These sweet, crisp, and sugary Butter Cookies are the perfect Christmas cookies that Santa will surely love. The buttery and milky crunchiness comes in different shapes and sizes, which goes perfectly with warm drinks. A melt-in-your-mouth holiday treat you can snack on even before the holidays actually arrive!
From my granny to my kid, butter cookies have been a holiday staple in our household. Indeed, you can make this simple recipe in no time flat; simply mix and bake!
Since Christmas is just around the corner, why not share this joyous recipe with you? It could even be a bonding activity for you and your kids!
What are Butter Cookies?
Butter cookies are unleavened pastries, which means they’re made without yeast or leavening agents. The most basic recipe for this treat has, surprisingly, no additional flavorings but is still incredibly tasty, not to mention delicately crispy.
These Danish goodies are often served stacked for the holidays. However, you can purchase prepacked bundles in tins.
You’re probably familiar with the blue tins, which I honestly love.😍 They make such beautiful decorations.
Different Kinds of Butter Cookies
At first glance, this butter cookies recipe could give you the impression that it’s too plain. Come to think of it, it doesn’t really have much décor or additional flavor, but that’s precisely its beauty.
The delicate flavor makes an excellent base for bedazzling and customizing it to your preference.
Lengua de Gato is a great example of butter cookies that are prepared differently. It has more milk, which gives it a creamier texture but is flatter than regular cookies.
You might also like Coconut Almond Madeleines, a close relative of our recipe today. It’s an addicting tasty snack that’s a great pair for tea time.
We can make this basic cookie recipe in two ways…
- The first is by using a cookie cutter, which is the traditional way of making these iconic treats.
- The second way is by using a piping bag that creates those iconic peaks of the Danish butter cookies.
Have I mentioned how easy this butter cookies recipe is? I couldn’t stand not repeating it! Here are the few things we’ll need to make these treats.
- Unsalted Butter – It’s important to choose the unsalted version to control the final taste better.
- Confectioner’s Sugar – Unlike regular refined sugar, this version doesn’t have a grainy texture.
- Cream Cheese – This ingredient is where all the flavor is. Plus, it makes the whole thing creamier!
- Vanilla Extract – Who doesn’t like vanilla? Also, this is the base flavor for our butter cookies. You can even make your own homemade Vanilla Extract. Even better!
- Kosher Salt – You know it’s good food when you use kosher salt.
- Eggs – This one binds all the ingredients together. But be careful with the amount you’re gonna put into the mixture as it can make it a bit too hard.
- All-Purpose Flour – This one serves as the body of your pastry.
- Milk or Half and Half – We’ll use this ingredient to make our cookie moist. You can add a little more if you choose to pipe the dough out in desired shapes.
- Salted Butter – You can use this as a substitute for unsalted butter. However, I suggest you decrease the amount of salt you’re gonna put in later. You don’t want salty cookies. 😬 You can use equal amounts of salted or unsalted butter.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk– This is a good substitute for eggs in making all sorts of cookies. The consistency of the condensed milk acts as a binder for the ingredients. You might have to adjust the sugar that you’re going to add to the batter later. The ratio for the substitution is ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk to 1 whole egg. (See my homemade Condensed Milk HERE.)
- Cake Flour – It is slightly softer than all-purpose flour. You can replace one cup plus two tablespoons of cake flour for one cup of all-purpose flour. I have a convenient Flour Substitute chart, if you forget.
Tips and Tricks
- Crispier Cookies – Once the cookies are done baking, slightly open the oven door but leave the tray inside. This will dry any cookies’ excess moisture and stop water vapor from reentering them, making them chewy.
- Lighter Cookies – Make sure to cream the butter and sugar thoroughly. Blending them together well forms a light, fluffy, and smooth texture, which results in a more even distribution of flavors. If you leave butter bits in the mixture, it melts unevenly, making your cookie batter more liquid.
- Perfectly Piped Cookies – Chill them immediately in the fridge once you pipe the cookie batter into the baking sheet. This will help them retain the shape while baking. You can do the same thing even if you use the log or cookie-cutter approach.
Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions
I know you can eat a ton of butter cookies in one sitting. I can, too, just because I love them so much. But everyone has their limits.
Here’s a quick guide on how to store butter cookies if you have some leftovers or you’re planning to make a batch ahead.
- Let the butter cookies cool down to room temperature.
- Line a sheet of parchment paper at the bottom of an airtight container.
- Place the first layer of butter cookies.
- Add a sheet of parchment paper above each layer of butter cookies.
- Close the container and place it in the fridge. This should keep your butter cookies good for about two weeks, six months if you put it in the freezer.
Lining the tin with parchment paper keeps cookies from sticking together and drawing moisture from one another. Plus, they’re easier to get to.
Reheating. I don’t recommend reheating, but if you want them warm, simply heat them in the oven for about 1-2 minutes at 300℉/150℃.
