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. Delicate and delicious!

    1. So happy you loved these, Cora!

    2. Nayab Amjad says:

      Hi Sally! I want to make half the batch since. Do you recommend halving all the quantities?

  2. hannah Chinaka says:

    I had fun baking these cookies this morning with my two year old. She obviously was on board when cookies and sprinkles were in the same sentence. These cookies looked easy at first, but following your recipe step by step helped alot! I used the largest tip I had, which wasn’t too big so piping them was the hardest part. The outcome is amazing and soooo yummy! Thanks for this challenge!

    1. What a fun recipe to make with your daughter! Such sweet memories you are creating 🙂

  3. These were so easy and looked awesome! Although I chilled them for 50 minutes as I used 2T of milk, they still lost most of their shape in the oven. I also baked them for 15 minutes, but some were still too soft to dip in the chocolate. Nevertheless, I loved these, and I would definitely use this recipe again!!

    1. Hi Rachel! Make sure you are chilling the shaped cookies for at least 20-30 minutes, but remember if you added more milk you should chill for even longer! For you butter, it should still be cool to the touch – see my post on what room temperature butter really means!

  4. My cookies had little texture retained, this is due to smaller tip for piping… resulting all cookies being spread out. My daughter says it is very delicious so, four stars for taste so good

    1. Thanks for participating this month, Donna!

  5. Definitely got my workout in piping these cookies! Based on some other bakers changes, I omitted the milk and used two egg yolks instead of a whole egg and they held their shape wonderfully

    1. Thanks so much for participating this month, Stefanee!

  6. Great recipe! It was simple to follow. I love recipes with minimal ingredients as well. The hardest part was piping the cookies and my advice is don’t overload the piping bag! I had to refill mine a couple times. I chilled for a few hours and they lost a bit of their shape in the oven, but the flavor is awesome! They’re delicious and super nostalgic. ❤️

    1. Thanks so much for your positive feedback! Thrilled you enjoyed these, Allison 🙂

  7. Hi Sally, can these be made with a cookie press?

    1. Hi Mariana, For a cookie press I recommend my Spritz Cookies.

      1. Thank you for your response, I’ll let you know how they turn out! 🙂

  8. I’m looking forward to sharing these at a holiday party. These are beautiful and a simple recipe. Perfect to go with a cup of hot chocolate. My hands definitely got a work out with the piping. Well worth it.

    1. What a delicious and beautiful cookie to share at your holiday party! Hope they’re a hit! 🙂

  9. I included these in a large cookie tray for a work party and they were among the first to go! Thanks again for another delicious recipe, Sally!

    1. Love that! Thanks for your positive feedback, Karli 🙂

  10. I made a double batch of these cookies last night. They really do taste like the Danish cookies in the blue tin, but better! Brings back some nostalgic joys of childhood. My hands were so tired by the end. Mine didn’t spread and held their shape very well. Thanks for another fantastic recipe.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed these cookies, Sabrina! Thanks for your positive feedback 🙂

  11. Delicious! I couldn’t use the almond extract, but they tasted great with just the vanilla extract. I added cherries, chocolate, and sprinkles to the tops of some and I liked all variations.

    1. I’m so happy you loved these, Andrea! Thanks for participating this month 🙂

  12. These cookies turned out beautifully! The batter smelled wonderful, they were fun to pipe, and they look so professional dipped in chocolate! I make your recipes for nearly every family get-together, and my husband’s family said I should open my own bakery. You make me look good, Sally! Thank you!

    1. I absolutely loved reading your kind words, Amber! Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes, and for participating this month 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful holiday!

  13. Oh my goodness!!! I’m making my 3rd batch of these today! They are a new favorite! The texture and flavor are delightful! And dipped in chocolate and covered in Christmas sprinkles as you showed yours makes them look oh-so-beautiful! Thank you for yet another awesome recipe!

    1. LOVE reading this, Emily! So happy you enjoyed this recipe 🙂 Thanks for participating this month!

  14. A little frustrating to get the consistency right but oh so worth it! Thanks for the tip of starting with a small amount to make sure it’s pipe-able. Not overly sweet, perfect almond flavor, and just a little crisp. This recipe has definitely earned a spot in my Christmas cookie rotation!

    1. I’m so happy these will be part of your Christmas cookie rotation! Thanks for your positive feedback, Erin 🙂

  15. Delicious flavor but a bit finicky, I think. Made two batches, one with regular ShopRite (store brand) butter, and one with creamy 82% butter fat content butter.
    The batch with store brand butter spread a ton and lost most of its shape. Although still delicious and soft!
    The second batch with higher % of fat content turned out beautifully and retained its shape.
    Both had the same exact grams of ingredients and milk added. Both were baked from frozen.

    I would definitely recommend the cookies, but I would advise to use a higher fat content butter.

