Desserts | August 23, 2019

Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies was one of the first recipes I posted back in 2008. It is the best sugar cookie recipe ever!  No rolling and cutting out dough, just spread into a sheet pan, bake, and frost. Cream cheese is the key  to the soft texture in both the dough and the sugar cookie icing! Once you try this pan sugar cookie recipe, you may never go back to making the traditional roll-and-cut sugar cookie.

Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Sheet Pan Sugar Cookies – The easiest way to make sugar cookies!

My dear friend Tessa has shared many recipes that have become ABK favorites over the years. She gave me this recipe shortly after we moved to Bountiful in the early 90’s. When Tessa shared her recipe for pan sugar cookies with me, I knew it would be a winner.

Our family loves many of her recipes including Family Favorite Enchiladas,  French Peasant Bread and Southwest Tortilla Rollups to name a few. This recipe has been made too many times to count in our family!

Before I tried this recipe, I had never thought of spreading sugar cookie dough into a pan and baking all at once, instead of the traditional method of rolling out and cutting each cookie individually. This recipe and method of making sugar cookies is the best!  I love the simplified approach to the Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies and I know you will too.

The Best Sugar Cookie

If you haven’t ever made a sugar cookie using cream cheese, prepare to be WOWed! This sugar cookie recipe is different from all the rest because the cream cheese in both the sugar cookie dough and the Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie icing gives this cookie a flavor and texture that sets it apart from all the rest. The cream cheese gives the cookie dough a perfectly light texture.

What’s better than a sugar cookie topped with cream cheese icing? How about a whole sheet pan full of sugar cookies covered in the most delicious cream cheese icing. It’s not too heavy and not too light, made with just the perfect amount of cream cheese! I’m  not a huge fan of cream cheese icing, but this is an icing I love. Because the sugar cookie icing is made with cream cheese, it is best to store the cookies in the fridge. If you don’t have cream cheese on hand, try this recipe for Sheet Pan Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.

The Best Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookie Icing

I use plastic toppers especially made for my sheet pans, but if you don’t have any, go ahead and cover the frosted sugar cookies in the pan with a layer of parchment paper to avoid the icing sticking to the foil or plastic wrap and then cover tightly so the cookies don’t dry out in the fridge. They will keep for up to a week refrigerated, and month frozen if covered tightly. This recipe freezes well. I prefer to make icing  and frost just before serving if freezing the sheet pan of cookies!

Serves a crowd perfect make-ahead treat!

The sheet pan of  cookies can easily be cut int o 24 pieces (6×4). If you are serving this with other desserts, go ahead and cut into smaller pieces. I’ve made this dessert bar cookie many times for large gatherings, and the cookies freeze and thaw well.  On day of serving, just remove the cookies from freezer, frost and cut when thawed. I usually make Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with white icing, but the icing can also be tinted with food coloring to suit any occasion! Pink is also a favorite in our home…

Sheet Pan Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
This recipe for Sheet Pan Sour Cream Sugar cookies is similar, and frosted with pink frosting

I hope you enjoy this recipe with your family! Leave a review in the comment section below and let us know of any modifications you make as well. Happy baking!

5 from 4 votes
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Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

The best sugar cookie ever! Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies are baked in a sheet pan instead of rolling and cutting out induvidually. Perfect dessert for a crowd and for make ahead.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword pan cookie, sugar cookie, sugar cookie icing, sugar cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
cooling time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 24
Author abountifulkitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese (only regular, no low or no-fat) softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional but recommended)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (optional, or you may use 1 1/2 teaspons vanilla and omit almond extract)* see recipe notes
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups All Purpose flour

Frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese – only regular (full fat) softened (see recipe notes)
  • 3 ½-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • milk or half and half to thin icing
  • food coloring if desired

Instructions

  1. Set rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees while making cookie dough. Generously grease a jelly roll pan with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.

  2. Cream 1 cup unsalted butter and 8 oz cream cheese together for about 1 minute in a stand mixer. Add granulated sugar. Mix for an additional minute on medium speed.

  3. Add egg, almond and vanilla extract, blend until smooth.

  4. Mix in all of the dry ingredients at once. Do not over mix. Mix just until wet and dry ingredients are incorporated on low speed.

  5. Spread the dough into the pan with a long knife or spatula. I usually sprinkle some flour on the dough, so it is easier to spread. You can also use a mini rolling pin (floured) to spread the dough. Try not to press the dough too much, just spread into the pan evenly.

  6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cook just until the top is light golden brown. Let cool completely. While cookie is cooling, make sugar cookie icing.

Sugar Cookie Icing

  1. Cream 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 4 oz softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer.

