Classic Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies
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Looking for a classic, foolproof cream cheese cutout cookie recipe? Look no further. These cutout cookies hold their shape when baked, they’re sweet, tender, and tasty, and most important, children love them. More to the point, children love making them. The dough can be made days in advance and stashed in the fridge. The recipe yields about 50 cookies, perfect for gifting for the holiday season!
There is a woman here in town who, I have no doubt, would defeat Bobby Flay in a Christmas-cookie throw down. Her name is Kelly, and I met her this past summer at a lawn-games Olympics party. After one bite of her legendary cookies, I immediately enlisted her to make a batch for a similarly themed neighborhood gathering. The cookies were the hit of the evening. (Sorry Simone.)
I’ve never asked Kelly for her recipe—I sense it’s treasured—but at one point while we were talking, she let on that cream cheese was the secret. In preparation for holiday cookie season, I did a teensy, teensy bit of research online and found a recipe that yields a cookie not quite as beautiful as Kelly’s, but equally delicious — they hold their shape when baked, they’re sweet, tender, and tasty, and most important, the children love them.
More to the point, the children love making them, which I confess do not. Rolling out dough to a precise thickness, tinting icing to an un-garish hue, piping of any sort—it’s just not in my wheelhouse.
Alas. One day I hope to embrace the challenge of Christmas-cookie baking. For now, I’ll continue a newfound tradition, which requires a neighborhood child at least 9-years of age, preferably one named Jane with the most adorable freckles speckling her face. Last Thursday, I handed over the rolling and cutting and decorating reigns to Jane and did my best to stay out of the way.
There was flour everywhere. There were children sitting—standing!—on the table. Not a single cookie’s thickness matched another’s. It took every ounce of restraint not to intervene. I sipped my wine and occupied myself with the dishes and sweeping and tidying. Let it go, I kept telling myself, let it go. And I did. And the cookies—despite the varying thicknesses, the several decapitated snowmen, the many wingless angels—were delicious.
This dough, I find, is best divided into four portions. I let the children tackle three that evening, and during nap time today, I spent some time with the fourth. As noted, piping and tinting are not my thing, but I can handle a simple royal icing, and I do love festive, decorative sprinkles.Print
Classic Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
- Yield: 50 cookies
Recipe adapted from this one.
For the Cookies:
- 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cup (330 g) granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3½ (448 g) cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the icing/decoriating:
- 1 cup (134 g) confectioner’s sugar, or more as needed
- 1 – 3 tablespoons milk
- sprinkles of your liking
- Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl and of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Add sugar; beat until even fluffier. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add it to the butter and cream cheese mixture and beat until just combined. Transfer a quarter of the dough to the center of a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Pat into a disk, and wrap tightly. Repeat with the remaining three quarters. Chill for at least an hour and up to three days.
- Preheat your oven to 325º F. Roll out our dough on a lightly floured surface or in between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/2-inch thick. Cut out your cookies with cookie cutters of your choice. Gather scraps, re-roll, and repeat the process.
- Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheets for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn golden—cookies will be pale with light golden edges. Remove them from the pan and transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely. Note: I don’t like baking more than one sheet of cookies at a time, but do as you like.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: Stir together the confectioner’s sugar with 1 tablespoon of the milk. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time to achieve a thick but pourable consistency. Spoon icing onto cookie, spreading to cover. Shower with sprinkles.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: classic, cream, cheese, cutout, cookies, sugar, sprinkles, decorative, Christmas
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42 Comments on “Classic Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies”
Hmmm, cream cheese, who knew? I wonder if vegan cream cheese would work… I’ll have to test this out for myself!
Oh, please do! And report back 🙂
Your story made me laugh!
But, oh, Ali, I can so relate to how you feel about the rolling out to precise thickness and coloring icing for cutout cookies. I offered to make and decorate elephant shaped sugar cookies for a shower. I planned on making at least two for each of the many guests. The elephant was to have polka dots and eyes and a small heart. I ended up making only one for each person and wrapping in a cellophane bag as a party favor and the poor elephant only had polka dots. Only my love for this most cherished child helped me persevere even that far!
I will definitely try these as they sound delicious! But, I will probably get lazy and roll them into a log and slice them.?
