Santa called and said he would like some Frosted Butter Cookies! This is an easy small batch recipe for perfectly tender and sweet butter cookies. The cookie dough can be sliced and baked, rolled for cut-out cookies, or made into a drop cookie. Highly versatile and perfect for the holiday’s!
Frosted Holiday Butter Cookies
Less than 2 weeks … can you believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away? This has been a whirlwind of a year and I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to have Christmas come and go so soon. So, to embrace the holiday season like a bear hug, I’ve been in full on baking mode since after Thanksgiving!
And these Frosted Butter Cookies are a result of the time spent in the kitchen. I wanted to try something other than a sugar cookie this year. Besides, we have a recipe already for those on the blog – Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing – minus the pumpkin spice if you want to make a batch for the holidays.
I like to think of these butter cookies as a cross between a shortbread cookie and sugar cookie. The best comparison I can think of is the Sable cookie. So, what is the difference between these cookies and a sugar or shortbread cookie?
These butter cookies are:
- Tender – they practically melt in your mouth, and yet are sturdy enough to take on some frosting!
- Rich in butter flavor – more butter than sugar in this recipe.
- Slightly sweetened – less sugar than you would find in a sugar cookie. We are balancing that with the frosting.
- Made with an egg yolk – because of the small batch, we don’t need (want) the whole egg. And the egg yolk adds to the richness of the cookie.
- Made without any leavening – you won’t find baking powder or baking soda in these cookies. They don’t need it.
- Versatile – they can be sliced and baked, rolled for cut-out cookies, or spooned for drop cookies.
- Small batch – that said, the number of cookies you get from the dough is entirely dependent on which variety (above) you chose to make. More on that in the Tips section below.
Cookies For Santa
So when Santa called requesting a special cookie this year, I immediately went to these butter cookies. Talking about the versatility of these cookies, I opted for the slice and bake variety.
The round cookies provide easy real estate to decorate the cookies however you like. Because these butter cookies are not as sweet as sugar cookies, I thought some of my Butter Free Buttercream Frosting (in an even smaller batch!) would be a nice addition. Not to mention, it acts as the glue for the holiday sprinkles.
Now I suppose I have to make another batch. You know – because I had to taste them …
What You Need To Make A Small Batch Of Butter Cookies
Did I mention these cookies are easy to make?
Yes – the dough needs to be chilled. Why?
- Allows the dough rest after you mix it.
- Chills the butter to prevent cookie spread.
- Hydrates the dough – we want all of the ingredients to ‘meld’ together before throwing them in the oven.
- All of those ingredients ‘melding’ together makes for a more flavorful cookie.
Now on to what you need.
- Unsalted butter – I like to use unsalted butter in baking so I can control the salt level.
- Granulated sugar – I have only tested the recipe with regular sugar.
- Egg yolk
- Vanilla extract – You could also try other extract flavors. Almond would make a lovely cookie.
- All purpose flour – I have only test the recipe with AP flour.
- Holiday Sprinkles – Optional. Especially if you just want to make a batch on a Tuesday in April.
- Frosting – You can try my butter-free buttercream (recipe included below). Or if you prefer a store-bought container, that works too!
- Stand mixer – This is one of the few small batch recipes in which I chose to use my Kitchen Aid! If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand held mixer will work fine.
- Plastic wrap
- Baking sheets – My go-to baking sheets are from Nordic Ware. I have every size and for small batch cookies I always use the half-sheet.
- Parchment paper
- Cooling rack – Another Nordic Ware find. And it is the perfect size for the baking sheet.
Tips For Making Frosted Butter Cookies
- These cookies are not super sweet! – It is worth repeating if you are expecting a traditional sugar cookie. These are not that. Which makes them great to frost with sweet buttercream.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix – Even though we are using a stand mixer, this is still a small batch and we want to make sure ingredients aren’t sticking to the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl.
