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Polar Bear Face Cookies

These charming polar bear face cookies start with a convenient cake mix base, making them a breeze to whip up. But what truly makes them special is the creamy crown of indulgent cream cheese frosting. They will surely bring a smile to the faces of both kids and adults alike!

Why not whip up a batch of our adorable Polar Bear Paw Print Cookies to go with the faces?

Six polar bear face cookies spread out on the counter with snow flake decorations.

Cake mix cookies are one of my favorite semi-homemade baking hacks. There are so many endless possibilities and flavor combinations to explore. These cookies are made using a white cake mix with a splash of vanilla for added flavor and topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting. They are the perfect treat to make with kids who will love decorating cute faces. These cookies are soft, chewy, and adorable!

A single polar bear face cookie with a brown nose laying flat on the counter and surrounded by snow flake decorations.

Ingredients for polar bear face cookies

Cookies

  • White cake mix – For the base of the cookie (I used Betty Crocker white cake mix).
  • Canola oil – To give moisture to the cookie.
  • Eggs To bind the cookies and give them structure. Be sure you are using large eggs.
  • Vanilla – To add depth of flavor to the cookies.

Cream cheese frosting

  • Cream cheese – Transforms the frosting from a plain buttercream to a delightfully tangy one.
  • Butter – To add richness and help balance the tanginess of the cream cheese.
  • Powdered sugar – To add structure and sweetness to the frosting.
  • Vanilla – To add depth of flavor, just like in the cookies
  • Salt – A pinch of salt helps to enhance sweetness.

Decorations

  • White sanding sugar – To create the ‘fur’ of the polar bears and give the cookies that magical sparkle.
  • White melting wafers – To create the muzzle and ears of the polar bears. I used Sweetshop Melt Ems in bright white.
  • Blue and brown M&Ms – To create the noses. Feel free to use only blue or only brown if you prefer.
  • Black nonpareils – To give the polar bear its eyes.
Ingredients for the cookies and frosting displayed on counter.

Making the polar bear face cookies

Make the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three large cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the cake mix, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets, leaving at least 1 ½ inches between each ball. 
  4. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Collage showing four steps to make cake mix cookies.

Prepare the frosting

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth and fluffy.
Collage showing four steps to make cream cheese frosting.

Decorate the cookies

  1. Place the sanding sugar on a small plate and set aside
  2. Frost the cooled cookies with a generous layer of frosting. 
  3. Gently press the cookie into the sanding sugar to coat the frosting and create the fur.
  4. Gently press two melting wafers into the top of the cookie to create the ears. 
  5. Press one melting wafer into the lower third of the cookie to create the muzzle.
Collage showing four steps to decorate the polar bear face cookies

Variations and substitutions

Vanilla cake mix – Use vanilla cake mix instead of the white cake mix. I used white cake mix in this recipe as it seems to be easier to find at most grocery stores in my area than vanilla. However, if you can find the vanilla cake mix, feel free to use it to omit the vanilla from the cookies. We’re all about easy around here and that will save you a step!

Brown bear cookies – Instead of polar bears, you can make brown bear face cookies. Use chocolate cake mix instead of white for the cookie base. Make a chocolate frosting by adding 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and decorate with chocolate jimmies and chocolate melting wafers.

Coconut fur – Can’t find white sanding sugar? No problem! Just use sweetened shredded coconut for the fur instead.

Vanilla frosting – Not a fan of cream cheese? Replace it with an additional 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon more vanilla to make vanilla frosting instead.