Thanks for sharing!
Trish, you deserve a prize for making it that far!! Whenever I see a piping bag, my brain shuts off … just can’t do it. But those elephants sound adorable and I’m sure they were beautiful eye-less, heart-less and all 🙂 I love it, Trish. xoxo
I absolutely agree with your assessment of the cookie decorating process! It can suck the joy right out of the Christmas season. Now that my kids are grown but I don’t yet have grandchildren, I can devote my time to other baked goods, like drop cookies, bar cookies. I have no intention of overdoing the fancy cookies until little ones are back.
I need more drop and bar cookies in my repertoire! Thanks for assuring me that I’m not alone 🙂 🙂 🙂 Happy Holidays to you and your family!
Of course, cream cheese is awesome! I use it when making the infamous Purim Hamantaschen – link from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/cream-cheese-hamantaschen-dough/9913/?utm_term=.ff33f1e90dcc .
If you don’t enjoy making cookies, there’s always latkes for Chanukah – no real precision needed!! I will enjoy making these cookies – and icing them with blue & white for the other holiday in Dec….:) 🙂 Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year! I look forward to many more glorious recipes from you Alexandra.
Michele! Thank you for your kind words… means so much. And thank you for reminder about the other holiday in December 🙂 🙂 🙂 I am making latkes for Christmas Eve, and I’ve never been more excited. Also, thank you for the link to the hamantaschen, which I have never made, but have always wanted to. Ina Garten uses cream cheese in her rugelach, which I am also dying to make. Do you have a favorite recipe? Happy Chanukah and Happy Happy New Year, Michele!!
Yay!! Oh my goodness, Darcy, you leave so soon. I’m so excited for you.
Your beautiful pictures of these lovely cookies inspired me to make these. I doubled the recipe and have the discs in the fridge cooling. I am starting to doubt the yield noted on the serving section of the recipe — 50 cookies?
If you used 2″ circular cutter to produce the cookies above I believe they would need to be much thinner than 1/4″ thick in order to yield 50 cookies.
Is the yield correct or am I doing something wrong?
Louise, so sorry for the delay here! You should get close to 50. I get about 12 cookies per quarter batch, which comes out to 48, and I usually have some dough leftover. Have you started rolling and cutting yet? Let me know! I’m always surprised by how many I do end up getting out of one batch … it never seems to be enough dough when it’s chilling.
Oh me of little faith!!!! You are absolutely correct about me underestimating how many the batch would make. I used most of the scraps and came close to 55 per batch. I would highly recommend this recipe not only for how well the dough handles — it does — but how delicious the cookies are. Even without icing lol . . . .
Louise, so happy to hear this!! You are so sweet. Happy happy holidays!!
Simple and delicious—the cream cheese adds a little extra something to the traditional cutout cookie, and the dough was extremely easy to work with, even in an apartment where an old jar had to stand in for a rolling pin!
We made half the cookies at the recommended thickness and the other half on a slimmer model for crispy-cookie fans—both were very successful! As a result, I can’t speak to the question of yield, but I’d say that, if you’re aiming for quantity (for, say, a cookie exchange kind of scenario), rolling the cookies out a little on the thin side won’t effect the finished product.
These were delicious and a hit with the entire family. Followed the directions to a T and they came together perfectly. Thanks so much for another great recipe! Merry Christmas!
So happy to hear this, Cameron!
“Transfer a quarter of the dough to the center of a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Pat into a disk, wrap tightly, and chill for at least an hour and up to three days. “
What is to be done with the other three quarters???
Did you maybe mean (and referencing the photos) “divide the dough into 4 quarters and wrap each quarter in wax paper.. etc”? That part was a little confusing…Otherwise a good recipe.
I had the exact same question!
That is confusing! Sorry about this… editing the recipe now.
Can you freeze this dough for a week or two?
Yes, absolutely! The baked cookies freeze well, too.
I have already iced the cookies. Will they freeze ok?
They should freeze great! So nice to hear all of this, Vena 🙂 🙂 🙂
I’ve been making these for years and, like you, I really don’t enjoy rolling out dough, cutting shapes, re rolling, icing etc. I simply form the still soft dough into balls, place a tray of them in the fridge (freeze the rest for future use) and bake them like this when they’ve chilled. You could also press the back of a fork or a button lightly on top and brush with beaten egg before baking.
