Butter Cookies



Who doesn’t love the simple yet delightful taste of butter cookies? Whether it’s for a festive occasion, a tea-time treat, or a midnight snack, these cookies never fail to impress. But making the perfect butter cookie requires more than just mixing ingredients together. It’s about understanding each component, mastering the techniques, and adding your personal touch. Ready to bake some delicious butter cookies? Let’s dive into the full recipe with all the details you need to create the perfect batch every time.

Table of Contents

3Equipment Needed
4Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
5Tips for the Perfect Butter Cookies
6Variations and Add-Ins
7Storing and Freezing Tips
8Common Mistakes to Avoid
9Serving Suggestions
10Healthier Alternatives


The heart of any great recipe lies in its ingredients. For these butter cookies, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted Butter: 1 cup (2 sticks), softened
  • Granulated Sugar: 3/4 cup
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Egg Yolk: 1 large
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon
  • All-Purpose Flour: 2 cups
  • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon

Why These Ingredients?

Each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating the perfect butter cookie:

  • Butter: Provides the rich, creamy base. Make sure it’s unsalted and softened to room temperature for easy mixing.
  • Granulated and Confectioners’ Sugar: Granulated sugar gives structure, while confectioners’ sugar adds a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  • Egg Yolk: Adds richness and helps bind the dough.
  • Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Provides structure.
  • Salt: Balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavor.

Equipment Needed


Before you start, gather all the necessary equipment to streamline your baking process:

  • Mixing Bowls: One large and one medium.
  • Electric Mixer: Stand or hand mixer.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate measurements.
  • Spatula: For mixing and scraping the bowl.
  • Baking Sheets: Preferably non-stick or lined with parchment paper.
  • Cooling Rack: To cool the cookies after baking.
  • Cookie Cutter or Scoop: Depending on your desired shape and size.

Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions

1. Prepare Your Ingredients

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature.

2. Cream the Butter and Sugars

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. This should take about 3-4 minutes on medium speed.

3. Add Egg Yolk and Vanilla

Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract to the creamed mixture. Beat until well combined.

4. Combine Dry Ingredients


In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined. Avoid overmixing, as this can make the cookies tough.

5. Shape the Cookies

Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form the dough into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie. For a classic butter cookie look, you can press the balls down with a fork to create a crisscross pattern.

6. Bake

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. The centers should remain pale.

7. Cool

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tips for the Perfect Butter Cookies

1. Measure Accurately


Accurate measurements are key to baking success. Use the spoon and level method for measuring flour to avoid packing it down.

2. Use Quality Ingredients

High-quality butter and vanilla extract make a significant difference in flavor.

3. Don’t Overmix

Overmixing the dough can result in tough cookies. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.

4. Chill the Dough

If the dough is too soft, chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking. This helps the cookies maintain their shape.

5. Watch the Oven

Keep an eye on your cookies as they bake. Ovens can vary, and butter cookies can quickly go from perfect to overbaked.

Variations and Add-Ins

Butter cookies are incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas to switch things up:

1. Add Chocolate Chips

Mix in a cup of mini chocolate chips for a delightful twist.

2. Sprinkle with Sugar

Before baking, sprinkle the tops with colored sugar for a festive touch.

3. Dip in Chocolate

After the cookies have cooled, dip them halfway into melted chocolate and let them set on parchment paper.

4. Nuts and Spices

Add finely chopped nuts or a teaspoon of ground spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough for added flavor and texture.

Storing and Freezing Tips


Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They will stay fresh for up to a week.

Freezing the Dough

To freeze the dough, shape it into a log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in a freezer bag. The dough can be frozen for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking.

Freezing Baked Cookies

Once baked and cooled, place the cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to two months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Using Cold Butter

Cold butter won’t cream properly with the sugars, resulting in dense cookies. Always use softened butter.

2. Overbaking

Butter cookies should be lightly golden around the edges and pale in the center. Overbaking can make them hard.

3. Not Preheating the Oven

An oven that’s not preheated can cause cookies to spread too much. Always preheat your oven.

4. Incorrect Measurements

Too much flour can make the cookies dry, while too little can cause them to spread too much. Measure carefully.

Serving Suggestions

Butter cookies are delicious on their own, but here are some ways to serve them:

1. With Tea or Coffee

Butter cookies are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea or coffee.

2. Ice Cream Sandwiches

Sandwich a scoop of your favorite ice cream between two cookies for a delightful treat.

3. Holiday Platters

Include butter cookies on holiday cookie platters. They pair well with a variety of other cookies and treats.

4. Gift Giving

Pack them in decorative tins or boxes for a homemade gift that’s sure to impress.

Healthier Alternatives

While butter cookies are a treat, there are ways to make them a bit healthier:

1. Whole Wheat Flour

Substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for added fiber.

2. Reduced Sugar

Cut back on the sugar by a quarter without significantly affecting the taste.

3. Healthy Fats

Try using a mixture of butter and a healthier fat like coconut oil.

4. Natural Sweeteners

Use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup in place of some of the sugar.


1. Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted?

Yes, but reduce the added salt by half to avoid overly salty cookies.

2. Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Absolutely. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to three months.

3. Why did my cookies spread too much?

This can happen if the butter was too warm or if there was too little flour. Chilling the dough before baking can help.

4. Can I add other flavors to the dough?

Yes, you can add extracts like almond or lemon, or mix-ins like nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips.

5. How do I know when the cookies are done?

They should be lightly golden around the edges but still pale in the center. This usually takes 10-12 minutes at 350°F.


Baking butter cookies is a delightful experience that brings warmth and joy to any occasion. With this detailed recipe, you have all the information you need to bake the perfect butter cookies every time. Remember to follow the tips, experiment with variations, and most importantly, enjoy the process. Happy baking!


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