A classic Italian treat, these Authentic Italian Butter Cookies are made with just 6 ingredients. Dip them in chocolate, add a cherry, or stuff them with jam for soft, buttery, and simply irresistible cookies!
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If you’ve ever grabbed a package of Italian butter cookies at the grocery store and found them hard, bland, and wondering why they are so popular…I’m happy to tell you this authentic Italian cookie recipe is nothing like that!
These old-fashioned butter cookies are soft with a rich, buttery flavour. The texture is a bit cakey, not dry and hard. They are sort of like the Italian version of my grandma’s truly spectacular Shortbread.
The best part of this recipe, though, is the toppings. I’ve included 4 different variations of these butter cookies and I often make two or three different versions when I bake these.
For those who want to stay simple and classic, you can add a candied cherry to the centre of a round butter cookie or simply dip half of a cookie in chocolate then add some sprinkles. Or turn these into Italian sandwich cookies by stuffing the centre with Nutella or jam.
Whatever version you choose, you can count on these cookies being a hit during the holiday season. They store well for a few days, making them a great option for cookie trays as well.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Unsalted butter – You’ll want to soften the butter but do not melt it. I always use unsalted butter when baking so I have full control over how much salt is included any any recipe.
- Egg yolks – Set the eggs on the counter for 30 minutes or so to allow them to come to room temperature.
- Vanilla – Provides the light flavour for these traditional Italian cookies.
- All-purpose flour – There’s no need for pastry flour in these cookies, as all-purpose flour will give more structure. This improved structure will help them hold their shape better.
- Salt – By using unsalted butter, you’re able to add the perfect amount of salt needed to the recipe.
- Whole milk – You can substitute other dairy milk but I recommend using whole milk if possible.
- For the chocolate dip – If you choose to make the optional chocolate dip, you’ll need dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, coconut oil and sprinkles. Ok, you don’t NEED the sprinkles but in my opinion, everyone can use sprinkles in their life.
- Optional add-ins – Other optional add-ins for these Italian cookies include candied cherries, raspberry jam, and Nutella.
How To Make Italian Butter Cookies
Begin by preheating your oven to 350F.
Beat together the butter, egg yolks, and vanilla with a hand mixer until creamy.
Place a large sieve over the bowl. Sift the flour, salt, and sugar. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture with a spoon until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. The mixture will appear dry. Add in the milk and mix until the dough is combined. It should be less dry and a little sticky.
Fill a piping bag with the cookie dough.
Use a large open star tip to pipe 2-3” strips of cookie dough onto the cookie sheets. I used an #8B Star Open Tip. The dough will expand and spread.
To get the dough to release from the tip, twist and press down gently on the end of the dough just piped. This end will look less perfect and be the one to dip in chocolate.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely before dipping them in chocolate or assembling them into Italian sandwich cookies.
To make the chocolate dip, add the chocolate and coconut oil to a medium-sized microwavable bowl. I like to use a mixing up which is taller and makes it easier for dipping.
Microwave for 45 seconds and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Dipped in chocolate. This is probably the most popular way to serve these old fashioned butter cookies. Simply make the chocolate as described above and dip the end of the cookie in. Gently shake off the excess chocolate then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to rest. Add the sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. Transfer to the fridge to help the chocolate set.
- Italian sandwich cookie with Nutella. This version is popular with chocolate lovers! For this version, spread a layer of Nutella in the center of two cookies. Dip in chocolate and add the sprinkles as described above.
- Italian sandwich cookie with raspberry jam. For those who want a little less chocolate, you can replace the Nutella with raspberry jam in the center of the cookies, then dip in chocolate and add sprinkles.
- Topped with a candied cherry. For this version, you’ll want to pipe the cookies into small circles instead of long strips. Bake the cookies halfway, then add a candied cherry in the centre, and continue baking.
What’s the difference between shortbread cookies and butter cookies?
The two cookies have a similar buttery flavor but different textures. Butter cookies are also sweeter and do not have the flaky texture of butter cookies. When I make my shortbread cookies https://thedeliciousspoon.com/shortbread-cookies/, I bake them into bars vs the strips used in this butter cookie recipe.
Why are my cookies hard?
Your Italian butter cookies should be soft. If they’re not, the reason is likely due to overmixing. When the flour is mixed into the dough, gluten begins to form. The more you mix, the tougher the dough will get.
Is it okay to use melted butter instead of softened?
No. Authentic Italian butter cookies are meant to be soft and cakey. If you use melted butter they will be thinner and chewier.
How to store butter cookies
These traditional Italian cookies can be stored at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. Keep them out of the heat to avoid melting the chocolate. These cookies should not be stacked without a sheet of parchment paper in between to keep them from sticking together. I like to stack the chocolate end above each other and facing the outside of the container to keep the non-dipped cookie end clean and looking pretty.
Can I freeze these?
Yes, these butter cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze the plain cookies and then add the chocolate and other toppings after they’ve thawed.
More Cookie Recipes:
- Italian Pizzelle Cookie Recipe
- Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
- Cocoa Spritz Cookies
- Raspberry Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies
Traditional Italian Butter Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- 1 cup dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tsp coconut oil
Optional Cookie Fillings and Toppings
- candied cherries
- raspberry jam
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, egg yolks and vanilla with a hand mixer until creamy.
- Place a large sieve over the bowl and add the flour, salt and sugar. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture below. Use a spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. The mixture will appear dry so add in the milk and mix until the dough is combined and less dry. It will be a little sticky.
- Fill a piping bag with the cookie dough and using a large open star tip (I used a #8B Star Open Tip) pipe 2-3" strips of dough onto the cookies sheet or for the cherry version pipe into small circles. The dough will expand and spread.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool completely before dipping or assembling.
- Add the chocolate and coconut oil to a medium-sized microwavable bowl. I like to use a mixing up which is taller. The deeper size of the mixing cup makes it easier for dipping.
- Microwave for 45 seconds and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Dip the end of each cookie into the chocolate and gently shake off the excess chocolate before placing the dipped cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet to rest. Sprinkle with sprinkles, if desired, while the chocolate is wet. Transfer to the fridge to help the chocolate set.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.