These melt-in-your-mouth Gooey Butter Cookies are full of flavor and none of the preservatives that are in the traditional cake mix version. This recipe makes 3 dozen cookies in less than an hour. Recipe includes a how-to video!
These gooey butter cookies are the less messy, more portable (and adorable) version of gooey butter cake. They’re a soft and chewy, beautifully flavored, melt-in-your-mouth dessert that is super simple to make, and I think you’re going to love them just as much as I do!
Typically these cookies are made with a box of vanilla cake mix as the base. While cake mix has its place, today we’re baking completely from scratch. Rather than start with a box mix, I used my vanilla cake recipe as the base for today’s cookies.
If reading that makes you panic, don’t! My homemade recipe is so easy and only takes a minute longer than the box mix version (the only extra step is whisking together the dry ingredients!). Once you taste them, you’ll never want to go back to the box-mix version–I promise.
Let’s get to it!
What You Need
These cookies are simple to make, and I think you’ll find they taste much, much better than the cake mix version. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need:
- Butter. This ingredient should come as no surprise! You’ll need one stick of softened, unsalted butter.
- Cream cheese. Cream cheese helps create the gooey texture in these cookies and adds a subtle but important flavor to the finished product. Use the block-style cream cheese (not the kind in the tub!) and make sure it’s softened before you get started.
- Vanilla. No, the measurement below is not a typo; you’re going to add a lot of vanilla to these cookies! To get that strong vanilla flavor that most boxed vanilla cake mixes have, we’ll be adding 1 ½ Tablespoons of vanilla extract.
- Eggs. Your eggs should ideally be at room temperature so they incorporate nicely with the butter and cream cheese.
- Flour. Stick with all-purpose flour, and make sure you know how to measure your flour properly, or your cookies may turn out dry.
- Sugar. We’ll add granulated sugar to the cookies themselves, then roll them in powdered sugar just before baking.
- Salt. Just a teaspoon helps to balance the sweetness and round out the flavor!
SAM’S TIP: I know many of you don’t like cream cheese and may be hesitant to try this recipe when you see it listed under the ingredients. The good news is, these cookies don’t have an overwhelming cream cheese flavor. Instead, they have a strong vanilla flavor and a soft, gooey texture with just a hint of cream cheese–just like gooey butter cake!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Gooey Butter Cookies
- Cream together the butter and cream cheese until well combined, then stir in eggs and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with your mixer on low speed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- Scoop the chilled dough into 1 ½ tablespoon sized balls, roll between your palms until smooth then roll through powdered sugar.
- Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Don’t over-bake, this will make the cookies dry and hard!
SAM’S TIP: You can chill your dough for longer than 30 minutes, but just keep in mind that you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a little bit before it’s soft enough to scoop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gooey butter cookies are the cookie form of gooey butter cake, which originated in St. Louis. The creation of the cake itself was actually an accident, but it was so delicious that it became a hit!
There’s extra vanilla in this recipe because the “original” cake mix version has a very strong vanilla flavor, and I wanted to replicate that. The end result has a great vanilla flavor tempered by rich cream cheese and no artificial, “fake-taste” like you’d get from the box!
Yes! These cookies can be frozen before or after baking. Just make sure to wrap them tightly before freezing.
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Gooey Butter Cookies (Made from Scratch!)
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter softened
- 8 oz (226 g) brick-style cream cheese softened
- 2 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 1 ½ Tablespoons vanilla extract (this is equivalent to 4 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract)
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar for rolling cookies
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth and well-combined.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 8 oz (226 g) brick-style cream cheese
- Stir in eggs and vanilla extract.1 ½ Tablespoons vanilla extract, 2 large eggs
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
- With electric mixer on low-speed, gradually stir dry ingredients into butter/cream cheese mixture until completely combined.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside.Powdered sugar
- Once dough has chilled, scoop by 1 ½ Tablespoon-sized ball and roll between your palms until smooth. Roll through powdered sugar until completely coated and then place on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies at least 2” apart.
- Bake on 350F (175C) in center rack for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.
StoringStore cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I don’t have salt free butter.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Carol! We have a post on salted vs. unsalted butter that includes a conversion. Hope that helps!
