McCall’s Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies

McCall's Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookie recipe

I rarely bake cookies, so when I do, I almost always choose a new, never-before-tried recipe, in the interest of adventure and an increased return on the laborious exercise of measuring things with measuring cups (ugh). The exception: McCall’s Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies. Probably half the cookies I make—ever—are these.

They’re the perfect cookie, and therefore the only recipe worth returning to. They’re sweet, soft, and wonderful, and they need absolutely no decoration or intervention of any kind. They require only ingredients you’re likely to have on hand (unless you are out of sour cream) and take just a few minutes to mix. They’re good hot out of the oven, warm that evening, and in various stages of staleness as they sit. They travel well, being uncrumbleable, and they’re never not awesome. There is no better use in the world for a whole thing of sour cream, a cup of butter, and two eggs than this recipe.

The Most InterestingMan in the World

So I made them for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, a new holiday tradition that began this year with over 600 participants. I made them and mailed them and they were enjoyed by three amazing ladies whose holiday homes I was happy to help infuse with sugar and joy. The best part? Getting to discover three new bloggers: Rachel from Croissant In The City, Teri from The Freshman Cook,  and Kristen from Confessions of a (Not-So) Domesticated Newlywed.

Actually, it’s a tie, because the best part was also the extra dozen cookies I saved for myself.

Cookie Swap

Wait, it’s a three-way tie! No, a five-way tie! Because the other best part was the three different kinds of cookies I received from Kate at Passion for Life, who makes a mean sugar cookie; Missy from Cooking for Two, whose local-to-Oregon hazelnut thumbprint cookies gave us a taste of the west coast; and Traci, a local girl from Yellow Wish Bone, who sent some tasty chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in a fancy coordinating package. I had planned to post pictures of everything, but before I got my act together, John and I ate up all the cookies. So please take my word for it: they were all beautiful. Thanks, you guys!

McCall's Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookie recipeHere’s the recipe for the cookies I mailed out. My favorite cookie recipe in all the world.

McCall’s Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies

McCall’s Cookie Collection, 1985. Makes about 4 dozen.

  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter or regular margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In large bowl of electric mixer, at medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. At low speed, beat in sour cream and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well combined. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  6. Drop batter by slightly rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared cookie sheets.
  7. For the topping, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle a little on unbaked cookies.
  8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove to wire rack; cool.



Note: In the next few days, a roundup of all the Food Blogger Cookie Swap recipes will be available, and I will link you to those so you can check out all the participants’ favorite recipes! In the meantime, another blogger is putting together a roundup of cookie exchange recipes as well, on At Home With Rebecka. So that should keep you busy for a little while.

Kristina Ackerman

Kristina Ackerman is a busy freelance web designer, living and DIYing with her fella and their little fella in a cute old house in Atlanta, GA, USA.

  • I am so glad you enjoyed my sugar cookies! I really hope they made it to you in one piece, but… I kinda figured they didn’t since I didn’t plan out the boxes too well. I knew they would fit inside, but didn’t think about the height! =/ Whoops lol

    The cookies you baked look delicious!! I kinda wish we had gotten cookies from 2 more people, because there are just so many amazing cookies out there that I would love to try! Thankfully Julie and Lindsay will have the compilation post up on Thursday so I can take a look at all of the different cookies that were baked for this.

    I hope you had a great weekend, and Monday as well!

    ♥ and harp strings,

  • Danae ( The Busty Baker)

    My mom has made these cookies at Christmas every year that I can remember, and even though I’ve grown up and learned to bake 100 other kinds of cookies that are fancier or prettier or whatever, these are the cookies I look forward to devouring most! Glad to see someone else has enjoyed them just as much over the years as I have!

  • Jennifer

    I am going tovtry this recipe. My Aunt us to make these when I was a kid, and year after year I try to find her recipe, and never can! I hope this one is it! It’s dated from the 1980’s, when she used to make them, so I am crossing all of my fingers!!

