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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!
The only special tools you'll need are a large, star piping tip and a heavy duty piping bag.
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!
Soft Butter Cookies
- Total Time: 28 minutes
- Yield: 18 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.
Piping Tip for Soft Butter CookiesBuy Now →
Industrial Strength, Large Piping BagsBuy Now →
Links to supplies you'll need for this recipe:
- 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
Made these in two different sizes. First were the large tip. They baked up nicely but decided it was too much cookie for the function. Made a batch and used a smaller tip. Added just a little bit more milk and they piped up very well. The cookies were a hit. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Delicious.
Hello. The cookies taste great but mine did not keep their shape after baked. I used a larger tip and looked great when I put them on the cookie sheet. They were hard to squeeze out of bag and I refrigerated about 10 minutes after placed on the baking sheet. I am not sure what I did wrong. The taste is amazing
I just made these for my daughters Birthday and they came out absolutely beautiful and perfect and they are the Bet Butter sugar cookies we have ever had~ the taste is amazing!!! I put a bit of lemon frosting just in the centers because they were for our daughter and she loved them!!! To anyone making these if you follow her directions and make them just as she says they will be amazing~ take the time to read her directions and read through all the tips and directions she step by step gives you when talking about making them~ I had no problem at all! Will be making these at holiday time and for my family! Thankyou so much for this wonderful Cookie recipe and all the great instructions!!!
Thank you so much for the kind words, Elizabeth!! I'm so thrilled you love this recipe as much as I do The addition of lemon frosting sounds amazing!!
What a lovely sugar cookie recipe...I used this recipe, but instead of piping them out, I divided the dough into 24 walnut sized pieces and pressed then into my wooden rose cookie mold, sprinkled them with some pink coloured sugar and baked them for 12 minutes...
wish i could post a picture along with the comment
I love this method! I'm going to have to try that out!
Perfect! Followed your recipe exactly. I choose apricot jam, dipped in chocolate then dipped in ground almonds. I'll never have to by from the bakery Again! Thank you!
Thank you so much for the kind words, George! I love the combo of apricot, chocolate & almonds! I'm going to have to try that!
These are delicious! I added some almond flavoring, as well, and they were wonderful! Next I’m going to try adding cinnamon sugar to the top before baking. Can’t wait! Thx for a great recipe. 🙂
I'm so glad you loved the recipe!! The cinnamon sugar is such a great idea!!
What size cookie does the suggested Ateco 828 Open Star Tip make?
Hey Lisa! A full rosette cookie like I made bakes up to about 2 inches in diameter.
Can you convert your Cups into ounces please, also can I press the mixture into Easter cutters as I haven’t got a piping bag
Hi Sally! Sure, here you go! Butter: 227g or 8oz, Sugar: 135g, 2 egg yolks (standard), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, Flour: 272 g, 1/4tsp or heavy pinch of salt, Milk: 1 oz. You could use the Easter cutters but the dough may require some additional flour to work with as it's a bit sticky. Hope that helps!
While I'm a good cook, I'm not a baker. Just getting into this cookie / bar making.
This recipe looks delish and easy but I'm wondering if the dough will work with a Cookie Press instead of Piping or as a Drop cookie.
Thanks for your help!
These cookies are beautiful. I make it often. It is not complicated for me. You explaine it excellent.
Can they be frozen after baking?
Yup! These cookies freeze very well!
I made these tonight and am trying to let them cool, with no luck. They are wonderful. I used a cookie scoop and omitted the milk (only because they didn’t look like they needed any). YUMMY!!!!! Not as pretty as the piped cookies, but tasty just the same.
Wooo! I'm so glad you loved the recipe!! That's a great tip!! I've always been meaning to try these as drop cookies!
Sherry Ann Marcano says
I just found this recepie and tried it. I left out the egg yolk my daughter is allergic but it came out great. Thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing!! Glad it worked out!
Patricia grealis says
I keep looking but I don't see measurements I really want to try this recipe
Hi Patricia! This is a premium recipe which requires an email sign up for access. The reason it's that way is because I have a masterclass and other resources for this recipe to help make perfect cookies. You can sign up and get the recipe by clicking the "Get Recipe" image in the recipe card. It's totally free and you can unsubscribe any time!
It doesn’t say the measurements tho?
Hi Audrey! This is a premium recipe - if you sign up with your email via the sign up link in the recipe card you'll get instant access to the recipe! 🙂
I made the recipe they were absolutely *DIVINE*
Thanks for sharing, Linda!! I'm so glad you love the recipe!
what would i have to do if i would want to just make 4 of those?
Hi Bob, I don't think scaling the recipe down to 4 cookies would be possible.
Monaliza Adagio says
I love this recipe. I did not use piping bag, I did not put the entire 2 tbsp of milk right away.. I was checking on the consistency but the 2 tbsp is perfect so thank you!
Thank you so much for the kind words!! I'm so glad you loved the recipe! Really appreciate you sharing, thank you! 🙂
Greetings Liz, thank you for sharing this recipe, I was searching for how to make soft butter cookies and I found your site, I’m gonna try this recipe out and post the outcome on Pinterest.
Thanks, Christee!! Can't wait for you to try this recipe!
Hi Christee, I tried out this recipe a couple of days ago and it is absolutely divine! So buttery, smooth and delicious!
Not again. I made these and they were stiff and dry. had high hopes.
I'm sorry you had trouble with the recipe! These can be tricky and I'm working on making a video tutorial soon.
Can I just make them without piping? Maybe just shaping like a ball and pressing in the middle?
Hey Liana! Yes you can! I should have mentioned that in the post. I've tested these cookies out with just scooping balls onto the cookie sheet and they came out great! No need to press in the middle even - just a scoop onto the tray and bake! 🙂
Michelle M Martin says
HELLLLLP! Mine will not hold their shape! I am using a #1M star tip, and the dough seems like stiff buttercream consitency..... but they look like a giant circlish blob 🙁
Hi Michelle! Oh no! These cookies can be tricky. Are they losing their shape after you pipe them or after you bake them? If they are not holding up then the dough is too soft. Add a bit more flour to stiffen up the dough. If you're having trouble piping them because the dough is too stiff, then it needs a bit more milk.
Also, the 1M tip might be too small. These cookies require a bit wider tip. If that's all you have, you can add a bit more milk to get the dough to pipe and then chill them in the fridge to help keep their shape.
I hope that helps!!