This is the best recipe for traditional Italian Butter Cookies! These cookies are soft and flavorful, yet so easy and simple to make. Italian Butter Cookies are way better homemade, you’ll never buy them from a store or bakery again!
Whenever I see a platter of assorted butter cookies, my eyes light up. Being from an Italian family, these classic and traditional butter cookies are something we’ve had at the end of every holiday meal.
My only complaint is, many times those butter cookies are not always great. It really depends where you get them. Grocery stores tend to sell these cookies and usually the cookies are totally 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. Now that I’ve made these from scratch, I will never, ever buy store bought again.These cookies are supremely buttery and rich with vanilla. They’re on the softer side, but they are not chewy. The ‘star’ cookies can have sprinkles or a little chocolate center; they are the perfect little bite of deliciousness. But to be honest, I always b-line it straight for the sandwich ones.
Tangy, sweet jam holds the two cookies together. I like to use seedless raspberry for a little punch of fruit flavor. I used very good, high quality chocolate to dip the ends of the cookies. A tiny amount of colored sprinkles is just the thing to make these cookies stand out from the rest.
Homemade butter cookies are just absolutely divine. They are exactly how YOU WISH those store bought cookies tasted.
How to make traditional Italian butter cookies
These cookies are quite easy to make. This recipe requires just a couple of specialty items.
After mixing all of the ingredients, I stuffed the dough into the piping bag.
To create 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.
To create the star cookies, I simply held the piping bag vertically and squeezed dough out onto the tray. I like to decorate these ones with sprinkles. If you want to make chocolate 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. When you go to put chocolate on those later, it will have a nice little area to fill up.
Do not over bake these cookies
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.
If these cookies are over baked, they will become very dry and crumbly – exactly what we’re trying to avoid!
Assembling the sandwich cookies
After the cookies are fully cooled, 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 one I used a thick chocolate ganache in the middle.The chocolate versions were just as delicious, but definitely stick with the jam if you want to go that traditional, bakery style Italian cookie route.
Italian Butter Cookies
For the Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened at room temp)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 7 tsp milk
For Sandwich Cookies
- ¼ c seedless raspberry jam (if making jam sandwiches)
- 5-6 oz milk or dark chocolate
- rainbow sprinkles
- ¾ c chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- ¼ c 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.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix 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 thick buttercream. If you're dough is not this consistency 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.
- 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 jam sandwiches, spread a little less than ¼ tsp of jam 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 or 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.