In today’s post: These homemade sugar cookies are so much better than anything you’ll buy at the store, and the star of the show is the easy cream cheese frosting! The cookies are soft and the frosting is thick and rich. They’re perfect for making for holidays or anytime you want sugar cookies – and you don’t even need to chill the dough!
Our family has been making these sugar cookies for years! They are one of our favorite treats to make for holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day because you can make them in fun shapes with pretty colored frosting. The best thing about this recipe is that unlike most recipes for cut out sugar cookies, you don’t have to chill the dough before rolling it out! I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like making cookies to be an all-day affair. I’d rather just mix them up and get them baked, and that’s exactly what you can do with this recipe.
The Cream Cheese Frosting
This is a simple, classic sugar cookie recipe with mild flavors of butter and vanilla. The real star here is the best cream cheese frosting you’ve ever tasted. It features both butter and cream cheese for the perfect amount of richness and flavor. It’s soft and fluffy and tastes oh-so-much better than boring royal icing. It’s easy to spread on top of cookies with a butter knife, or you can place it in a ziplock bag and snip off a corner to “pipe” the frosting over the cookies. After you’ve frosted the cookies, quickly add any decoration you like, such as sprinkles or colored sugar.
Sugar Cookie Baking Tips
People love these sugar cookies because they are soft and cakey. There are a few things to think about that will help you make the perfect sugar cookie:
- Be careful not to roll the dough out too thin. Anything under 1/4 inch is definitely too thin. I shoot for just barely under 3/8 on an inch myself. I love this rolling pin with thickness guides to get perfectly rolled dough. If you don’t have a rolling pin like that, I recommend grabbing a ruler and actually measuring the dough until you get a feel for what 3/8 feels like.
- You will need some flour when you begin rolling out your cookies, so liberally flour your work surface, scoop out some dough, and add more flour on top. As you roll out more dough you may need to add a little more flour, just enough to ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.
- Watch the cookies carefully to ensure you don’t over bake them. This can be a little tricky the first time you make sugar cookies, as you don’t want them browned AT ALL (see photos below). Keep a close eye on the first tray of cookies to figure out how long they will take in your oven. When done they’ll be nice and puffed and firm enough to come off the cookie sheet pretty easily. When you touch an outside edges it will feel set. But even the bottoms of the cookies should still be white. Ten to eleven minutes is just right for sugar cookies in my oven, but it may take you a tray or two to figure out what’s perfect in your oven. That’s ok, because once the cookies are cooled and frosted most people won’t be able to tell the difference. But if you’re shooting for cookie perfection, err on the side of barely underdone instead of overdone.
Tips for a Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting
The key to really great cream cheese frosting is getting consistency right. You want it smooth and spreadable, but not so soft it will lose its definition. Two things will help you get the perfect consistency:
- DO NOT melt the butter. Both the butter and the cream cheese should be at room temperature or slightly softened enough that you can beat them together to make a smooth frosting, but melted butter will turn your fluffy frosting into runny frosting.
- Add the milk SLOWLY. It’s easy to overdo with milk in frosting, so start with half of what is called for and add the rest slowly. If the frosting seems soft enough without all the milk that’s called for, don’t worry about adding in the rest. If you add a little too much milk, you may be able to correct it by adding more powdered sugar.
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Butter
- 3 Eggs
- 1/4 cup Milk
- 5 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 tablespoons Butter softened
- Dash of Salt
- 1.5 teaspoon Vanilla
- 4.5 cups Powdered Sugar
- 4 tablespoons Milk
- 6 oz Cream Cheese softened
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- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together sugar, butter, eggs and milk until well combined in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add flour, salt and baking powder until just combined.
- Liberally flour a work surface and rolling pin.
- Roll out about 1/4 of the dough at a time to 3/8 inch thickness.
- Cut with cookie cutters and place onto a cookie sheet lined with a cookie sheet liner or parchment paper.
- Bake about 10 minutes until cookies are just done and remove from baking sheet immediately. Frost when completely cooled.
- Soften butter and cream cheese, then blend together with powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and half the milk. Add the rest of the milk gradually, beating until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Tint with food coloring if desired and frost cookies.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
After a couple of hours the frosting on these cookies will set slightly, however it will not get hard like a royal icing, so I don’t recommend stacking the cookies or the frosting will probably smudge. You can overlap the cookies on a cookie plate if you let the frosting set for a few hours first and then layer the cookies very gently.
You might think these need to be refrigerated because of the frosting, but they are fine at room temperature for a couple of days. Store them in an airtight container to keep them fresh. They also freeze quite well in a single layer in a ziplock bag.
First, be sure you start with slightly softened butter, NOT melted butter, and add the milk slowly so the frosting doesn’t get too runny. If it does end up too runny, adding in extra powdered sugar can help thicken it up to the desired consistency. If it is quite runny, you’ll want to add in some extra butter and cream cheese along with the powdered sugar.
Yes, you can, but you will need to divide the frosting into two parts. Keep one part fairly stiff so you can use it to outline the cookies, and then add more milk to the other part so it’s thinner. Use the thinner frosting to flood the cookies – it will settle looking flat. Remember that because this is a cream cheese frosting recipe (not a royal icing recipe) it won’t dry hard.