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Crave-Worthy Sugar Cookies

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These are the best sugar cookies: rich and buttery in flavor with a crisp exterior and soft interior.

Sugar cookies on a lined baking sheet.

These sugar cookies are truly crave-worthy: buttery and rich in flavor with a crisp exterior and soft interior. I discovered the recipe years ago on the King Arthur Flour website, and it’s been my go-to for sugar cookies ever since. So, what makes these sugar cookies unique? First, they’re made with cream cheese in addition to butter, which makes them tender without the need for vegetable shortening. Second, they’re made with a touch of almond extract, which lightly perfumes the cookies with the unmistakable scent of almond.

“Absolutely wonderful! The only thing stopping me from baking these cookies every week is that I wouldn’t be able to stop eating them!”

Claire G

What You’ll Need To Make Crave-Worthy Sugar Cookies

ingredients for sugar cookies
  • All-Purpose Flour: Provides structure and stability to the cookies. Measure by spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling it off to ensure accuracy.
  • Baking Powder And Baking Soda: Help the cookies rise and become tender.
  • Butter: Add a rich flavor to the cookies.
  • Cream Cheese: Contributes to a soft, tender texture.
  • Sugar: The majority of the sugar sweetens the dough; a small portion creates a sweet, subtly crunchy coating for the cookie’s exterior.
  • Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor of the cookies with its warm aromatic richness.
  • Almond Extract: Adds a subtle, nutty flavor.
  • Egg: Binds the ingredients together and adds moisture.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-By-Step Instructions

Begin by whisking the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda together in a bowl. Set aside.

whisking dry ingredients

Next, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer with beaters).

creamed butter and sugar

Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

adding the extracts

Beat to combine, then add the egg.

adding the egg

Add the dry ingredients to the batter.

adding dry ingredients to sugar cookie batter

Mix on low until the dough forms a cohesive mass. It will be a little sticky.

mixed sugar cookie dough

Pinch off tablespoons of dough and roll in a bowl of sugar.

rolling sugar cookie dough balls in sugar

Place the balls on a cookie sheet, then press them flat with a flat-bottomed glass.

pressing the sugar cookies flat

Bake for about ten minutes, until lightly golden on the bottom but still very pale on top. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

sugar cookies cooling on rack

The cookies are best enjoyed fresh on the day they are made.

How To Freeze Sugar Cookies

If you don’t want to bake all the cookies at once, the dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, roll the dough into balls, let set on a baking sheet in the freezer, then place in a sealable bag and press out as much air as possible. When ready to bake, thaw them in the fridge until they are soft enough to flatten, and then bake.

To freeze after baking, let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Sugar cookies on a lined baking sheet.

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Crave-Worthy Sugar Cookies

These are the best sugar cookies: rich and buttery in flavor with a crisp exterior and soft interior.

Servings: 4 dozen
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with back edge of knife
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 oz (¼ cup) cream cheese
  • 1¼ cup sugar, plus ½ cup more for rolling cookies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

  1. Set racks in middle of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, a few minutes. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat in the egg. Scrape down the bowl again, then add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together into a cohesive mass. It will be a little sticky.
  4. Place the remaining ½ cup cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Moisten your hands so the dough doesn't stick to them. Pinch off the dough by tablespoonfuls, shape into rough balls (see note below), roll in the sugar to coat, and place 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using a flat-bottomed glass, flatten the cookies to ¼-inch thick. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back midway through to ensure even cooking. The cookies will turn golden on the bottom but remain pale on top. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel to keep the dough moist between batches.)
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Roll the dough into balls, let set on a baking sheet in the freezer, then place in a sealable bag and press out as much air as possible. When ready to bake, thaw them in the fridge until they are soft enough to flatten, and then bake. To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 2 cookies
  • Calories: 193
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Sugar: 15 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 104 mg
  • Cholesterol: 31 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Absolutely wonderful! The only thing stopping me from baking these cookies every week is that I wouldn’t be able to stop eating them!

    • — Claire G on May 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi. I am looking for a sugar cookie recipe that is heart healthy. I trust all of your recipes, but have had to switch my manner of baking due to a recent family diagnosis. So just a few questions: I know that I can exchange the butter for vegan butter sticks, such as Earth Balance, but wondering what will change in the cookie if I leave out the cream cheese? I can find no really good substitution for this that is totally nonfat, so wanted to know if it is possible to make these without it. The other question is how these would do if made with King Arthur Whole Whole Wheat? I can use regular flour but really am trying to work with WWW when possible. Thanks, as always!

    • — Jane on March 29, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, I’d just use more vegan butter in place of the cream cheese. I’d love to hear how they come out!

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thanks! I will let you know. But also I noticed that I had a typo in my original question. I asked if I could use King Arthur Whole Whole Wheat flour instead King Arthur All Purpose Flour. I meant to say White Whole Wheat Flour. Sorry! In any case, would that substitution work in these sugar cookies, as well as the extra vegan butter? Thanks!

        • — Jane on April 2, 2024
        • Reply
        • Hi Jane, I’m sorry I forgot to answer that question! Yes, you can get away with using white whole wheat. 😊

          • — Jenn on April 3, 2024
          • Reply
  • Hello! Do you have additional information on HIGH ALTITUDE directions please?
    Thanks so very much!!
    Jan

    • — JannyGirlNV on February 9, 2024
    • Reply
    • I don’t have any experience baking at high altitudes, so unfortunately, don’t have any wisdom to share – I’m sorry! I know that the King Arthur Baking website has an article that gives tips for high altitude baking if you want to check that out.

