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+ servings

Southern Tea Cakes

These are easy and addictive Southern baked treats slightly sweetened with faint notes of nutmeg, vanilla, and lemon zest. So easy to make yet fancy and tasty. These decadent treats certainly beg for a cup of coffee or tea!
Makes 26-30 tea cakes
Course Snack
Cuisine Southern
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 128kcal
Author Imma


  • large mixing bowl 
  • Medium mixing bowl 
  • Baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper


  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • lemon zest (about 1 tablespoon or more depending on preference)
  • ½ teaspoon (1 g) nutmeg, freshly grated
  • cup (250 g) sugar
  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (61 g) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) almond extract


  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Make a well at the center of the bowl and set it aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, cream together sugar and butter until smooth. Then add in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix together until all the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined. 
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until it forms into a soft dough.
  • Put the dough on a smooth, floured surface and divide it into two. Roll each dough ball into a disc, cover them with plastic wrap, and place them in the refrigerator for one hour. This gives the flour and gluten some time to rest and firm up before baking. The cookies won't hold their shape if the dough is not chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 350℉/177℃. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, spray the surface of parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Remove dough from the fridge and plastic wrap, then place dough on the floured surface and roll it out to ¼-inch thick. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter or a glass to cut out the tea cakes, and place them out on a prepared baking sheet about an inch apart.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes until the bottoms are slightly browned.
  • Remove the tea cakes from the oven, and place them on a cooling rack until they are cool.


  1. The cookies should be cold when going into the oven. So if you need to, place the cut cookies into the fridge to chill them again. (If you work at a steady pace, you probably won't need to chill it again since it does stay cold for a while.)
  2. Be careful not to overcook the cookies! They will continue to cook as they cool.
  3. Do not add extra flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Simply roll it in between parchment papers. Extra flour can result in a drier, cracked tea cake.
  4. The dough can also be chilled overnight, but you will need to take it out 20-30 minutes before rolling because it can be challenging to roll out when it is super cold.
  5. Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.


Serving: 1tea cake | Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 54mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 125IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.8mg