  2. Add vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth.

  3. Add milk a little at a time, until the frosting is spreading consistency.

  4. When the pan of cookies are cooled completely, top with sugar cookie icing. Refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

  • When making this or any other recipe, make sure to follow directions and ingredients precisely for best results. Make sure to use regular and not low fat or no fat cream cheese in this recipe. The texture of the cookies and icing depends on using regular cream cheese! 
  • As with traditional sugar cookies, this dough is best when handled as little as possible. After making the dough, remove from bowl and spread into the sheet pan using a large knife or spatula. You may spray the spreader with a bit of cooking spray or LIGHTLY sprinkle the top of dough with a little flour to help with ease of evenly spreading the dough into the sheet pan. Do not press the dough too much. The more the dough is pressed into the pan, the tougher the dough becomes. Spread and then bake!
  • The dough should be baked just until the top is light golden in color or a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan of dough comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached!
  • The sugar cookie dough calls for 1 teaspoon almond flavoring and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. If you dislike almond flavoring, you may leave it out. The flavor is very subtle and most people who love this cookie love the almond flavoring. If omitting almond, you may use vanilla in its place.  I use pure vanilla extract, but always have a large container of imitation almond extract on hand and have had great results with imitation almond for this recipe. 
  • Make sure to GENEROUSLY grease the pan to prevent sticking of the dough. You may also use a sheet of parchment. 

26 thoughts on “Pan Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

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Recipe Rating




  1. These are the best idea! What a time saver. Also, they are delicious. A yummy and soft sugar cookie. I put red and green sprinkles over the whole top (after frosting) and then cut. I'm giving them to my neighbors for Christmas. The recipe makes a lot! Thanks for sharing.

  2. An update to my other comment. I added 1/2 tsp. of good quality nutmeg to the dough w/ the dry ingredients. Loved it. It's my new favorite & the kids love it, too. I've been asked for the recipe several times, so I just tell everyone about your blog!

  3. Thank you for your blog. I love receiving the emails and your delicious recipes with helpful tips!

    Two questions: 1) What brand of electric hand mixer do you recommend?

    2) Your follower, Natalie, commented she adds nutmeg. I’m assuming in place of almond extract? I love both almond extract and nutmeg, but haven’t tried them together. Please clarify.

    Thank you! Happy baking and cooking! Robyn😎

    2

    1. Hi Robyn,

      I haven’t ever tried the nutmeg so I cant recommend it myself! If you do try it, I would only use nutmeg and vanilla together, and leave out the almond flavoring.
      I highly recommend the KitchenAid Stand mixer or the KitchenAid hand held mixer.
      Hope this helps and thanks for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si

  4. These are so good and very easy to make. Such a great alternative to rolling out cookies and everyone loved them. The recipe was very easy to follow as well! The only modification I made was half the almond extract and a dash more vanilla with some nutmeg with is something my Grandma always taught me to put in her sugar cookie recipe.

    1. Thanks so much Shelly! Love the suggestions from your Grandmother <3
      Thanks for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  5. Question about how the dough should look and feel when it’s ready to go into the pan. I live in high humidity and almost always have to add flour to recipes, so I did that here. It was still super wet. I’m used to sugar cookie dough being dry enough to either roll out for cutting or roll into balls and flatten, but this had the look and consistency of thick frosting. I didn’t want to risk adding too much flour, so I spread it into the pan like that and it’s baking now. Should this look like regular sugar cookie dough or is it supposed to be wetter because it’s a bar cookie?

    1. Megan,

      The dough should not be wet looking when going into the pan. SO many factors determine how the dough ends up before baking, the size of the eggs, how soft the butter is before adding to recipe, even the temperature of the kitchen! You are right, this dough should be softer than traditional cookie dough, because it needs to be soft enough to spread, that said, it is not shiny or wet looking. If the dough is too soft, add a little more flour and fold in until the dough has more of a matte finish. I will try to show this soon on Instagram so it’s easier to understand. Thanks for your question and for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  6. 5 stars
    I made these pan cream cheese sugar cookies for a back to school neighborhood party and they were a hit! I put them in a round pan and made them more like a thick cookie pizza with fresh sliced peaches and raspberries on the top. They are SO good chilled, so be patient and try not to eat them straight out of the oven, you won’t regret it!!

    1. Love this idea Barbara! Thanks for sharing your twist on this recipe and I agree they are better after being refrigerated!
      xo
      Si

  7. This is a go to recipe for me. Made them for a crowd again this weekend and they were the first cookies gone :). I always make them ahead and keep them in the fridge, and take them out half hour or so before serving because I like them room temp when eating. I
    Have even sliced strawberries on top when I’ve wanted them to be a little fancier. Delish.

  8. 5 stars
    These were a perfect, quick dessert for my family reunion this weekend! I love getting the sugar cookies without all the hassle of cutting them out and making individual cookies. Super delicious as well!!

  9. 5 stars
    This is one of my favorite “go to” recipes because everyone loves them! I took them last weekend to two open houses and they were some of the first treats to go. I love sugar cookies but these are so much faster and easier to make. I truly think they are better than sugar cookies too because they are thicker and softer.

    1. I agree, Diane, these are always my go-to because they’re so easy to make and perfect for a crowd. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si

  10. 5 stars
    Hello! I made these last night for YW and they were phenomenal. I dyed the frosting pink and used sprinkles. I did add a bit of nutmeg as mentioned in other comments. I used an 18 x 12 pan. They baked fine. Do you use the typical jellyroll pan (10.5 x 15.5)? Just wondering if I should switch for next time. Thank you!!!

  11. My son hasn’t liked cake in years, so I’ve been doing ice cream cake for birthdays, but he recommended that I skip even that this year; however, he loves iced sugar cookies, and prefers the ones at the Great Harvest Bread Company over my skinny, homemade ones (admittedly, theirs are thick and delicious). So I thought maybe I could replicate those and found your recipe. These look like they fit the bill, and the reviews reflect that. I can’t wait!