      • — Jenn on February 12, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’d like to bake a few cookies now and freeze the remainder of the dough. The freezer instructions are to bake the balls from frozen. When do I flatten the frozen balls?
    Thank you!

    • — S Harvey on December 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sorry if that wasn’t clear — wait until they’re thawed and then flatten them. I’m going to add that to the instructions. Hope you enjoy the cookies!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you Jenn! My family loves these cookies!

        • — S Harvey on December 21, 2023
        • Reply
  • I love your recipes and have tried many with success.
    I came across your sugar cookie recipe and it is nearly identical to a recipe I’ve used several times however, my recipe does not call for flour. It is a Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie recipe for cut-out cookies. Is this why there is no flour in it? May seem like a silly question but I’m not a baker, per se, so appreciate your time.

    • — Phyllis on December 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Phyllis, I have no idea why the recipe doesn’t call for flour – seems very unusual! I wish I could give you a good reason for it, but that’s a head scratcher – sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can you refrigerate the dough overnight and bake the following day? If so, how best to store in the refrigerator until ready to bake?

    • — Renee on December 5, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Renee, that will work. Once you’ve finished making the dough, I’d keep it as one large piece and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough come to room temperature the next day before rolling them into balls. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2023
      • Reply
  • These are the best sugar cookies ever. Nice texture, and easy to make. I froze a bunch to make later and decorate for Christmas.

    • — MJ on December 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • Wowzers! This is a light, perfectly crisp, and as the recipe title says a craveable cookie. Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Trina W on November 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • 4 dozen seems like a lot. Is this because they are relatively small?There are two of us, but I often share with neighbors. Can this be easily halved? How about the egg? Or do I just make them all and freeze the rest?

    • — Jane on February 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, they’re the size of an average cookie. You can definitely cut the recipe in half. For the egg, beat it in a measuring cup, discard half of it, and use the remaining half. You can also freeze the baked cookies or the dough. See the bottom of the recipe for freezer-friendly instructions.

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • I love sugar cookies and gave these a try. They were amazing – I could not stop eating them. They froze extremely well. Highly recommend

    • — Cheri T on December 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Could we add some sparkling sugar on top of the cookie, then press down and bake?

    • — Dorothea on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, would this recipe work well with the cookie stamps you featured in your gift guide? Thanks so much!

    • — Andrea on December 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Unfortunately, I don’t think it would — I’m sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • These are wonderful and everyone is right who said you can’t stop eating them … be prepared! The dough was too sticky to measure in a spoon so I used my scale at 30g and that was perfect. I tried 25 too small, 50 too big, and 35g too big. 30g is the sweet spot!

    • — Kim on November 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can this recipe be used for cutout cookies? Would they keep their shape?

    • — Anne on September 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, It won’t work as is, but the King Arthur website recommends adding 1/2 cup flour to the recipe if you want to roll them out. They will definitely be more crisp with the additional flour. I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Does this recipe call for a chill time?

    • — Z on August 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Z, it’s not necessary here. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is my first time making sugar cookies and they did not disappoint. Hubby loves them!

    • — Barbara on June 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve never really been a fan of sugar cookies, but these are so good – I just can’t stop eating them! Another recipe to put on repeat – thanks Jenn!

    • — Neena Monteiro on June 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi. I want to make these but without the almond extract. Do I use the vanilla as is or add the almond extract amount to it? Thanks!

    • — Jane on June 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • I’d use more vanilla in place of the almond extract (so you’ll need 1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • Best sugar cookies I’ve made. Flexible too. You can divide the batter and make variations. Rolled one third in cinnamon sugar for a snickerdoodle. Folded m&ms into another third. The last third food in lemon or orange zest and make the same flavored glaze. Really solid easy recipe. Thanks!

    • — MMD on May 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were delicious! I did not roll them in the additional sugar, instead I made an indentation and added a small amount of guava marmalade. Excellent! Everyone loved them.Thanks, Jenn.

    • Sorry, I forgot to give them 5 stars!

  • Have made these several times and they are the best sugar cookie ever! Wanted some today but didn’t have any cream cheese. Too lazy to run to the store so substituted nonfat Greek yogurt and it worked perfectly. Cookies were absolutely delicious as they always have been!

  • My 13 year-old just said, “best cookie I’ve ever had.” And I have to say, he’s right. These are superb!

  • I really wish I had never made these cookies. Because I can’t STOP eating them 🤪

  • As a chocolate-lover, I was doubtful that there was even a thing such as crave-worthy sugar cookies. Was I ever wrong! By far, the best sugar cookie I’ve ever eaten.

  • I used dairy-free and gluten-free substitutes in your sugar cookies- they were great- no gritty taste using Bob’s Red Mill 1to1 gluten-free flour and dairy-free cream cheese! I rolled the cookies in red and green sugar for the holidays. Thanks for all your great recipes- I enjoy reading the comments too!

  • Hi Jen, I have a granddaughter who is on a dairy-free and gluten-free diet. I plan to use this recipe using vegan Earth Balance butter sticks, non-dairy cream cheese, and Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour. What do you think?

    • Hi Carol, I haven’t tried these with any of those substitutes so it’s hard to say for sure – sorry! Please LMK how they turn out if you make them. 🙂

  • Wow – these are incredible. I got rave reviews on these and my husband-to-be says it’s his new favorite recipe of mine. Simple, delicious, and loved by all.

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