Delicious German Butter Cookies Just in Time for the Holidays!
If you are searching for a simple German butter cookie recipe, you’ve come to the right place!
Perfectly sweet and oh so delicious, these German butter cookies – also known as Butterplätzchen in German – are a classic German Christmas cookie.
These butter cookies are light and crumbly – like a shortbread – so they melt in your mouth as you eat them. The recipe is easy to follow so anyone can create these cookies for the holidays.
Butter cookies can be made into all different shapes – from stars to trees and circles – and decorated with a simple icing glaze and/or lots of fun holiday sprinkles. Of course, you can also enjoy these butter cookies plain!
Butter cookies specifically (or variants of the butter cookie) can also be found in other European countries like Denmark. That said, old fashioned German butter cookies have a history as a Christmas treat.
Butter cookies might not have some of the popular holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg but they are still a holiday classic. Their simple flavor is what makes butter cookies so universally loved.
Of course, they are really big in Germany. Lisa (born and raised in Germany) grew up making them and decorating them with family.
German butter cookies are great to make with kids because you can get really wild and creative with the festive toppings. We’re grown adults and even we had a blast decorating ours!
Our recipe for German butter cookies is very easy with just a few basic ingredients. It’s also not an overly sweet cookie on its own because we take the sweetness of the glaze and the sprinkles into account.
If you want sweeter cookies, you can add slightly more sugar to the recipe (read the recipe card for baking notes).
How to Make German Butter Cookies – Step by Step
If you’re looking to make German butter cookies for the upcoming holiday season, you can follow our recipe card below.
In case you’d like to see what the steps look like, you can follow along with the recipe process photos below. That way, you can see if you’re on the right track!
Start by adding flour, butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and the egg into a bowl. Now use your clean hands to knead the dough for around 5 minutes until you can form a ball.
Once all the ingredients have been well mixed and you can easily form a ball with your dough, you know that you are done kneading.
Wrap the dough ball in cling film and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has chilled sufficiently, sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll out the dough using a rolling pin.
Aim for a thickness of around 3/8 inch and try to have the same level of thickness throughout as this will influence the baking time.
Use your cookie cutters to cut of out the cookies.
Then place your cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake the cookies in the middle rack of your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
Depending on how thick you made your cookies, this time might be slightly longer or shorter for you.
Once the cookies have cooled, you can prepare the glaze – which will also act as a glue for your sprinkles – by whisking powdered sugar and lemon juice or water together in a small bowl.
You can then spread the glaze onto the cookies using a brush or a butter knife.
Then it’s time to add the sprinkles or other decorations of your choice. You can get really creative here.
Just make sure to wait for the glaze to harden before putting the cookies away!
And that’s it – our simple butter cookie recipe. We hope you enjoy these classic holiday treats!
If you store them in an airtight container with a lid, you can enjoy your butter cookies for up to three weeks.
German Butter Cookies (Butterplätzchen)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup butter, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 medium-sized egg
- a pinch of salt
The Topping (optional)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or water
- sprinkles for decorating
- Add the flour, butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and egg into a large bowl. Use your hands to knead the dough until the dough forms a ball (this takes around 5 minutes).
- Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- After the 30 minutes are up, remove the dough from the fridge. Also preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle flour onto a smooth surface and roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is approximately 3/8 inch thin. Use your cookie cutters to cut out the cookies and place them on the parchment paper. Once you've used up the rolled out dough, gather the leftovers, form another ball, roll it out again, and cut more cookies. Repeat the process until you have used up all the dough.
- Bake your cookies in the middle rack of your oven for around 10-12 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden brown along the edges. Depending on your oven and how thick your cookies are, your baking time might be slightly shorter or longer.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for around 5 minutes. Then remove the parchment paper with the cookies on it from the baking sheet and let the cookies cool fully.
- OPTIONAL: After the cookies have cooled sufficiently, you can prepare the topping by whisking powdered sugar and lemon juice or water together in a small bowl. This will be your "glue" for sprinkles and other decorations. Spread a small amount of the "glue" onto the cookie and then decorate as desired. You can get really creative here. If you decide to decorate your cookies with icing and/or sprinkles, let them sit until the glaze has hardened.
- The cookies themselves are not going to be that sweet since we usually decorate them with a sweet glaze and sweet sprinkles. If you want your cookies to be slightly sweeter (maybe because you don’t want to decorate them), feel free to use 1/2 cup sugar instead of 1/3 cup sugar.
- If your dough is too sticky, you can add a little bit more flour.
- If your dough is too hard or crumbly, add a little bit more butter. However, try kneading the dough first – it is normal for the dough to be crumbly at the beginning. As you knead the dough, it should form a ball. If this doesn’t happen, feel free to add more butter.
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.