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German Butter Cookies (Butterplätzchen)

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!

colorful german butter cookies with icing and sprinkles on plate
German butter cookies all decorated and ready to eat!

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.

Looking for more holiday recipes? Try our cinnamon star cookies, German rum balls, mulled white wine, classic spritz cookies, and vanilla crescent cookies!

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.

german butter cookies on festive plate with decorative icing and sprinkles
German butter cookies are easy to make and enjoyed by many!

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!

flour sugar and egg in mixing bowl for german butter cookies
Add your ingredients to a large bowl.

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.

ball of dough in silver mixing bowl
A ball of dough…

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.

ball of german butter cookie dough in cling film on kitchen counter
Wrap the dough and place it in the fridge.

Wrap the dough ball in cling film and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

flattened cookie dough on kitchen counter
The butter cookie dough rolled out on the counter…

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.

star cookie cutter cutting cookies out of flat dough on counter
Using a cookie cutter is lots of fun and oddly satisfying….

Use your cookie cutters to cut of out the cookies.

butter cookies in different shapes on parchment paper in pan
Look at all those different butter cookie shapes!

Then place your cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

baked german butter cookies on white parchment paper on baking pan
Freshly baked butter cookies!

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.

white bowl of sugar icing with spoon inside
Our simple glaze of water and powdered sugar.

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.

german butter cookie in star shape with white icing glaze
Glazing the butter cookies can be messy…

You can then spread the glaze onto the cookies using a brush or a butter knife.

butter cookies on parchment paper decorated with icing and sprinkles
We had lots of fun decorating our cookies!

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!

german butter cookies decorated with icing and sprinkles on plate
German butter cookies – decorated however you like!

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.

colorful german butter cookies with icing and sprinkles on plate

German Butter Cookies (Butterplätzchen)

German Butter Cookies are the perfect holiday cookie! Golden brown on the outside and deliciously buttery on the inside, these fun cookies have a lovely crumble as they melt in your mouth. Topped off with a simple icing, you can decorate these butter cookies with festive sprinkles – or enjoy them as is!
4.62 from 39 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 50 – 60 cookies


The Dough

  • 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.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 8mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Author Recipes From Europe
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13 thoughts on “German Butter Cookies (Butterplätzchen)”

  1. 4 stars
    Very easy to follow, they came out great! I only got 2 dozen but maybe my cookie cutters were larger than you used. Looking forward to using this recipe again

  2. 5 stars
    Here it is October 24, 2022 and I am getting my recipes ready to bake this December. Of all the food blogs on Pinterest, I have found your recipes to be so easy to read and follow. Based on the favorable comments that you receive, I feel confident that I am going to have a beautiful and delicious Christmas cookie tray this holiday.
    Thank you for the wonderful recipes and I’ll be back when I bake!!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Kathleen! There are definitely some older recipes on the website that need a makeover to make them better and more helpful, but I’m so glad to hear you find them easy to follow. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! /Lisa

  3. Can you make these Gluten Free and chocolate butter cookies instead? If so what you recommend for moisture? Then seem to be dry and sandy when I make these Gluten Free

  4. My wonderful Mother in Law is German and every year….. until she turned 80 she would make several different German Cookies and the one my husband liked the best had Citrus peel in it…I’ve lost my copy of the recipe and she is now 92…so I googled and the only one coming up is Lebkutchen…and is cooked on a wafer…..the ones my husband liked was rolled and cut into triangles….do you know of any other type of German cookie that has citrus peel?

  5. My mom used to make cookies that were very similar but two part. I can’t find them online. The bottoms looked like these, but then she put a dollop of whipped ground almond mixture on top before baking.
    I found something that looks like the top mixture and it is called German Hazelnut Macarons (Haselnussmakronen).
    Does anyone know what that could be? Maybe it is a mutant cookie my mom created from the two?

    • These cookies sound delicious, but unfortunately I’m not familiar with them. In Germany, Hazelnut Macaroons are often made with baking wafer paper at the bottom but it can be difficult to find it in some countries. So maybe she made her own version of a baking wafer and then added the ground almond mixture on top – but that’s just a guess. Maybe someone else has a better idea. /Lisa

    • I do the same. When making hazelnut makkaronen i keep
      A little of the batter. After cutting out my Buttergebäck l
      brush the tops with a little egg yolk and place little dollops,
      usually with the tip of a paring knife, of the nut batter on top. Then bake. It is just a way of using the Buttergebäck
      Dough and make different types/looks of cookies.
      I also use brushed on egg yolk or a drizzle of
      Kuchen Glasur (chocolate glaze) for a different look.

    • Hi Shirley, that might just be a different version of this classic butter cookie recipe. Sometimes, especially when you don’t plan on adding a glaze, butter cookies are brushed with egg wash to give them a nice golden color during baking. Since we decided to top ours with an icing sugar glaze that step would have been unnecessary – we would have just covered up the nice golden color afterwards. /Lisa


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