Homemade Butter Cookies

These homemade Danish butter cookies are the best Christmas cookies! Unlike the store-bought version you may be used to, these are soft in the center with irresistible buttery vanilla and almond flavors. Make lovely designs with a large piping tip and dip in chocolate and sprinkles for a festive touch!

butter cookies with sprinkles

Welcome to recipe #1 in this year’s Sally’s Cookie Palooza, my annual Christmas cookie countdown tradition. This year marks my cookie palooza’s 7th year and we are going strong! Two weeks with 10 cookie recipes in a row. Are you ready for this?

First up: Homemade Danish Butter Cookies!

These Butter Cookies Are:

  • Not your regular butter cookies
  • Mega flavorful with almond and vanilla
  • Super buttery and soft
  • Crisp on the edges
  • Piped with a piping tip like meringue cookies
  • Quick– only 30 minutes of chill time
  • Extra festive with chocolate, cherries, and/or sprinkles

This butter cookie recipe is adapted from my spritz cookies and sugar cookies, both well-loved recipes on my website. You already know you’re in for something incredible!

butter cookies


Butter Cookies Video Tutorial

Let’s watch and learn how to make butter cookies. You’ll notice that this cookie dough comes together easily with only 8 ingredients. You need a mixer for the dough, plus a piping bag and large tip to pipe the cookie dough.

Aren’t they pretty?


butter cookies

Ingredients in Butter Cookies

This is a 1 bowl cookie recipe! There’s no leavening, so the texture is closer to a shortbread cookie. The dough is like my spritz cookies, but with a little milk to make it pipe-able.

  1. Butter: 1 cup of butter adds flavor, structure, and buttery goodness in each bite. Make sure it’s properly softened to room temperature before beginning.
  2. Sugar: Creamed butter and sugar is the base of this dough.
  3. Vanilla & Almond Extract: Flavor and more flavor! Almond extract is a welcome addition. If you’re not a fan of almond, see my recipe notes below.
  4. Egg: 1 egg adds structure, stability, and flavor.
  5. All-Purpose Flour: Add the flour directly to the wet ingredients. No need to mix it up in a separate bowl.
  6. Salt: By offsetting the sugar, salt adds flavor.
  7. Milk: I don’t usually add milk to cookies like this, but we need to thin out this cookie dough so it flows through the piping tip. You don’t need much, about 1-2 Tablespoons.

butter cookie dough

piped butter cookie dough

How to Pipe Butter Cookies

As you saw in this video tutorial above, this cookie dough is piped onto the baking sheet. That’s how the butter cookies get their lovely shape.

Line the cookie sheet? Some swear by using a PLAIN cookie sheet, but lining with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat is fine. (I use silicone baking mats for all my cookies and these are no different.) If you don’t line the pan, don’t grease it either.

2 Success Tips:

  1. Start Small: Place the cookie dough in the piping bag. Start with a little bit of dough so you can determine if it’s creamy enough to pipe. If it’s too thick, it’s impossible to pipe and you’ll have to put the dough back in the bowl and add a little more milk.
  2. Chill: I find it’s easiest to stick with simple designs like a swirl or even just a line. Whatever design you pipe, I highly recommend chilling the piped cookies on the baking sheet for at least 20-30 minutes before baking. Without this chill time, the cookies will likely lose their piped shape.

homemade butter cookies

Best Piping Tips to Use

The cookie dough is thick, so it’s imperative to use a large piping tip with about a 1/2 inch opening. (That’s big!) The smaller the size, the harder it will be to pipe. I highly recommend an open star piping tip, but I actually use Ateco 849 which is a closed star tip. The opening is so large that it still works wonderfully!

Here are some options:

The popular Wilton 1M works too, but you may need to add more milk to the cookie dough to thin it out since the piping tip is smaller. Remember, the more milk you add, the longer you need to chill the shaped cookies or else they will over-spread in the oven.

Don’t forget your piping bags, too! (Disposable or Reusable)

butter cookies with chocolate

3 Butter Cookie Varieties!

Make 3 varieties from 1 batch. 🙂

  • dip baked cookies into melted chocolate and add sprinkles
  • stick a maraschino cherry in the center before baking
  • add sprinkles or coarse sugar before baking

homemade butter cookies in cookie tin

Print
homemade butter cookies in cookie tin

Butter Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Yield: 30 cookies
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Danish

Description

Using just 8 basic ingredients and a large piping tip, make these soft vanilla almond flavored butter cookies. There’s no leavening, so the texture is close to shortbread cookies. I recommend chilling the piped cookies for at least 20-30 minutes before baking.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tablespoons (15-30ml) milk

Optional Toppings

  • one 4-ounce quality semi-sweet chocolate bar (113g), finely chopped*
  • maraschino cherries
  • sprinkles or coarse sugar

