Italian butter cookies are a holiday classic that are a great addition to any cookie platter! They are made with a soft cookie dough that is piped into shapes, baked, then dipped in melted chocolate and coated with sprinkles. The cute shapes, festive decoration, and rich, buttery flavor makes them impossible to resist!
Festive butter cookies are a classic around the holidays, and making them at home is incredibly easy and fun! The cookies are rich, buttery, and just mildly sweet, which makes them perfect for dipping in chocolate or adding other sugary toppings. Unlike butter cookies you find sold in tins, these cookies are mega soft and practically melt in your mouth!
INGREDIENTS FOR ITALIAN BUTTER COOKIES
- All-purpose flour: For the best results, I always recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. If you don't have one, measure the flour by lightly spooning it into your measuring cup and then leveling off the top with the flat side of a knife.
- Baking powder: Baking powder helps the cookies rise up instead of spreading out flat and thin.
- Salt: If your butter is salted leave out the added salt in the recipe.
- Unsalted butter: Softened to room temperature. Regular butter will work, but I love using extra creamy European-style butter for these cookies!
- Granulated sugar
- Egg yolks: Whole eggs incorporate more air into the dough which yields fluffy, cake-like cookies. By only using the egg yolks these cookies are thicker and hold their shape beautifully!
- Vanilla extract: For flavor!
- Whole milk: Adding milk to the dough makes it softer so it's easier to pipe into shapes, but won't cause the cookies to spread in the oven.
HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN BUTTER COOKIES
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth with no lumps. Add the granulated sugar and beat until well combined, light, and fluffy.
3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
4. Mix in about half of the dry ingredients, then add the whole milk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together.
PIPE THE DOUGH
Piping the dough into shapes makes the cookies look extra pretty, but you can also use a cookie press or simply scoop the dough like you would any other cookie. If you are going to scoop the dough you may want to chill it for about an hour first!
To pipe the cookie dough into shapes you will need a durable piping bag fitted with an extra large open star piping tip. For these cookies I used a 1M tip (about $2 at most craft stores), but any XL open star tip will work!
On the lined baking sheet, pipe the dough into desired shapes such as a circle, a straight line, or an s-shape. The cookies will spread minimally in the oven so leave about half an inch of space in between piping.
TIP: To make piping easier only fill the bag a quarter of the way or less with cookie dough at a time. The dough is pretty thick and if you overfill the bag it will be harder to squeeze out!
Bake in the preheated oven, one baking sheet at a time, for 8 minutes, or until just starting to turn light golden brown on the bottom. Take the cookies out of the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before removing.
DECORATE THE COOKIES
Dip the cookies in melted chocolate or white chocolate and add some festive sprinkles!
HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE COOKIES & COOKIE DOUGH
Store the cookies in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 4-5 days. If you refrigerate them make sure they are in a completely sealed container since the cold air will turn them hard faster.
To freeze baked cookies: Once cooled, arrange the cookies on a baking sheet in a single layer and set the sheet flat in the freezer until they are mostly solid. Transfer them to a large plastic bag or an airtight container with sheets of parchment paper between the layers. Keep frozen for up to 2 months. To recapture that fresh-baked cookie taste and texture, reheat the frozen cookies in a 275°F oven for 10-15 minutes.
To freeze cookie dough: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Pipe the dough into shapes on the lined baking sheet and set the sheet flat in the freezer until the dough is solid. Transfer the frozen cookie dough to a large plastic bag or an airtight container and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, arrange the frozen cookie dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake straight from frozen (don't thaw) in a 375°F oven, a few minutes longer than the normal bake time.
MORE COOKIE RECIPES
- Almond Flour Peanut Butter Cookies
- Lemon Curd Cookies
- Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
- Almond Flour Oatmeal Cookies
- Biscoff Butter Cookies
Italian Butter Cookies
- piping bag
- Extra large open star piping tip
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt*
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- melted chocolate, for dipping the cookies
- sprinkles, optional, for decorating
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or cookie mats.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth with no lumps. Add the granulated sugar and beat until well combined and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- Add half of the sifted dry ingredients, then mix in the whole milk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together.
- Pipe the cookie dough: Add an extra large open star piping tip to a large, durable piping bag. Fill the bag with about half a cup of dough at a time and pipe assorted shapes onto the lined baking sheet. Leave ½-1 inch between the piped shapes.
- Bake: Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before removing.
- Decorate: Dip one side of the cookies in melted chocolate and add some sprinkles to decorate.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days.