- The shape of the dough is up to you – I made slice and bake cookies for this recipe. However, the cookie dough can be rolled out for cut-out cookies, or scooped using a cookie scoop for drop cookies. For cut-out cookies, bake time will be about 7-9 minutes, depending on how thick you roll the dough. Watch for cookie doneness when the edges start to turn golden.
- Use a paper towel tube – If you choose the slice and bake cookie, to get the perfect circle, you can put the dough log inside a sliced open paper towel tube to keep the shape while the dough is chilling. I should have done this. Hee hee.
- Chill the dough – I’ve talked about this ad nauseum. Wink.
- The frosting is optional – You could use store-bought frosting, royal icing, or a simple glaze to top the cookies. Totally up to you!
Sure hope Santa enjoys these cookies!
More Christmas Cookie Recipes
- Gingerbread Cookies with Apple Cider Icing
- Snickerdoodle Cookies (Small Batch)
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (Small Batch)
- Cinnamon Caramel Nut Crumble Bars
- Soft Apple Cookies With Caramel Icing
- Soft Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Frosted Butter Cookies
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Holiday Sprinkles
Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened canned coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
- 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 – 8 tablespoons confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment – Add the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light an fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated – scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed and sprinkle in the salt, then flour in a few increments – letting the flour mix in before adding the next increment. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. After adding the last increment of flour, let the dough mix for about a minute until it starts to form a rough dough. The dough will be crumbly.
- Turn off the mixer and gently knead the dough together with your hands until it forms a ball. Place the dough ball on a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a 6 inch round log. Tightly wrap it with the plastic wrap and continue to form the log shape by rolling the dough on the counter to get the round shape. Refrigerate the dough log for at least two hours, or overnight. We want it to be nice and chilled to slice and bake it. You can also freeze it.
- 15 minutes before you are ready to slice and bake the cookies – preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a sharp chef's knife, slice the chilled dough log into (at least) 1/4 inch thick cookies. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- One baking sheet at a time – bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes, or until the edges just start to golden. High altitude – check the cookies at 9 minutes as they may not take as long to bake. Note – while the first baking sheet of cookies are baking, refrigerate the other baking sheet of cookies until ready.
- Cool the cookies on the baking sheet set on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the cooling rack to cool completely.
Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting
- While the cookies are done baking and cooling, make the frosting. Or the frosting can be made the day before.
- Note – Refrigerating the can of coconut milk overnight causes the liquid and coconut solids to separate – we are only using the coconut solids to make the frosting. You will have extra coconut milk solids and liquid which can be used in smoothies.
- In a small saucepan, add the coconut milk solids and coconut oil. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture has melted. Do not boil.
- Transfer the mix to a small mixing bowl and add the vanilla extract. Cool for about 5 minutes in the refrigerator or on the counter.
- Add the powdered sugar in increments (to avoid mess!) – Using a handheld mixer, beat until the frosting is light and fluffy – about 3-5 minutes, and until you reach your desired consistency. If you prefer a stiffer frosting, add more powdered sugar a teaspoon at a time.
- The frosting is ready to use right away, or it can be refrigerated. If refrigerating, transfer to an airtight container and the frosting can be kept for up to a week. When ready to use, allow the frosting to come to room temperature to loosen up.
- Frost the cooled cookies with the frosting and sprinkle with holiday sprinkles. Happy Holidays!
- These cookies are not overly sweet! The buttercream frosting nicely balances the sweetness of these cookies.
- This cookie dough is versatile and can be: sliced and baked, rolled out for cut-out cookies, or spooned for dropped cookies. For cut-out cookies, bake time will be about 7-9 minutes, depending on how thick you roll the dough. Watch for cookie doneness when the edges start to turn golden.
- The number of cookies can vary, however this is still a small batch. Depending on how large or small your form the dough log and how thick you cut the cookies, you can get more or less cookies.
- The buttercream frosting is totally optional. You can use store-bought, royal icing, or a simple glaze on these cookies.