If you love soft and fluffy sugar cookies, this recipe is it! Baked from scratch and decorated with vanilla buttercream frosting, these thick and cakey sugar cookies are perfect for special celebrations and easy enough to bake with kids. Plus they're incredibly versatile and can be decorated a million different ways!
We're big fans of sugar cookies in my house, but we don't always agree on what a perfect sugar cookie should be. I grew up loving soft cut out sugar cookies, and I'll always have a sweet spot for sugar cookie sandwiches. Alex, on the other hand, wants his sugar cookies soft, thick, and cakey. I really can't blame him, because these soft and tender cakey sugar cookies are absolutely delicious!
With a cake-like texture and vanilla buttercream frosting, each cookie is like a mini serving of vanilla cake. These cookies are quick and simple to make (they're perfect for baking with kids!), and the cookie dough is ready to bake in under 30 minutes! And while I love them decorated with easy buttercream flowers, there are a million ways you could decorate these cookies. Their crowd-pleasing taste and versatility make this recipe a celebration staple!
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
Unsalted Butter - Room temperature butter, creamed together with sugar, aerates the cookie dough to help to create a light and cakey cookie. As always, I opt for unsalted butter so that I can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
Baking Soda & Baking Powder - A mix of baking soda and baking powder achieves the perfect rise for these thick and fluffy sugar cookies.
Heavy Cream - Heavy cream helps to keep the cookies moist, so that they can be perfectly soft and not dry. Whole milk can be substituted.
See recipe card at the bottom of this post for full ingredient list and measurements.
In addition to essential baking equipment (like a whisk and spatula), I recommend some special tools for making this recipe.
- A stand mixer or electric hand mixer for creaming the butter and sugar and for mixing the frosting.
- Basic decorating tools. Depending on how you choose to decorate the cookies, you may want to use pastry bags, piping tips, or spatulas (flat, offset, and/or tapered) for frosting the cookies.
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Step 2: In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Step 3: Cream butter and sugar by first beating butter on high speed until smooth and creamy and then adding sugar and beating on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
Step 4: Add egg to the creamed butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until well blended.
Step 5: Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined.
Step 6: With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until blended.
Step 7: Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to scoop 1 ½ Tbsp. of cookie dough into balls and place at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Step 8: Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until the cookies are just golden at the edges. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 9: When cookies have cooled, make the buttercream frosting. Beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Add vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until blended. Add sugar slowly, beating well on medium speed and scraping the bowl often. Add cream and beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Sugar Cookie Decorating Ideas
These cookies could be decorated a million ways, so get creative! Here are a few simple ideas for how to decorate these sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.
Easy Buttercream Flowers
This Instagram post from Wilton is what inspired these buttercream flowers, and I love how simple and imperfect this design is! I colored the frosting using gel food coloring, used a small, flat spatula (4 inches long by ¾ inch wide) to "paint" the petals, and used a small, tapered spatula (5 inches long by ¼ inch wide at the tip) to "paint" leaves. To see this frosting painting technique in action, check out my Instagram Reel to see exactly how I decorated these cookies.
Step 1: Start by scooping a small dollop of frosting onto the backside of the spatula, placing it towards the edge of the cookie, and dragging the spatula towards the center of the cookie.
Step 2: Repeat this pattern around the cookie to create an outer circle of petals.
Step 3: Repeat the pattern again, beginning a bit closer to the cookie's center and overlapping the outer petals to create an inner circle of petals. Consider using a different color frosting for the inner petals.
Step 4: Use a smaller, tapered spatula to smear a tiny bit of yellow frosting onto the center of the cookie to create the flower's center. You could also "paint" leaves using the same method as the petals, dragging a bit of green frosting around the petals.
Frosting & Sprinkles (Lofthouse Sugar Cookies-Inspired)
This simple yet splendid decoration - a smear of pink buttercream frosting and a smattering of rainbow sprinkles - is inspired by the classic and beloved Lofthouse sugar cookies.
Step 1: Use a small spatula to spread frosting over the top of each sugar cookie.
Step 2: Sprinkle colored sprinkles on top of the frosting.
Holiday Wreath Sugar Cookies
These festive sugar cookies will become an instant holiday tradition! This simple wreath design is classic and beautiful yet so simple to create.
Step 1: Use a small star piping tip to pipe dots of green frosting in a circle on top of each cookie to create a buttercream frosting wreath.
Step 2: Use a tiny round piping tip to pipe tiny dots of red frosting onto the wreath like holly berries.
Step 3: Use the same tiny round piping tip to pipe red frosting bows at the bottom of each wreath.
For the best texture, be careful not to over mix the cookie dough.
A cookie scoop makes portioning these cookie dough super easy. You'll end up with uniformly sized cookies, which helps each tray to bake evenly.
These cookies are best when the dough is baked immediately after mixing rather than refrigerating the dough before baking. If you wish to make these cookies ahead of time, I recommend baking the cookies, sealing the unfrosted (and completely cooled) cookies in an airtight container, and freezing the baked cookies for up to 2 months. Let frozen cookies defrost at room temperature before frosting and serving.
A higher ratio of flour to butter and sugar creates a cookie that is more cakey. Conversely, a cookie with more fat (butter) will be chewier.
One of the best things about these cookies is how well they freeze, making them the perfect make-ahead holiday treat. These cookies will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 5 days (or up to 3 days once frosted), but they also freeze well (both unfrosted and frosted) and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months).
Room Temperature: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days (or up to 3 days once frosted).
Refrigerator: Cookies should not be refrigerated, since this will cause them to dry out more quickly.
Freezing: Seal cookies in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. If freezing frosted cookies, place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for one hour to let the frosting freeze before stacking and sealing them in the container; otherwise the frosting will become smooshed when the cookies are stacked.
More Sugar Cookie Recipes
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Soft and Cakey Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- Spatulas (flat, offset, and/or tapered) (optional)
- Pastry bags (optional)
- Piping tips (optional)
- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream (or whole milk)
- gel food coloring (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.
Make the cookie dough.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), cream butter and sugar by first beating butter on high speed until smooth and creamy (about 30 to 60 seconds) and then adding sugar and beating on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Add egg to the creamed butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until well blended.
- Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until blended.
- Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to scoop 1 ½ Tbsp. of cookie dough into balls. Place cookie dough balls at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies.
- Bake the cookies, one tray at a time on the oven's middle rack, for 12 minutes or until the cookies are just golden at the edges. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the buttercream frosting.
- When cookies have cooled, make the buttercream frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Add vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until blended. Slowly add sugar, beating well on medium speed and scraping the bowl often. When all sugar is added the frosting will be slightly dry. Add cream and beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
I am writing this review before I even clean up because you all need to know, these cookies are AMAZING! They are a cross between a cookie and cake, with an icing that is so delicious!
I am not an avid baker, this recipe is easy to follow, with ingredients that you already have!
Trust me, if you want to impress your friends, make these! And check out how Allison decorates them with her reel on instagram! I didn't have the flat spatulas, but a butter knife and dip spreader worked perfectly!
I cannot wait to make these again!
Thank you SO much for this glowing review, Ryann! I love your suggestion to use a butter knife or dip spreader if you don't have icing spatulas for decorating the cookies!