Cakes and DessertsDrinks and Desserts

Easy Soft Butter Cookies Recipe With 3 Variatons & Tips

Who doesn’t love a cookie that practically melts in your mouth? Butter cookies, with their simple yet irresistible charm, have been a favorite in my recipe box for over 50 years. In fact, among the zillion cookie recipes I’ve tried, this one remains the most requested by friends and family, especially around the Holidays.


Butter Cookies

What makes these butter cookies so special? It’s the perfect marriage of real butter and pure vanilla, two key ingredients that elevate any baked goods to AWESOME levels. The result is a rich, flavorful cookie that somehow tastes even better the day after. While they keep well for several days in an airtight container, I’ve rarely seen a batch last that long!

A little secret: These cookies are incredibly versatile. While they’re wonderful on their own, they truly shine as cut out cookies. With a few various cutouts for different holidays, you can transform these simple treats into festive masterpieces. And for those who prefer a little extra sweetness, a simple buttercream frosting takes them to the next level. But honestly, even without the frosted embellishment, these cookies are simply the best.

These Butter Cookies Are:

  • Mega Flavorful: The combination of almond and vanilla extracts creates a symphony of flavors that’s both comforting and sophisticated.
  • Super Buttery: These aren’t your average cookies. We’re talking rich, buttery goodness in every bite.
  • Soft, Like Snowball Cookies: The texture is incredibly tender, practically melting in your mouth.
  • Crisp on the Edges: While soft in the center, these cookies boast a delightful crispness around the edges.
  • Piped to Perfection: Using a piping tip, you can create beautiful swirls and shapes, reminiscent of meringue cookies.
  • Quick and Easy: From start to finish, you can have these cookies ready in about 30 minutes, not including chill time.
  • Extra Festive with Decorations: Add a touch of holiday cheer with chocolate drizzle, candied cherries, or festive sprinkles.

Nutrition (Per Cookie)

Calories127 kcal
Carbohydrates1 g
Protein13 g
Fat8 g
Saturated Fat5 g
Cholesterol20 mg
Sodium3 mg
Potassium9 mg
Fiber0.4 g
Sugar6 g
Vitamin A126 IU
Calcium3 mg
Iron0.4 mg

Butter Cookies Recipe

Recipe by Whisk and NibbleCourse: DessertCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time


Calories Per Cookie (without frosting)


Total time



These melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies are a classic holiday favorite. Made with simple ingredients and easy to customize, they’re perfect for gifting or enjoying with a warm cup of coffee.


  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter, softened

  • 3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • For the Butter Icing (Optional):
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 56g) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 2 cups (240g) powdered sugar

  • For Decorating (Optional):
  • Melted chocolate

  • Sprinkles

  • Maraschino cherries

  • Coarse sugar


  • Get Started: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set this aside for now.
  • Make it Creamy: Grab your electric mixer and a large bowl. Beat the softened butter and powdered sugar together on low speed. Once the sugar is mixed in, crank up the speed to medium and keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Flavor it Up: Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts until just combined.
  • Mix it Up: Now it’s time to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed just until everything is incorporated. Don’t overdo it, or your cookies might turn out tough.
  • Shape and Bake: Divide the dough into three equal parts. Take one portion and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Place the cutouts on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them according to your recipe instructions.


  • For best results, use high-quality butter and pure vanilla extract.
  • Don’t overmix the dough, as this can lead to tough cookies.
  • Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling and cutting.
  • Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden on the edges but still pale in the center.
  • Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet before frosting or decorating.

Tips for Perfect Butter Cookies

  • Don’t overbake! These cookies should be very light in color on top and only very lightly browned on the bottom.
  • Cool completely before removing from the cookie sheets. They are delicate when warm and will break easily.
  • Make them a day ahead of serving. The flavor improves with each passing day.

