This is a buttery classic Italian cookie made from a super simple dough with just a few basic ingredients. These absolutely delicious Italian butter cookies are a homemade version of the ones you might buy at a local Italian bakery. They will make the perfect addition to a Christmas cookie tray this holiday season.
Use this Italian bakery style butter cookie recipe to make one dough that can then be used to make all kinds of shapes and types of classic butter cookies. From plain cookies, to filled cookie sandwiches, to dipped chocolate cookies, these buttery cookies will taste great and look beautiful when served to guests.
You can find more Italian dessert recipes like this homemade butter cookies recipe on our dessert cuisine page. Other traditional Italian cookies you might like include homemade ladyfingers and authentic Italian biscotti.
List of possible decorations/fillings: confectioners sugar, apricot, raspberry or strawberry jam for filling cookie sandwiches, Nutella or other chocolate spread, 70% dark chocolate for melting and dipping, candied cherries, cocoa powder or sprinkles for fun!
Make the cookie dough and chill it. Put the softened butter (at room temperature), granulated sugar, and vanilla into a large bowl and whip together using an electric hand beater (or stand mixer if preferred) for about 5 minutes or until creamy, airy and smooth. Now add the yolk and beat into the mixture.
Add all the flour at once and fold into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon until well blended.
Put the cookie dough on a lightly floured flat surface, and knead with your hands very briefly to form a large log. Wrap it in plastic wrap and flatten it a bit and put it in the fridge to chill for 2 to 3 hours.
Make and bake the Italian butter cookies. When the cookie dough is almost done chilling, preheat the oven to 180° C. Remove a third of the dough and put it on a lightly floured surface. Roll out with a rolling pin. If you are going to make sandwich cookies, the dough should be rolled out to a thickness of about 3 mm. Instead, if you are going to simply decorate the cookies they can be 4-5 mm thick.
Using cookie cutters, make any shapes you want and put them on prepared baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in a static oven at 180° C for 10 minutes for thinner cookies and 12 minutes for thicker cookies. They should be lightly golden brown.
Cool and decorate the Italian butter cookies. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a wire rack to let the cookies cool completely. Once the cookies are completely cooled you can proceed to either dip them in chocolate, fill them to make cookie sandwiches, or simply enjoy the plain Italian butter cookies with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Cookies can then be stored in an airtight container or cookie tin.
Other cookies for you to try
Plain butter cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month. Cookies with fillings or toppings should be consumed within 1 week, and may need to be refrigerated depending on the filling. The fact that these cookies stay fresh such a long time means they make a great addition to any Christmas cookie tray and are way less expensive than buying them from Italian bakeries.
Yes, you can use a cookie press to make various different shapes of Italian butter cookies, which are called spritz cookies when made this way (a German method of making butter cookies). Be sure to follow the directions that came with your cookie press for the best results. Baking times may vary depending on how thick the spritz cookies are. Only bake cookies of the same width together on one baking sheet.
Butter cookies tend to have more sugar and are usually made into shapes and baked at a higher temperature, while shortbread cookies tend to have a higher fat content and have a more crumbly, thicker texture and are usually not cut with cookie cutters.