Homemade Butter Cookies

These homemade Danish butter cookies are festive 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 Sally’s Cookie Palooza, my annual Christmas cookie countdown tradition.

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: Like many cookie recipes including these dreamy shortbread wedge cookies, creamed butter and sugar is the base of today’s 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

homemade butter cookies in cookie tin

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
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

354 Comments

  1. christine schindler says:

    This recipe is the only one I have been successful piping out cookies. I go to your recipes only when I need sweets. Never disappoint. I have been looking for an Italian butter cookie like
    I remember in bakery . Are they the same? All the recipes I tried, never can I get dough through piping bag. Thanks.

  2. Hi Sally – doing this with a group of young girls and the piping is out of the question (for my own sanity). Can these be done as a slice and bake cookie?

    1. Hi Laurian, I wouldn’t choose this recipe for a slice and bake cookie. Instead, I would try these shortbread cookies and all of the bakers can add their own toppings or add-ins (see the post for ideas) or try these sprinkle slice and bake cookies. Feel free to skip the sprinkles.

  3. Hi can you leave the piped cookies in the refrigerator for longer than 30 minutes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jamie, you can leave them in the refrigerator a bit longer if needed.

  4. So disappointed that my first sheet of cookies SPREAD!! What did I do wrong? Yes I chilled them, used the Silpats. … followed the instructions. HELP! I’m about to make another batch.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kris! I’m happy to help. Sorry these cookies spread for you – while spreading is inevitable with all cookies, they shouldn’t completely lose their shape. If you decide to try the recipe again, you may want to reduce the milk to only 1 Tablespoon. Make sure the butter you are using is cool at room temperature and not overly soft. Bake only 1 sheet at a time and try freezing the piped/shaped cookies for 1 hour, then transferring them to a room temperature baking sheet. I hope this helps!

      1. I made another batch and used just one tablespoon of milk, I found a reply to another poster’s comment and your reply. I have 3 sheets of these cookies in my refrigerator. I don’t have room in my freezer. I also switched to another big open star tip, and made smaller cookies. I really hope these come out looking more like Sally’s cookies. Fingers crossed, I’m going to give them a good chill before baking them off tonight. I appreciate the speedy reply. Thank you. PS – they are a good tasting cookie! Merry Christmas to All!

      2. Let us know how it goes!

      3. Sorry to say, even after freezing the cookie dough it did not make a difference, still spread. Two batches of flat cookies….beyond disappointed and frustrated.

  5. Can’t wait to try these! Can i freeze with the cherry in the middle?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  6. I loved this recipe. They taste very delicious. Didn’t have too much trouble piping them, but I also was using a smaller tip as that was all I had available. They still turned out cute! Can these be frozen for a couple of days once baked?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      So glad you enjoyed these, Emily! See recipe notes for make ahead and freezing instructions 🙂

  7. Do I use unsalted butter for the buttery cookie that you use the pastry bag to make? Or do you use salted butter?
    Is it to be room temp on any of the ingredients?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Charlene, We use unsalted butter at room temperature for this recipe. Enjoy!

  8. Love these beautiful cookies thank you Sally.

    I’ve made them 3 times now. I have needed a little extra milk and a strong piping bag.
    I also used less milk and my young daughters rolled out shapes.

    The flavour is incredibly beautiful. They far exceed the ones you buy in tins.

    New family tradition!

  9. How do you remove the cookies after the chocolate solidifies without the chocolate coming off?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenn! Using a non-stick silicone baking mat or parchment paper will keep the chocolate from sticking. Enjoy!

  10. Theses were so delicious! I followed all your tips and it came out delicious

  11. Rachel A Giusti says:

    Hello, if you chill overnight do you need to let these sit at room temp before baking or can they go right from fridge to oven?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Straight from fridge to oven! The cold dough will help keep the cookies from spreading while baking.

  12. joanne jenkins says:

    hello can i roll these into log and refrigerate them. then cut into slices thank you joanne

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joanne! We wouldn’t choose this recipe for a slice and bake cookie. Instead, we would try these sprinkle slice and bake cookies. Feel free to skip the sprinkles.

  13. Olivia Villalta says:

    Hello! We don’t have normal all purpose flour. Can we use cake flour instead?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Olivia, We fear that cake flour would produce a flimsy dough for these already delicate cookies. Best to wait until you can get all purpose flour.

  14. I measured my flour out (spoon and level) and it worked out to 149 grams on my scale. I made sure my kitchen scale (digital) was level and a flat surface and tared prior to measuring. Do you suggest going by cups or weight measurements?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz, Are you sure you measured two and a quarter cups of flour? One cup is equal to 125g so I’m wondering if you only measured out 1.25 cups.

  15. What type of salt are you using? This is often overlooked but, there’s a giant difference between types & brands and the amount of saltiness they bring by volume.

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ben, unless otherwise mentioned, we use regular table salt in our recipes.

  16. Tastes great! But they spread… Like a lot. I refrigerated them for 30 min, followed the recipe exactly, made sure the butter wasn’t too soft, but they still spread out like chocolate chip cookies. What could I have done wrong?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, I’m happy to help. Sorry these cookies spread for you – while spreading is inevitable with all cookies, they shouldn’t completely lose their shape. If you decide to try the recipe again, you may want to reduce the milk to only 1 Tablespoon. Make sure the butter you are using is cool at room temperature and not overly soft. Bake only 1 sheet at a time and try freezing the piped/shaped cookies for 1 hour, then transferring them to a room temperature baking sheet. I hope this helps!

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