READ: Nutella Muffins

The Secret to Melt-in-Your-Mouth Soft Butter Cookies

The key to achieving that melt-in-your-mouth texture lies in the balance of ingredients and baking time. Here’s the secret:

  • Use high-quality butter: The higher the fat content in your butter, the more tender your cookies will be. European-style butter with a higher fat percentage is an excellent choice.
  • Don’t overbake: Keep a close eye on your cookies as they bake. They should be just set around the edges and still look a bit underdone in the center. This will ensure they remain soft and tender.
  • Chill the dough: Chilling the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling and cutting helps prevent the butter from melting too quickly in the oven, leading to a more controlled spread and softer texture.
  • Powdered sugar, not granulated: Powdered sugar creates a finer, more delicate crumb compared to granulated sugar.

With these simple tips, you can transform your butter cookies into delicate morsels that practically dissolve on your tongue.

Making the Butter Icing

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Stir in the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the second tablespoon of milk and continue beating until you reach a perfect spreading consistency. The icing should be satiny smooth and easily spreadable with a spoon. If it’s too thick, add a tiny bit more milk (about 1 teaspoon at a time). If it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.
  3. Frost and decorate your cookies. Allow the frosting to set completely before storing. Store any frosted cookies between layers of wax paper in an airtight container.

3 Butter Cookie Varieties!

You don’t have to limit yourself to just one type of cookie. With this single batch of dough, you can easily create three delightful variations:

  1. Chocolate Dipped: Dip half of each baked cookie in melted chocolate, then sprinkle with colorful sprinkles.
  2. Cherry Blossoms: Before baking, press a maraschino cherry into the center of each cookie.
  3. Sparkling Sugar: Before baking, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with coarse sugar for a festive sparkle.

3-Ingredient Butter Cookies (Simplified Version)

For those days when you crave a simple yet satisfying treat, this 3-ingredient variation is a lifesaver. All you need is:

3 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour


  1. Beat the softened butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined.
  3. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out desired shapes.
  5. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.

These 3-ingredient butter cookies might be simple, but they’re still incredibly delicious. They’re perfect for a quick baking project or when you’re short on ingredients.

READ: Soft Apple and Salted Caramel Cookies

Can You Freeze Butter Cookies?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze these butter cookies up to 3 months! They actually freeze beautifully and are a great make-ahead treat, perfect for holiday baking or whenever you crave a sweet treat.

Here’s how to freeze your butter cookie creations:

  1. Cool Completely: Ensure the cookies are completely cool before freezing. Any warmth will lead to unwanted moisture and ice crystals.
  2. Flash Freeze: Arrange the cooled cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about an hour. This initial freeze helps prevent the cookies from sticking together when stored.
  3. Package for Long-Term Storage: Once frozen solid, transfer the cookies to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. You can layer them with parchment paper to keep them from sticking together.
  4. Enjoy for Months: Properly stored, frozen butter cookies can maintain their delicious flavor and texture for up to 3 months.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Dough too dry: If your dough is too dry and crumbly, add a teaspoon of milk at a time until it comes together.
  • Dough too sticky: If your dough is too sticky, chill it for an additional 15-30 minutes before rolling.
  • Cookies spreading too much: Make sure your butter is properly softened, not melted. Also, avoid overmixing the dough.
  • Cookies too brown: Check your oven temperature and reduce it if necessary.
  • Cookies not holding shape: Make sure your dough is chilled enough before cutting.

Serving Suggestions

  • Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee: Butter cookies pair perfectly with a warm beverage.
  • Drizzle with melted chocolate: For an extra decadent treat, drizzle the cooled cookies with melted chocolate.
  • Sandwich with buttercream frosting: Make cookie sandwiches by spreading buttercream frosting between two cookies.
  • Gift them: Butter cookies make a thoughtful homemade gift for friends and family. They’re perfect for holidays like Eid and Christmas or any special occasion.
  • Festive Platters: Arrange an assortment of butter cookies on a platter for a beautiful and delicious centerpiece at your holiday gathering.

