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Christmas Butter Cookies Recipe

Homemade German Butterplätzchen & Heidesand

The result of my butter cookies recipe is tempting. Crisp and smooth, these German cookies melt in your mouth.
Butter cookies are eaten all year round, think of the well-known Danish butter cookies in the tin box.

Butterplätzchen on a rack

However, the Butterplätzchen we bake for Christmas in Germany are different. They are much thinner and come in typical Christmas shapes like stars, bells, moons and Christmas trees. Butter cookies recipes are usually simple, based on a shortcrust pastry dough. What makes them a favourite Christmas cookie is the fact that kids love to help and decorate the Plätzchen with sugar sprinkles, chocolate, smarties and coarse sugar.



Butter Cookies Recipe - German Butterplätzchen

Ingredients for approx. 50 Cookies

  • 150g (1 1/4 cups) pastry flour (Type 405)
  • 75g (3/8 cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100g (1/2cup) butter

For decoration
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • sugar & chocolate sprinkles
  • coarsed sugar


Sift the flour on a board, cut the cold butter, put the egg yolk, sugar and butter chunks on top of the flour.

Blend the ingredients by chopping with a large knife or palette knife until you get a crumbly mix.

Then use your cool hand to quickly knead a smooth dough. There shouldn't be any butter pieces left in the dough.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

Dust a board and rolling pin with flour, roll out the dough 3 - 4 mm thin.

Dust cookie cutters with flour and cut out the Butterplätzchen, put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

If you use cups instead of a scale, please check this page for flour facts and gram to cup conversion.

Decorate the butter cookies

Whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon milk, brush the cookies thinly.

Now you, can decorate the Butterplätzchen with coarse sugar, coloured sugar or chocolate sprinkles. This would be the most traditional way to decorate them.

Bake at 180°C / 356°F for 8 to 10 minutes until golden.

Let the cookies cool on a cooling rack, store them in a tin box.

decoration for cookies

Decorate Butterplätzchen with chocolate & sugar sprinkles

Butter Cookies Recipe - German Heidesand

Heidesand is another favourite kind of butter cookies, especially in Lower-Saxony. These cookies got their name from their texture, they are crumbly like baked sand. Heidesand is just delicious.

Ingredients for approx. 50 Plätzchen

  • 250g (1 1/8 cup) soft butter
  • 125g (5/8 cup) sugar
  • 125g (1 cup) almonds, grounded
  • 375g (3 1/8 cups) pastry flour (Type 405)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar to coat the cookies



Carefully heat the butter in a pan until it is light brown. Let it cool down and put it into a mixing bowl.

When the butter is firm whisk with a handmixer until foamy, add suggar, continue whisking for about 10 minutes to get a thick white cream.

Add almonds and the sifted flour, knead to get a firm dough.

Form a 3 to 4 cm thick roll. With a sharp knife cut 5 -7 mm thick cookies.

Coat the cookie's edges with sugar and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 150°C / 302°F for 20 to 25 minutes until golden.

Let the cookies cool on a cooling rack, store them in a tin box.

Rita's Tips

  • Don't put the the cookies too close together on the baking sheet, leave some space between them.
  • Cookies can burn quickly, always watch them while they are in the oven.
  • Ovens are different, baking time might differ.
cutting butter cookies
Now did I make your mouth water? Check out my other Christmas cookie recipes. Happy baking!

cookies on a tray

Freshly baked cookies on a tray

Don't have time for Christmas baking? Check out original German Lebkuchen & other goodies below.

Order Original German Christmas Treats

Schmidt Lebkuchen are the best! Fortunately, for all Lebkuchen & cookie lovers in the US, the original products from Nuremberg are available at Amazon.com
Choose one of the decorative tin chests filled with delicious ginger bread and you'll have a perfect Christmas gift for your family & friends, or for yourself.

Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links. This means when you buy a product through one of these links, for example at Amazon.com, I earn a small commission (there is no extra cost for you). This money helps me to maintain this website and provide the free information for you. Thank you in advance for your support.

Click an image to shop for Lebkuchen at Amazon.com
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German Christmas Traditions - Get details from an insider...

Amazon Affiliate Link
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My friend Marion from inside-munich.com shares how we celebrate Christmas in Germany.
It is a very personal book that gives details about all our beloved traditions, including a few original German Christmas cookies recipes.

For everyone with German roots or a favour for our country, this book is highly recommended. It makes a lovely Christmas gift.

Christmas Traditions in Germany is available at Amazon.com as ebook for the kindle reader, or paperback when you prefer a real book.

Order German Christmas Traditions Now

Don't miss the delicious cookie recipes below and my other Christmas pages


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