The best, simple holiday cookie recipe! These Gooey Butter Cake Cookies are sweet, buttery and perfect for the Christmas cookie season.
The Holiday season finally among us! The time of year where we gather with friends and family to catch-up, make memories, laugh and of course eat. I also love the holiday season, because no matter what there is always room for dessert. These Gooey Butter Cake Cookies are a St. Louis classic that are so simple to make. They are ready in less than 30 minutes and work perfect as a last-minute holiday treat. This recipe combines butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar for the perfect buttery and sweet cookie.
What Are Gooey Butter Cake Cookies?
First, I would like to explain where Gooey Butter Cake came from. It was invented in the 1930’s by a German baker in St. Louis. The legend goes that the baker was trying to make a regular cake, but reversed the proportions of flour and butter resulting in a moist pudding-like texture. People still love and make this version all over St. Louis and the Midwest today. The model for the gooey butter cake cookie comes from this cake. The gooey butter cake is a dense cake made from butter, eggs, flour, and dusted with powdered sugar. Gooey butter cake cookies are similar to this formula. They are super moist, chewy and impossible to resist.
When I moved away from my home town of St. Louis and started meeting people from all over the country I realized that gooey butter cake cookies were not, “a thing”. I never realized that the majority of people have no clue what these cookies are or taste like. Growing up my family simply called these “cake cookies,” because they are made using a boxed yellow cake mix. My mom made lots of different varieties of these cookies using different cake mixes like red velvet and funfetti. All of these variations are great, but my favorite is the original.
What Do You Need To Make Gooey Butter Cake Cookies?
Gooey butter cake cookies are super moist, delicious, all while being so simple! I love that these cookies require no chilling* (see recipe note), are ready in less than 30 minutes AND require few ingredients. These are the perfect, “Oh my gosh, I forgot I need to make a dessert to bring to my mother-in-law’s house for dinner tonight” cookie. The majority of the ingredients are pantry staples and the only extra is a yellow cake mix, which can be found at nearly every store that sells baking goods and supplies. To make gooey butter cake cookies you will need:
- A Boxed Yellow Cake Mix (I like Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix)
- An Egg
- Cream Cheese
- Vanilla Extract
- Powdered Sugar
THAT’S IT! Nothing complicated or expensive needed for these guys! The kitchen tools needed for this recipe are the exact same needed for any other cookie recipe. I love that this recipe requires no fancy or expensive kitchen tools. Kitchen tools you will need for this recipe are:
- Cookie Sheet(s)
- Parchment Paper (not required, but recommended)
- A Large Bowl for Mixing
- A Hand or Stand Mixer
- A Spoon
- Wire Cooling Rack (not required, but recommended)
How Do You Make Gooey Butter Cake Cookies?
Gooey butter cake cookies are simple and fast to make. They require little prep work or time and cook quickly which makes them perfect for a quick holiday treat.
First, you will need to gather your ingredients. It is also important that the butter and cream cheese are softened. This makes it a lot easier to mix the dough. Also, you do not want clumps of butter and cream cheese in the dough. If possible take the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you start the recipe. That way both will come to room temperature by the time you need them. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 15-30 seconds to soften them up. Just make sure you do not over warm them. You want them soft, not melted. Once you have all your ingredients together, add the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and egg to a large bowl.
Second, you will need to use a hand or stand mixer to beat together your ingredients. Personally, I like to use my hand mixer for these gooey butter cake cookies. This is because I feel like I have more control with the hand mixer and can make sure there are no clumps of butter left. Also, less clean up and work than my stand mixer.
Third, you will need to add your yellow boxed cake mix to your dough. STIR the cake mix in until well combined. I find that if I stir and mash the dough comes together easier and faster. For this step you can use a spoon or a silicone spatula. The dough will be sticky and thick. From here you can either go strait to the next step or chill the dough. I like to chill the dough because it is a lot easier to work with and less messy. I cover the dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. The chilling is not required, but your hands will get a little sticky if you skip it. You can also make this dough ahead of time, store in the refrigerator, then pop in the oven when you are ready.
Next, once you have your dough ready it is time to roll out your cookies. Before you start rolling prepare one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper. I highly recommend parchment paper so the bottoms do not get too browned. Once you have your cookie sheet(s) ready, take a small piece of dough and roll it into a one inch ball using the palms of your hands. Then place the ball into a small bowl of powdered sugar and coat the entire thing. Then place the finished ball onto the cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all the dough is used.
Finally, you are ready to bake the cookie! Bake on the center rack if using one pan and rotate halfway through. If you are using two pans switch and rotate the pans so that the cookies bake evenly. I bake these cookie for 10-12 minutes until the tops are cracked and there is no more “doughiness” in the middle. These cookies should not brown or get dark so make sure you do not over-bake them. To store keep the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. When you store the cookies properly they can last 1-2 weeks.
Looking for More Cookie Recipes? Try These!
I hope you and your family love these gooey butter cake cookies! These cookies have been a favorite in my family since I was a child. Each holiday season I would always request that my mother make “cake cookies”. Now today as soon as the weather turns cool I always have a craving to make this recipe. My son, Theo, seems to have inherited my cookie loving gene because I have never seen him eat anything as fast he ate his cookie. Looks like I will still be enjoying these with my family for years to come!
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Gooey Butter Cake Cookies
- 8 Oz Cream Cheese Softened
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter Softened
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
- 1/2-3/4 Cup Powdered Suger
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and egg in a medium sized bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, whisk the dough until well combined.
- Stir in the yellow cake mix until well combined. The dough will be slightly sticky. Set Aside. In a different small bowl measure out your powdered sugar. Set Aside.
- Take a small piece of dough and roll it (using your palms) until a ball about 1 inch in diameter forms. Drop the ball into the powdered sugar bowl and coat it completely then set on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all dough is used. *See Recipe Note For Optional Chill Time
- Bake for 10-12 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. The cookies will be light in color and shouldn't brown on top. Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.