These cheesecake cookies are thick and chewy with a surprise cheesecake filling inside. The dough is a basic drop cookie, stuffed with a creamy cheesecake filling and drizzled with caramel. They make a great addition to holiday baking, birthdays, or Sunday baking with the kids.
Cheesecake is one of everyone's favorite desserts. The sweet and tangy flavor and creamy texture make it a beloved classic for good reason. We love taking classic and loved recipes and turning them into other desserts, or putting a fun twist on them, like our snickerdoodle apple pie bars. This cheesecake cookie recipe is a mashup made in heaven.
Reasons to Love Cheesecake Cookies
- Texture: chewy cookies with a creamy filling! It doesn't get much better than that.
- Flavor: the tangy cheesecake filling cuts the sweetness from the cookie. The caramel topping is just a bonus!
- Looks: these cookies look impressive and will wow anyone before they take a bite. They bake up thick and tall and the caramel drizzle looks so pretty.
Here are the simple ingredients to make cheesecake cookies. Skip down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Cream cheese: you can't have a cheesecake cookie without cream cheese! We used basic softened cream cheese, however, you could use dairy-free cream cheese, like Kit Hill.
- Confectioners' sugar: this sweetens the cheesecake filling and gives it texture.
- Flour: we tested this recipe with all-purpose flour and 1:1 gluten-free flour (Bob's Red Mill) and both worked well.
- Butter: the temperature of the butter is important for the final texture of these cookies, so let it sit at room temp for 1-2 hours before baking. You can also use a vegan butter to keep them dairy-free.
- Brown sugar: this is an all brown sugar cookie recipe. The added molasses in brown sugar gives cookies a rich and chewy texture, which is exactly what I was going for in the end!
- Baking soda: this is the leaven that helps the cookies rise. Baking soda reacts well with the acid in the brown sugar to give us tall and thick cookies.
- Egg: we're only using 1 egg in this recipe, but it's necessary to bind the dough and add structure. Use a room temp egg for best results.
- Salt and vanilla: for flavor.
- Caramel topping: we're using soft packaged caramels and a bit of heavy cream to keep this caramel topping simple. It's for drizzling on top of the cookies, and aren't necessary, but make them look pretty and adds extra flavor.
How to Make Cheesecake Cookies
Here are the step-by-step instructions, with photos, to make cheesecake cookies. Jump down to the recipe card for the full recipe and video tutorial!
Start by making the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese until smooth then add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and a bit of flour to give the mixture some structure. It should look similar to cream cheese frosting.
Drop them onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 10-15 minutes, until the cookie dough is ready. You will need about 12 or so dollops of cream cheese filling.
To make the cookie dough, start by whisking together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, similar to the start of almost all of our favorite cookies, like chocolate chip pudding cookies and taylor swift chai cookies. Use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Do not skip this step because it's what creates the thick texture of these delicious cookies.
Slowly beat in the dry ingredients on medium speed until it's completely combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and scoop the cookie dough out into 1 tablespoon-sized balls. You should have double the amount of cheesecake balls. So if you made 12 cheesecake balls you should have 24 cookie dough balls. Stick your thumb in the center of each cookie dough ball to create an indent for the cheesecake balls.
Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and place a cheesecake ball into the center of half of the cookie dough.
Place another piece of cookie dough on top and pinch the seams and roll the dough into a ball, or a cone shape (my preferred method, see pictures). Chill the dough for at least 2 hours to avoid spreading and to deepen the flavor. You can freeze them for an hour if you're in a pinch.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the chilled cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until the tops are just set. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
While they’re cooling, make the caramel topping. Microwave the caramels with heavy cream until they're melted and smooth then drizzle it over partially cooled cookies.
Success Tips for the Best Cheesecake Cookies
- Chill the dough: can't say this enough, but I will keep saying it. Chilling cookie dough makes all the difference. Our toffee cookies are a perfect example. The dough is richer and the cookies hold their shape. Don't skip this step.
- Room temperature ingredients: I sound like a broken record here too, but the temperature of the butter is a key to success for all cookie recipes. 1-2 hours on the counter is just what you need for the butter and eggs to be at room temperature.
- Roll the dough tall: for best results, the cookie form should be taller, more like a cone, than a round ball. Shaping the dough this way is something I started with our famous chocolate chip pudding cookies, and I do this for almost every cookie dough now. It helps the cookie bake on top of itself and creates a thick cookie.
- Do not stack cookies to store them: the caramel will stick to the other cookies and you won't be able to pull them apart. Store them in an even layer or place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper between each layer.
Pumpkin cheesecake cookies: add pumpkin pie spices to the dough and a pinch of cinnamon to the filling. I haven't tested adding real pumpkin pure, because it would change the texture of the cookie, but the spices are a great option!
Strawberry cheesecake cookies: add 1/2 cup finely diced fresh strawberries to the cookie dough.
Graham cracker crumbs: sprinkle crushed graham crackers on top of the caramel for extra crunch.
To store: Baked cookies will stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. I do not recommend stacking the cookies, especially if they have caramel, because they will stick together. If you plan to stack them place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper between each layer.
To freeze: Wrap baked cookies (without the caramel) tightly in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before eating. You can also freeze the cookie dough. Skip the chilling step and flash freeze the dough on a cookie sheet then transfer to a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Thaw overnight or bake from frozen. Frozen cookies will need 1-2 more minutes in the oven.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Cookies to Try
- Chocolate chip pudding cookies
- Frosted eggnog cookies
- Taylor Swift chai cookies
- Pecan shortbread cookies
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (can sub 1:1 gluten-free flour)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (can sub 1:1 gluten-free flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 ounces soft caramels unwrapped
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- flaky sea salt to drizzle
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment paper or silicone mat
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To make the cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, flour, and vanilla and beat on low speed to combine then increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Drop the cheesecake filling by a teaspoonful on one of the prepared cookie sheets. Place them in the freezer while you make the dough.
- To make the cookie dough, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with the paddle attachment, cream butter, and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Do not skip this step. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed to mix then turn it up to medium-high to combine.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough out and roll it into balls and place on the other prepared cookie sheet. Use your thumb to make an indent in the middle of each cookie ball. Remove the cheesecake filling from the freezer and place cheesecake ball in the center of half of the cookie dough balls. Top with the remaining cookie dough balls then pinch the seems and roll into a ball or taller cone shape. Place on the cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. You can put them in the freezer for an hour if you're in a rush.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the chilled cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until the tops are just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- While they’re cooling, make the caramel topping. Place the unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir and continue to microwave in 15-second intervals until melted and bubbling. Stir until smooth. Use a spoon to drizzle the melted caramel over each cookie. If the caramel begins to thicken as you work, microwave again in 15-second increments.