Instructions

  1. Read through the recipe and recipe notes before beginning. Make room in your refrigerator for a baking sheet so the shaped cookies can chill for 20-30 minutes. Without chilling, the piped cookies may over-spread. If you chill the dough prior to shaping, the dough will be too cold/stiff to pipe.
  2. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Or leave un-lined. If un-lined, do not grease the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  4. On low speed, beat in the flour and salt. Turn up to high speed and beat until completely combined. On medium speed, beat in 1.5 Tablespoons of milk. You want a dough that’s creamy and pipe-able (but still thick), so you may need up to 2 or 2.5 Tablespoons of milk. The more milk you add, the more the cookies will spread so chilling in step 6 is imperative. I recommend keeping the amount of milk small and using a large enough piping tip, like the ones I suggest in the post above.
  5. Add your large piping tip to the piping bag. Spoon a little bit of dough into the piping bag and pipe a 1-2 inch swirl or line on the prepared baking sheet. The reason I suggest only a little bit of dough to start is because the dough may still be too thick to pipe. If it’s too thick, transfer that dough back to the mixing bowl and add another 1/2 Tablespoon of milk. If the dough is creamy enough to pipe, continue piping the dough in 1-2 inch swirls or lines, 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. See video above for a visual if needed. If desired, place a maraschino cherry in the center of the swirl or sprinkle the dough with festive sprinkles and/or coarse sugar.
  6. Chill the shaped cookies on the baking sheet for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  8. Bake the chilled cookies for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The cookies will spread like all cookies do, but not completely lose their shape especially if you chilled the shaped dough. If the cookies are smaller, they will take closer to 12 minutes. Keep your eye on them. They’re done when the edges lightly brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Optional Chocolate: You can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. If using the microwave: place the chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Melt in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Dip the cookies in chocolate and top with sprinkles, if desired. Allow the chocolate to set completely at room temperature for about 1 hour or in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  11. Plain cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Cookies with chocolate or cherries stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can chill the shaped cookies on the baking sheet in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking. If chilling for longer than 30 minutes, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Sometimes I pipe all the swirls close together on 1 baking sheet, then refrigerate for up to 2 days. (Since my refrigerator can’t fit 2-3 sheets at once.) After chilling, the shaped dough is cold, so you can use a flat spatula to pick up the cold shaped dough and arrange on 2-3 baking sheets. You can also freeze the un-baked shaped dough for up to 2-3 months. Bake the frozen shaped dough (no need to thaw) for an extra couple minutes. Baked cookies, with or without chocolate/cherries/sprinkles, freeze well for up to 3 months.
  2. Almond Extract: Almond extract adds such a wonderful flavor and I don’t recommend skipping it. If desired, you can leave it out completely or add another 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract in its place. You can also substitute with 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, 1 teaspoon lemon extract, or another flavor extract you enjoy. (Some are more potent than others.) Adding 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon is delicious too!
  3. No Piping Tip: This recipe is similar to my spritz cookies where I use a cookie press. If you don’t have a large piping tip, you can make the spritz cookies (they do not need the milk). If you don’t have a cookie press or large piping tip, snip a 1/2 inch corner off the end of a plastic bag and pipe lines/flat swirls.
  4. Optional Chocolate: For the best results, use a 4 ounce “baking chocolate” bar found in the baking aisle. I prefer Bakers or Ghirardelli brands. You can use semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate. Candy melts or almond bark work too. Do not use chocolate chips, as they contain stabilizers preventing them from melting into the proper consistency. After you melt it, if the chocolate is too thick for dipping, stir in 1 teaspoon of canola oil to help thin it out.

Keywords: cookies, christmas cookies

358 Comments

  1. I’ve always loved the classic Danish cookies in the blue tin but these are even better! They were easier to make than I thought they would be, definitely making these again

  2. I love this recipe! Delicious flavor and texture. I chilled the shaped cookies for 30 minutes and they flattened quite a bit. The next batch I chilled over night and they did better but still not as “shapely” as Sally’s. Next time I may try to freeze the shaped cookies before baking. The sprinkles look beautiful and the dipped chocolate is fabulous!

  3. I loved the taste, but both batches I made flattened out quite a bit. The second ones I froze for about 30 minutes and they sill spread. I added the suggested amount of milk. Maybe less milk and chilled for longer? It was such a shame cause they tasted great!

    1. Hi Nicole! Make sure you’re using a piping tip suggested– they work the best with this dough. Do not pipe the cookies too large, either. Using less milk and freezing the shaped cookies for longer is guaranteed to help for next time as well. And for you butter, it should still be cool to the touch – see my post on what room temperature butter really means!

  4. This was a delicious butter cookie recipe! I made it to bring to a family’s Christmas Eve dinner and everyone loved it!

