Baker Bettie

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft sour cream sugar cookies are a holiday must have with our family! These cookies hold their shape well for making cookie cutouts and remain very soft after baked. Like a Lofthouse Cookie but better!  

Soft sugar cookies frosted and lined up on a sheet pan with rainbow sprinkles. One has a bite taken out of it

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies Overview

These soft sour cream sugar cookies are my all time favorite sugar cookies! The sour cream adds such a nice tangy flavor and keeps the cookies super moist and soft! 

If you had to compare these to a store bought cookie, you could definitely say they are a like a Lofthouse cookie, but they are so much better! In my opinion, real Lofthouse cookies are too overly sweet and one note. These cookies have a nice balance and taste more grown up! 

How to Keep Sugar Cookies Really Soft

Frosted sour cream sugar cookies lined up on a sheet pan with rainbow sprinkles. One has a bite taken out of it.

These sugar cookies bake up really nice and soft, but there are a few things that help keep them that way. Keeping the dough slightly thick when you roll it out helps them stay really soft in the center. I like to roll mine out just a little thicker than 1/4″. 

It is also important that you don’t over mix your dough. Once the flour is added into your mixing bowl, mix until it is just absorbed. This will keep your sugar cookies soft. 

I also find that keeping the cookies in an airtight container is absolutely key to keeping them soft. Even if the edges do get a little crispy while baking, putting them in an airtight container will soften them. 

How to Get Sugar Cookies to Hold Their Shape

Cooke dough rolled out and a being cut into circles with a round cookie cutter

The best way I have found to get sugar cookies to hold their shape is to make sure the dough is really chilled when it goes into the oven and to bake them at a higher temperature. These two things will allow the outside of the cookie to set before the butter melts and spreads the cookie out. 

How to Quickly Chill Cookie Dough

Many sugar cookie recipes, and other recipes like gingersnap cookies, call for a long chilling time. However, I have figured out how to chill dough very quickly. 

I like to press my cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper and then transfer it into the refrigerator. Creating a thinner piece of dough allows it to chill much more quickly. 

For these sugar cookies we are actually going to put it in the freezer for just about 10-15 minutes and then cut them out. This will help them hold their shape well and makes for a very quick sugar cookie recipe! 

How to Make Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

These cookies use the classic creaming method for cookies. It is a very quick and easy process. You do want to be careful not to over mix your dough or your cookies can become tough. 

Step 1: Mix the Cookie Dough

This cookie dough has the standard lineup of ingredients for sugar cookies except it has the addition of sour cream. I also like to add in a bit of lemon zest. But that is optional. I think the tanginess of this cookie dough is what makes it so special! 

When creaming your butter and sugar together make sure you do it until it is just slightly light and fluffy. You don’t want to cream too much or this will make your cookies spread out and not hold their shape as much. 

Step 2: Roll out the Dough and Chill

Transfer the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to a little bit thicker than 1/4″ thick. I go somewhere in between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick. 

Rolling out sugar cookie dough in between two pieces of parchment paper

After you roll out the dough, transfer it to the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to firm up. This will allow you to cut out the cookies without needing a lot of extra flour. This also helps the cookies to hold their shape when baking if you want to make cutout cookies. 

Step 3: Cut out your Cookies & Bake

Once your dough is firm, cut out your cookie shapes. I used round cutters to keep the look of these cookies neutral for any occasion. But use any shape you like! 

If your dough starts to get soft again, pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes!

Step 4: Frost!

Once your cookies have cooled completely, you can frost them with any frosting you like. I like to use my easy buttercream frosting with a bit of lemon juice added to it. This really helps balance the sweetness and makes the sugar cookies extra delicious. 

If you want to do more intricate designs, or if you want the frosting the set hard, like in the picture below, I recommend using a classic royal icing. 

Sugar Cookie Christmas Tree

Sour cream sugar cookies cut out in varying sizes of stars and stacked to form a christmas tree shape

When I first published this recipe back in 2012, I used it to make a sugar cookie Christmas tree! In order to make one you need a star tree cookie cutter set

Make the full recipe as written below, and use the star cookie cutters to cut out the various sizes of stars. The packaging of the cookie cutters should specify how many of each size you need to make your cookie Christmas tree. 

Instead of using the buttercream frosting in the recipe below, I recommend using a classic royal icing and color it green. Then after you stack the cookies into the tree shape, you can dust with a little powdered sugar to look like snow. Top with a cranberry! 

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Yield: About 25- 3 1/2" Round Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Chilling Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes

Soft sour cream sugar cookies are a holiday must have with our family! This sugar cookie Christmas tree is made with these cookies because they hold their shape well and do not spread during cooking. The cookies stay pale in color after baking and are very soft and tender.

