Butter Cookies

We’re heading into prime cookie-decorating season! In the past I’ve posted recipes for Pumpkin Spice Cookies and Shortbread Cookies, but next up is Butter Cookies. Butter Cookies are melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. They are so buttery, but slightly salty. They have a soft crunch, but melt in your mouth. They are so amazing that I love having them naked – without any frosting. However sugar-lovers alike will love this cookie more with a double-dose of sugar by decorating with Royal Icing and Buttercream!

Why use an icing and a frosting? Well, Royal Icing is what blankets cookies with that smooth and shiny colored coat. Once it’s dry it can be layered upon to create more texture. However Buttercream lets you build upon that texture even more, creating 3D effects that really bring the cookies to life!

With all my current fall-inspiration, I chose fall cookie cutters. I’ll be using a pumpkin cutter, acorn, and squirrel. I’m also using an apple cookie cutter that I will be re-using as a “basket of mums”. Other great cookie cutters for this time of year are leaves, wreaths, ghosts and anything fall or Halloween related! It’s also fun to think outside the box on how you can take one cookie cutter and use it for something else. Such as what I’m doing with the apple cookie cutter by decorating it as a basket with Royal Icing complete with Buttercream mum flowers.

The great thing about these Butter Cookies it that you have options! They are fantastic as is without any frosting. They will also taste delicious with simply using Royal Icing – so there’s no need to go double duty with the Buttercream if you don’t want to!

Prep Time: ~1 hour // Inactive Time: 1 hour // Cook Time: 10 minutes // Yield: 18 cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • *1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Royal Icing Ingredients (optional):

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Food coloring

Buttercream Ingredients (optional):

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar to taste (around 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Food coloring
  1. For the cookies, begin creaming the butter in a stand mixer on high speed until it’s light and fluffy, then add in the powdered sugar. *Given the sugary frostings I’m using, I’m putting in less sugar in the cookie dough.
  2. Add the vanilla and salt and continue mixing together. Then add the flour and mix until combined.
  3. Place the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. This allows the dough to firm up and handle easier before using cookie cutters.
  4. In the meantime, decide if you want to use the Royal Icing, Buttercream recipe or both. For the Royal Icing, whip the egg whites until they are light and fluffy, then add the vanilla and powdered sugar. The consistency should be smooth and shiny. Be sure that it’s not too runny or too thick – if it’s runny add more sugar, if it’s thick add a touch of water until the desired consistency is achieved.
  5. For the Buttercream, cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and vanilla until combined.
  6. Determine how many colors you’d like to make, and set aside enough bowls to color your icing/frosting. Whether you’re using the Royal Icing, Buttercream frosting or both – be sure to keep them in separate bowls, then add your desired food colorings, whisking together until your colors are well-blended. Set all bowls aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. When the dough is ready, roll the dough out on a floured surface until it’s 1/4 – 1/8 thick. Use your cookie cutters to cut out the cookies and place them directly on the baking sheet. Keep re-rolling the dough as needed until you have none left.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies are light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  10. While the cookies are cooling, prepare piping bags and decorating tips if using. If you’re using Royal Icing and Buttercream, you’ll want to follow this order. Place the buttercream in the fridge if it’s getting too soft, then start by placing your Royal Icing colors into separate piping bags.
  11. After about 15 minutes of cooling, the cookies should be cool enough to decorate. Start by creating an outline of your shape with the icing on each cookie. This allows the icing to harden a bit before you’ll go back through each cookie and flood (or fill) the cookie with icing extending to the outlines you created. Allow the icing to dry completely until it’s dry to touch. Once it’s dry, you can add layers of additional icing on top to create more texture. If you aren’t using Buttercream then you’re work is done here and it’s time to enjoy your cookies!
  12. To add additional details with Buttercream, remove if it’s in the fridge and allow it to warm back up to a consistency where you can whisk together and place in separate piping bags for each color. Pipe your additional details on top of the Royal Icing. When you’re finished, pop the cookies into the fridge to stiffen up the Buttercream for a minimum of 1 hour. Once the Buttercream has hardened you can remove the cookies and serve or save them for later!

I highly suggest sneaking a few cookies in for yourself, then sharing your beautiful works of art with family & friends! Enjoy!


Be sure to check out 2 more cookie recipes below that are great for cookie decorating:

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Baking with Soul


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