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This is absolutely the best recipe for authentic Italian Butter Cookies you'll come across! Just like an Italian bakery, but better. These cookies are soft, flavorful and full of rich, buttery goodness. They are super easy and simple to make, you’ll never buy them from a store or the bakery again.
Whenever I see a platter of assorted Italian Butter Cookies, my eyes light up. Being from an Italian family, these classic butter cookies are something we have at the end of every holiday meal. It's tradition!
My complaint with Italian Butter Cookies
Italian Butter Cookies are probably the most delicious of all the Italian cookies. But, that deliciousness really depends where you get them from.
Grocery stores and Italian bakeries sell these cookies during the holiday season, but they are usually unpleasantly dry all the way through.
They are often crumbly, sandy and flavorless (it’s evident they don’t use real butter in those). My husband would argue that they're good for dunking in tea, but that's another story.
After making my own Soft Butter Cookies, I realized that I absolutely needed a homemade version of these classic Italian sandwich & (what I call) star cookies to add to my Italian recipes.
Now that I’ve made these from scratch, I will never, ever buy store bought again.
Italian Butter Cookies
These delicious Italian cookies are supremely buttery and rich with vanilla extract. They’re on the softer side, but they are not chewy. They simply melt in your mouth!
Since the ingredient list for these cookies is small, it's important to use high quality ingredients. I prefer to use unsalted butter for this recipe, and European / Italian butter for extra flavor.
The simple buttery flavor pairs so well with tangy raspberry jam and rich dark chocolate.
Sounds yummy, right? They are the perfect little bite of deliciousness. But to be honest, I always b-line it straight for the sandwich version.
For Bakery Style Butter Cookies
I've prepared these cookies in a few different ways. Both methods of forming the cookies include using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip attachment.
The sandwich cookies are held together by a layer of zingy, but sweet seedless raspberry jam.
This is the most common pairing but you can also sandwich these with chocolate ganache if you're not in the mood for a jam-filled center.
For the ‘star’ cookies, I piped the dough out on a baking sheet then added some rainbow sprinkles before baking. For others, I created a little divot to hold the ganache.
I used very good, high- quality melted chocolate to dip the ends of the cookies.
A pinch of colored sprinkles is just the thing to make these cookies stand out from the rest.
Powdered sugar could also be a good addition, though not traditional.
Homemade butter cookies are just absolutely divine. They are exactly how YOU WISH those store bought cookies tasted.
How to make this authentic Italian Butter Cookie recipe
These cookies are quite easy to make. This recipe requires just a couple of specialty items.
To make the sandwich cookies, I piped 2” long strips onto a tray lined with parchment paper. The ends do not come off cleanly when the dough is released from the pastry bag, so I used a sharp knife to create a straight line on both ends.
For the star cookies, I simply held the piping bag vertically and squeezed dough out onto the parchment paper.
If you want to make chocolate-filled star cookies, you can use the back of a ¼ teaspoon dipped in flour to form a tiny well in the center of the cookie before baking.
When you go to put chocolate on those later, it will have a nice little area to fill up.
Do not overbake
You’ll need to keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t get too brown. I baked them for about 11 minutes to achieve a very soft, light golden brown on the edge. That way, they stay nice and soft.
The key is to take them out when they're lightly golden, if they bake too long they won't have the right bakery style texture. Overbaking will cause them to become very dry and crumbly – exactly what we’re trying to avoid!
Assembling the sandwich cookies
After the cookies cool completely on a wire rack, spread a tiny, tiny amount of jam on one of the cookies.
I promise you don’t need as much jam as you think. I used a little less than ¼ of a teaspoon of jam for each sandwich. You don’t want it to run down the sides of the cookies.
Once all of my sandwiches were made, I dipped one side of the cookies in melted chocolate and used a tiny amount of rainbow sprinkles. You cannot skip the chocolate!
Now, I did also make a non-jam, all chocolate version of these cookies for anyone that isn’t a fan of that raspberry & chocolate combination.
For that version, I used a thick ganache in the middle. They would also be amazingly delicious completely dipped in chocolate!
The chocolate versions were just as mouth-watering, but definitely stick with the jam if you want to go with that traditional, bakery style soft Italian butter cookie route that most are such a fan of.
You’re going to love this recipe!
These cookies are such a treat to have for special occasions and holidays. You'll want to make a double batch!
Make sure you store any leftovers in an airtight container once completely cooled so they stay fresh.
For more ideas and holiday baking inspo, try my butter cookies recipe. It is sure to be another delight at the table this holiday season.
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For the Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened at room temp)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoon milk + 1 teaspoon (or 7 tsp)
For Sandwich Cookies (if making jam sandwiches)
- ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam
- 6 oz milk or dark chocolate
- rainbow sprinkles
Chocolate Ganache (if making chocolate sandwiches/center of 'star' cookies)
- ¾ cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie trays with parchment.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar & salt until light and fluffy using a hand mixer.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until well combined.
- Measure in the flour and mix until large crumbles form. Add in the milk and mix well. The dough should NOT form a ball. It should be sticky and have the consistency of very thick buttercream. If you stick your spatula in the dough and pull it out, some of the batter should stick - that's perfect! If you're dough is not sticking enough after adding all of the milk, you can add a bit more but avoid using too much as this can cause the cookies to spread and lose their shape.
- Transfer the dough to a extra large, heavy duty piping bag fitted with a large open star tip.
- For sandwich cookies, pipe the dough into 2" strips leaving 1 ½ inches between each cookie. Use a sharp knife to trim the edges to make a clean edge.
To make star cookies, hold the piping bag vertically and squeeze until your star shape is about 1 inch in diameter.
- *For star cookies, before baking, decorate with sprinkles if desired. Or, if you plan on filling them with chocolate, use a ¼ teaspoon that is floured to create a divot or well in the center of the cookie.
- Bake cookies in the oven until light golden brown on the edges, about 10 - 13 minutes.
- Transfer to a baking rack to cool completely, you can also allow to fully cool on baking sheet.
To Make Sandwiches
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second intervals (stirring well in between each) until fully melted and smooth.
- For sandwiches, spread a little less than ¼ teaspoon of jam or ganache onto one side of the cookie. Sandwich together.
- Dip one end of the sandwich cookie in melted chocolate and lay on a rack. Add sprinkles and allow the chocolate to set at room temperature.
To Make the Ganache (can be used for sandwich cookies or as the center of the star cookies)
- In a large glass bowl, microwave the cream for about 30 seconds or until hot and almost simmering.
- Add in the chopped chocolate/chocolate chips. Allow the chocolate to sit in the cream for 3-4 minutes.
- Once the mixture had time to rest, stir the cream and chocolate together. The chocolate should be melted into the cream but feel free to pop the bowl back in the microwave for a few more seconds if needed.
- Allow the ganache to cool back down for a few minutes.
- Spread between the sandwiches or pipe the ganache into the wells of the star cookies.
- It's best for these to set in the fridge to firm up.
Recipe by Owlbbaking.com
*These cookies freeze really well! Freeze plain cookies and sandwich with jam before serving. Otherwise, best served within 4-5 days.
*Almond extract can be used in place of vanilla.
*Other great toppings on the melted chocolate include shredded coconut, chopped pistachios or chopped almonds.
- Prep Time: 50
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Cookies
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Italian Butter Cookies, Bakery cookies, sandwich cookies, sprinkle butter cookies, bakery style, Italian bakery