Ingredients

For the Cookie Dough

  • 1/2 cup (113 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup 200 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (*optional)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (112 gr) full fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp (6 gr) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (2 gr) kosher salt
  • 2 3/4 cups (330 gr) all-purpose flour

For the Frosting

  • 1 sticks (113 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (240 gr) powdered, icing, or confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP (15 ml) lemon juice (*optional)
  • 2-3 TBSP (30-45 ml) milk or heavy cream

Instructions

For the Cookies
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest (if using) together until lightly fluffy. Mix on medium/high speed for about 45 seconds-1 minute. You don't want to cream too much or the cookies won't hold their shape as well when baked.
  2. Add the egg and sour cream into the mixing bowl and mix until absorbed. Add the baking powder and salt and mix until absorbed.
  3. Add the flour into the mixing bowl and mix until it is just absorbed. You don't want to mix too much once the flour is added. The dough will be sticky.
  4. Divide the dough in half and transfer each half onto a piece of parchment paper. Top each half of dough with another piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out between the parchment to a little thicker an 1/4" thick. I like to go in between 1/4" and 1/2" thick to keep the cookies super soft.
  5. Transfer the rolled out dough into the freezer for 10-15 minutes until very firm. This will allow you to be able to cut the cookies out without needing to add a lot of extra flour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  7. Dip cookie cutters in flour, and stamp out cookies in your desired shape. This dough will hold its shape well if you want to make shapes. Transfer the cut out cookie onto the parchment lined baking sheets. You can press the scraps together and chill and cut out again. Only do this once, because working the dough too much will create tough cookies.
  8. Bake 375 F (190 C) for 6-9 minutes, or until the edges are firm and very lightly browned. These cookies will not turn golden brown, they should still be white in the center. They will cook quickly and you don't want to over bake them.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar into the mixing bowl. Start mixing on low and then gradually increase the speed to cream the sugar into the butter. Beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and the lemon juice if using. Add a bit of milk or heavy cream to thin out the texture if needed.


To Assemble:

  1. Frost the cooled cookies as desired. The frosting does crust over slightly, so if you want to add sprinkles you do want to do it right when you frost.
  2. Store cookies in an airtight container for 3-4 days. This will keep them very soft. You can store them at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I actually think they taste better cold!

Notes

*The lemon zest can be left out of the cookies and the lemon juice can be left out of the frosting if you prefer. It adds a slight tangy flavor and helps balance the sweetness.

*If you would like to prep the dough ahead and bake later, make the cookies all the way up to step 7. Place the raw cut out cookies in the freezer until solid. Transfer to a freezer ziplock bag for up to 3 months. When you are ready to bake, you can bake straight from frozen but add about 2-3 minutes onto the baking time.

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 0

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93 comments on “Sour Cream Sugar Cookies”

  1. My fave holiday cookie has always been oatmeal raisin with icing but these may change my mind!

  2. I truly enjoy making Eggnog cookies. I also cut cookie cutters and decorate them with royal icing that has a hint of lemon in it. I too have seen the tree cutters and never used them before. We recently got creative with cookie cutters and stamps and made ornaments for my daughters dance team fundraiser. She told me, if she hadn’t helped, she would have thought they were my edible ones lol. On my FB page I have those pictures. Have a great day. !

  3. My favourite holiday cookie is cranberry biscotti. What’s a holiday without berries? 🙂 Nice recipe there and the cookies look really good, so don’t doubt your artistic ability. Shall try this one day! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Absolutely Beautiful! And this was the first pin on my Christmas Board. Happy Holidays Baker Bettie.

  5. ME ME ME PICK ME.

    My favorite holiday cookie is…. um…. all of the cookies. I want to eat all of the cookies. Mostly the ones with chocolate and/or salted caramel.

  6. My favorite cookie this time of year is my grandmothers thumb print jam cookies. They just melt in your mouth. I love your cookie tree, it is so beautiful.

  7. These are BEAUTIFUL!!!!
    I’ve never been a super big fan of sugar cookies–partly because I’m not a big frosting fan either 😛 But I’ve never tried sour cream sugar cookies and these look wonderful!!!!

  8. That tree looks so beautiful! The powdered sugar “snow” is the perfect touch. I’m a big fan of sour cream sugar cookies (and will definitely try out your recipe) but my very favorite holiday cookies are the Mexican Wedding Cakes my mother used to make, which her mother also made. I haven’t made them myself in decades. Maybe it’s time to dig out that recipe…

  9. Fave holiday cookie- it’s a recipe I tried for the first time last year and I got rave reviews. Not a traditional holiday cookie but I associate it with the holidays b/c I baked it for a cookie swap. It has dried cherries, chocolate chunks, pecans, it’s just delish!

  10. These cookies are gorgeous, I love decorating sugar cookies with the kids every year but my favorite to eat is a Swedish Christmas Cookie. My sister gave me the recipe years ago and I still make it every year. Oh and I already follow you on FB.

