- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Makes About 24 cookies
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
unsalted butter, at room temperature (we recommend using Land O'Lakes)
cream cheese, softened
- 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.
- 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.