Can you use margarine
I haven’t tried it, but I think it could work. 🙂
Hands down, my new favorite cookie. I swapped 1/2 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt for the eggs for a family member with an allergy, and while they’re pale, the added twang made these over the top delicious. Best. Cookie. Ever. I’m going to try a batch replacing half the vanilla extract with strawberry extract. I can’t wait!!!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
So glad you enjoyed, Erin! Thanks for trying our recipe 😊
This cookie redeemed my confidence in my baking abilities! I had been feeling down because I could not get any peanut butter blossom recipes to work in my favor. The cookies kept coming out flat and crispy instead of soft and chewy. Sooooo, I stopped baking for like a week. I was partly upset because I have never had many issues with baking up until this point, and several online bakers kept harping on weighing certain ingredients, like flour. When you have a limited income like I do, a kitchen scale just isn’t a necessity, so I have always always made sure to measure my flour correctly with measuring cups (I.e. spooning and leveling). But, after several failed bakes back to back, I purchased a kitchen scale as a Christmas gift to myself.
While I don’t know if the scale is exactly what made all the difference (because this cookie is just delicious), everything I baked for Christmas was from Sugar Spun Run and they all turned out fantastic.
For these cookies, I actually had to chase down a package of cream cheese on Christmas Eve to make a second batch because the first one disappeared so FAST! The dough does climb up a handheld mixer, but I made sure to stop just before that happened with the second batch and mixed the remainder with a spatula. Again, limited income, so a stand mixer is only something I dream of.
While I still believe that baking can be enjoyed and successful without the use of a kitchen scale, if it is a luxury you can afford, it may give you some extra security in ensuring that a baked good turns out in away that you desire.
Ok. I didn’t do something right. I had all of the same concerns as everyone else with the dough climbing, but switched to a stand mixer and all was well. I balled them up and baked them, but they didn’t flatten into cookies. They stayed more like balls with just a little flattening. What did I do wrong? :/
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Oh no! It could be that your flour was over-measured or they chilled for too long. Did you take them out of the fridge after 30 minutes?
Hi! Big fan of your cookie/bar recipes and very excited to try this one next! I see that the vanilla extract is integral to the flavor profile of these cookies; just given the amount used here, I’m curious if there are any possible alternatives that could potentially work in this recipe and don’t contain alcohol?
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Vanessa! An alcohol-free vanilla extract will work just fine here. Looks like Amazon sells a few types 😊
Wonderful – thank you!
I’m a cookie eating connoisseur and these are one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Truly. The dough got a little sticky in the mixer and I was concerned it wasn’t mixing; but regardless, they were FANTASTIC. I also replaced vanilla extract for almond (as it’s my favorite). 1:1 ratio works fine. Thank you very much for your recipe! I’ll be making these for the rest of my baking life!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them so much, Becky! 🙂
As the above comment said , was a bit nervous with the batter (note use stand mixer ,in low hand mixer is not quite powerful enough and dough will start to climb up on hooks about 2/thirds the way through adding the flour.
Other than that ,once again another fantastic recipe from my favorite “Cookie Teacher”. This site is so more than recipes. Teaches how to make great cookies, why the ingredients go together the way they do and “tips” galore! Learned so much thank-you very much.
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies so much and I love hearing that you’ve enjoyed the website and all of the tips and tricks I try to provide. 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. These turned our great. Color, taste, shape, spread all perfect.
These cookies are so good!! I made them today. I know it says to keep in an airtight container for a week but can I freeze them and thaw? Or can I refrigerate them?Will they still be as gooey in four days?
Hi Amy! Freezing and thawing them should work just fine. I’m not sure about refrigeration, especially only for a few days. I’d be worried the refrigerator would dry them out a little bit. You can always microwave them for a couple of seconds to get them really soft again if need be. 🙂
I’d like to make large cookies (5½-6oz each) using your recipe and stuffing the middle with strawberry jam. I had tried doing this with another recipe and the cookies were too soft to hold up to the weight of the cookie and fell apart when you tried to pick them up. How soft do your cookies turn out? Do you think that they would hold up under the weight? Thanks, in advance, for your advice.
Hi Joanne! These are a pretty soft cookie so I’m not sure these would hold up here. 🙁
How can I substitute the cream cheese?
Unfortunately I don’t really have a recommendation here as the cream cheese is key in this recipe. 🙁
Halved the recipe and made these yesterday with my girls (3 and 5), they were a hit. Thank you!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We hope the three of you had a great time baking together, Lara! Thanks for choosing our recipe ❤
I halfed the recipe and instead made the cookies twice as big and stuffed them with some more cream cheese and coffee infused with white chocolate. I got seven big cookies and an eighth which was tiny, (the eighth small one tasted like a honey butter biscuit. I didn’t stuff it with anything. Crunchy on the outside, and cake like inside. It was amazing!) and the seven I shared were a big hit! The outside of the cookies became softer and more cake like the next day, (I miss the crunchy outside) but were still delicious nonetheless! Next time, I’m going to try make this with an egg substitute instead and see how they turn out . Lovely recipe, and thank you so much for sharing it!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Wow, those sound delicious! Thanks for sharing ☺️