Have you ever had a Lofthouse sugar cookie? They are a soft and cakey sugar cookie with a generous layer of frosting on top, along with sprinkles.
You can find them in many grocery store bakeries, packed neatly in plastic clamshells and decorated in the colors of whatever holiday is up next. I have a soft spot for the palm-sized, pink-frosted, rainbow-sprinkled variety of my youth that my friends and I would find individually wrapped from the convenience store.
HOW TO MAKE LOFTHOUSE SUGAR COOKIES
I set out to recreate those specific Lofthouse-style cookies at home. They begin with a rich sour cream sugar cookie dough. The sour cream in the dough contributes to making these cookies incredibly soft, and it also adds a subtle tangy flavor that offsets the sweetness.
The dough itself is very soft, almost like between a batter and a dough, and that also helps result in a very soft cookie. Chilling the dough before rolling it out and then keeping it cold between baking batches is a key component for making these cookies, but well worth the effort.
THE BEST SUGAR COOKIE FROSTING
The frosting is a classic fluffy American buttercream flavored with vanilla extract, and it’s a great counterpart for the cakey, not-too-sweet cookie.
Once the frosting dries, it develops a thin crust, which makes the cookies easier to stack and store between layers of parchment.
And one final tip: Dissolving the food coloring into milk beforehand helps keep the color vibrant, but you can certainly just add it to the frosting right in the mixing bowl, too.
BETTER THE NEXT DAY!
These cookies are great the day they’re made, but seem to get even better the day after baking and frosting. The flavors meld and the vanilla comes out more, while the texture gets a little more compact and sturdy — though still very soft!
How to Store or Freeze These Cookies
These cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, separated by layers of parchment so they don’t stick to each other.
You can also freeze them, baked or unbaked, frosted or unfrosted!
- To freeze unbaked cookies: Roll the cookies, and then transfer to a baking sheet without pressing flat. Freeze on the baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a freezer container and freeze for up to a month. Let the dough balls thaw on the cookie sheet before baking, then press flat and bake as usual.
- To freeze baked, unfrosted cookies: Cool completely, wrap the cookies in a double layer of foil, and transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to a month. Thaw on the counter and frost before serving.
- To freeze frosted cookies: (Note, while this does work and the flavor is unaffected, the frosting sometimes doesn’t look quite as pretty.) Cool completely, frost, and then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once solid, stack the cookies 3 or 4 high between parchment paper, wrap in foil, and transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to a month and thaw at room temperature.
LOOKING FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF SUGAR COOKIE?
Soft and chewy not quite your aim today? Take a look at these other variations!
- Simple Soft Sugar Cookies — Soft and chewy!
- Simple Cut-Out Sugar Cookies — Thin and tender
- Holiday Sugar Cookies — Tender, a little crisp, and sturdy enough for frosting
Or Try these other favorite cookies!
Lofthouse-Style Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies Recipe
For the dough:
- 3 3/4 cups (510g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227g) sour cream
For the frosting:
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups (455g) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- Food coloring, for coloring the frosting
- Sprinkles for decorating
1 Combine the dry ingredients: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set to the side.
2 Make the cookie dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla and sour cream until combined. Then, in two separate additions, beat in the flour, scraping the bowl after each addition. This will create a soft and fluffy dough.
3 Fold the dough briefly in the bowl: Using a stiff rubber spatula, fold the dough a few times inside the bowl – scoop down the side of the bowl and underneath the batter, then lift up and fold the dough over on itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Repeat this a few times until the dough is smooth.
4 Chill the dough: Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the dough and refrigerate the dough for at least three hours so it firms up, or up to overnight. (Transfer the dough to a separate bowl if you need the mixing bowl for something else.)
5 Preheat the oven: Once the dough has chilled and you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6 Shape the cookies: Lightly flour the counter. Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoop, scoop out some of the dough and drop on the counter. Gently roll the dough against the counter and between your hands to form a round ball. Brush off any excess flour and place the ball on the cookie sheet.
Repeat scooping and rolling more cookie dough balls until the sheet pan is filled, spacing the cookies several inches apart. Cover the remaining dough and return it to the refrigerator.
7 Press the cookies flat: Dip the bottom of a drinking glass in flour and use it to press the cookies on the cookie sheet to about 1/4-inch thick. Re-flour the drinking glass as needed to prevent sticking.
8 Bake the cookies: Bake the first tray of cookies in the center of the oven for 11 to 13 minutes. When done, the cookies should be slightly puffed, dry on the top, pale around the edges, and (when lifted with a thin spatula) barely golden on the bottoms.
Let them cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
Shape and bake the remaining cookies like the first.
9 Make the frosting: Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add half of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the salt, and beat on low to combine for a minute. Add the remaining powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk, and beat for an additional minute.
The frosting should be fluffy, pale, and spreadable. If it is more stiff than you like, beat in an additional tablespoon of milk.
To color the frosting pink (or any other color), add a few drops of food coloring and mix to combine. (I used about 2 drops each of deep pink and red food gel for my cookies.)
10 Frost the cookies: Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies and decorate with sprinkles.
11 Store the cookies: These cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, separated by layers of parchment so they don’t stick to each other.
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