Served with a tall glass of lemonade, strawberry cheesecake cookies are a favorite summer snack! They’re super moist, soft, and this strawberry cookie recipe is so easy to prepare. Because we make them with dehydrated berries, they transport well and don’t require refrigeration, either!
Unlike some other cheesecake cookies, this recipe doesn’t use any actual cream cheese. So, bake a batch and safely take them out into the sunshine for the perfect picnic food – they’ll be a hit!
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Why We Love Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
- They’re a fantastic potluck dessert! Unlike a traditional cake, these cheesecake cookies are fine to sit out for a little while. Plus, they’re easy to grab and eat on the go!
- Made with shortcuts! To make your life easier, there isn’t any real dairy in this recipe. We use instant cheesecake pudding mix for a cheesecake dessert, without the elbow grease!
- The dough is easy to freeze and thaw. Fresh berries aren’t in season year round, but by freezing the dough, you can enjoy them whenever the craving hits.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Unsalted Butter – If you need to use salted butter, omit the extra salt in this recipe.
- Sugar – A bit of brown sugar with the white makes our strawberry cookies extra decadent and moist! It’s possible to use all white sugar if you need to. Or, read our recipe notes for chocolate chip cookies without brown sugar – there’s a substitute that’s easy to make!
- Red Decorating Gel – We don’t recommend using food coloring drops unless it’s absolutely necessary. See our notes below on the difference between gel and liquid food coloring.
- Fresh or dried fruit – Dehydrated strawberries are a great option! You get all the flavor of fresh fruit, without the excess moisture. Plus, using dried berries allows you to make this recipe any time of the year – they are fantastic Christmas cookies!
- Instant Cheesecake Pudding Mix – There is a sugar-free version available, but we usually only see it on the store shelves during the holiday baking season. Be sure to use instant pudding mix, not the Cook and Serve version.
- Strawberry Extract – It’s a little hard to get a strong strawberry flavor with just the fruit, so a bit of extract takes the flavor all the way home. If you have trouble finding it, you can substitute with vanilla extract.
Decorating Gel vs. Liquid Food Coloring
When you want bright, vibrant color in your baked goods, decorating gel is the better choice.
Decorating gel is more concentrated than liquid food coloring, so you can achieve the best color, using less product. Plus, in an attempt to create a vibrant color with liquid coloring, you may end up watering down the dough.
That being said, be careful not to add too much gel either. Otherwise, you’ll end up with extremely dark coloring in your strawberry cheesecake cookies.
TFN Pro Tip – Toothpicks are a great kitchen tool!
Use toothpicks to add gel coloring to any dough or batter. Dipping them into a jar of gel coloring allows you to better control how much (or how little) you use.
Strawberry Cookie Recipe Tips
- If using fresh berries, dry them well.
We prefer to use dehydrated berries, because the moisture in fresh fruit can water down the dough, affecting the consistency. Fresh berries work better in strawberry desserts such as cobbler and crisp.
If you need or want to use fresh fruit in your cheesecake cookies, chop or dice them up first. Then, dry the pieces well with paper towels before adding them to the cookie dough.
- Use room temperature butter and eggs.
Eggs usually take about 30 minutes to reach room temperature, while butter can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Strawberry Cookie Recipe Tips
If using fresh berries, dry them well.
We prefer to use dehydrated berries, because the moisture in fresh fruit can water down the batter, affecting the consistency. Fresh berries work best in strawberry desserts such as cobbler and crisp.
If you need or want to use fresh fruit, chop or dice it up first. Then, dry the pieces well with paper towels before adding them to the cookie dough.
Use room temperature butter and eggs.
Eggs take about 30 minutes to reach room temperature, while butter can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
TFN Pro Tip – Softening Butter Quickly
Wondering how to get butter to room temperature quickly? It’s easy! Just use a knife to cut the stick into smaller pieces, and set them on a plate. Then, cover the plate with a warm bowl.
To warm the bowl, fill it with water, then microwave for a minute or so. Then, dump the water out and invert the bowl over your butter pieces. This easy kitchen hack will soften your butter in 5 to 10 minutes!
- Avoid overmixing food color into the dough.
It can be tempting to overmix doughs that include food color, so take care to mix until it’s just combined. Otherwise, your cookies can turn out tough and dry.
Same goes for adding the berries! Gently fold them in without overmixing — this is also the best way to get a really attractive distribution of the fruit.
- Use a scoop for even sized portions of dough.
A medium cookie scoop will give you strawberry cheesecake cookies that are about 3 inches in diameter.
- Space the cookie dough evenly on the baking sheet.
Be sure to leave at least an inch (and preferably two inches) between each portion of dough. This should provide enough space to prevent them from baking together.
- Wait to add the strawberries, or fold them in gently.
Gently fold them in without overmixing — this is also the best way to get a really attractive distribution of the fruit.
Better yet, portion your cheesecake cookie dough on the pan, and then add the fruit.
Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies FAQ
Substituting one type of berry for another works for most fruit-based cookie recipes. As long as the pieces of fruit aren’t too moist or too large, any type of berries can be used to make cheesecake cookies.
You can even use more than one type! Use a combination of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries to suit your tastes.
Unlike cream cheese cookies, our strawberry cookie recipe does not include dairy products. Therefore, it’s perfectly fine to store them at room temperature for a few days. However, refrigeration does keep them fresh for a couple of extra days.
Freezing the Dough
To freeze cheesecake cookie dough, use a scoop to portion them out. Then, freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month.
If you want to garnish the tops with strawberries and chocolate, the dough will need to thaw first. When it reaches room temperature, then add the toppings and bake your cookies.
Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
- stand mixer - OR
- electric hand mixer
- 2 cookie sheet
- large mixing bowl
- medium mixing bowl
- decorating gel - red
- medium cookie scoop
- cooling rack
- 8 ounces unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons strawberry extract or vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 5 drops red decorating gel *see Notes
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3.4 ounces instant cheesecake pudding mix unprepared
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups white chocolate chips
- ¼ cup chopped strawberries blotted dry with a paper towel. Or, use chopped dehydrated strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- To a large mixing bowl, add butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer on high speed, cream ingredients together for 2-3 minutes, or until mixture is fluffy and light in color. Add extract, eggs, and food coloring. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
- To a medium mixing bowl, add flour, dry pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- With the mixer set on low speed, gradually incorporate the flour and other dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, mixing just until combined. **Don't over mix or your cookies will be tough. Using a spoon or mixing spatula, fold in the white chocolate chips and strawberries, if desired. **Reserve about half of the strawberries to place on top of each scoop of cookie dough before baking.
- Using a medium cookie dough scoop, portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space between cookies. If using, press reserved chopped strawberries gently into the top of each scoop of cookie dough.
- Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges of cookies are light golden brown. Remove pans from oven and let cookies sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
- For the best results, don’t use liquid food coloring drops. Decorating gel provides better color, and won’t water down the cookie dough like liquid drops will.
- Room temperature butter and eggs are easier to combine than cold ingredients.