These birthday cake sugar cookies are cute AND delicious! The dough is pressed instead of cut out which makes them so easy to make.

Dotted with colorful sprinkles inside the cookie dough, these frosted sugar cookies are a hit for any occasion.

Sugar cookie with sprinkles in the dough and frosted with pink frosting on parchment paper with more sprinkles.

Swig sugar cookies originated years ago at a little soda/cookie shop in Utah. The signature pressed cookie shape with rough, crinkly edges gained popularity and spawned a lot of knockoff cookie shops AND cookie recipes.

The term “swig cookie” often describes sugar cookies like this that are pressed instead of rolled and cut out with cookie cutters (kind of like how we say “kleenex” when talking about any type of tissues).

Some would argue that the original Swig cookies aren’t as good as they used to be or that Swig wasn’t the first place to develop these cookies or that such-and-such has way better sugar cookies. The topic inspires fierce loyalties and fiery opinions, so be careful when and how and with whom you bring up the subject. 😉

To me, all that matters is that it is really, really easy to make a Swig-style sugar cookie at home, and they are even more delicious than anything you’ll get at a cookie shop.

Glass bowl with butter, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla.

Birthday Cake Sugar Cookies

I took this popular classic Swig sugar cookie recipe and made it into a sprinkled birthday cake version, because a) so cute and b) so tasty.

To get the cake batter vibe and flavor, we are:

  1. adding rainbow sprinkles to the cookie dough
  2. increasing the vanilla in the cookie dough, preferably using Mexican vanilla for a stronger flavor

Because Mexican vanilla is stronger, it helps amplify the cake flavor. If you don’t have Mexican vanilla, pure vanilla extract works – make sure to use the full tablespoon. I’ve talked about this vanilla-butter emulsion for baking, and it is excellent in this recipe for a yummy cake batter flavor. If you have it, add a teaspoon or two in addition to the vanilla extract. 

Rainbow sprinkles on top of sugar cookie dough in glass bowl.

Best Sprinkles for Sugar Cookies

The best sprinkles for these sugar cookies are the jimmie-style rainbow sprinkles. They keep their shape and color better than using tiny non-pareil sprinkles.

Add the sprinkles when the cookie dough has a few dry streaks remaining, and then gently mix by hand until the sprinkles are evenly combined throughout the dough.

Sugar cookie dough with sprinkles in glass bowl.

No Rolling or Cutting Out

These birthday cake Swig-style sugar cookies are quick and simple because the dough doesn’t need to be rolled and cut out with cookie cutters.

Instead, roll the dough into balls and use a flat-bottomed glass dipped in sugar to press the cookie dough balls into thick circles anywhere from 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.

The cookies will spread and flatten a bit more while baking, so don’t press the cookie dough too thin.

Pressing sugar cookie dough into thick circle with glass dipped in sugar.

Under Bake Just Slightly

Over baking these sugar cookies, even by a minute or two, is a travesty I can hardly put words to. They rely on being under baked just a bit, otherwise they are dry and crumbly.

Pull them out of the oven when the edges are just set and the middles look slightly under done still. They firm up as they cool resulting in a soft, creamy, slightly-dense cookie that is exceptionally yummy.

Let them cool completely before adding frosting. Spread the frosting in the center of the cookies leaving a thin border around the edge.

Because sprinkles are prominent in the cookie dough, I don’t add additional sprinkles on top. But you can. Only you and your heart will know if more sprinkles are necessary. 💗

Spreading pink frosting on a sprinkle-filled sugar cookie with offset spatula.

How to Freeze Frosted Sugar Cookies

The best kept secret for these (and other) frosted sugar cookies is that they freeze amazingly well, and taste fresh and delicious after being thawed.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Frost cooled sugar cookies (and add sprinkles, if using)
  2. Freeze or refrigerate in a single layer on a sheet pan until frosting is firm.
  3. Place sugar cookies in freezer storage bags or other containers, separating layers with parchment or wax paper. Ideally, don’t exceed more than two to three layers per container.
  4. Take the frozen sugar cookies out of the bags/containers and place in a single layer on serving trays or sheet pans to thaw (takes about an hour at room temperature).

I have made and frozen hundreds of frosted sugar cookies over the years, and I can attest it works brilliantly well. No one can even tell the cookies were made ahead of time.

Top down view of pressed sugar cookie with sprinkles and pink frosting.

My family is in hearty agreement that these birthday cake sugar cookies are just as delicious as our beloved classic favorite.

The sprinkles and extra vanilla add something special to an every day sugar cookie, and they are an absolute hit every time I serve them or bring them anywhere.

Cute, tasty, and so, so easy.

I prefer serving (and eating) them cold. But they do just fine at room temperature, too.

I hope you can find a reason to make sprinkled sugar cookies sooner rather than later. 😊

Sugar cookie broken in half on top of frosted sugar cookie.

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Pressed sugar cookie with sprinkles and pink frosting.

Birthday Cake Swig-Style Sugar Cookies

4.79 stars (19 ratings)

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 cup (227 g) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup (164 g) neutral-flavored oil, like canola, vegetable or grapeseed
  • 1 ¼ cups (265 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (86 g) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla or pure vanilla extract (see note)
  • 5 ½ cups (781 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ to ¾ cup (35 g) rainbow sprinkles (see note)

Frosting:

  • ¾ cup (170 g) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (684 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F for convection bake) and line several half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl using a handheld electric mixer, add the butter, oil, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder, and salt across the top of the sugars and mix until well-combined, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix for 1-2 minutes, until very well-combined.
  • Add the flour and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Add the sprinkles and mix by hand until no dry streaks remain and the sprinkles are evenly combined.
  • Scoop the dough into 2- or 3-tablespoon sized portions (I use a #20 cookie scoop) and roll into balls. Place several inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  • Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar to a shallow dish or bowl. Lightly spray the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass with cooking spray. Dip the bottom of the glass into the sugar and then press each cookie dough ball into a thick circle, about 14 to 1/2-inch thick. Dip the glass into the sugar between each press.
  • Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes until just set – the centers may still look slightly under done. It's better to under bake these cookies than to over bake them, so watch closely!
  • Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • For the frosting, in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, whip the butter, sour cream and vanilla until thick and creamy, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the powdered sugar and cream (or milk) and mix until well-combined and creamy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add food coloring (preferably gel food coloring), if using, and mix until evenly colored and combined. Add additional milk or cream one tablespoon at a time, if needed, to adjust the consistency of the frosting. It should be thick, creamy, and easily spreadable.
  • Frost the cooled cookies leaving a thin border around the edges.

Notes

Vanilla: because Mexican vanilla is stronger, it helps amplify the cake flavor. If you don’t have Mexican vanilla, pure vanilla extract works – make sure to use the full tablespoon. I’ve talked about this vanilla-butter emulsion for baking, and it is excellent in this recipe for a yummy cake batter flavor. If you have it, add a teaspoon or two in addition to the vanilla extract. 
Sprinkles: the best sprinkles for this recipe are the jimmie-style rainbow sprinkles
Over Flouring: be careful not to over flour the dough or the cookies might be dry instead of soft after baking. If you don’t weigh the flour, make sure to fluff the flour in the container before scooping in the measuring cup and leveling (don’t pack or shake the flour into the cup!).
Serving: 1 cookie, Calories: 250kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 141mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 14g
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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (adapted from this favorite Swig cookie recipe)