  • Cindy B

    I have a container of sour cream that I need to use and these cookies look great!  I’m wondering if I can freeze the dough and/or the cookies once they’ve been baked.  I’ve read that dough containing sour cream should not be baked but I haven’t tried.

  • Sam Cario

    The cookies were a big success  everyone loved them…Thanks for this great recipe!!!!

    Papa Sam

  • AJ

    VERY AWESOME…seriously, thanks for sharing this! They remind me of a soft Kringla/Norwegian cookie recipe, but much easier. Any baked good with sour cream is awesome.  I drizzled dark chocolate over some…and then baked a few with some blueberries in them. Very very good cookie. Srsly. I will make these again for sure!

  • Natasha

    I love the idea of this recipe but I’m a bit confused; I followed it exactly as written and my cookies look nothing like your picture. Rather, they’ve risen and look a bit scone-like, which is what I would expect for a recipe that calls for baking powder and baking soda. Do you have any idea on why yours look so different (and, honestly, much more delicious than mine!) by any chance? I was so excited about this recipe!

    • Hi, Natasha! That’s an interesting question. My first instinct is that your cookies could be coming out correctly, because these cookies do rise, and are very soft, fluffy and cakelike. But I wouldn’t describe them as scone-like, because to me, scones tend to be a good deal drier and harder than these cookies. Are you using full-fat sour cream?

      • Natasha

        Thanks for the quick response, Kristina! I think ‘scone-like’ probably wasn’t a fair description. They’re definitely soft and moist, and cake-like. But your cookies in the picture look so flat!

        • I think it might be a trick of the light! They’re thick and fluffy. I should bake more of them and take a new picture that shows a cross-section. It would help safeguard against further confusion, and above all, I would get more cookies.

          • Lynda

            are there any adjustments for high altitude cooking?

          • Hi Lynda. The original recipe didn’t give any adjustments, so I’d imagine whatever rules of thumb typically apply for high-altitude baking should be fine here. That, of course, is just a guess, though. Good luck!

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  • Robin

    Thanks for the recipe! I rolled them in rainbow sugar crystals before baking my second batch- YUM.

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  • mainecyn

    These are chilling in the fridge right now. I had forgotten all about sour cream cookies, great-grandparents used to make them as they had a family farm. The last three trips to the grocery store I purchased a 24 ounce container, forgetting the previous ones. I noticed last night that two of the containers had been half used and I still had a full one. So, decided to take the open ones and google uses.

    Found these cookies and thought why didn’t I think of that? It was extremely easy to follow the recipe, they mixed up FAST, dough was creamy. The only thing I did was double the vanilla as its a cheap store version. I have another 30 min. for dough to chill. While in the fridge I’ve killed time cleaning up dishes, getting the sugar ready to sprinkle when getting them out of the oven.

    I’m looking forward to seeing my kids and husband try a cookie that I grew up eating. Brought back lots of memories. Thank you for the easy to follow recipe. You could jazz these cookies up by changing the flavor of extract, or like my grandmother did, put nuts in them.

  • Endlyss Possibilities

    Just made these as I had sour cream and wanted cookies and lo and behold I found your recipe here. Delicious!!! I call them Sour Cream Kisses. Just like little pillows of soft goodness..mmmm. I added 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract also……delicious!!

  • Charlene

    This cookie has been a family tradition for my family for years. We frost them with a burnt butter frosting. They are so yummy!!

  • Diane Q

    I found my recipe for these cookies in the Rocky Mountain Newspaper in 1964. Always a success and have spread the recipe far and wide these 50 years. Visiting my 94 year old Mom and forgot to bring the recipe, so happy you had it on line and I found it. Thanks!!

  • Melissa

    Do these freeze well after being baked?

    • Hi Melissa. I’ve never frozen them, so I couldn’t say, but maybe somebody else can answer. If you try it, I’d love to know how that turns out.

