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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

See Your Homemade Butter Cookies!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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. 🙂

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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 ‍♀️

  8. Hi Sally,

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

    Thanks! Love your recipes!

  9. 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. 🙂

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

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

  14. 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 =)

  15. 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).

  16. Wonderfully simple and a rich butter flavor. If you like a good butter cookie, go for this one! I didn’t use almond extract but instead went for a full vanilla pod, love that vanilla flavor!
    Also, I reduced the sugar amount and maybe it is the European butter, but I had to use way more than 2.5 tablespoons of milk to thin out the dough…

    1. The cookies, themselves were simple to put together and baked up nicely. I used a Wilton 1M with the recipe as stated and didn’t need to add any additional milk for piping the dough. I did; however, omit the almond flavor since traditional Danish butter cookies are just what they say, butter cookies. They’re not almond flavor. My main reason for the comment though, is your reference to the store-version being “bland and boring”. While they may not be your personal preference, they are quite traditional in many households this time of the year and I don’t think people really want their memories or traditions labelled as “bland and boring”. Maybe you could have simply “updated” the traditional version or “given it a little something extra special” instead??

      1. Thank you so much, Shari. I didn’t even think of that! I will go ahead and reword those sentences so they are more thoughtful and accurate. Thank you again!

  17. Thanks. I tried this recipe it was a success. I used vanilla extract , omitted the milk and pipe it using the Wilton 1 M tip. I did not refrigerate it, the dough was firm and easy to pipe and they retained the swirl pattern after baking.
    Thanks for sharing all the baking tips and helpful hints in your recipes.

  18. These were very easy to make and I got them together very quickly. I did have a bunch of trouble piping them out though. I added about 2 tablespoons of milk but it was still pretty hard. It was all worth the amazing taste of them though! My rating is 4.5 stars.

  19. Delicious! I made these for the Volunteer Fire Department meeting and they were a hit. I used a Sultane piping nozzle and they were beautiful. Mine did NOT spread at all. Maybe it’s because I froze them instead of refrigerating them.

  20. I had tried another butter cookie recipe that did not turn out great. A lot of it had to do with them not giving any notes on consistency. The dough was way too thick to be piped in the other recipe. You always do a great job with instructions. These turned out great!!

  21. I ended up adding 2.5 tablespoons of milk to this recipe! They didn’t maintain their shape that great, even after refrigerating for 45 min! However they were delicious and I loved decorating them with cherries, chocolate and sprinkles. Gave them to my grandmother as a surprise. Next time I’ll refrigerate them longer 🙂 Loved them!

  22. The almond extract in these is a game changer! Already prepping for a second batch less than 24 hours later. Definitely a must-include in my Christmas cookie packages. Thanks Sally!

  23. As soon as I added the almond extract to the batter, I immediately knew that these cookies were going to be amazing! They are so buttery and delicious and are a great treat along with a hot cup of tea.

  24. Did everyone get 30 cookies out of this recipe? I think I barely got 15. They’re chilling in the fridge and look just like those in the video but no way I could’ve gotten 30.

  25. Getting a head start on Christmas cookie baking for my cookie tray. Can I freeze these with the dipped chocolate on them?

  26. I am making the cookies now. but, I only have a 1/4 inch tip, and I had to add teensy bits of milk again and again, and it’s still difficult to pipe.
    But, it has AMAZING results!!!
    Tastes just like store-bought. My new secret recipe!!!!
    Thanks for it

  27. I’m not a butter cookie fan, too bland for me, but I had to try this one with the almond extract. It definitely has more flavor than plain butter cookies and my kids will love them, but I wish I had added chai spice to the dough. It was a very easy recipe and whips up in no time.

  28. These cookies are amazing! They remind me of a cookie I used to get at a local bakery that is now closed. My mom would always buy them for me. These will definitely be added to my Christmas cookie trays. ❤️

  29. Wowohwow, these cookies are very special. Butter cookies are my mom’s favorite so I knew I had to make it! The almond extract turns it from a good cookie to an amazing cookie. The appearance of my cookies weren’t the best, but I know that will improve with some practice. I’ll definitely make some more for Christmas. Thanks Sally!

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