Best Cut Sugar Cookies – Cream Cheese and Lemon Zest

Best Cut Sugar Cookies recipe, Cream Cheese, Lemon Zest, FBLCookieExchange

Best Cut Sugar Cookies

Christmas baking is here! This recipe for Cut Sugar Cookies is, without a shadow of doubt, the best ever. Cream cheese provides them with a moist and soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture; vanilla and lemon zest give them a light, fresh flavor; the dough freezes well, so you can always have them on hand; they make wonderful gifts and your friends and family will be begging for more. Oh, sure…they take a bit of time. But aren’t they worth it? 

Searching for the perfect cookie to ship for the FBLCookieExchange, I came upon these beauties from kitchn. I have altered their recipe only slightly. First, I increased their small recipe by half. Secondly, I flavored mine with just vanilla and lemon zest (which I increased). They also used almond extract, which I eliminated. Since so many people, children especially, have nut allergies, and since I was mailing these cookies to people I didn’t know (or know if there were allergies in their homes), I played it safe.

That said, I adored the subtle vanilla and lemon zest flavoring. I didn’t think they suffered from the omission of the almond extract. In fact, these really are the best sugar cookies. I mean it. Ever. They are so soft and buttery, subtly sweet, and with a melt in your mouth texture.

These cookies take time. Are they worth it? Yes! Here are my tips: You must refrigerate the dough. The butter and the cream cheese need to harden so you can easily cut the dough. Second, once you have rolled the dough between parchment and chilled it, when you’re ready to cut the cookies, be sure to peel the parchment from both sides of the dough. It will make cutting the shapes and removing them to the prepared baking sheets much easier.

As I said, the cookies I did were part of a cookie exchange, so I sent these cookies out to three fellow bloggers. I also received three batches of cookies. Check out the photos of the incredible cookies that came my way, below. Also below is  the link to the roundup of all of the recipes in the exchange.

Time to get baking for the holidays! Cookies always make excellent gifts!


p.s.: This was my first foray into the world of Royal Icing. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I don’t make a living decorating cakes or cookies. I think I’m going to tackle more Royal Icing projects because I want to figure out how to make masterpieces! These were definitely delicious, but not gorgeous. *wink*

5.0 from 3 reviews
Best Cut Sugar Cookies - Cream Cheese and Lemon Zest
This recipe for Cut Sugar Cookies is, without a shadow of doubt, the best ever. Cream cheese provides them with a moist and soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture; vanilla and lemon zest give them a light, fresh flavor; the dough freezes well, so you can always have them on hand; they make wonderful gifts and your friends and family will be begging for more
Serves: 5-6 dozen
  • 1½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), add the butter, cream cheese and sugar.
  2. Beat on high speed for several minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine.
  5. Gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.
  6. NOTE: Before baking, this dough needs to be chilled.
  7. If you are planning to bake right away, divide the dough into 3 balls and between two pieces of parchment paper, roll each ball out to ¼ to ⅛-inch thickness.
  8. Place the dough between the parchment sheet onto a baking sheet and into the refrigerator for an hour. *
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment or a silicone baking sheet.
  11. Remove the chilled dough sheets from the refrigerator, one at a time, and peel the parchment paper away from the rolled dough.
  12. Cut cookies out of the rolled dough and place on the prepared baking sheets.**
  13. Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack.
  14. Cool completely before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.
* Or freeze the dough balls, wrapped in plastic wrap and a freezer bag, for up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight then proceed with the recipe.**If you are wanting a sprinkle or sugar topped sugar cookie, add prior to baking and press slightly into the cookie.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Royal Icing
  • 2 cups - Confectioners' sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons - meringue powder
  • 3 tablespoons - warm water
  • (Gel food coloring if you plan to color your icing)
  1. In a bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and warm water until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. If icing is too thick, add a couple drops of water.
  3. If icing is too thin, add additional confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until desired consistency.


Links to all the recipes shared in the #FBLCookieExchange can be found here.

These are the cookies I received:


Cranberry and Crystalized Ginger Biscotti from Turnips 2 Tangerines. Mr. Saucy loved these! I had to let him have them all, since I’m allergic to ginger, but they smelled fabulous! Thank you, Lynn!


Pistachio Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Biscotti from Mother Would Know. Chocolate and Cranberries? What’s not to love? Perfect with a cup of tea; they were delicious, Laura. Thank you!


Cranberry Orange Cookies with White Chocolate and Pistachios from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen. These were soft and moist and really delicious; I had to fight Mr. Saucy off of them to have enough to take a photo for you to see. They were wonderful. Thank you, Megan!

About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
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14 Responses to Best Cut Sugar Cookies – Cream Cheese and Lemon Zest

  1. Cyn Taylor says:

    Thanks Paula. Turns out I was looking for a “Best Ever” cookie recipe for the holidays! Plan to try this one today.
    BTW, Red Morning Glory should be out (hopefully) in the next few weeks. This is the book that has LRO and you in the story line. It will be on Amazon first. It is the sequel to Blue Mountain Sky, my first book.
    Thanks for all the inspiration!
    Cyn Taylor

  2. jackie says:

    How do you make your Icing for these sugar cookies?

  3. Wow, these look great, P! I love a good sugar cookie! 🙂

  4. Sarah E. says:

    I was so happy to receive these cookies in the mail – they were SO stinkin’ good! The lemon was there, but subtle and the frosting was delicious! 🙂

    • Sarah, what a lovely comment. I’m so stinkin’ happy you liked them! Royal Icing has always been a favorite of mine (with bought cookies obviously since I hadn’t tried working with it before), but I’m definitely going to work with it again. Because? It is the BEST. P~

  5. These were SO delicious. Between me, my mother, and my sister, we’ve probably tried hundreds of cookie recipes and have become cookie snobs over the years. They have to be really good for us to add it to our recipe books. These ones are definitely getting added! Thank you!

    • Jessica, I am just thrilled that you liked them! They really were so good. I just read your comment to Mr. Saucy and he was lamenting the fact that he didn’t get to eat enough of them. I had to promise I’d make more. They are a keeper here too. Happy Christmas to you all. P~

  6. emily says:

    You’re wrong. They’re gorgeous!

  7. Cyn Taylor says:

    The cookies turned out great! Brent took some to work and they were well received. BTW, I went to the Website to look for the other cookie recipe, Cranberry Orange Cookies with White Choco and Pistachios. I searched the entire site and couldn’t find them. Would love to try. I am taking cookies around to my neighbors on Christmas Eve and would like to include this one. Do you have the recipe or a direct link to it?
    Hope you and Mr. Saucy have a great Christmas! Is your 12′ tree up this year?

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