      • Stephanie M

        My grandmother made this recipe for years and while I never froze them, I did find them to have an amaziginly long shelf life. Hope that somewhat helps!

  • Stephanie M.

    Delicious recipe! I got mine from my grandma but was missing a few important elements. Made these last night and they were as good if not better than hers! Can’t wait to surprise my family with them this Christmas.

    • How wonderful! Aren’t they the best? Thanks for sharing, and happy holidaytimes!

  • Cat L

    I just baked brownies today, so these will have to wait a week or so. I will definitely be making these little sweet treats!

  • Dorothy

    This looks like my maternal grandmother’s cookie jar favorite. What surprised me several years ago was finding an identical cookie jar far back in my paternal grandmother’s kitchen cupboards; I’d never seen her use it. I own it now, and kept it mainly for nostalgia. The cookie jar’s not much larger than a tea pot, which would likely explain one grandma not using hers much…it was sort of cube shaped, with a rattan handle, and has what looks like a Dancing Pig painted on the front. Someone filled me in on the Why of both grandmas owning the same style cookie jar: they were gas station premiums! Eons ago, when people bought a full tank of gas, they would get trading stamps or a little gift of some sort. 1950’s and ’60’s. In the late ’60’s, my father had a lot of glassware in several sizes that was gold colored, and had a ‘bumpy’ surface to it. To go with the Texas Ware dishes, of course! I have a special place in my heart for ceramin plates and tea cups with Wheat designs on them; they were dish soap premiums once upon a time. Being a ‘mug’ sort of person, and fearing they would not survive the dishwasher (plus gold trim on some versions is incompatible with microwaves)…well, I won’t be hunting down a full set.

  • Brenda from Flatbush

    Wow. The cookie, the legend. Looked it up online because my ancient McCalls cookie book is buried with the Christmas stuff. So Glad to see someone else who understands that they are the Food of the Gods!!!

  • subAuburnnite

    I worked in a hospital kitchen for 5 years and one of my co-workers would make these cookies, as we always had fresh, homemade cookies available for break time. She used to top hers with a touch of nutmeg. Everyone thought they tasted just like a donut! I can’t wait to make these!

  • Maggieb3

    I just made these wonderful cookies, and I literally am crying. My mom who is in the early stages of dementia had a written out recipe that I couldn’t figure out. It was also in french with weird instructions, so I decided I would look online for something similar. Well, lets say when she gets up this morning she will get a taste of exactly the same cookies. I didn’t put the topping as we always had them plain. Thank you so much

  • I lost my grandmother’s recipe for her sour cream cookies. I’m hoping when I make these they are the same. If so, can’t wait as they taste awesome dipped in cold milk!!

  • Gail Weaver

    My grandmother made these cookies. My grandfather loved dunking them in his coffee. This was 70 years ago mind you. I am trying this recipe in hopes that it is the same as grandma’s. It looks and sounds about right. :)

  • Celia Kelly Bredenbeck

    I’m VERY late to the party, but this was the first sour cream cookie recipe I found that looked reasonable in terms of proportions. I’m glad I went with this one, because I just made these and I’ll never even bother looking at any of the other recipes I queued up. These are FANTASTIC. They’re just like the cookies my Grandma made, and I haven’t tasted those in over fifty years, so, yeah, winner. As good as my childhood memories. That’s not an easy feat.

    The only thing I tweaked was I used grated lemon rind AND vanilla, and I soaked the grated peel in the vanilla while I was putting everything else together, so that the alcohol in the vanilla could emulsify the lemon oil.

    I discovered after I had taken the last batch out of the oven that I hadn’t read the recipe carefully and these were supposed to chill for an hour. Well, no worries, because they were perfect. Next time I’ll chill the dough, just because it’s good to try it the right way first, but it’s also good to know we can skip that step and get away with it.

    Thank you so much!