Spritz cookies, sometimes called butter spritz or pressed butter cookies, are pretty, petite cookies with a tender, crisp crumb and a rich butter flavor. Spritz originates from the German word Spritzen, which literally means "to squirt." Although credit goes to the Germans for the invention of the cookie press, many other countries have shared in the holiday traditions of these cookies. Often, spritz cookie presses and recipes are passed down through generations. They are as simple to make as they are to eat, requiring only a few staple ingredients and a cookie press. Here's how to make them.
Upgrade Basic Spritz Cookies
These cookies are light, tender, and not too sweet — a relief from the avalanche of sugar during the holidays. I started with a standard butter cookie dough of flour, granulated sugar, and butter, but couldn't get the tender crispiness I was seeking from the spritz cookies. I read a few recipes that swapped some of the flour for other starches, which felt fussy for a simple cookie. Instead, swapping the granulated sugar with powdered sugar (which contains cornstarch) gave the cookies the melt-in-your-mouth texture I was looking for.
You can add extract, fresh herbs, or citrus zest of any kind to this dough. Adding a few drops of food coloring is a festive touch, as is sprinkling with sanding sugar or sugar sprinkles before baking. Neither of these are required, but they are easier than piping decorations on sugar cookies.
Tip: Be sure to press your spritz cookies onto unlined, regular (not nonstick) baking sheets. Parchment paper and nonstick coatings cause the cookies to spread as they bake.
The Best Spritz Cookie Press
The best cookie press is the one you've got. Whether it is a familiar heirloom or something you snagged for a steal at a yard sale, older and new cookie presses operate much the same. You choose a die (a type of stencil), attach that to the base, fill the chamber with dough, and press away onto a baking sheet. Modern presses use a trigger-style leaver to press the dough, which makes pressing slightly easier.
No matter the vintage of your press, work to press the cookies evenly onto the pan. Room-temperature dough is much easier to press and as you work the dough, it will soften too. Place the cookies close together on the baking sheets, as they won't spread much.
No cookie press? No problem: You can pipe this cookie dough into shapes as well. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe small rounds, swirls, or even batons for the cookie dough. It's still festive with no press stress.
How to Freeze Spritz Cookies
Freeze fully baked and cooled spritz cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container (a bag is not recommended, as it does not protect the cookies) and store for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature for 10 minutes, or reheat in a 275°F oven for 3 minutes.
How To Make Spritz Cookies
What You Need
2 1/2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Measuring cups and spoons
Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
Baking sheets — aluminum, not nonstick
- Heat the oven: Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350°F. Have 2 unlined, ungreased, preferably aluminum (not nonstick) baking sheets ready.
- Combine the flour and salt: Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar: Place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on low speed until combined, then beat on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla: Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and vanilla, return the mixer to medium speed, and beat until well-combined, about 1 minute.
- Fold in the flour mixture: Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add the flour mixture, return the mixer to low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Fill and use the cookie press: Fill the cookie press with as much dough as will fit. Fit the press with a die. Press the dough directly onto 2 baking sheets, spacing them as close together as the press will allow. Press only 1 shape per baking sheet, as different shapes (i.e., trees and wreaths) have different baking times. Refill the cookie press with more dough as needed.
- Bake the cookies: Bake the cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the cookies are a pale golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes more depending on the shape, removing any sheets of cookies that are ready first. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with pressing and baking the remaining dough, being sure to cool the baking sheets completely between batches.
- Storage: Baked spritz cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Freeze fully baked and cooled spritz cookies in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container (a bag is not recommended, as it does not protect the cookies) and store for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature for 10 minutes or reheat in a 275°F oven for 3 minutes.