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French Butter Cookies (aka, Sable Cookies) may be the simplest yet most exquisite cookie to ever exist. These cookies are buttery and crisp, with just the right amount of sweetness and a touch of vanilla bean. These are the best French cookies and are so easy to make at home.
When I think of baked goods from France, I think of croissants, soufflé, macarons and mille-feuille. Hence, I don’t often turn to a lot of French baking because that all sounds really hard to make (maybe one day I’ll find the patience!)
However! These French Butter Cookies snuck their way into my recipe-idea book and I just couldn’t shake it. The ingredient list is short and they seemed easy enough.
I was skeptical of how amazing these cookies could be. I already have a recipe for soft butter cookies, and if you’ve read that post, you know I’m not a huge fan of crunchy cookies.
Spoiler alert: I made an exception for these.
These cookies...oh my goodness, THESE FRENCH COOKIES, may be the best butter cookie I’ve tasted. The crunchy, sandy texture totally works and the added sparkling sugar gives it even more texture.
These cookies are far from being dry; they are just the right amount of buttery and crumbly. I’ve truly turned around my attitude and opinion about crumbly cookies.
About French Butter Cookies
I had a hard time naming these cookies. I call them French Butter Cookies, but it can be interchangeably used with Sablé (pronounced sa-blay). Sablé in French translates to “sandy”, which appropriately matches the texture of these wonderful cookies.
Through my research, I found that some folks may also call them Sablés Breton (Breton meaning, they’re from the Brittany region in France – famous for their butter). However, the recipe for Sablés Breton typically contains more eggs and have a different texture.
The Best French Butter Cookies (Sablé Cookies)
This recipe is inspired from one of my most beautiful baking cookbooks I own, Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber. This book literally has every French pastry recipe you’d ever need and makes it quite approachable too. I’m working my way through it one dessert at a time.
The flavor of these cookies shines, despite a limited ingredient list.
To make this French Butter cookie recipe, you’ll need…
- Vanilla Bean paste (or a vanilla bean, but I always keep a jar of VB paste in my pantry)
- Ideally, high quality unsalted butter (look for European butter or even grass-fed butter), but any kind of butter will do!
- Granulated sugar
- Egg yolks
- All purpose flour
- Sparkling sugar (optional, but REALLY makes these cookies extra special)
Because the ingredient list is so small, I highly recommend taking the time to source high quality butter, and make sure you do not skip on the vanilla bean!
Additionally, you’ll need some time to make these cookies. They need to be chilled well before baking. I made my dough the night before and baked them off the next day.
Just like pastry, the texture depends on baking these cookies cold.
My top tips
Before chilling the dough, I roll it out on a cutting board or mat first. It's a lot easier to do it that way, than chilling first and then rolling. Because there is so much butter in these cookies, the dough becomes very stiff and it will be way too hard to roll out when cold.
For great French Butter cookies: roll, chill, cut and bake.
I really like using a round cookie cutter for these, but you can use any kind you wish.
I purchased these biscuit cutters on Amazon to create different sized circles for this recipe. They worked great!! Who knew plain ol' round cookies could look so pretty??
Normally when I make rolled cookies, I reuse the dough a couple of times.
I did not do that for these cookies. To maintain the integrity of the texture, I only rolled and cut the dough once.
But Liz, what do we do with the leftover dough??
Break it up and bake it off! No need to waste anything here!
I baked the cookies longer than I normally do for this type of cookie. Usually, I would pull the tray out once they turn light golden brown on the edges. Here, I waited until the edges were more of a medium brown. This created a deeper, richer, buttery flavor.
These make a great pairing with a cup of tea and make an excellent holiday cookie! I’m looking forward to making these for Christmas.
I can’t wait for you to give these cookies a try. My husband and I had no problem eating our way through the entire batch.Print
- In a large bowl, mix the butter and vanilla bean seeds/paste using a hand mixer until smooth and fully incorporated.
- Add the sugar and salt and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks and mix until fully combined.
- Add in the sifted flour all at once; change the speed setting to low and mix until the dough is crumbly and the flour is just absorbed. Note that this dough does not come together in a ball; it will be on the dry side and crumbly.
- Place a large piece of parchment onto a cookie sheet. Dump the dough out onto the parchment. Using your hands, gently start to press the dough into large, flat layer.
- Add another piece of parchment on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to about a ¼" thick. Place the entire sheet into the freezer. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
- Once time is up, preheat the oven to 325°.
- Cut the cookies into desired shapes (I like to use biscuit cutters) and place onto another tray lined with parchment.
- Sprinkle with sparkling sugar if desired.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the tray and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the edges are medium golden brown. Any lighter and the cookie may not be fully crisp all the way through.
- Remove the tray and immediately transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container for 4-5 days or freeze up to 2 months.
Recipe inspired by: Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber.
Made by: Owlbbaking.com.
Re-rolling the dough is not recommended. Bake off the scraps in pieces for snacking later!!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Cuisine: French