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These Soft Butter Cookies are delicate, tender and are melt in your mouth buttery! These cookies have a classic swirl design that is impressive and so easy to make at home! This is the best, soft butter cookie recipe.
*this post was updated on 3/3/20*
You know those beautiful, swirly butter cookies in the blue tin? They are just so pretty and seriously, who doesn't love a classic butter cookie?! They are the perfect cookie for anything & everything.
I love butter cookies. My main issue with store bought butter cookies is that they are usually extremely dry, crumbly and sandy in texture.
I'm not a huge crunchy-cookie kind of person, so I really wanted to do a recipe on my blog for homemade soft butter cookies.
This one makes such a difference. They are absolutely delicious!
How to make soft butter cookies
As far as list of ingredients goes, this recipe is super simple.
You'll have everything you need in your pantry.
- Unsalted butter (if you only have salted, omit the added salt in the recipe)
- Sugar (granulated, brown sugar cannot be used!)
- Egg yolks
- Vanilla Extract
- A small amount of milk
As you can see, this recipe does not use any leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda, since we don't want the cookie to rise or puff up!
Having heavy duty piping bags on hand is always great because you don't have to worry about them popping at the seams, even when you're working with a thicker batter like this one.
No matter how much pressure I push on the bag, it never breaks.
The piping tip you use should be on the larger size. I like this one. I also use it to make the perfect frosting swirl for cupcakes.
Ingredients aside, these are the questions that may pop up when making this recipe:
Is piping cookie dough difficult?
The only thing that makes it a little more challenging to work with is the fact that the dough is obviously going to be thicker to pipe, versus, say buttercream.
It's more stiff to work with and takes a little muscle to work it out of the piping tip, but as long as you get the consistency of the dough right you'll be fine!
How will I know what the right consistency is?
The first time I made these cookies, I had made a perfect, cookie dough ball and it felt soft enough.
When I went to pipe it, the dough was literally impossible to push through the piping bag. It took me a couple of tries to get it right.
The key here is that the dough should not form a ball shape.
You should be looking for the dough to be the consistency of stiff American buttercream (or rather, a bit more stiff than you would use for buttercream).
The dough should be sticky and stick to the sides of the bowl.
You can test it by running your spatula through the dough. It should have light resistance, but otherwise feel smooth to stir around.
The key is to add enough milk. If your flour is on the dry side, you can add more milk to loosen it up. The catch is, to add as little milk as possible.
More milk will make the cookies spread you do not want these cookies spread, otherwise you'll lose the piped shape.
Help, my dough is too thick!
Before unloading all of the dough into the piping bag, test a small amount of dough first to see if how it works out.
That way, if you do have to go back and fix it, you won't have to deal with the mess of getting it out of the piping bag and back in again!
If the dough is too thick, simply add a teaspoon of milk at a time to the rest of the dough in the bowl, until it becomes sticky and turns into more of a thick batter.
This cookie dough is very forgiving and it's easy to go back and try again.
How to make swirly, soft butter cookies
After finally nailing down the right consistency, it then took me a few tries to get the hang of the shape.
The trick to making these is to start by holding your piping bag straight up, applying pressure to push some dough out and pulling it up just a little bit, before wrapping the swirl around the center.
Because this recipe is so butter-heavy, I recommend keeping an extra close watch on them in the oven. I found that it helped to turn the tray halfway through baking so that all the cookies bake evenly.
If you want to keep your cookies soft, bake them until they are VERY light golden brown on the edges. If you want a crisper cookie, these can hang in the oven for a little longer.
You're New Favorite Cookie
This recipe for Soft Butter Cookies is everything I hoped for and more. It's one of my favorite and most versatile cookie recipes, also great for Christmas cookies!
Sometimes I like to dress them up with melted chocolate, chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips. I might drizzle some chocolate on top but dipping the bottoms in chocolate is also a great!
I haven't experimented with using this dough in a cookie press yet, but it should also work well.
If you're not up for making the swirl shape, you can also dollop the dough onto the cookie sheet to make drop cookies.
They are butter cookie perfection for a sweet tooth like mine!
Looking for another fancy butter cookie idea? Try my Italian Butter Cookies!
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (other extracts can be used)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt (if you need to use salted butter, omit this)
- 2 Tbsp milk (whole or 2%) (more if needed, but the amount of milk will vary by batch due to the moisture level in the other ingredients)
Use fruit jam or chocolate to sandwich cookies together or dip in chocolate (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line cookie trays with parchment (if the air temp is on the warmer side, it is a good idea to chill the cookies for 30 minutes before baking, so be sure to plan accordingly).
- In a large bowl, cream the butter & sugar until light and fluffy using a hand mixer.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until well combined.
- Next, add the flour & salt to the mixture and mix on low speed until large crumbles form.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of milk and mix until the milk is absorbed. If the dough is not sticky, add another TEASPOON of milk until it is sticky and has the consistency of thick buttercream. Avoid using too much milk as this can cause the cookies to spread too much!
- Transfer the dough to an extra large, heavy duty piping bag fitted with a large open star tip.
- Pipe the dough into rosettes by using the following motion; holding the bag upright, pipe the dough onto the tray and pull up slightly, then wrap around the center and pull gently to release.
- Chill if needed.
- Bake in the oven until light golden brown on the edges, about 13 – 15 minutes.
- Allow to fully cool on baking sheet.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 13 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 176
- Sugar: 8g
Keywords: soft butter cookies, old fashioned, piped cookies, homemade, easy