  5. My family loved these cookies plain and with chocolate! I’ve never piped before, but had great success by following the tips! This will become one of our go to Christmas recipes!

  6. I loved these cookies. They were simple and came together easily, and were a nice break from all of the super rich flavors going on in so many other Christmas goodies.

  7. I read all the comments and adjusted the recipe so there was no milk, just egg yolks. Chilled for 45 minutes+ and they just spread into flat biscuits. I even chilled the dough mid piping to ensure it was stuff. The only redeeming feature was the taste. They were meant to be professional looking gifts but were just disappointing.

  8. This was my favorite new cookie recipe! I made them twice – for teacher gifts and a holiday party – and I didn’t want to given them away because they were so good. I went with 1T of milk and it worked out well. I dipped some in melted semi- sweet chocolate and used sparkle sugar and they were super festive!

  9. So easy, and so delicious! This recipe is definitely going into my rotation! They’re fabulous plain, but dipped just kicks it up a notch! They were the first ones to disappear at the family Christmas gatherings. Thank you!

  10. I made these for family Christmas and we all loved them! I didn’t have the right tip so the shape didn’t hold up great but that didn’t matter. They were simple and tasted great dipped in chocolate! I did some plain ones as well and those were the best dipped in coffee. I am looking forward to trying these again with different extracts in place of almond to change the flavor slightly! Lemon maybe!?

  11. The recipe was surprisingly easy to execute once I got all the supplies together. I love the buttery almond-vanilla flavor. I dipped half of the batch is dark chocolate. Both plain and chocolate-dipped cookies were delicious, but I would dip all of the cookies next time.

    I chilled the shaped cookies for ~30 minutes before baking. They held the rosette shape well. The only issue I had was the batter split after I added the egg. I thought I recovered the batter, but the cookies held the “split” texture after I baked them off. They were still delicious. I’m guessing I didn’t let the egg reach room temperature.

  12. I really enjoyed how fun and customizable these cookies were! The recipe was easy to follow, although I did have a little trouble with the cookies not holding their shape. I think it was because in order to get the dough to a pipeable consistency, I had to add more milk than the recipe called for. They were still delicious even if they weren’t picture perfect!

  13. I made these cookies for a Christmas cookie exchange party and they were a hit! Not only was it fun to learn a new way of baking cookies (I would have never thought to pipe them out of a piping bag to get a nice design), but they were very tasty. They disappeared so fast that I had to make another batch.

    1. I haven’t made the recipe yet, But, I was curious if you could just spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet instead of using a press or piping them onto a sheet.

  14. These came out yummy. I dipped half in chocolate, and prefer them better that way. Thanks for a different take on a cookie recipe, I’ve never piped cookie dough before.

  15. This was a great recipe for a rookie piper! They were easy to make and the instructions for chilling etc were great. I love using the vanilla/almond combination. Had to use a Wilton 1M nozzle as that’s the biggest one I had. I used your spritz recipe for Christmas cookies this year as well. All of your recipes I’ve made so far have been fantastic – key lime macadamia crust pie, pumpkin swirl cheesecake and the salted caramel sauce. Especially loved the key lime! I’m going to be making your blueberry swirl cheesecake this weekend for a poker party. Can’t wait! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Vicki! I appreciate you participating in December’s baking challenge AND for trusting my recipes 🙂 Happy new year!

  16. These cookies are so tasty! They were fun to make! I used 1/4 tsp Cinnamon instead of Almond Extract as I didn’t have any. You could see tiny specks of Cinnamon through the cookies. Unfortunately I ran out of time so I didn’t get to dip them in chocolate but they really don’t even need it – they are delicious topped with Sprinkles. They are so pretty! Thank you, Sally!

  17. My hubby and I decided to do some Christmas Day baking ahead of our road trip and thoroughly enjoyed these on our drive back home. I actually enjoyed them even better the next day. We did struggle with it having the write tip and having never piped before found it quite challenging but all in all, enjoyed them. 🙂

  18. I have received so many compliments on these cookies!! Thank you Sally for such a great recipe! This makes batch number 5 since you announced them as the December 2019 challenge. DEEE- LICIOUS!!

    1. I don’t recommend it. That minimal amount of amaretto wouldn’t be detected. (And adding more will thin out the dough too much.) Almond extract is much more potent.

  19. My husband does not really like sweets but these cookies are absolutely perfect for him since they are more buttery than sweet. We eat them with our afternoon tea. The first time I made these they only lasted a couple of days, we couldn’t put them down! I top mine with a little sugar in the raw and they look so pretty. I can’t wait to try out the different flavor options! Thank you for another wonderful favorite ❤️

  20. Why I waited months to make these cookies after you first posted the recipe is beyond me! Great cookie to keep us busy this weekend and my kids loved helping with the sprinkles on top. Wilton 1M worked for us. These are totally delicious.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

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