  11. OMG, this is adorable! I am totally making this for my works christmas party. Even if I don't win the cookie cutters!

  12. So anyways, my favorite holiday cookie is a recipe we made up at work, a chocolate chip cookie with peppermint pudding in it ( we use vanilla normally) and sometimes with mint chips instead of chocolate.

  13. Those are really cute! My favorite cookies are russian tea cookies. Hope you’ll mail international, too!

  14. Oatmeal Raisin cookies are my favorite cookies! Yummy!

  15. I’ve been lurking for a while but these are Super cute! I’d love a set.

  16. This is the loveliest cookie display ever! How cool?! The cookie cutter set is pretty awesome too 🙂 would love to win – My favorite holiday cookie is Scottish Shortbread – YUM! I’m gonna check out your cookie recipes – I looooove cookies 😛

  17. My fav Christmas cookies are my Mother’s decorated Sugar Cookies. Yum!

  18. My favorite holiday cookie is the gingerbread cookiesthat my grandmother makes, my mom makes and that I now make 🙂 The recipe is “world famous”, and with the cookie’s spicy taste comes along countless memories.

  19. *gingerbread cookie

  20. My favorite cookie has to be my spritz cookies…it’s the only one my children insist MUST be made. I would LOVE to win these adorable cookie cutters!

  21. My favorite christmas cookies are the orange blossom madeleines of my grand mother ! Not very american. Your cookies tree is very impressive !

  22. This looks so beautiful! Have never seen that cutout before! I am also a little obsessed with cookies so is hard to pick one, but it would probably be “polvorosas” {a family tradition} and gingerbread.

  23. My fave holiday cookies are snickerdoodles. I never have them at any other time but around the holidays, and I just love them!

  24. What a super adorable cookie tree! I have yet to “perfect” sugar cookie decorating, this is such a good starter cookie recipe – I LOVE Noel Cookies, they are a favorite of ours during the Holidays 🙂

  25. I just wanted to thank you Bettie for this receipe. I have never made homemade cookies before, so wish me luck.

  26. My favorite holiday cookie is snickerdoodle. Not sure that it is really a holiday cookie, but I associate it with the holidays.

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  28. Russian tea cakes are my fav!

  29. I LOVE THIS!!!! I am making sugar cookies this weekend and you’ve inspired me to try this! My favorite holiday cookies are Raspberry Linzer Cookies yummmmm

  30. My favourite Christmas cookie is the slice and bake fruit cake cookie!

  31. I really like rugelach. You can put in different fillings and they are not difficult to make

  32. I actually love iced oatmeal cookies! I found a recipe that I HAVE to try soon or I am going to go crazy! 🙂

  33. Wow, this looks absolutely incredible!

  34. My favorite holiday cookie is the classic chocolate chip!

  35. Snickerdoodle… btw the tree looks gorgeous.

  36. This is the first time I’ve ever seen that cookie recipe anywhere since my sister-in-law showed it to me 12 years ago. I LOVE sugar cookies made with sour cream; they are our classic christmas cookie because they roll out so easily, keep their shape, and taste amazing. In our house we actually frost them with a butter-icing (seriously, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, milk; that’s it). One of these days I want to figure out how to make a good CHOCOLATE sugar cookie on this base, but in the meantime these are still our classic!

  37. My favorite Holiday cookies are now officially these! I made these today and you’re right, the sour cream made all the difference! I always make cut out sugar cookies with my niece and nephews during Christmas and on Christmas eve we frost them for Santa. These are the cookies I’ll be making this year! I LOVED them, so thanks for the recipe! And it’s so nice of you to give away the cookie cutters! I love your blog, so keep it up!

  38. My favorite Christmas cookie is peppernuts (german cookie) My grandmother made a soft sugar cookie with cream from their cows and it sounds alot like this. Gonna try it to see if it’s the same one.

  39. Our favorite Christmas cookies are Snickerdoodles. We also like to make star-shaped sugar cookies, decorated with different colors of icing. Either one is just right for munching after our daughter goes to sleep and we share a bottle of champagne while wrapping Christmas presents and watching A Christmas Story over and over until all the presents are wrapped and under the tree.

  40. My favorite would have to be the spritz cookies (the ones shaped likes trees and such)- yummmy! But I need to find a recipe that does not use sugar or dairy products now 🙁

  41. Favorite holiday cookie HAS to be the snowball cookies! Sugar cookie dough wrapped around a peppermint Hershey's Kiss!

  42. My favorite holiday cookie is called Santa’s Whiskers. It’s a basic sugar cookie recipe with added bits of maraschino cherries and sweetened coconut!

  43. So many favorites to choose from but for holiday baking the sour cream sugar cookie wins! I use a petit four glace icing & decorate with a variety of butter frosting colors…yum & fun!!!

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