Easy Gooey Butter Cookies

Sorry to anyone on a diet this month … my bad. But it’s cold, and I’m in the mood to bake some cookies. These are inspired by gooey butter cake, a truly delicious dessert that happens to be from St. Louis, Missouri—not too far from where I live.

If you’ve never had gooey butter cake before, take a minute to google it (unless you’re on a diet, then don’t!) and marvel at the goodness. I think it’s a really cute, although pretty unassuming cake.

It’s certainly not a fancy layer cake or anything, more like a slab cake or cookie bars. But it’s SO delicious. I shared a pineapple upside-down version last year if you’re interested.

Gooey butter cake usually starts with a box of yellow cake mix. And so do these cookies. Then you just need five other ingredients and BOOM—delicious cookies. These are soft and, yes, almost gooey (in a good way).

No, those are not marshmallows. I really wanted this cookie recipe to have some variation in texture. Gooey butter cake is really two layers with a kind of crust and then an almost-custard on top. I was aiming for more a soft and cake-like cookie, but I did want some variation of texture since these are inspired by the cake version.

So, one thing I tried (and ended up really liking) was stirring in some cold cream cheese cubes before baking. These leaves little pockets of soft and gooey cream cheese throughout the cookies; almost cheesecake like.

Figured I’d better explain that since they do really look like marshmallows. 🙂

You can use any brand of yellow cake you like or have in your pantry already, or a vanilla cake mix would work in a pinch, too.

These are so easy to throw together and truly delicious! I hope you enjoy them. But, if you’re looking to bake some cookies but wishing for something with chocolate, might I recommend chocolate snowcap mountain cookies or chocolate flecked slice and bake cookies. xo. Emma

Love desserts? Check out our 25 Cookies and Bars You Should Bake!

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5 from 4 votes

Gooey Butter Cookies

Servings 22


  • 1 box cake mix yellow
  • 8 ounces cream cheese divided
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar powdered


  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yellow cake mix, 4 ounces cream cheese (softened), the softened butter, vanilla extract, and the egg. Stir until well combined, into a soft dough.
    Cube the remaining (cold) cream cheese and fold in. Some may mix but you don't want the pieces to completely mix in, you want them to remain small cubes as much as possible.
  • Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper. Bake at 325°F for 10-11 minutes. These should still be very soft in the center. Remove to a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar.
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Do you think these would survive being made vegan? An egg replacement or something? And vegan cream cheese?

    • To be honest I am not super confident in recommending a vegan version just because it might take more substantial changes. But if you try do let us know if it works or what changes you went with. Would love to know!

    • 5 stars
      I haven’t tried them as bars so I’m not 100% but I think they would. I would just make sure to cover your baking pan with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out of the pan before slicing. These are very soft cookies (almost gooey… you get it) so that would be my one concern; that the bars would more easily fall apart or get disfigured as you remove them from the pan.

      If you try it let us know how it goes!

  • This is such a fun variation on the gooey butter cake! Great idea!

  • Butter cookies are my weakness… I actually eat them more than chocolate cookies because they look healthier (I know that isn’t the case!). This recipe looks so good! 😀

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • 5 stars
      I totally agree with you! This is also one of my favorite cookie views. All recipes here are simply incredible! I would very much like to get acquainted with those who create these culinary masterpieces! Hopefully, in your reserve there are still a few cookie recipes. I will be looking forward to your new posts

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