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

400 Comments

  1. Mmmmm! Can’t wait to make these, and hopefully enter the December Baking Challenge, if I can get my act together and photograph the cookies properly amid all the holiday frenzy 🙂 Although, entering the challenge would be an excellent excuse for me to go out and get new Christmas-y sprinkles, because I can say I need the so my Challenge cookies will look especially pretty 😀 Question: the largest star tip I have is a Wilton 4B; will that work for these cookies? Should I pipe them a little larger? Or should I purchase the 8B tip instead?

    1. Hi Erin! Is the opening of that tip around 1/2 inch large? If not, it’s best to choose from the suggested tips I list. Those are all tips I’ve tested successfully with this dough. 🙂

      1. OK, thanks for the info! I’ll measure the tip and see 🙂

  2. Barbara Battibulli says:

    I wish I lived next door to you!! These are wonderful!

    1. Thank you so much, Barbara!

  3. The most wonderful time of the year- Sally’s Cookie Palooza!!! I am sure I’m not alone , I look forward to this all year long! These are beautiful and can’t wait to make and taste them. Also, thank you for the list of other tips we can use.

    1. So sweet, thank you for your kind words Wendy!! Happy cookie baking 🙂

  4. These are one of my favorite cookies, and I couldn’t find the proper recipe, seeing this in my email literally made my day! Can’t wait to try them, thank you Sally!

    1. Perfect timing! I hope you love these 🙂

  5. Will an equal amount of almond emulsion instead of almond extract work in this recipe as far as flavor, or might the amount need adjusting more or less for potency? Sally, I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Hi Bonnie! I believe the emulsions are just as potent as extracts (correct me if I’m wrong) so you can use an equal amount. If the bottle says it’s stronger than extract, slightly reduce the amount.

  6. I know substitutions are a no-no with baking, but I was wondering if I could use orange juice instead of the milk. It would impart a little bit of orange flavor, which I think would taste great. Just wondering if the milk is necessary specifically because of the fat in it, or if it really is all about the liquid being added to loosen the dough for piping. Thanks!

    1. Hi Amy! You can try it, but with the extra sugar in the juice, the cookies may spread more. Chilling the shaped cookies for longer than 30 minutes would be ideal. Let me know how it goes!

    2. RedHairedLady (Laura) says:

      Amy, why not use orange extract instead of orange juice? McCormick makes an orange extract. I’ve bought it at the grocery store. I used it in another butter cookie recipe, and it worked great.

    3. Amy I would suggest using orange zest. If you want a stronger orange flavour rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers to really get the oils blended. You can also do the same with lemon zest.

      1. I have orange extract, and zest is an option if it were only about the orange flavor for me, but part of the reason for my question was about not having to use milk specifically. Thanks for the suggestions, though! I love a helpful, caring baking community!

        I probably won’t be able to get to these for a while, but I will add this recipe to the (very long) list of items I want to bake.

  7. Kelly @ Kelly Lynn’s Sweets and Treats says:

    Can’t go wrong with a classic cookie like this!! Perfect for that holiday cookie plate. I bet they will disappear fast! Xoxoxo

    1. Thank you, Kelly!

  8. When two good things come together – Sally’s Cookie Palooza aaand Baking Challenge 🙂
    These cookies are wonderful, I might give them a try, but the list of still-to-bake cookies is long so we’ll see… 😉

    1. I hope you’ll give these a try! Happy baking 🙂

  9. RedHairedLady (Laura) says:

    I’ve never been much of a butter cookie fan, but my husband LOVES those Danish butter cookies in the tin container. He will be thrilled about these!

    1. YAY! I hope he loves these!

  10. These look delicious! I always love to see how other bakers ‘work’ in the kitchen……..you mentioned a video on this, but I can’t find it on your blog! Did I miss it somewhere?? Thank you! I’d love to try these!

    1. Hi Maureen! Under the header that says Video Tutorial. 🙂 Give it a minute to load. If you have any ad blockers in place, you’ll have to temporarily pause them in order for the player to show up.

  11. Hi Sally. Cant wait to make these!
    What brand of piping bag do you use?

    1. Hi Jessica! I link to my favorites in the post above– I have both reusable and disposable. I believe the pictured one is Wilton or a brand called “Montreal Baking” found on Amazon.

  12. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Will you please share where you found the pictured adorable white plate rimmed with snowmen and snowflakes? Thanks!

    1. Pier 1! 🙂

  13. I just made these and they are getting rave reviews from the resident food critics here. I didn’t have the proper tip so I improvised by bending a 1M tip to be less narrow and it worked fine.

