The best (and easiest) butter cookie recipe

cookies on Silpat

Christopher Kimball and the gang at America’s Test Kitchen have proven, once again, that they know how to make a perfect cookie. The secret to this butter cookie recipe is the addition of cream cheese- I know, surprising- but it gives workability to the dough without the typical, overly greasy butter cookie. Superfine sugar gives the best texture and reverse creaming (e.g. butter dropped into flour and sugar instead of creaming butter and sugar first) keeps the cookies flat and without any air pockets. Don’t you just love food science? Okay, maybe that’s just me.

Either way, give this recipe a shot next time you’re in the mood for something sweet. It’s easy to whip up and it’s great for gifts over the holidays or to keep in the freezer to bake off for the unexpected guest.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in stand mixer and add softened butter one tablespoon at a time on medium-low. Be careful with this- I doubled the recipe and almost ended up wearing my dough mixture. Continue to mix for a few minutes until the mixture looks crumbly. Beat in the cream cheese and vanilla until everything starts to come together. Turn off the mixer, knead until the dough forms, cut and mold into two even 4-inch disks, and cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

butter cookie dough

all together now

Heat oven to 375° and roll out one disk at a time between two sheets of parchment to 1/8 inch thickness. For the record, I use plastic wrap because it drives me completely bonkers when parchment rolls up and has a mind of it’s own. I also threw my dough into the freezer between cutting and rolling as it was faster than the suggested refrigerator. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (or Silpat) one inch apart and bake for ten minutes (turning once halfway through). They should JUST turn golden brown on the edges when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes and then take them off to cool on a rack.

Butter cookies cooling

After they are cool to the touch, they can be glazed and decorated.

Glaze Ingredients:

3 tablespoons whole milk (I used 2%)
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Whisk cream cheese with 2 tablespoon of milk until smooth. Add powdered sugar and rest of the milk or until desired consistency is reached. Pipe or dip onto cookies and let dry.

whisking glaze


Sprinkles, colored sanding sugar, jam, powdered sugar, nuts, honey.. the possibilities are endless. I think next time I might make some sea salt caramel to sandwich between two cookies…. Mmmmm… Oh, and how could I forget- dunk a few cookies into the fudge sauce I made here– perfection!

glazed butter cookies

glazed holiday butter cookies

The America’s Test Kitchen cookbook can be found here.


7 responses to “The best (and easiest) butter cookie recipe

  1. That’s so interesting! I never would have thought to add cream cheese to a sugar cookie, nor would I have thought of reverse creaming the ingredients. (I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of that technique!) Food science, especially baking science, is quite fun to learn about!

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