5 Ingredients or Fewer

Best Cream Cheese Cookies

October 11, 2022
45 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes About 24 cookies
Author Notes

With the exception of Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos, my mother made most of the sweet treats in our house growing up. I've written about her chocolate chip cookies, her banana bread, and her white chocolate snowflakes, but I realized that in all the years I've been writing about food—and poaching her recipes—I've never written about what is perhaps her most iconic cookie. Her cream cheese cookies are revered not just among my immediate family members, they're probably my mother's most requested recipe. Countless family friends have incorporated these into their repertoires over the years, and for good reason.

The cookies couldn't be easier to make, which makes them ideal for last-minute bake sales or houseguests. They're chewy in the center, where the texture is kind of like a coconut macaroon, with buttery, burnished edges that crumble like a sandcastle gently collapsing. The cream cheese gives the cookies a nearly unidentifiable tang that keeps you reaching for just one more.

My favorite part, though? My mother got the recipe at a Tupperware party in the '70s. One of the women brought a batch of the cookies with her, and at the end of the party, she dictated the ingredients and instructions to all of the other guests. Who knows how many subtle variations of this recipe exist today, legendary among countless other families? —Merrill Stubbs

Test Kitchen Notes

Blink, and you’ll miss the ingredients list for our best cream cheese cookie recipe. That’s because you only need five staple ingredients—granulated sugar, unsalted butter, cream cheese, all-purpose flour, and kosher salt. The two-step recipe is a breeze, too—whip the wet ingredients (sugar, butter, and cream cheese) until light and fluffy, then add the dry ingredients. Another easy step here—there’s no need to chill or shape the dough (though if you prefer a cakey cookie, you can chill it, which will help prevent spreading). Simply drop the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and crackly but the center is still soft and puffy. Unlike some cream cheese cookies, which are soft and cakey, these are crispy on the edges and moist in the middle (the ultimate texture combo, in our opinion).

Since you’re using so few ingredients, it’s important to use the highest quality versions you can find. We recommend European butter, which has a higher butterfat content than American butter, meaning that it’s richer, butterier, and all-around better. To amp up the flavor even further, try adding citrus zest from a lime, lemon, or orange to the cookie dough. For the holiday season, add ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, per one baker’s suggestion; the warmth from the spice cuts the sweetness of the cookie and makes it that much more seasonal. A five-ingredient cookie recipe that feeds a crowd is all we need this holiday season (or any time of year, for that matter). —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (we recommend using Land O'Lakes)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Using a stand mixer or an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the the sugar, butter, and cream cheese for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour and salt just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and give it a quick stir with a spoon to make sure everything is evenly combined.
  2. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between each (they will spread a little). Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Do not overbake, or the cookies won't be chewy! Let cool slightly on the sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • rebecca22
  • Sandra Nicole Roldan
    Sandra Nicole Roldan
  • debplusthree
  • BerettaFleur
  • samanthaalison

179 Reviews

Linda June 20, 2023
Delicious cookies. Crisp around the edges and soft in the middle. I will make then often.
rebecca22 May 30, 2023
For High Altitude Bakers - I'm just outside of Denver. I baked my cookies at 375F for 10 minutes in the middle rack, and they turned out great. Chewy still, not a lot of that golden color, but don't let that deter you. Smaller balls of dough did burn, so use a good 1-2 Tbsp of dough for each cookie.

Made these over the weekend. Great cookie/crowd pleaser. Will make again!
Kate May 8, 2023
so simple and SO delicious! A 'must make'
v-xJ#4#XCVuYH*9 March 18, 2023
i put my cookies in at 350 for 12 mins and they were still very jiggly, other than that they were THE BOMB and i defiantly recommend making this
Lookout February 8, 2023
Should this be 3 ounces crean cheese or 8. Three does not sound like alot?
Merrill S. February 8, 2023
3 ounces is correct! These cookies also have a lot of butter in them, and the cream cheese is there to add flavor.
Sandra N. May 11, 2020
followed the recipe exactly but it turned out cloying and exceedingly sweet, almost inedible. could not taste any cream cheese at all, tasted of nothing but sugar. flat and bland, so very one dimensional. needs more salt, and perhaps more cream cheese. for next time, very tempted to use only half the sugar in the recipe—as nigella lawson suggests for american dessert recipes. and will probably turn this is into a parmesan cream cheese cookie, by adding 50g grated hard cheese, for more depth of flavor. this is the 2nd food52 recipe i’ve tried and i am again very disappointed at the lack of complexity and flavor.
[email protected] September 10, 2023
You must be having incredibly bad luck! Don’t give up on Food52.
And no, I’m not connected to them. I’m an 82-year-old Grannie in Spokane, still enjoying new recipes!
debplusthree April 11, 2020
Outstanding. Exactly as promised, completely addictive and I love that they use such a small amount of ingredients, lovely when we are trying not to leave the house during the shelter-at-home order. Another winner, Food52!
moseceltic April 8, 2020
Though I liked these, I was looking for a bit more flavor. I can see how the recipe can be modified/augmented and may try some. Has anyone tried using maple sugar for part of the granulated? What proportion do you thin might work?
Suzanne April 8, 2020
For additional flavor - I added citrus zest - did 1/2 batter with lemon and the other 1/2 with orange. It was an awesome zing of flavor and cut the richness a bit as well.
moseceltic April 12, 2020
Glad to hear it! I’ll give it a try. Thanks!
AKJess November 20, 2021
I used less sugar and a little pure maple syrup. They turned out really really good.
moseceltic April 8, 2020
Though I liked these, I was looking for a bit more flavor. I can see how the recipe can be modified/augmented and may try some. Has anyone tried using maple sugar for part of the granulated? What proportion do you thin might work?
BerettaFleur April 6, 2020
Mine came out very very flat - with no lift at all. Basically flat chewy sugar wafers like taffy. Was there supposed to be baking soda or powder in this? I’m not sure what I did wrong here...
v-xJ#4#XCVuYH*9 March 18, 2023
same with me
Aidonna April 4, 2020
Could almond flour be substituted for regular flour? Would like to make these as a Passover cookie.
Helen T. April 4, 2020
Would it be possible to have all of the recipes include metric weights in addition to standard dry measures?
samanthaalison April 2, 2020
I've had these bookmarked for a long time but they were never enough of a "project" for weekend baking - but perfect for a quick shelter-in-place afternoon baking session. These were so easy and sooo good. There are only two of us and they're more than half gone in less than 24 hours.

