rather than soft, sugar cookies.
  9. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Cream butter + cream cheese together with stand or handheld mixer. Add salt + vanilla extract.
  2. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar. If frosting seems too thick, you may add 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream to thin.
  3. Frosting may be used as is or add food coloring to make a variety of colors. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Adapted via Cookies & Cups + Sally’s Baking Addiction

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