Making Christmas butter cookies is a rite of passage that helps usher in smiles and spread holiday cheer. Decorating Christmas cookies with my mom is one of my fondest holiday memories and these yummy little butter cookies give me flashbacks.
Cookies are the perfect little treat for that holiday sweet tooth, cookie exchanges and just plain ‘I love you’ gifts! These little babies have a 20-minute prep time and a deep rich buttery flavor that makes you go Mmmm! These Christmas butter cookies are insanely delicious.
Hold on to your holiday hat, my friends! It’s time to bake some cookies.
I love that this Christmas butter cookies recipe is so totally easy to throw together and it produces the best little butter cookies this side of the Mississippi! You can cut little Christmas cookie shapes that will hold in the oven – perfect for decorating, sampling, sharing and exchanging. Here are even more reasons to love them.
- Rich sweet buttery cookie flavor
- Holds their shape in the oven
- Wholesome decorating and sampling fun
- Great for gift giving and cookie exchanges
- Easy throw together recipe
Making soft butter cookies that hold their little Christmas shape isn’t as hard as some portray. All you need is the right recipe and a few kitchen staples in the right proportions. Of course, a couple of little tips and tricks never hurts so here they are!
First, take your time during the creaming process. You’ll want your mixture to be smooth and fluffy because you’ll be adding the flour gradually. Adding flour all at once will give you a really thick batter that will likely result in overmixing.
Second, don’t skip the chilling process! It is so important to the integrity of your Christmas butter cookies recipe. You can see some great detail about what happens to cookie dough in the fridge and how it affects your recipe from King Arthur Flour.
Serving up Christmas butter cookies with sprinkles is so much fun and there’s really nothing to it. The best part is that you can do it with just a few kitchen staples you probably already have. Here’s wactha’ need to know!
Butter – I like to use genuine butter for this recipe, but margarine will work too. Ensure that your butter is the right temperature when you get started.
It should be soft and spreadable but still, hold its shape. Cutting the butter into half-inch pieces will help it reach room temperature faster if it’s cold.
Sugar – This recipe calls for powdered sugar rather than granulated. I like to ensure it’s sifted and free of clumps. Creaming the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy will give you a light crisp cookie.
Salt – Adding this small amount of salt to this recipe enhances sweetness and intensifies that rich buttery flavor.
Flour – All-purpose flour is ideal for this recipe. You’ve already added everything else you need for the perfect little cookies.
Orange – You’ll only need a small amount of orange zest, but it makes a huge difference. Just make sure it’s finely grated as small as possible.
Storing these little Christmas butter cookies couldn’t be easier! They keep well in an airtight container with a secure lid. I like to store a piece of bread with my cookies to absorb excess moisture. Depending on your decorating job (if you need to protect it), you may want to use wax paper in between layers.
Can You Freeze This?
You sure can! The Christmas butter cookies dough freezes really well. I like to cut the little cookie shapes and stick them into the freezer to harden.
Then I can store the pre-cut Christmas butter cookies recipe and have cookies that are ready to pull out of the freezer when I’m ready to bake! The baked cooled cookies freeze fine but they’re better fresh out of the oven.
Make Ahead Tips
This yummy Christmas butter cookies recipe only takes a few minutes to throw together so there’s not a ton you can do ahead of time. The baked cooled cookies will keep for several days when store properly so you can always make them ahead and have a decorating party.
Of course, you can always go the freezer route. If you freeze the discs, you’ll need to slow thaw it in the fridge and then let it sit out for 20 minutes before rolling and cutting the dough.
How Long Can You Keep This?
If you can hide these little guys and you’re not giving them out as gifts, they’ll stay fresh and yummy for up to 2-weeks on the counter. If they’re sitting on the counter, they’ll never last that long but the frozen cookie dough will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.
This is an amazing Christmas cookie recipe and there are lots of different things you can do to tweak it. You do have to be careful, though, it is a little finicky. Here are a few simple suggestions.
Can I Add Pecans?
I suppose you could add pecans to your Christmas butter cookies recipe, but it may dry out the dough too much. This is more of a Christmas cookie dough meant for cutting out shapes and decorating.
Can I Use Almonds Instead?
Sure, you can but you could also make almond crescent cookies instead. Christmas butter cookies kinda’ define the season but if almond shortbread cookies are more your style, I completely understand. They’re definitely worth your time.
Can I Make This Recipe More Italian?
Italian butter cookies are some of the richest and decadent Christmas butter cookies you’ll come across. Viva Italia! Little Italian Christmas cookies have a slightly different recipe and they’re not decorated but you can always add fruit to make Italian fig cookies for a special treat.
What Other Butter Cookies Can I Bake?
There’s just something magical about that deep rich buttery sweetness that grabs hold of me which is one reason I love these Christmas butter cookies!
When I need a little variety sometimes, I’ll make Danish butter cookies or even butter crunch cookies. If I need something quick, then its 3 ingredient butter cookies to the rescue.
What Other Christmas Cookies Can I Bake?
These Christmas butter cookies are like the epitome of holiday fun and sweet buttery flavor colliding. They may just inspire you to bake some other cookies or perhaps you’d rather just bake something that’s not frosted. If that’s the case, you can run with spritz cookies or Biscoff cookies.
For the all-time simple cookie recipe that is totally Ah-ma-zing, you can try making Christmas crack. It’s so easy you could probably toss it together while you’re baking other cookies!
Christmas Butter Cookies
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 1/2- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- jimmies, sprinkles, colored sugar
Make the Cookies:
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium, beat together confectioners' sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, vanilla, and orange zest until mixture is smooth. Gradually add flour and mix until dough is smooth.
- Divide the dough in half. Shape each piece into a flattened disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Before rolling out the dough, let it sit out of the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, until it feels soft enough to roll.
- Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets 1 inch apart and bake in preheated oven 12-14 minutes, or centers no longer look raw. Cookies will not brown. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheets then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the Icing:
- Combine the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, and 1 1/2 tablespoon of milk until smooth. If necessary, add more milk, very slowly, until you achieve a thick, spreadable consistency.
- Spread each cookie with icing and decorate with jimmies, sprinkles, or colored sugar. Let the icing harden completely before storing.
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There are so many different types of Christmas cookies you can bake up, there’s a flavor for everyone but its hard to beat these divinely inspired Christmas butter cookies.
If you’re doing a cookie exchange, hosting a get-together or giving cookie gifts you may need more Christmas cookies recipes. So, here are a few good ones.
- Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies – Everything you love about spritz cookies with a rich creamy flavor!
- Vanillekipferl – Little crescent shaped cookie biscuits covered in powdered sugar.
- Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies – A unique and tasty medley of layered flavors on a yummy shortbread cookie crust.
- Danish Wedding Cookies – The crunchy buttery powdered sugary lovechild of spiced cinnamon cookies and pecan cookie treats.
- Polar Bear Paws Candy – Crunchy peanuts, sweet caramel and creamy white chocolate – oh my!
My conclusion is that you have got to try this Christmas butter cookies recipe, whether you’ve got young’ uns or not. These things are so rich and buttery delicious with just the right amount of crumble crunch in all the right places.
Decorate them, don’t decorate them – just bake ‘em! These little babies are a Christmas staple in my kitchen and I just know you’re gonna’ love them too. I can’t wait to hear what you think of these.