Seven polar face cookies displayed on a round white plate surrounded by snowflake decorations

Tips for success

  • Do not overbake your cookies – The cookies are baked when the edges are ever so lightly golden, and the tops of the cookies no longer look doughy. If the edges of your cookies have turned brown, you have baked them for too long.
  • Keep the cookies small – Use a 1 tablespoon scoop or measuring spoon when forming the dough balls. You don’t want to make the cookies too large, or the face proportions will be off.
  • Use a large-sized melting wafer – I recommend using a larger melting wafer such as Sweetshop Melt’Ems or Wilton Brand. I tried decorating the cookies using Ghirardelli white melting wafers however, I felt they were too small for the ears and muzzle.
  • Full-fat ingredients – Use full-fat brick-style cream cheese for the frosting. The whipped cream cheese that comes in tubs contains too much water and will cause the frosting to weep.
  • Avoid creepy eyes – Some brands of nonpareils may bleed when stored in the refrigerator. If you are not planning to serve your cookies right away, consider waiting to add the nonpareil eyes to avoid any color bleed.
  • Use oil, not butter – Some cake mix cookie recipes call for butter rather than oil. I do not recommend making that substitution for this recipe. Cake mix cookies made with butter tend to be more puffy than those made with oil and will not create a flat cookie. It is easier to create polar bear faces on a flat surface.
  • Cookie temperature – These cookies are best stored in the fridge due to their cream cheese frosting. I recommend letting the cookies sit out at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before enjoying them for a softer texture.
Close up of a polar bear face cookie featuring a brown nose on a white plate.

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Wait for the frosting to harden before stacking the cookies. Because the frosting contains cream cheese, the cookies need to be refrigerated.

Polar Bear Face Cookies FAQs

What is a cake mix cookie?

A cake mix cookie is a type of cookie made using cake mix as one of its primary ingredients. Instead of starting with a traditional cookie dough base, cake mix cookies utilize a box of cake mix as a shortcut to create quick and easy cookies with various flavors.

Do I have to use the cake mix cookies?

Not at all. Feel free to substitute your favorite cookie as the base. The cookies should be no larger than 3 inches and have a flat top so they are easy to decorate. Sugar cookies would be great to use as a base. You can even bake off a packet of store-bought sugar cookie dough to keep things simple.

Want more easy desserts?

Check out these recipes

Six polar bear face cookies spread out on the counter with snow flake decorations.

Polar Bear Face Cookies

Author: Mandy
These Polar Bear Face Cookies are made from a cake mix base and topped with rich cream cheese frosting. With sanding sugar fur and candy faces, they are perfect for a fun family baking activity. Delightful to make and delicious to eat, these cookies are sure to be a hit!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 28 Cookies
Calories 199 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cookies

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box of white cake mix
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature (1 stick)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature (½ a block)
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Decorations

  • ½ cup white sanding sugar
  • 84 round white melting wafers
  • 56 black nonpareils
  • 28 blue or brown M&Ms

Instructions
 

Cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three large cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Combine the cake mix, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
  • Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets, leaving at least 1 ½ inches between each ball.
  • Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Frosting

  • Beat the butter and cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth and fluffy.

Assembly

  • Place the sanding sugar on a small plate and set aside
  • Frost the cooled cookies with a generous layer of frosting.
  • Gently press the cookie into the sanding sugar to coat the frosting and create the fur.
  • Gently press two melting wafers into the top of the cookie to create the ears.
  • Press one melting wafer into the lower third of the cookie to create the muzzle.
  • Apply a small amount of frosting to one side of an M&M and attach it to the muzzle melting wafer to create the nose.
  • Place two nonpareils above the muzzle to create the eyes.
  • Allow the frosting to set for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Wait for the frosting to harden before stacking the cookies. Because the frosting contains cream cheese, the cookies should be refrigerated.
  • Some brands of nonpareils may bleed when stored in the refrigerator. If you are not planning to serve your cookies right away, consider waiting to add the nonpareil eyes to avoid any color bleed.

Nutrition

Calories: 199kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 129mgPotassium: 21mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 177IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 0.4mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition information is estimated based on automated calculations and should be considered as an approximation. These estimates are provided as a courtesy. Please use your own brand’s nutritional values to verify accuracy.

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Tuesday 24th of October 2023

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nancy

Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

how stinking cute are these polar bears! I made these for my kids' bake sale and they were such a hit!

Semihomemadekitchen

Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

Glad to hear they were a hit!

Jess

Monday 2nd of October 2023

So perfect for the holiday season!

Conchetta

Monday 2nd of October 2023

So cute- and you really don't have to be crafty! Kids loved making and eating!

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