Best Cream Cheese Cookies Recipe on Food52 (2024)

5 Ingredients or Fewer

by: Merrill Stubbs



49 Ratings

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes About 24 cookies

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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

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 1 cupgranulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoonsunsalted butter, at room temperature (we recommend using Land O'Lakes)
  • 3 ouncescream cheese, softened
  • 1 cupall-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoonkosher 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.


  • Cookie
  • American
  • Cream Cheese
  • Serves a Crowd
  • 5 Ingredients or Fewer
  • Dessert

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug

  • Carey Sakert

  • rebecca22

  • Sandra Nicole Roldan

  • debplusthree

Popular on Food52

186 Reviews

Smaug December 7, 2023

This is basically an American style rugelach dough with a massive amount of sugar added; a typical rugelach recipe would have 4 oz cream cheese and 1 Tb. sugar. Most of the flavor comes from caramelized sugar around the edges; it might be a good idea to emphasize this by upping the temperature or making smaller cookies, but I didn't try it. I did try a variation that used 2/3c. brown sugar and some lemon oil and nutmeg (sorry, didn't measure those). They were really good (and still very sweet)- didn't spread quite as much, presumably because of less sugar and a little more moisture. I used Land O Lakes butter, that being what was in the refrigerator. As far as I know they don't make a European style butter, but considering that cream cheese is over half water, I don't see that European style would make much difference.

Smaug December 10, 2023

Tried again (with my modified dough)- this time I chilled the dough and rolled it out to 54/32" (I used guides, but this is basically pie dough thickness) and cut with a 1 1/2" cutter. This produced 56 bite sized cookies; I like my cookies firm; these were just right for me with 10 min. at 330 in a convection oven. Not quite as quick and easy a project as the original, but close- I liked them better this way.

Smaug December 10, 2023

That's "rolled it out to 5/32"...".

Carey S. November 23, 2023

Absolutely loved these. I added half a teaspoon of almond extract but otherwise followed the recipe precisely. Excellent result and so very easy to make. They turned out crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. Best of both worlds!

Pattijnr October 29, 2023

Could not believe how simple yet wonderful these are. I sometimes add a hint of orange zest

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.

Kim C. October 11, 2023

How do you store them??

Mimi December 10, 2023

My mom always stored them in tight-fitting cookie tins.

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.

[emailprotected] 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?

Best Cream Cheese Cookies Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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