I didn't chill mine but had no issues with spreading. I hate measuring by volume - did 195 g sugar and 130 g flour. I used a #70 cookie scoop and I think I ended up with about 28 cookies.
Hallie November 13, 2019
This is the best cookie recipe! I use 6 TBSP each of butter and cream cheese and refrigerate dough for a while or even over night. I have made chocolate chip cookies by substituting half brown sugar and adding vanilla and of course choc chips. (And mini marshmallows) Also I have substituted half oat flour and added oats and cranberries. And can’t forget lemon zest and vanilla. Thanks so much for this great Basic recipe!
Stephanie W. August 23, 2019
So Good! Next time I will make a double batch! Thanks to the suggestions from others, I popped the dough in the frig until cold enough to make balls. Baked at 330 for about 15 minutes, just until starting to brown around the edges. A wonderful, tangy butter cookie!
Suzanne June 6, 2019
Would I be able to use greek cream cheese instead of the standard version? not sure how the less fat affects recipe
Erika April 24, 2019
Has anyone tried this recipe with almond flour or coconut flour?
KR December 20, 2018
In case anyone else is wondering...I haven't read all the comments (147 @ this pt in time)...
8 tablespoons of butter is a regular stick of butter (1/4 lb)
3 oz of cream cheese seems to be about 85 g per google conversion.
...Ok, so now I know, I can make these tomorrow. I'm looking forward to this cookie v much!
KR December 24, 2018
UPDATE: Made one batch tonight with 1/4 lb of butter & approx 85g of cream cheese and used an All Purpose GF flour mix from Kinnikinnick Foods to replace the full measure of reg flour. (I'm in Canada, & there are a few brands of GF available here in my local Safeway). Reduced the sugar to 2/3C, & it's plenty sweet for me. Finished mixing with a spatula bc it looked like it wasn't going to come together, but it did.
Also added about 1 tsp of Meyer lemon zest & 1/4 tsp lemon extract. Used Creamtea's suggestions below to form into small balls & refrigerate them (I just crammed them onto 2 dinner plates--more efficient than a tray at a time). The colder they are, the less they spread to give the delicate golden edge...still delish, though!
Baking at 325 for about 14 min seemed to be the best. *** SO GOOD!!***
...I'm v glad that I put the measure of butter & cream cheese into a covered dish in the fridge at the ready for my next batch.
Thanks so much for this recipe!!!!
Merrill S. December 24, 2018
So glad you were happy with the results -- can't wait to try your modifications!
Karen L. July 1, 2018
These cookies are amazing. We've made them a few years running now. Perfect for a snow white cookie at Christmas. I've also shared the recipe with many but it's perfect for those who are egg-free. One of our very favorites!
creamtea May 18, 2018
After reading the comments about spreading, here's what worked for me: I chilled the dough and formed small balls, between marble and walnut size. After the first batch spread and joined at the edges (I had flattened the balls into disks) I reduced oven temp to 300º, spaced them wider, ~3 inches apart without flattening, and baked for 12-14 minutes. They formed beautiful perfect round wafers with brown edges and are delicious.
KR December 24, 2018
Thanks for sharing your tips. I found 325 for 15 minutes worked very well for me. They spread beautifully for me. The marble size balls spread to be almost like a wafer. The walnut-sized balls still had a bit of a plump middle and bc they had been chilled longer, did not spread out as much.
KR December 24, 2018
forgot to say that this made more than the 2 dozen... maybe 32? (if I open the tin, I will have to sample again--quality control is a serious business!)