Inspired by the famous gooey butter cake, these gooey butter cookies are soft, gooey, and utterly dreamy. Learn how to make this cookie recipe from scratch with no cake mix involved!
Why you'll love it
These cookies are a fun, portable version of the St. Louis - famous gooey butter cake which is traditionally made with yellow cake mix, cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. Here, we skip the boxed cake mix and take a from-scratch approach to turn this famous cake into ooey gooey butter cookies you will love to bake up and share.
You can whip up a batch of these cookies quickly as they only require a short chill time. Of course, you can chill them for longer and do not have to worry about letting the dough warm up slightly to portion out.
Gooey butter cookies are super soft, with a wonderful tang from the cream cheese, but they don't taste overwhelmingly like cream cheese. Just like a delicious gooey cookie that holds up well. It is the base for other delicious cookies like these lemon bar cookies.
If you want to learn more about baking amazing cookies, refer to my cookbook Cookie School.
There are only a handful of ingredients needed to make these gooey butter cake cookies. They are also kitchen staples, which makes shopping for them very simple! The full list of ingredients and measurements is in the recipe card below.
- Cream cheese - The recipe calls for 6 ounces of cream cheese. It is important to use block full-fat cream cheese - the highest quality you can afford. The kind in the tub or the reduced fat varieties are too soft and will make the dough unworkable.
- Cornstarch - You can replace the cornstarch with more flour, however, I do not recommend it. The cornstarch helps give the cookies its light, thick and slightly chewy texture. Arrowroot starch is a good substitute for cornstarch.
- Butter - There are so few ingredients in this recipe that the quality of your butter does matter. I recommend using the highest quality of unsalted butter you can afford.
- Vanilla - Vanilla plays an important role in flavoring these simple cookies. I recommend using pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
How to make
The best part about an easy cookie recipe like this is that it is a very quick cookie to bake.
- Add the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs and beat well, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and then add to the wet ingredients. Stir until the flour is fully incorporated.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour, or preferably overnight.
- Line an ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Portion out the dough into 1 ½ - 2 inch ball (roughly 2 - 3 tablespoons) and toss in powdered sugar (also known as confectioner's sugar).
- Bake about 10-12 minutes until the edges are a delicate golden brown. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Amanda's expert baking tips
The most important way to ensure you get the best results is to make sure you are correctly measuring your ingredients, particularly the all-purpose flour. You should fluff up the flour and then spoon it into your measuring cup then sweep of the excess. If you want to make sure you get consistent results, you can convert the recipe to metric and use a kitchen scale.
It is important to use all room temperature ingredients because it helps everything to incorporate well together. You can quickly bring your eggs to room temperature by leaving them in very warm water for five minutes before cracking them.
Don't overmix the dough when adding in the dry ingredients! You want to mix just until there are no streaks of flour. Mixing too much can develop the gluten in the all-purpose flour which will leave you with dry, tough cookies.
You can chill the cookie dough for longer to further develop the flavor. The great thing about these cookies is the dough is soft enough that you don't need to wait for the dough to warm to portion out the cookies. In fact, it works better when the cookies are chilled and more firm to portion them.
Gooey butter cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Unbaked cookie dough may be frozen. You need to portion out the dough and freeze for at least an hour on a baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight or leave on the counter for 15 - 20 minutes before continuing on with the recipe. I have a useful guide on how to freeze cookie dough if you have any other questions.
Absolutely! This is a great recipe to make your own tweaks and changes. You can add in some lemon zest to the cookie dough, or add in a few tablespoons of cocoa powder. Instead of rolling in powdered sugar, you can instead use sprinkles to make them more colorful and fun for a holiday cookie exchange. Almond extract is another great addition. Or you can add a tablespoon of cocoa powder along with some red coloring to make them into a red velvet gooey butter cookie.
Gooey Butter Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 6 ounces full-fat block cream cheese room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar or more for rolling
- Beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla into a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy - about 3 - 4 minutes.
- Add in the eggs and beat well for an additional minute.
- Mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Add the flour mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix just until the dough comes together, scraping the sides and bottom of a bowl.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Portion out the dough into balls that are about 2 ½ - 3 tablespoons big. Roll the dough balls in the powdered sugar
- Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 - 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely