Soft Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting are thick buttery sugar cookies slathered with a creamy frosting and lots of colorful sprinkles. These big bakery style cookies are perfect for Easter baskets and everyday spring snacking.
Big soft sugar cookies are the stuff cookie dreams are made of
I’m always tempted by big fat supermarket bakery style sugar cookies, but let’s face it, they always disappoint. They can’t come close to the flavor of fresh baked homemade cookies. So here’s a delicious solution ~ an easy recipe to make in your kitchen. It’s a no-chill dough that can be mixed and baked in a jiffy. Get the kids involved with this one, they can learn about colors as they blend up the pastel frosting, and the youngest can take charge of the sprinkles.
I made these as Easter cookies, but they’re appropriate all spring and summer long.
The pretty pastel colors are what makes these cookies so inviting. You’ll use the tiniest drop of food coloring to make the delicate shades…I’m always judicious with food coloring because too much can be unappetizing.
Same goes for the sprinkles, use pale tones and mix and match the colors for a festive look. Each cookie can be unique!
Why do I use shortening in this sugar cookie recipe?
- I don’t bake with, (or use) shortening very often, and I know a lot of you don’t like to use it either, but I keep it in my cupboard for a few specific reasons.
- Shortening creates a softer texture in baked goods, and when you’re going for that texture, it’s perfect to use. It keeps my Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies nice and chewy, and the crust for my Blackberry Slab Pie Bars soft.
- I like Butter Flavor Crisco, which comes packaged in 1 cup ‘sticks’ that you can use just like room temperature butter in recipes.
- Agreed, it’s not as natural as butter, but it has its uses on occasion.
Can you substitute butter for the shortening?
- Yes, you can. Your texture will be crispier.
The cream cheese gives the frosting on these cookies a nice tang. I add vanilla extract, but you could add almond extract, or even lemon juice to flavor it.
Frosting for bakery style sugar cookies
The overall impact of these cookies is in the interplay between the thick soft cookies and the thick layer of frosting. Don’t skimp! You’ll need:
- whipped cream cheese (you can use regular cream cheese, just make sure it’s room temperature)
- powdered sugar
- tiny amount of food coloring
Does this cookie frosting harden?
- Because of the cream cheese the frosting does not completely harden, that’s part of the charm of these cookies, but if you leave them out for several hours it will firm up. I was able to package my cookies individually in cellophane bags for Easter basket treats.
Tips for pastel food coloring
Regular food coloring from the grocery store in very small amounts creates the pale pastels you want for these cookies. If you want to create multiple colors, add a couple of tablespoons of white frosting into small bowls and blend in less than a full drop of coloring. Don’t squeeze directly from the bottle into your frosting, you’ll get too much, I like to use a toothpick to get a little bit at a time. Less is more!
More fun cookies to bake with kids (or not!)
- Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
- Cardamom Spritz Cookies
- Maple Glazed Oatmeal Cookies
- Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies
Soft Iced Sugar Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350°F Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Beat the sugar and shortening together until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. I do this in a stand mixer.
- Beat in the egg, then the milk and extract. Beat in the salt and baking powder, then turn the mixer to low and fold in the flour, just until the dough comes together. If it is still very dry and crumbly, add a tiny bit more milk to moisten.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Pat into a smooth round disk and wrap in plastic. Set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes while you clean up.
- Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 3 inch round cookie cutter. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes or just until set. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, whip the soft cream cheese and butter together until combined. Whip in the powdered sugar and extracts until everything is smooth and lump free. If you want to make it thicker, add more sifted sugar, and if it's too thick, add a little milk. Add food coloring if you like.
- Frost each cooled cookie liberally, and top with sprinkles.