These Soft Butter Cookies are delicate, tender and are melt in your mouth buttery! Also sometimes called Danish Butter Cookies, these cookies have a classic swirl design that is impressive and so easy to make at home! The best, basic butter cookie recipe.
*this post was updated on 3/3/20*
You know those beautiful, swirly Danish 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.
My main issue with store bought butter cookies is, 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.
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)
- Egg yolks
- A small amount of milk
- Vanilla Extract
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 a little more stiff to work with and takes a little muscle to work it out, 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 (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 = more spreading, and you do not want these cookies spread, otherwise you’ll lose the piped shape.
Help, my dough is too thick!
Once I realized my dough was WAY too thick, I just emptied the dough from my piping bag back into the mixing bowl and added a teaspoon of milk at a time, until the dough became sticky and turned into more of a thick batter. It’s annoying to have to do that, but don’t worry! 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.
If that doesn’t make sense, here’s a quick video so you can visualize it!
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.
These Soft Butter Cookies are everything I hoped for, and more. They are butter cookie perfection!
Looking for another fancy butter cookie idea? Try my Italian Butter Cookies!
Soft Butter Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt (if you are using salted butter, omit this)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 350°F 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.
- Add the flour to the mixture and mix until large crumbles form.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of milk and mix. 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 a 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.
- Bake in the oven until light golden brown on the edges, about 12 - 16 minutes.
- Allow to fully cool on baking sheet.