Who doesn’t love a soft and chewy sugar cookie topped with frosting and sprinkles?
In this recipe and post, I’ll cover everything from making the perfect sugar cookie dough to an incredible frosting recipe that’s easy to apply and won’t make your cookies fall apart.
Before we begin, let me clear this up by saying these cookies are NOT cut-out sugar cookies, the ones you chill for an hour, roll out, and cut into an assortment of shapes. While I have a great recipe for those, this recipe is a no-chill, drop cookie that yields round, light, and chewy goodness.
Sounds good to you? Great, let’s keep going.
The Best Chewy Sugar Cookie Recipe
The best sugar cookie is one that’s chewy with soft, tender crumbs. And when you bite into it, the cookie holds its shape for a few seconds before melting in your mouth along with the frosting.
The cookie itself shouldn’t even need frosting, but it’s there because we wanted to get decorative.
Suppose this hasn’t been your previous experience with other sugar cookie recipes, my apologies. But that’s why you’re here and why I’m about to show you how to achieve those delicious results with every batch.
What Makes the Softest Sugar Cookies
Perfect sugar cookies don’t just happen; it’s a science and takes some research and application to achieve those results. Lucky for you, I’ve put in a good amount of work and study to pass on the most important tips for the softest sugar cookies.
A combination of baking powder and baking soda
If you’ve ever wondered why some cookies have “fluff” to them, while others are flat, melted dough puddles, it has to do with the baking powder and/or soda which are leavening agents that give baked goods the ‘lift’ we all love.
Make sure the baking powder/soda is fresh, anything past the expiration date, and its leavening qualities begin to diminish.
This secret ingredient works with butter and sugar to give these cookies that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Cream the butter and sugar
The process of creaming butter and sugar with a mixer, a.k.a ‘aerating,’ increases the amount of air in the mixture. When this is done properly, it will increase your cookie dough volume and help the cookies rise and hold their shape while baking. What does all of this mean? Cookies with thicker middles and fine crumbs. 🙂
Just enough flour
Too little flour and the cookies spread out, too much, and they turn out cracked and dry. Using the right amount of flour absorbs just enough moisture so they’ll stay chewy for days.
Ingredients for Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies
These cookies are just like the ones you love from the store, thick, soft, and delicious. Making them at home is easy with these ingredients:
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- unsalted butter
- white sugar
- softened cream cheese
- vanilla extract
- almond extract, optional
Not crazy about almond flavor? That’s okay, omit it from the recipe and move on.
Equipment for Baking Cookies
Along with specific ingredients, cookies also requires certain tools and equipment, most of which you probably have:
- a large baking sheet
- parchment paper
- hand or stand mixer
- 2-3 deep mixing bowls
- rubber scraper
- #70 or #60 cookie scoop, about tablespoon size
If you’re wondering what the heck #70 or #60 has to do with cookies, it’s in regards to the amount of dough the scoop holds. Since this can be important to properly baked cookies, I wanted to mention it. If you have further questions, this post was really helpful.
How to Make Chewy Sugar Cookies
You’ll find the recipe steps for sugar cookies below a little more detailed than my other recipes, which is to your benefit. Baking is truly a science, and since our goal is
p-e-r-f-e-c-t chewy sugar cookies, the directions will be as specific as needed.
Relax, this is not a difficult recipe. It’s fairly simple, but it’s important to follow the directions, even if they seem overkill. It might help to read through the recipe before you begin to bake. This helps to minimize overlooking important steps and reduces the number of #fails.
Now, grab those ingredients, and let’s make some cookies!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift the dry ingredients
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar, and cream cheese for 5 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy using a hand or stand mixer.
- Add the wet ingredients
Add one egg and the extracts. Using a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate the film of butter and sugar that has collected on the sides. Beat for an additional minute or until the egg and extracts are incorporated.
Add the flour to the mixture and combine at low speed until a cohesive dough forms.
Using a cookie scoop or large tablespoon, scoop 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Lightly coat the bottom of a jar or drinking glass with cooking spray. Lightly press the dough ball into ¼-inch thickness. Repeat.
