A ninth minute strike from the Argentine proved enough for the capital giants to collect the points in San Sebastian, and secure a sixth straight league win
The forward continued his rich vein of form by deftly dinking the ball into the net from inside the area, and although Sociedad rallied in the second period, Madrid's path to the three points was never truly in danger.
Visiting coach Jose Mourinho opted to start Higuain in attack and the striker almost immediately repaid the faith shown by his boss by opening the scoring on nine minutes.
As Sociedad attempted to remain compact, Fabio Coentrao moved forward from left-back and slipped a neat pass into the path of the Argentine, who, as Claudio Bravo approached, neatly scooped the ball over his diving body and into the net.
The Basque side's game plan had clearly been to contain and attempt to hit Madrid on the counter, but their efforts had been outdone, and at times in the opening exchanges their suspect offside trap threatened to become their downfall.
Angel Di Maria forced Bravo into a diving save to his left, while Cristiano Ronaldo meandered through the defence but lost control at an inopportune moment, meaning the chance was gone.
Madrid remained dominant, and the opening 45 minutes was almost exclusively played in Sociedad's half, as the hosts struggled to exert any kind of influence on proceedings.
But, for all of Madrid's control, another goal was not forthcoming, and despite having just 30 per cent of possession going into the interval, Sociedad remained in the game.
And the second half offered Philippe Montanier's side a chink of light as Madrid appeared to relax and allow their opponents breathing space for the first time in the contest.
The ball was now equally shared between the sides, and Sociedad sensed an opportunity. Carlos Vela strode forward to fire in a shot that warmed the gloves of Iker Casillas, then substitute Antoine Griezmann forced Spain's No.1 into a diving save low to his left.
Madrid realised that the result was far from certain, and responded in kind. Alvaro Arbeloa dragged an effort wide of the target, then Higuain chose the wrong option in attempting to find Ronaldo when a shooting opportunity looked clear.
Sergio Ramos then squandered an opening, sliding in to hook the ball wide from the edge of the six-yard box, but a second goal was not needed; Madrid collected the win, and moved back ahead of Barcelona to the top of La Liga, with Levante playing on Sunday.