Thanks for reminding me of this recipe and for all your delicious posts!
Gila, this is brilliant! I love this idea. I’m hoping my recent batch lasts till Xmas so I don’t have to make another batch before Xmas, but if I do, I will totally do it this way. Thanks for sharing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Easy and delicious! This is our new go-to Christmas cookie. Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful to hear this, Heather! Thanks for writing 🙂
These turned out great. Even better the second day. I do not get excited for the labor of Christmas iced sugar cookies, but they sure make my son and husband happy. I’ll look forward to them more with this new recipe – much tastier than my old standby sugar cookie recipe.
So nice to hear this, Erin 🙂 🙂 🙂 I couldn’t agree more re the “labor of Christmas iced sugar cookies”, but it does make the family happy. Thanks so much for writing!
This recipe is fantastic. I don’t make roll out cookies! However, working with the dough between parchment paper was a breeze. The dough is easy to handle. The cookies are delicious 👍🏻 And yes, I am boring…made 3” cut outs with icing only.
I made these cookies last year, and they made a nice addition to my cookie gift boxes. This year, I really wanted to try the brown sugar cookie recipe but ran out of time, so I mixed the two recipes and came up with a delicious hybrid. I swapped the granulated sugar for brown sugar, added about 2-3 TBSP of molasses and 1TSP of cinnamon, and sprinkled a little demerara sugar on top before baking (I did not ice the cookies). I was tempted to add other gingerbread cookie-type spices but was worried about how all of them would play with the cream cheese. The hybrid cream cheese-brown sugar-molasses cookie turned out fantastic! Next year, I am definitely adding more spices to lean more toward a gingerbread cookie with the soft, chewy texture the cream cheese and brown sugar provide.
So fun Bee! Love the idea of a spiced, cream cheese, brown sugar cookie! So fun. Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes. Happy holidays!
Hi Ali, would this dough work w embossed rolling pin? What about sanding sugar before baking rather than icing?
I worry that the embossing won’t stay — these cookies kind of puff when they bake. I like the sanding sugar idea, however! I think that should work just fine.
Hi Ali! I want to make cutout cookies with my 4 yr old who is home sick (but not that sick) from school today. However he has an egg allergy and wouldn’t be able to handle the raw dough. If I substitute a flax egg, do you think these would turn out okay? 🙂 thanks for your help!
Gosh, I don’t know. I magine it would since this recipe only calls for 1 egg for all that flour, butter, and cream cheese. My gut says go for it but I might quickly google “egg free cutout cookie recipe” first to see what others do… I’d hate for you to go through the eggort to have it not work.
You are so kind to reply quickly! I have read a number of egg free cut out recipes and egg free cream cheese recipes, but haven’t found egg free cream cheese cut out recipes. 😉 So I will experiment based on those and let you know how it goes! Thank you again! I’m excited. Your molasses cookie recipe is our favorite ever (son does fine once the egg is baked).
Ali! Great news! Flax egg totally works. After some trial and error, I think the key things are not rolling it out too thin (I started at 1/4in and it needed to be 1/2in like you said). And then keeping it super cold. The third time I rolled out my scraps they stuck to the cookie cutter. But the cookies held their shape great on the oven and in my hand on my way to my mouth. 😉 I also did 1 tsp vanilla and 1tsp almond extract and they are delish. Thanks for the recipe and encouragement!
Great to hear, Cait! Thanks so much for reporting back and sharing your notes. It was so interesting to read that your son does fine with cooked eggs but that the raw egg is the problem. I’m glad you found a way to allow him to handle the dough bc that’s the most fun part for the kids 🙂 Almond extract sounds lovely. Happy Holidays!
Cait, thank you for the notes on the flax egg working and your tips! It’s Christmas Day and I realized I purchased everything for this recipe except eggs… But, I do have flax seed. 🙂
These cookies are delicious! Definitely my new favourite sugar cookie recipe. They rolled out so nicely, and even my husband (who isn’t a big sugar cookie fan historically) has eaten his fair share this year. Thank you so much!
Great to hear, TerryAnne! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂 I love these, too.