    1. Love reading this! Thanks so much for your positive feedback and for participating this month!

  14. Just finished baking a double batch!
    One batch just didn’t seem enough… they were so good!
    I’m sure these cookies will freeze well and hold up through the holiday season!
    The recipe is super easy, follow the directions exactly, especially when it says chill… don’t skip this step!
    Happy baking 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for participating this month, Amanda! Thrilled you loved them!

  15. Sorry for this basic question from a newbie cookie baker (this will be my first time doing the cookie challenge and I want to get started off correctly). The cookies can be chilled on the cookie sheet with the correct spacing, then right into the oven. Or, the cookies can be piped close together on a single cookie sheet, then transferred to a fresh one with the correct spacing, then into the oven. In the first case, a big cold cookie sheet is going in. How do I adjust for the baking time? Will the cookies bake up differently on a cold vs room temperature cookie sheet?

    1. Hi Katherine! Not a basic question at all. You can chill a bunch of shaped cookies (the dough) on a baking sheet, then once they’re extra cold, they can transfer easily to room temperature sheets. OR just pipe 9-10 on a baking sheet and chill, then place that cold sheet in the oven. Bake time remains the same, though maybe a minute longer– always best to use your eyes and not the timer. When the cookies are lightly browned around the edges, they’re done. 🙂

    2. Great question, I was wondering the same thing about putting a cold cookie sheet into a hot oven.

  16. I look forward to Cookie Palooza every year!! These look delicious! Would I be able to use almond or another dairy free milk instead of milk regular milk?

    1. Absolutely!

  17. This may sound like a silly question… Can you use food coloring on the actual cookie dough?

    1. Yes, definitely! I always like to use gel food coloring, but liquid can work here as well.

  18. Just tried these…and my bag popped twice!! I’m using a large tip. Going to grab a reusable piping bag to see if that helps…and possibly a bit more milk ‍♀️

    1. Sounds great! You may want to thin out that dough with a little extra milk.

  19. Hi Sally,

    Could I use a cookie press with this recipe instead of the piping?

    Thanks! Love your recipes!

    1. Hi Lindsay! See my recipe note. Use my spritz cookies recipe. 🙂

  20. I’m also having trouble finding the video. I never have a problem watching your wonderful videos but I don’t see the play triangle. I’ve never changed any settings before to watch them on my iPad

    1. Hi Nancy! The play button is right on my apron. Give the video an extra second to load. It’s also on my Facebook page and Youtube page, too!

  21. Hey Sally, I am exited to try this recipe. I love baking, especially your recipes. Quick question I am debating between two tips. One is Wilton 4B and the other one is Wilton 1M. Which one do you think I should use? Thanks

    1. I don’t have either in front of me right now, but whichever tip has the larger opening– use that. 🙂

  22. After my last reply, I found your video by going to the website and searching butter cookies in the recipe search. The video is there — in case anyone is still having trouble.

  23. I tried these cookies and they’re great but when I baked mine the first tray I made kept it’s shape but the second I put in flattened.
    I even re-preheated the oven before I put the second tray in. Same batch and longer in the fridge.
    What did I do wrong?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jessica– it’s odd that batch #1 baked normally but batch #2 did not. Perhaps the piped cookies in batch 2 weren’t piped as thick?

  24. I have never successfully used a piping bag; everything I pipe looks awful. Can these cookies be rolled, sliced… anything other than piping?

    1. Hi Debbie! It takes practice and you can use my video tutorial as a helpful guide. You can also try my spritz cookies noted in the recipe notes if you have a cookie press. 🙂 A slice and bake method may work here, but I haven’t tested it.

  25. This recipe is incredible! As soon as I saw this as the challenge, I knew I had to try it right away. Thankfully I got out of work early enough to make the dough. I only baked one cookie to try it and I am wishing I baked two lol. I will bake more from the batch to take a picture for the challenge and bring to work. I’m definitely making these for Christmas! Sally, thank you so much for all your incredible recipes. I can’t wait for the rest of cookie palooza!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe, Justine! Loved reading your comment 🙂

  26. Jennifer Ledbetter says:

    Delicious! I made these tonight! Followed the recipe and they are perfect! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer!

  27. OMG I am so happy I found this recipe. I have a company Christmas party coming up and I wanted to bake some holiday cookies. I can’t wait to get started. Thank you Sally =)

    1. I hope these are a hit!! Happy baking 🙂

  28. I made these last night and they are to die for! They were a great snack to have with my coffee this morning. I will absolutely be making these again for Christmas (and probably a few times before).

    1. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed them so much, Jocelyn!

  29. Yum, I love this type of cookie–can’t wait to make them!
    Is it possible to mix the cookie dough in a food processor? (I have a similar recipe for bakery-style cookies that’s made in the processor.)

    1. Hi Cindy! I’m sure you could, but I recommend a mixer for this recipe.

  30. Hi! Could I dip these in chocolate and then freeze?

    1. Absolutely!

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