- In the oven, they go!
Set a time and bake for 8 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are light gold.
- Cool off
Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack.
How Long to Bake Chewy Sugar Cookies
This recipe for sugar cookies needs about 8 to 9 minutes. Once you see a light gold color on the edges and the middles are barely holding together, it’s time to get them out of there.
Storing Baked Cookies
Want to make cookies last as long as possible? Place room temperature cookies in an airtight container, seal, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days. You can even freeze the already-baked cookies, as explained below.
Baking Tips for Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies
A few last-minute tips to keep in mind as you make these cookies:
Watch the time
Over baking -baking the cookies too long- is the biggest culprit to tough, dry cookies. And since cookies continue to cook on the baking sheet after they are removed from the oven, it’s important not to keep them in there for a second longer than needed.
Don’t rely on memory; grab your phone or kitchen timer, set it to 8 minutes, and then you can walk away.
Don’t over-pack the dough
While monster-sized cookies are always welcome around here, this sugar cookie dough is a little more delicate. Too much dough and the cookie will brown on the outside while remaining raw in the center. Stick to 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons per cookie, and you’re good to go.
Keep it real
Use real butter and sugar for optimal results.
Frosting Soft Sugar Cookies
As previously mentioned, the frosting is optional, but it does add a nice touch. For this recipe and other drop cookies, I like to use cream cheese frosting or in this case, my homemade raspberry cream cheese frosting. It’s not too sweet and can easily be piped or spread onto the cookie with an icing knife.
You can use fresh or frozen raspberries, just make sure the frozen ones are defrosted.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
*The recipe measurements and directions are included below.
Keep in mind that frosting warm cookies are “how the cookie crumbles,” so be sure to allow them to cool down to room temperature before frosting.
Want to buy yourself time? Make and color the frosting up to 3 days ahead. Remove it from the refrigerator 10 minutes before using it so it will soften and easily spread onto the cookies.
Can you Freeze Sugar Cookies?
Freezing cookies is a smart way to keep yummy homemade treats on hand, and these sugar cookies are freezer-safe. Below I’m sharing both methods to freeze prepared cookie dough and baked cookies so they stay fresh and ready to enjoy.
How to freeze the unbaked cookie dough:
- Prepare the cookie dough.
- Scoop and shape into balls.
- Transfer the cookie dough balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Freeze until firm
- Transfer the dough to a freezer-safe zip bag and freeze up to 3 months.
- To bake, preheat the oven to the suggested temperature.
- Place the frozen cookies on the baking sheet and bake for an additional minute or 2.
*Note, the cookies won’t be as flat, but they’re still soft and chewy.
How to freeze baked sugar cookies
- Once the cookies are baked, allow them to cool down to room temperature.
- Transfer the desired amount of cookies to a freezer-safe zip bag. Seal and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When you’re ready for cookies, remove the desired amount from the bag and defrost at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Chewy Sugar Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 2 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, – about 2 sticks
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 large egg
For the Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1- pint raspberries
To make the cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer and large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and cream cheese for cream on medium speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and extracts. Using a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate the film of butter and sugar that has collected on the sides. Beat on medium speed until the egg is fully incorporated.
- Add the flour to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed until a thick, smooth dough is formed. *Make sure to stop and scrape the flour from the sides of the bowl as needed
- Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.
- Place the dough onto the lined baking sheet.
- Using the bottom of a jar or glass, flatten the ball of dough to ¼-inch thickness. *Lightly coat the jar or glass with cooking spray to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until the cookie edges are light gold.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.
- Once cooled frost the cookies using the recipe below.
To make the frosting:
- In a medium bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.
- Reducing mixer speed, slowly add in the raspberries, powdered sugar, and milk. Mix until the raspberries are completely incorporated and the frosting is smooth and pink.
- If frosting seems too thick, add an additional teaspoon of milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.
- Frost cookies once they have cooled completely.
- Refrigerate any remaining frosting in an airtight container for up to a week.