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

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

299 Comments

  1. Veronica Menendez says:

    One of my favorite holiday traditions is buying a tin of these cookies to share with my mom. I was excited about this recipe because I’d love to be able to make them myself. This recipe did not disappoint! They were so easy to make and they taste amazing! I’ll definitely be making another batch (or three!) of these before Christmas!

  2. Ashley Barthle says:

    Hi Sally, I made this for Thanksgiving and I am making for Christmas how can I shrink the ingredients to make less cookies?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ashley, you can simply halve the ingredients to make a half batch of cookies. To use half of one egg simply crack it into a seperate bowl, mix it, and then add half to the dough.

      1. Ashley Barthle says:

        how can i down size the other two main ingredients?

  3. So nice and delicate! Perfect butter cookies 🙂

  4. These were really fun. We tried all 3 varieties. Surprisingly kids loved the cherry version the best. My first batch is definitely underdone but after I got the hang of letting them brown up, the rest came out much better.

  5. I realized as I was about to pipe the cookies I missed the egg. I looked around and saw that either the cookies would be more dense of I could add later with some milk. I tried the latter but I was never able to get the dough to a piping consistency. If I’m ever in the situation again and realize I’ve left out an ingredient what do you recommend to rescue it?

    1. Hi Kate, how much milk did you add? The cookie dough should eventually thin out as you mix in more milk– even just slightly– so that it can be piped.

  6. hi! what’s the difference between a spritz cookie and a butter cookie?
    thanks!

    1. Hi Amy, it depends on the recipes but for mine– not much difference in terms of taste and texture, just how they’re shaped on the baking sheets. (Cookie press vs piping bag/tip.)

  7. Can I ask , why is it ok to incorporate the flour , without worrying of over mixing it? That confuses me…is it because a certain ingredient isn’t present in this cookie recipe, as opposed to a Different white type of sugar cookie? Thank you!

  8. Hello Sally

    Can I leave the egg out? If so should I adjust other ingredients such as butter or flour?
    Thank you so much!:)

    Christine

  9. I just made this recipe had they completely melted in the first five minutes of baking in the oven. I followed the recipe exactly, and I chilled piped cookies. However, I may not have chilled them enough time. According to the recipe, they may “overspread”. These, however, completely melted and had to be discarded. Would an extra 15 min of chill time make such a difference?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katherine, 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!

  10. Sochie Santos says:

    Hi Sally,

    I bet these will come out awesome… I would just like to ask you if it is okay to use brown sugar instead of the white refined ones?

    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You know, we haven’t tested the cookies using brown sugar instead of white. If you want to try it, let us know how they turn out!

      1. Thank you! Will let you know once I have tried it…

      2. Sochie Santos says:

        Just an update
        Hi! Got the chance to try out this recipe but I used brown sugar… So, it didn’t spread as expected (I guess it’s because brown sugar has more molasses content) I guess I should have added more milk to make it into a more pippable consistency… However, it still tastes really good!!! If you are on the sweet tooth side maybe make the brown sugar 1 cup (packed) and add more milk or butter…

        Thank you again for your recipes…

  11. Hi Sally! Everything about this butter cookie is perfect! But is there something i can do to make it a little bit more crunchy?crispy?A special request from my little one.Should i bake it longer? Thank you so much! Hope you could help me out. I bought one of your cookbooks by the way.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nikki, we’re so glad you and your little one enjoyed these so much! Correct, if you’re looking for a bit more crunch, you can try baking them for a minute or two longer (keep a close eye on them) and even try piping them a bit smaller, too. Thank you as well for purchasing one of Sally’s cookbooks — we’d love to know what you decide to make from it first!

  12. Kelly Morris says:

    Super disappointing -I had to add a lot more milk than the recipe suggested to make them pipeable – I tried again and again and they still wouldn’t pipe (and I have a large piping bag and large tip) and finally just gave up because I realized they would spread too much when they finally were the right consistency. Not recommended.

  13. hi
    can I replace the granulated sugar with the exact amount of powdered sugar?

  14. Hi ! Thanks so much ! Had the distinct honor of tasting these cookies and they are irresistibly delicious !
    I’d like to try with vegan butter , egg alternative and a tad almond milk. The dough won’t be runny for piping but for cookie cutters. Would you like to advise me or comment before I attempt please ?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wan, it’s great to hear that you enjoyed these cookies! We haven’t personally tested any of those substitutes, so we’re unsure of the results they’ll create. We don’t recommend this dough for cookie cutters though — our best sugar cookies would be better, if you’re interested. Let us know what you try!

  15. Hi. I haven’t made these yet, but I am planning on it, as I LOVE butter cookies, and these look delicious.
    I am wondering, can I add raspberry/apricot jelly and make sandwich cookies and then dip them in the melted chocolate, like you would find in a bakery?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely! Let us know how they go, Gina

  16. Mary Bohlman says:

    These cookies were delicious! I had no trouble piping them although I had to do so with a baggie with the corner tip cut because I do not have a piping device. The only thing I will do next time is cook them a little longer because I did not wait for them to be golden brown. It took longer than I thought and I was afraid of over cooking them. They were a little soft but everybody raved about them. Thank you so much!

  17. What brand of butter do you use for baking?

    1. Hi Lori, it varies. I usually just pick up what’s on sale or use my grocery store’s brand. I like Challenge and Land O Lakes too.

  18. can these cookies be rolled for baking? rolled into balls

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Suzanne, these cookies are not ideal for rolling. If you don’t have a large piping tip, you can snip a 1/2 inch corner off the end of a plastic bag and pipe lines/flat swirls.

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