Updated March 12, 2022
Presenting birthday cake sugar cookies that really help pack that birthday flavor punch in every bite. Bonus? They have SPRINKLES because sprinkles are what really help bring the nostalgia home for this cookie. I shared this recipe in August 2021 but wanted to make it a bit easier to make using standard pantry ingredients. The tough part was trying to really give this recipe a classic vanilla birthday cake flavor without adding an artificial extract (like the first version had). So breaking away from my typical pure vanilla extract, the first thing I did with this recipe was sub in imitation vanilla. *GASP* I am a bit of a snob when it comes to vanilla, and I have not used imitation in my bakes for quite some time. But this recipe I felt needed to really bring home the classic vanilla cake in a box flavor, and imitation vanilla is the key. I have my friend Sam from Buttermilk By Sam to thank for this – she has some awesome Chewy Birthday Cookies on her site that helped guide me with this recipe.
The other hurdle I faced was which sprinkles brand to incorporate into my bake. I typically purchase my sprinkles from Sprinkle Pop or Sweetapolita. Also, this is NOT a sponsored post – I just reallyyyy like their sprinkles. They have vibrant colors and taste fantastic. The ‘problem’ with these sprinkles is that, well, they are pricey. A 4oz bag (about 1 cup) is going to run you anywhere between $10 to $15 – and this recipe used ¼ cup. So I did a bit of recipe and taste testing on some cheaper brand of sprinkles and found Lieber’s Rainbow Sprinkles from Amazon to be a good and affordable possibility. You can always purchase in bulk from some of these brands to help save on costs.
Important Notes for this recipe
- Use room temperature ingredients for the butter and eggs. They can come to room temperature in about an hour or so if left out on the kitchen counter. If you are in a bit of a rush, then I recommend heating a microwave safe bowl, and then turning it upside down to cover the ingredients. Repeat about 3x and this should help speed up the process. Do NOT microwave ingredients.
- Sugars: I use a combination of both granular sugar, and light brown sugar in this recipe. The granular sugar helps achieve a slightly crispy textured cookie, and the light brown sugar helps retain the soft interior. A truly perfect combination in my opinion.
- Imitation Vanilla: you can of course use pure vanilla extract, but the imitation vanilla taste is part of the classic flavor of a traditional birthday cake from a box.
- Corn Starch: don’t skip this ingredient! The corn starch is what helps soften this cookie so that you have a soft bite.
- Sprinkles: I suggest only using jimmies (the small stranded sprinkles, not the round ones) because these do not have color bleed. Also, I have found ¼ cup is more than enough for these cookies.
- Last but not least – I HIGHLY recommend using a kitchen scale. A kitchen scale will help you obtain optimal results and less room for error.
So after all that, just what exactly is this cookie offering you? Well, let’s break it down.
- Very slight spread. I am not one to try and get a no spread cookie. Spread is good in my book, and this recipe offers just enough.
- I suggest lightly browning the bottom of the cookies. This helps bring out the butter flavor just a bit more.
- She’s soft but sturdy. Soft bite and texture (thanks corn starch!) but sturdy enough to not crumble.
Tools For The Job
stand mixer or hand mixer
silicone baking mat
Birthday Cake Sugar Cookies
Yields: Approximately 2 dozen cookies baked at 3” at 3/8” thickness
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours or up to 24 hours
Bake Time: 9 to 10 minutes
Total Time: Approximately 4 hours
450 g (3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
220 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
50 g (⅓ cup) light brown sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 tsp imitation vanilla
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
¼ cup rainbow jimmies
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and vanilla for about 2 to 3 minutes on high (until light and fluffy). Scrape bowl down, and add one egg. Mix on medium high until combined, and then add egg yolk and mix on medium high until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, corn starch, baking powder and sea salt, and sift well. Add ⅔ of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients mixing on medium until just combined. Add remaining dry mixture and rainbow jimmies, and mix on medium low until dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl.
Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper, and then place in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours but no more than 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 F and remove dough from refrigerator. Allow dough to come to room temperature for about 8 to 10 minutes before cutting shapes. Place on baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until you see bottom edges lightly browning. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Decorate or enjoy once cookies have completely cooled. Enjoy!