Virginia Willis’ Danish Butter Cookies

Southern Kitchen

Virginia Willis’ Danish Butter Cookies

Serves: Makes 2 to 3 dozen

Hands On Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1 large egg white, beaten with 2 teaspoons of water (optional)

Sanding sugars, dragées, or sprinkles (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla, followed by the flour and salt. Mix thoroughly to combine. The dough should be very soft and pliable.

Fill a cookie press with the dough, and turn out cookies 1 to 2 inches apart onto either an unlined baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (see note).

If pressing the dough is too difficult, it is not soft enough. If that is the case, use your hands to work the dough, a little at a time, until it is very soft and pliable. Sprinkle the cookies with colored sanding sugars or decorate with dragées or sprinkles.

Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. To ensure even baking, rotate the sheet halfway through the baking process. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

About the recipe

Virginia Willis’ homemade version of the buttery cookie tin classic is surprisingly easy to make. You don’t even need a cookie press to make them. Simply scoop the dough into a small ball and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Or, with a bit of elbow grease, you can also use a pastry bag with a star tip. 

You can bake the cookies on an unlined baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with a silicone making mat. Cookies baked on an unlined sheet will be slightly crisper and darker than cookies baked on a mat. Cookies baked on a mat will also take a few minutes longer to bake.

Danish Butter Cookies