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

392 Comments

  1. It tastes really good! But it came out a bit dry for me. Not sure how to improve it for next time. Any suggestions?

    1. Huda Desin says:

      Maybe you measured the flour incorrectly, as in you might have measured too much or you added less of the liquid ingredients.
      I have done this recipe many times and it comes out good, although butter cookies are traditionally drier than the regular chocolate chip.

  2. Hi! Receipe and steps were given well and could easily follow! Tasted great! But mum prefer it to be alittle bit denser. What i made was alittle bit brittle. Any tips?

  3. Hi! I made these cookies a few days ago, and I have to say, they are AMAZING!!!! They are easy to make and the flavor is delicious! One of my new favorite recipes!! Will definitely be making them again .

  4. Hi Sally, I made this recipe with very accurately weighed out ingredients, I ended up adding around 2.5 tbsp milk because the batter didnt feel loose enough to pipe even in a giant ateco 282. They piped beautifully. Chilled for about an hour. They’ve just turned into puddles, I’m gutted because this was my second go after trying a different recipe. Any ideas what this could be down too? Is it a dough chilling issue or an ingredients issue? Maybe I added too much milk but they still felt stiff to pipe. Thanks!

    1. Hi Emma, The cookie dough should be pretty thick, so it’s imperative to use a large piping tip with about a 1/2 inch opening. (That’s big!) If you are trying to use a smaller tip and need to thin out your dough just remember, the more milk you add, the longer you need to chill the shaped cookies or else they will over-spread in the oven.

      1. Sally you are so amazing. With my little baking experience. I tired this recipe and it came out so so good and perfect. Friends kept coming back for more and finished it in a blink of an eye. Thank you so much for this easy recipe. Lots of Love from Nigeria

    2. Emma I have tried twice with this recipe, I have to add milk or cant even pipe, no matter what I have tried they ALWAYS spread out and are flat. I have weighted flour and sugar, room temp egg, Have you found anything that works? Im beginning to think something is missing or misprinted

      1. Hi! I did find one that worked out better for me, still not perfect and it was hard to pipe but it was possible and they held their shape! I used the same Ateco 828 nozzle which is a big one, for pastry. Try upping the flour to 300g, up the butter to 250g and use 100g icing sugar instead of 150g granulated sugar (confectioners sugar if you are US based). I should add Sally’s recipe tasted incredible and even though they were totally misshapen for me, I ate them anyway.

      2. I just bought 828 nozzle and a new canvas pastry bag on amazon today . I will be trying all your suggestions In a week or two. I made 2 batches last week, all came out completely flat, and we still ate them. But I’m hoping to perfect them by Christmas. Thanks for the reply

  5. hello, sally,
    All I have with me today are margarine blocks instead of butter.
    Should I use them, or will the taste be ruined?
    Thanks!

  6. Hi, I was wondering if one could put a small dollop of jam in the middle

    1. Some readers have added a little jam to the centers with success, yes!

  7. Susan Spivack says:

    Can I use a cookie press like the one that OXO makes or some other kind?

    1. Hi Susan, If using a cookie press, I recommend my recipe for spritz cookies!

  8. The cookies came out amazing, (even though we didn’t have the right sized piping tip, it was a smidge too small) the texture and flavor are great. This recipe will definitely be on our cookie line up and holiday cookie baking.

  9. These cookies are amazing! I have tried to copy these danish type cookies from a restaurant in the Bloomingdale’s Mall on Michigan Ave in Chicago. I followed, to the letter, your recipe and instructions. They turned out fantastic! My husband made a delighted moan sound when he bit into for the first time. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  10. These cookies are amazing! I have tried to copy these danish type cookies from a restaurant in the Bloomingdale’s Mall on Michigan Ave in Chicago. I followed, to the letter, your recipe and instructions. They turned out fantastic! My husband made a delighted moan sound when he bit into one for the first time. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  11. I chilled and they still spread 🙁

  12. Even with the large piping bag and tip you suggested, I found this to be way too almondy and floury tasting. Didn’t get butter at all. They held their shape fine and were on the smaller side but not the best recipe I have tried. Love your site but this one wasn’t for me.

  13. Shawna Burmaster says:

    Can I put chocolate chips in them?

    1. Hi! Mini chocolate chips should be ok, but make sure the piping tip opening is large enough to pipe out dough with the chips.

  14. Hi. Can I replace the sugar with liquid Stevia? Thanks.

    1. No, I don’t recommend liquid sweetener. Stick with granulated sugar.

  15. These were delicious! Had no problem piping the dough with a larger tip. We refrigerated the shaped cookies before baking like you suggest. I dipped the cookies in white chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate sprinkles. Kids loved them. Will definitely make them again.

  16. Hi, question here! I’m going to make these cookies but was thinking of adding royal icing once done? Would that pair well?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You certainly could, just keep in mind if you are planning to make desings that the royal icing won’t lay smooth on the tops the cookies depending on how you pipe them like it would on flat sugar cookies.

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