How To Make Easy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies

updated Oct 4, 2020
christmas
How to Make Easy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies

Just like the cookies from the classic blue tin, these butter cookies are just sweet enough with a crisp, snappy bite and a sandy texture.

Makesabout 3 dozen cookies

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 14 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

It’s almost impossible to think of butter cookies without immediately thinking of that timeless blue tin. Anytime I went to my grandparents’ house around the holidays, I would make a beeline for their tin, fishing out the pretzel-shaped cookies coated with coarse granules of sugar. To me, butter cookies are pure nostalgia.

From the buttery flavor and barely golden edges to the snappy bite and sandy texture, these butter cookies are everything you’d expect from the tin — only better.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3 Tips for the Best-Ever Butter Cookies

1. Start with cold butter, and cream it on low speed. Starting with cold butter, rather than room-temperature butter, makes for a more firm, less sticky dough that’s easier to work with and roll. It also helps give the butter cookies the sandy texture we love so much. Because the cold butter will be hard from the fridge, start the mixer on low speed to break it up into pieces, then increase to medium.

2. Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. The most important part about rolling out the dough (which you’ll do between two pieces of parchment paper), is getting it to the right thickness. Don’t worry about forming a perfect rectangle — instead, focus on rolling to 1/4-inch thickness. If the dough is too thick, the cookies will be more soft than sandy and snappy; if it’s rolled too thin, the cookies run the risk of drying out.

3. Chill the rolled dough. Giving the dough plenty of time to chill before slicing it makes for cleaner edges. If you have space for a sheet pan in your freezer, chill them there —  it takes just 20 to 30 minutes. If not, chill the dough for at least one hour in the refrigerator.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Finish with Sanding, Sparkling, or Coarse Sugar

One of the hallmarks of a great butter cookie is the generous blanket of coarse sugar on top. Any type of coarse-grain sugar will work here, although I prefer sanding sugar, because it’s what you’ll find on the cookies in the blue tin.

Sparkling sugar is also nice and has a very similar coarseness, with a glittery shine. If your grocery store has a well-stocked baking aisle, you might find these sugars there, otherwise you can order online. Other coarse sugars, like demerara or turbinado, don’t have the same luster, but also work well and won’t melt in the oven.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
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Here's how to make easy, melt-in-your mouth butter cookies.

How to Make Easy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies

Just like the cookies from the classic blue tin, these butter cookies are just sweet enough with a crisp, snappy bite and a sandy texture.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 14 minutes

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks

    (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    large eggs, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    water

  • 1/4 cup

    sanding, sparkling, or coarse sugar

Equipment

  • Knife

  • Stand mixer or electric hand mixer

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Rubber spatula

  • Parchment paper

  • Rolling pin

  • Baking sheets

  • Whisk

  • Pastry brush

  • Cooling rack

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Cut 2 sticks cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use a large bowl and electric hand mixer.) Beat on low speed to break up the butter, then increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes.

  2. Add the egg and vanilla. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed until combined.

  3. Beat in the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and beat until just incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure the dough is evenly mixed.

  4. Roll and chill the dough. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a smooth rectangle. Lightly dust the rectangle with flour. Place between 2 sheets of parchment paper, then roll into a rough 9x12-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Place the dough, still in the parchment, on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 20 to 30 minutes, or refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Meanwhile, heat the oven and prepare the egg wash.

  5. Make the egg wash and heat the oven to 350ºF. Whisk the remaining 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350°F.

  6. Cut the cookies. Remove the top sheet of parchment from the dough. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 36 (1.5x2-inch) rectangles. Arrange the cookies 1-inch apart on 2 ungreased, unlined aluminum baking sheets (not nonstick), about 18 cookies per sheet.

  7. Finish the cookies with egg wash and sugar. Brush the top of the cookies with the egg wash and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sanding or coarse sugar.

  8. Bake the cookies 10 to 14 minutes. Bake the cookies until firm and lightly golden-brown, rotating the baking sheets between racks and from front to back halfway through, 10 to 14 minutes total.

  9. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.

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