These soft and chewy cheesecake cookies are made by dressing up a vanilla cake mix with cream cheese and eggs. The chocolate chips are optional, but highly recommended!
I don't know about you, but I'll choose cookies over cake if I'm given a choice. Unless that cake is, in fact, cheesecake. To be fair, though, a cheesecake isn't really a cake in the traditional sense, is it? It doesn't matter at all, though, since cheesecake cookies are the best of everything. The end.
Cheesecake Cookies have all the gorgeous decadence of cheesecake. They're pillow-soft, smooth and rich, but they still have all the fun of a cookie. And they are, seriously, ready to eat in 20 minutes flat. How's that for easy?
I've been making these ridiculously easy cookies since at least 2010, when I developed the recipe for my second cookbook, Gluten Free on a Shoestring Quick and Easy. In that cookbook, there's an entire chapter (Chapter 8) on make-your-own dessert mixes. One of those mixes is for a make-your-own vanilla cake mix, which I've since shared here on the blog.
Cake mixes are the sort of thing that I never really understood until I wrote that cookbook. I mean, what's so hard about throwing together a few basic dry cake ingredients like flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar? And then I finally realized that cake mixes offered certainty. Everything was measured precisely. So when you add the eggs, maybe some oil and some water, you'll get the same cake every single time.
If you'd like to make this recipe with a boxed vanilla cake mix (gluten free or not!), it will work. And I will not judge you! But if you'd like to make your own cake mix, you can do that too. You just need a simple digital food scale (you can find a link to one in my online shop), and my cake mix recipe.
Watch how to make these Easy Cheesecake Cookies (45 Second Video)
Ingredients and Substitutions
As always, unless I specifically indicate otherwise, I haven't tried this recipe with any of these substitutions. They're simply my best-educated guesses, designed to help those of you who have other dietary restrictions still enjoy some amazing recipes.
Dairy-Free: I'm not gonna lie—there's a whole lot of dairy in these cheesecake cookies. Replacing the butter is easy enough (I think Spectrum nonhydrogenated butter-flavored vegetable shortening would work great), but then there's the matter of the cream cheese.
There are plenty of nondairy cream cheeses on the market, but none taste just like the “real thing” to me. My make-your-own vanilla cake mix also contains dairy in the form of buttermilk powder, but in that recipe, you can replace the buttermilk powder with an equal amount, by weight, of coconut milk powder or blanched finely ground almond flour.
Egg-Free: My standard substitute recommendation for eggs is a “chia egg” (mix 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 1 tablespoon lukewarm water and allow it to gel) for each actual egg. Since this recipe is so super simple, I'm honestly not sure how it would work here, though.
Easy Cheesecake Cookies
8 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 to 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the mascarpone or cream cheese, butter, eggs, and vanilla, and beat well with a mixer or by hand. Add the vanilla cake mix and mix by hand until just combined. The dough will be thick. Add the optional chocolate chips and mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Divide the dough into portions of about 1 1/2 tablespoons each (or about 2 teaspoonsful for smaller cookies) onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Flatten the mounds of dough into disks with wet hands. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cookies are just beginning to brown on the underside and the edges. For larger cookies, that takes about 14 minutes. For smaller cookies, about 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool until set on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
These cookies freeze amazingly well, so they can easily be made ahead of time. Just freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before piling them into a freezer-safe container. They don’t even freeze solid, so they barely have to thaw before you can eat them. Not that I’ve ever done that. ?
Adapted from the book Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick and Easy: 100 Recipes For the Food You Love—Fast! by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012. Originally posted on the blog in 2012. Photos and video all new.