Soft and tender gluten free cream cheese sugar cookies with slightly firm Lofthouse-style frosting. Basically, they’re the perfect cookie.
What makes a great cutout sugar cookie?
A proper cutout sugar cookie rolls out smoothly and easily and can take any shape. It doesn’t spread at all during baking, which can ruin the shape in a hurry.
Because we already have a perfect recipe for Lofthouse-style gluten free soft frosted sugar cookies, it might seem like we’re all set for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and everything in between.
And then you see these soft gluten free cream cheese cutout sugar cookies. And you know.
The cream cheese in the cookie dough makes these a wee bit more tender than our original cutout sugar cookies, but the real difference is in the taste. They roll out just as easily as our “originals.” But the cream cheese flavor in both the cookies themselves and the frosting is just something special.
When I first gave these cookies to my children, I didn’t really say anything about them. They just were all, “sugar cookies!!” and dug in. I expected them to assume they were eating the originals, which they have done dozens of times. And then my son said it:
“Mom? Are these, like, cheesecake cookies or something?” Bingo, young man. Bingo.
Cheesecake, I clearly love you
Anything with cream cheese tastes something like cheesecake, I guess. But especially since a classic cheesecake has little more than cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and so do these cookies, they’re nearly a cheesecake in cookie form.
Since we just made mini cheesecake cookie cups, these cookies might seem a bit like overkill. Not only can these cookies contain their cheesecake essence right in the cutout cookie itself, but they can be cut into any shape, and covered with royal icing for any celebration.
About that Lofthouse-style frosting
When I first made this frosting, I made it with 8 ounces of cream cheese and no butter. More recently, I’ve switched to 4 tablespoons (56 g) of unsalted butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese.
I find that the frosting is a bit more stable that way. It also makes the recipe simpler overall since you need one 8 tablespoon-stick (112 g) of unsalted butter total and one 8-ounce package of cream cheese total.
Whatever you do, don’t leave out the salt, since any frosting without salt will just taste too sweet. It’s easiest to make if you have a stand mixer, but of course, a simple hand mixer will do. Just use a large bowl so you can beat the frosting until it’s thick and smooth.
Ingredients and substitutions
If you can’t have dairy, you might want to consider making our recipe for conventional cutout sugar cookies instead since cream cheese is nearly impossible to replace successfully with a dairy-free alternative. I even have a chocolate cutout sugar cookie version.
But if you’d like to go ahead and try to make this recipe, here are my best guesses for how to go about it:
To make these cutout cookies dairy-free, you’ll need to replace both the butter and the cream cheese in this recipe. I have tried many dairy-free versions of cream cheese, and although Daiya is my favorite brand, it still has something of a strange aftertaste that becomes more pronounced the more of it you use.
For that reason, I’d recommend replacing the butter and cream cheese with the following: 3 ounces dairy-free cream cheese substitute + 3 tablespoons (36 g) Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening + 4 tablespoons (56 g) vegan butter (Melt brand is my current favorite, but Earth Balance buttery sticks are fine, too). To make the frosting dairy-free, I’d make the same adjustments as I recommended for the cookie dough.
Since there is only 1 egg in this recipe, I think it should be able to be made egg-free by using 1 “chia egg” in its place (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).
Since these are cutout cookies and the texture of the dough matters a lot, you might want to try using a boiled flax egg, like we did in our vegan black bean brownies recipe.
If you don’t have meringue powder, simply add more confectioners’ sugar by the tablespoonful, beating well, until the frosting thickens enough that it holds its shape well when scooped.
At first glance, it seems like these cookies are naturally corn-free. But conventional confectioners’ sugar has cornstarch added to it to help keep it from clumping. There are corn-free brands of confectioners’ sugar, though.
If you can’t find corn-free confectioners’ sugar, you can make your own confectioners’ sugar from granulated sugar and a starch. In place of the cornstarch that is called for in that recipe, I’d use arrowroot to make it corn-free.