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!

stack of 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 on a white plate

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 in a mixing bowl and in a piping bag

piped butter cookie dough on baking sheet

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
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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 & Using a Cookie Press: This recipe is similar to my spritz cookies where I use a cookie press. If you don’t have a large piping tip and/or you want to use a cookie press, 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

431 Comments

  1. Made these cookies last night. They were good, but they were puffy and more like bread. I was looking for it to break apart. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Leeiana, they could have tasted cakey from over-baking. I recommend reducing the bake time by a minute or 2 if you try the recipe again. Also, be sure to spoon and level the flour. It’s possible the flour was accidentally over-measured.

  2. beverly Buczek says:

    Can I use lemon instead of almond extract?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely! Use 1 teaspoon of lemon extract in place of almond extract.

  3. Hi Sally, from another Sally! 🙂 would this recipe work with a cookie press?

    Thank you for teaching me how to bake- your recipes were the first things I ever tried to bake from scratch, and now baking is my passion!

    1. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, Sally. 🙂 If using a cookie press, I recommend my recipe for spritz cookies!

  4. Hi Sally! Can these cookies be rolled and cut with cookie cutters instead of piped, or are they too soft? My mom prefers butter cookies to sugar cookies and I love decorating with royal icing. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, This dough is too soft to use with cookie cutters. It’s best to use a recipe like cut out sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, etc. for cookie cutters.

  5. Hi Sally, this is the third recipe I’ve tried from your blog (I’ve tried the cinnamon rolls and gingerbread cookies) and I have to say I love reading all of your hints and tips in the beginning, it’s really taken my baking from a pastime to a passion and means I’m learnings much. thank you!

  6. Followed the recipe exactly and my cookies came out paper thin. They were refrigerated for 30+ minutes before cooking as recommended. I couldn’t dip them in chocolate because they were so thin and breaking apart. Had to drizzle them. Flavour was ok. Sorry I wasn’t overly impressed and usually I like your recipes.

  7. Hi Sally! I’ve been wanting to try this… my grandma used to make butter cookies similar to this ones, I remember they were so soft and melt in your mouth, I think she used cornstarch in it and maybe powdered milk since i remember it had that flavor, any idea on how I could add that to your recipe? Maybe reducing the amount of flour or do you think it’s a bad idea? Thank you so much in advance, I adore all of your recipes

    1. Hi Fernanda, I’m so glad that you found this recipe and are eager to try them. I haven’t tested the cookies with cornstarch or powdered milk though. You should be fine replacing 1 teaspoon of flour with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (or simply adding 1 teaspoon of cornstarch), but I’m really unsure about the powdered milk. Let me know if you test anything.

  8. Hi Sally ! I live in Colorado at 5280 do I need to adjust ingredients, temperature or quantity of ingredients for high altitude

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Debbie, I wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  9. Hi Sally.
    Would using powdered sugar also work for this recipe?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jan, For the best results we recommend sticking with granulated sugar here.

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