What to Serve with Butter Cookies?
What I love about butter cookies is that it fits so many seasons. Whether it’s Christmas or summer, a stack of butter cookies will always hit the spot. You can actually make different variations of the recipe and pair it with various drinks. Coffee, for example.
These wonderful bite-sized sweets are great with Homemade Eggnog to really get into that Christmas spirit. Simply a perfect pair, especially when you’re by the cozy fire.
This refreshing Homemade Ginger Juice can be served either hot or cold. Whichever you prefer, these butter cookies surely pair perfectly with the drink.
The fruity flavors of White Sangria go so well with these treats as well. If you’re not in the mood for afternoon tea, maybe a little fun glass of this boozy drink will do the trick. Make these butter cookies as your munchies.
Adding too much butter can soften the structure of the cookie. Butter is a source of moisture for this treat, so adding too much will surely make your cookies chewier and softer.
You want to increase the binder, so you can either slightly increase the egg or add some softened butter. This will increase the moisture in your cookies, so the ingredients bind together more effectively. However, it may cause your cookies to be less crispy.
You want to cream the butter and sugar until it becomes light, fluffy, and smooth for optimal results. On average, it takes about 5-8 minutes of whipping to cream it perfectly.
More Easy Bake Recipes
How to Make Butter Cookies
Prepare the Dough
- Prepare Cookie Sheet – Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside while you make the cookies.
- Cream the Butter – Using a hand mixer, mix the butter and confectioner’s sugar, until the mixture is fluffy – about 3-5 minutes. Then mix in the cream cheese and egg. Pour in vanilla and mix. (Photos 1-5)
- Add the Rest of the Ingredients – Then add flour and salt and thoroughly mix on low speed until flour has been fully incorporated. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together. (Photos 6-8)
Chill, Roll, and Cut
- Divide and Refrigerate – Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disc, and place in the fridge for it to firm up about 20 minutes or more. (Photos 9-10)
- Roll Out and Cut – Lightly flour cutting board or surface and roll out the dough, one half at a time, to about 1/4- ½ inch thick. Cut with a 3-inch cookie cutter or use desired cookie cutter. For rectangular butter cookies, cut with a knife or rectangular cutter. Use a fork to prick holes. (Photos 13-14)
- Piping the Cookie Dough – If piping the cookies, add enough milk or cream so it is manageable when piping. Proceed immediately with piping. (Photos 15-16)
Baking Butter Cookies
- Transfer and Bake – Transfer them to the baking sheet pan leaving about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for about 13- 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. (It all depends on the thickness of the dough. Do not let it brown.) Let the cookies cool completely before serving.
- Decorating – Once cooled proceed with decorating the butter cookies by dipping them in sugar or chocolate icing and sprinkles.
Watch How To Make It
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (113 g) confectioner's sugar
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon (4 mL) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) kosher salt
- 2⅓ cup (291.25 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) milk or half-and-half
Make the Dough
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside while you make the cookies.
- Using a hand mixer, mix the butter and confectioner's sugar, until the mixture is fluffy – about 3-5 minutes. Then mix in the cream cheese and egg. Pour in vanilla and mix.
- Then add flour and salt and thoroughly mix on low speed until flour has been fully incorporated.
- Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together.
Chill, Roll, and Cut
- Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disc, and place in the fridge for it to firm up about 20 minutes or more.
- Lightly flour cutting board or surface and roll out the dough, one half at a time, to about 1/4- ½ inch thick. Cut with a 3-inch cookie cutter or use desired cookie cutter. For rectangular butter cookies, cut with a knife or rectangular cutter. Use a fork to prick holes.
- If piping the cookies, add enough milk or cream so it is manageable when piping. Proceed immediately with piping.
- Transfer them to the baking sheet pan leaving about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for about 13- 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. (It all depends on the thickness of the dough. Do not let it brown.) Let the cookies cool completely before serving.
- Once cooled proceed with decorating the butter cookies by dipping them in sugar or chocolate icing and sprinkles.
Tips & Notes:
- If piping the cookies, add enough milk or cream, so it is manageable when piping. Proceed immediately with piping.
- Place the cookie dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Then carefully pipe into 2-inch circles on the parchment paper or silicone mat, leaving some room between the cookies.
- Bake the cookies for about 13 – 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
- Once cookies are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 2-3 minutes.
- Another option is to cut about 14- 15 inch-long pieces of plastic wrap and place them on a board or work surface.
- Divide the dough in half and place one half on the plastic wrap. Transfer half of the dough to the plastic wrap, roll, and shape into a log, about 1 1/2-inch-thick log. Repeat with the other half.
- Place the dough logs in the fridge for about 1-2 hours or until firm. As soon as the dough firms up or when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 F degrees. Then line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the plastic wrap around the dough and slice the dough into rounds about 1/3 – ½ inch thick, rotating the log as you go so that it keeps its shape.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.