Classic Spritz Cookies

published Dec 3, 2021
Spritz Cookies Recipe

These old-fashioned spritz cookies only take 30 minutes to make.

Serves6 to 8

Prep15 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

This recipe is from our Cookie Time Machine — a trip through the most iconic cookies of the past 10 decades, paired with 10 fresh twists for right now. Click here to see the most important cookies of the 1920s through today — and gaze forward with our Cookie of the Future!

The 1950s are perhaps the decade with the most modern nostalgia attached to it — including the iconic spritz cookie. The mythology behind the decade is strong: It was a time when the nuclear family reigned, and kids rode their bikes unsupervised until sundown in safe suburbs with soda fountains and movie theaters. It’s a nice fantasy, but a fantasy it was.

Suburbs were a response to two decades of pent-up demand for housing, hampered by the Great Depression and the war, and the tiny cookie-cutter houses were rarely as great as television remembers them. Racial strife, McCarthyism, and other signs of growing authoritarianism also marked the decade. The reimposition of “traditional” family values postwar were a response to increased social and economic freedom for women while men were away at war. To keep the economy from collapsing under the weight of too much labor, women were forced to give up their jobs to returning GIs, and many of the social services designed to help women work, including government-sponsored childcare, ended with the war. 

But while the best parts of total war mobilization were ending, so were the worst parts. Sugar rationing was the last to end in 1947, and as American manufacturing rebuilt Europe, the economy boomed. Eager to put the privations of wartime behind them, Americans embraced food excesses — rich, fatty, sugary dishes larded with plenty of meat and carbs. And although the 1950s gave us some of America’s most influential gastronomes, it also gave us plenty of corporate admen determined to market convenience foods to bored housewives who dreamed of something more than being stuck in the kitchen all day. 

Returning GIs who had experienced food in Europe and the Pacific brought their tastes for new things home with them. “Polynesian” cuisine and tiki bars became popular, but interest in European cuisines, from French haute cuisine to peasant food, increased in popularity, too. Scandinavian smorgasbords, in particular, were served alongside the new Danish style modern furniture that graced many homes. When it came to Christmas, for the first time in nearly two decades, baking supplies were affordable and widely available. Scandinavian cookies, in particular, grew in popularity in circles outside of Scandinavian-Americans, and spritz were among the easiest and tastiest to make. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

Although popular in Scandinavia, the cookie may have originated in Germany, as the term “spritz” is similar to the German word “spritzen,” meaning “to squirt.” By the 20th century, however, spritz were popular throughout the Scandinavian countries, and perhaps the association with Germany was one Americans were eager to forget after the Second World War.

Also known as Wreath Cookies, S Cookies, and other similar names, spritz were composed almost entirely of butter, sugar, and refined white flour, representing a return to economic wealth and prosperity. And they also required special equipment. Cookie presses, which need a soft, delicate, butter-rich dough to work best, were invented in the 1930s and were gaining in popularity in the 1940s. Spritz were the ideal cookie to use the fashionable presses. The original design was simply a ridged rope of dough shaped into an S or O shape, but with American ingenuity, special designs were developed for the presses, including wreaths, stars, Christmas trees, and others (for bridge parties, shapes of the playing card suits — diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades — were especially popular). Some cookies were decorated with bits of candied fruit, colored sugar, or sprinkles, but the classic is served plain. 

This recipe is from Ann Pillsbury’s Baking Book, published in 1951. Like her more famous counterpart, Betty Crocker, Ann Pillsbury was a fictional home economist invented specifically to market Pillsbury flour. She “wrote” several cookbooks, gave advice, and asked for Pillsbury customers to submit their favorite recipes using Pillsbury flour. The cookie section of the Baking Book includes Christmas cookies from nations all over the world, but Scandinavia dominates.

The Modern Twist

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

For a modern take on Classic Spritz Cookies, check out the “Aperol Spritz” Spritz Cookies.

Our Three Most-Loved Cookie-Baking Tools

Before you preheat the oven, gear up with these cookie-making essentials.

  • The Sheet Pan Every Kitchn Editor Owns: This sturdy, won’t-ever-warp pan is great for cranking out a ton of picture-perfect sweets. Bonus: It comes in great colors, which makes baking even more fun.
  • Our Tried-and-Tested Favorite Cooling Rack: We love these racks for their criss-cross design, which adds stability, makes sure your precious treats won’t slip though, and prevents the rack from wobbling or warping.
  • The Little Spatula That Every Baker Needs: This thin-but-sturdy spatula is great for gently loosening your cookies from the pan and transferring them to the cooling rack. It’s particularly handy for moving small or delicate treats.

Spritz Cookies Recipe

These old-fashioned spritz cookies only take 30 minutes to make.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • Cooking spray or butter, for greasing the baking sheets

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    almond, lemon, or rum extract

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour


  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 400ºF. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray or butter.

  3. Beat the butter with the paddle attachment on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in 1/2 cup granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  4. Add 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 3/4 teaspoon extract of choice. Beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and beat on the lowest speed until just combined.

  5. Fill the cookie press with as much dough as will fit. Fit the press with a die. Press the dough directly onto the 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.

  6. Bake the cookies for 4 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the cookies are a pale golden-brown, 4 to 6 minutes more depending on the shape, removing any sheets of cookies that are ready first.

  7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely. Repeat pressing out and baking the remaining dough, letting the baking sheets cool completely and re-greasing the sheets between batches.

Recipe Notes

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.

Recipe adapted from Ann Pillsbury’s Baking Book, published in 1951.