    1. Thanks so much for your positive feedback, Daniela!

  16. My cookies lost some of their shape in the oven but they still look pretty and festive. I used 1.5 tsp vanilla and no almond extract. I think I’ll use Mexican vanilla for a stronger flavor next time. Thanks Sally!

    1. Thanks for participating this month, Dana!

  17. I just made these tonight for the first time! It was my first time with butter cookies too! I had a really fun time piping the cookies. My only sadness was when I baked them they pretty much lost their shape!! I chilled them for 25 to 30 minutes, but they still went flat.

    1. Hi Abbey! Thanks for participating this month 🙂 Like all cookie dough does, the cookies spread in the oven since there’s so much butter in the dough. It’s normal! You can see mine spread quite a bit too. A lot of bakers are worried or disappointed but I don’t know why because they all look beautiful and are supposed to spread!

  18. Kaitlin Buchanan says:

    These cookies turned out great! They are such a fun and easy alternative to sugar cookies. I made them ahead of time and froze the shaped cookie dough. When it came time to make them, I just took them out of the freezer and put them directly in the oven. I only baked for a few extra minutes, and they turned out just as expected!

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Kaitlin! Thrilled you loved these cookies 🙂

  19. Vanessa Colon says:

    Buttery cookie deliciousness! Easy to make as well.

    1. Thanks so much, Vanessa!

  20. I think these cookies should be featured next to Monica Geller’s holiday candy, they really are ‘little drops of heaven’. Oh so delicious Sally, thank you!

    1. YAY! Thanks, Jen!

  21. If you’re looking for the perfect Butter cookie your search is over. This tastes just like the ones in the blue tin only without any crazy ingredients or preservatives. These are perfectly tender & buttery with a slight crisp. One of my favorite cookie recipes ever!
    Great challenge recipe to end the year.

    1. Love reading this, Susan! Thank you so much for your positive feedback 🙂

  22. The cookies were fun to make and tasted wonderful. Gave them as gifts to a seniors group and they loved them!
    Every one of your recipes I have made have been great. Thank you for sharing your recipes and tips. Looking forward to try new recipes next year.
    Wishing you and your family Happy Hoildays and Happy New Year!

    1. What a thoughtful gift to share! Thanks so much for baking and trusting my recipes, Kathy 🙂 Happy new year!

  23. Sally, this recipe was a great addition to my holiday baking. Your detailed instructions made it seem like you were there every step of the way cheering me on! In preparation for baking these cookies I finally ordered my first Ateco decorating tip, the 849, loved using it. The cookies have a beautiful balanced flavor with the vanilla and almond extracts, and the shortbread like texture made them SO delicious! I can’t wait to share this recipe with a friend who loves the butter cookies out of the tin, she may never buy another tin at Christmas again. Thank you, Sally! Happy Holidays!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Bonnie! Loved reading your review 🙂 I appreciate you participating this month!

  24. Love this recipe! I think this is one of my favorite cookie recipes to pipe! I find piping the cookies the most satisfying and relaxing experience! My two year old daughter loved watching!

    1. I bet she did!! So fun to make these with a little assistant 🙂

  25. I loved making this recipe!! I thought I had a big enough piping tip, but turned out I had I think a tip below what was required. They were still very pretty coming out of the oven even though they spread a bit. I felt I made them a touch thin, but I think it can be remedied with a bigger pipping tip! No worries, I’ll make this recipe again!!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe, Ashley!

  26. TIFFANY DISHONG says:

    Butter cookies were my dad’s favorite so making these were more to me than just the looks or the taste. The way they made me feel while I made them, and the memories they brought back were everything to me. Thank you Sally for giving me just a little more than just a recipe this time. ❤

    1. What sweet memories, Tiffany! Thank you so much for sharing with me 🙂

  27. I could not believe how much these taste like the ones from the tin! Perfect recipe! Must get myself a bigger tip though—the Wilton 1M was a bit challenging.

    1. So happy you loved these, Jen! Thanks for participating this month 🙂

  28. Joanne Ouellet says:

    These cookies are so yummy and pretty! I asked my husband if he liked them and he said, “I need to try some more!”
    I should’ve added the almond extract but still delicious with extra vanilla. Next time will have to do that. Thanks for sharing your insight and helpful notes for a successful recipe!

    1. Too funny! Thanks so much for participating this month, Joanne 🙂

  29. Definite keeper. So easy.

    1. Thrilled you loved these cookies, Karen!

  30. Absolutely wonderful recipe! Cookies turned out flavorful and with the perfect bite to them, a crisp with soft melt-in-your-mouth middle. This is my first time making butter cookies and it was a very simple easy to follow recipe. I ended up using the 1M piping tip and it was a bit difficult to squeeze out, so i’d definitely say using a larger tip would be a good idea. Going to be using this recipe again soon!

    1. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe, Tonie! Enjoy!

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