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 the December Baking Challenge recipe AND 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

How to Join Sally's Baking Challenge

Make the butter cookies. If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate December Baking Challenge:

  1. any previous challenge recipe OR
  2. Sugar Cookies (any shape!)

After you make the butter cookies or alternate recipe, share your recipe photo with me any of the following ways:

  1. Use #sallysbakingchallenge and tag me (@sallysbakeblog) on your public Instagram or Twitter account. (Instagram messages are hard to track, so please email instead.)
  2. Upload your recipe photo to my Facebook page or Facebook group.
  3. Email me your recipe photo.

For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below!

By sharing your photo, you are automatically entered in the baking challenge for the $250 Amazon gift card prize. My assistants and I keep track of your photos and randomly select 1 winner at the end of the month. The challenge is open to the whole world. Challenge ends on December 30th 2019 at 5pm ET. The winner will be selected at random and posted in the January Baking Challenge blog post on December 31st 2019.

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

174 Comments

  1. I was really nervous about making these because I have never piped anything before. I had to put my dough back in the bowl and add a little extra milk in my dough because piping it was a little difficult and ended up adding about 2 Tbsp. of milk to my dough and I think 1 and 1\2 would have been better. I chilled my dough for about 1 hour but still lost some of the beautiful shape I piped on my cookies. These cookies tasted wonderful and I REALLY appreciate this recipe Sally. After looking up tutorials on how to fit a piping tip on a piping bag and piping for the first time I feel like I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again. Thank you for the endless work you do to teach us how to bake!! Love

  2. Really easy and yummy. We added green food coloring and sprinkles to make wreathes. Took a little over 15 minutes to cook.

  3. I had an epic fail with these. Did everything as stated, chilled my piped cookies which are now cooling from the oved. They spread lost all shape they look they have split in the oven, complete disaster. No idea what went wrong but they don’t resemble all the lovely pics people have been posting. They smell great, but yea.. Not worked 🙁

  4. The challenge is done! So easy. Much easier than I thought. Did use a Wilton 1M tip and just about 2-1/2 tbls of milk. Chilled in the fridge and also in the freezer, only because of space.
    And my extract of choice was peppermint.

  5. My cookies didn’t hold their shape so they weren’t picture perfect but they were DELICIOUS!!! Great recipe Sally!! Maybe someday I can master the look as well! LOL!!

  6. Well, finally I made my cookies, I’m surprise how well I could work. I decided to freeze them and then, bake them when frozen. They’d a de so delicate. Delicious. Thanks Sally.

  7. I really liked making these. It just made it difficult because i dont have any large piping tips only small. So i used the largest one i had and they looked like mini cookie churros. Very yummy in taste though. I dipped mine in dark chocolate and white. Very delicious and easy to make. They didn’t spread which was awesome. I followed the recipe and they came out great! Next time i just need to have a bigger tip.

  8. Thanks for the challenge! They were a bit more bland than expected (I admit, I did leave out the almond extract, but I upped the vanilla), but they certainly were festive looking.

  9. This is a delicious spritz cookie. The directions are great. The dough was easy to pipe. The dough stiffens up with time so you need to work quickly. The decorating possibilities are endless. The cookies store very well and actually gain flavor after a day. This recipe will definitely be added to my Christmas cookie rotation.

  10. I made these cookies as part of a cookie gift box for family and friends. I added about two tablespoons of milk and even with a longer chilling time, they spread a bit more than Sallys did. They baked perfectly though and came out delicious with a wonderful texture. The almond extract is necessary too, so good!!!

  11. Didn’t have a piping tip, but just used the Wilton bag I had cut off to fit my icing tips. Made a swirl around with kind of a bulls eye in the middle and they baked perfect. I even forgot to refrigerate one tray and it baked fine keeping it’s shape. Super easy to mix, used 1 1/2 T. milk for each of two batches and it piped out of the bag easily. Taste rocks, plain, dipped in Baker’s brand Semi-sweet or sugar sprinkles. Love them and will be one of my all time holiday favorites from now on. Had so much fun making them . Great recipe!

  12. I really enjoyed making theses cookies and they were a HUGE hit at a holiday gathering. People were grabbing multiples after the first taste. I did make this recipe twice and found the almond extract made as written) to be overpowering the first time. The second time I made them (for the holiday party) I halved the almond extract and upped the vanilla by 1/4 tsp—perfect!

  13. Unfortunately, these cookies just didn’t work for me 🙁 I only added 1.5 tbsp of milk, piped the dough into logs, chilled them overnight and then baked them, but they almost completely flattened out in the oven. The taste is still there of course – and they’re absolutely delicious – but the only way I could make them pretty was by giving them some piped chocolate decorations.

  14. Yummy. Loved the flavor. Were not as perky as Sally’s, but I found the piping bag and tip to be easier to handle than I thought. Next time only add 1 Tbl milk and then try piping. (Went with 1 1/2 before testing. )

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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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