Alternative Flours

  • Whole Wheat Flour: Replace up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for a nuttier flavor and added fiber.
  • Gluten-Free Flour Blend: Use a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend to make these cookies gluten-free.

Butter Cookies and Your Health: A Balanced Perspective

While butter cookies are undeniably a delicious treat, it’s important to be mindful of their nutritional content. They are primarily a source of carbohydrates and fats, with moderate amounts of sugar. However, using high-quality ingredients like real butter and pure vanilla extract can offer some potential benefits:

  • Energy Boost: The carbohydrates in butter cookies provide a quick source of energy, making them a satisfying snack.
  • Mood Enhancement: The combination of butter and sugar can trigger the release of endorphins, which can promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Read here about this study by StudyX.
  • Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Butter is a source of vitamins A, D, E, and K2, as well as minerals like calcium and phosphorus. While the amounts in butter cookies are small, they can still contribute to your daily intake.

However, it’s important to enjoy butter cookies in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Consider using whole wheat flour for added fiber or incorporating nuts and seeds for additional nutrients and healthy fats.

As always, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice on incorporating butter cookies into your diet.

READ: Easy Small Batch Banana Muffins


Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a novice in the kitchen, these butter cookies are sure to become a cherished part of your recipe repertoire. Their versatility, melt-in-your-mouth texture, and irresistible buttery flavor make them a classic treat that’s perfect for any occasion. So go ahead, indulge in the simple pleasure of a homemade butter cookie – you won’t regret it!


Frequently Asked Questions for Butter Cookies

What is the most popular cookie at Christmas?

While butter cookies are undeniably delicious, several other contenders vie for the title of most popular Christmas cookie. Some of the top favorites include:

  1. Iced Sugar Cookies
  2. Snowball Cookies
  3. Peanut Butter Cookies
  4. Snickerdoodle Cookies
  5. Gingerbread Cookies

What is the difference between a butter cookie and a shortbread cookie?

Both butter cookies and shortbread cookies are rich and buttery, but they differ in their ratios of ingredients. Butter cookies have a higher proportion of butter to flour, resulting in a softer, more tender texture. Shortbread cookies, on the other hand, have a higher amount of flour and sugar, which allows them to hold their shape more effectively and creates a crumblier, more delicate texture.

Why are they called butter cookies?

Butter cookies, also known as Danish butter cookies, originated in Denmark and are named for their main ingredient: butter. They are made with a simple mixture of butter, flour, and sugar, similar to shortbread cookies. However, the higher proportion of butter gives them a distinct rich flavor and crisp cookie texture.

What is the original Christmas cookie?

Modern Christmas cookies trace their history back to recipes from Medieval Europe. Biscuits, the predecessors to modern cookies, were flavored with spices like cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper, as well as ingredients like almonds and dried fruit that were introduced to the West during the Middle Ages.

What’s the difference between butter cookies, shortbread cookies, and sugar cookies?

Butter cookies, shortbread cookies, and sugar cookies all have different amounts of butter, sugar, and flour. Shortbread cookies have the highest ratio of butter to flour, giving them a crumbly texture that’s somewhat brittle. Butter cookies are sturdier and don’t break apart as easily, making them ideal for packaging and gifting. Sugar cookies have the lowest butter to flour ratio, resulting in a dough that can be rolled flat and cut into various shapes using cookie cutters, making them perfect for decorating with icing during the holidays.

How long do these Christmas cookies last?

These butter cookies taste best within a week of baking. To keep them fresh, store them in an airtight container after they have cooled completely. Be sure to cool the cookies completely before placing them in the container to avoid trapped humidity, which can make them soggy.

Whisk and Nibble

Whisk & Nibble is a blog devoted to all things related to food - from sharing recipes for meals and drinks to highlighting the latest dessert trends and culinary lifestyle content. Visitors can find ideas and inspiration for all eating occasions while enjoying engaging writing about food culture. Whisk & Nibble aims to bring readers together over the shared joy of cooking and dining.

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