Homemade Danish butter cookies recipe that makes delicious edible gifts! This holiday season, fill your own tin of cookies with different unique piped designs.
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Do you remember those shiny round blue tins filled with sweet golden brown treats that always show up around the holidays? My grandparents always used to get them as gifts from their friends, and they would sit on their coffee table waiting for all of the grandchildren to devour them.
My favorite was the pretzel-shaped cookies with crunchy sugar on top that would melt in your mouth. I couldn’t stop eating them! Now that I’m a BIG kid, I thought it was time to make these vanilla Danish butter cookies as a homemade treat for my friends and family. They make cute edible gifts.
Make the cookie dough
The danish butter cookie dough combines six simple ingredients; softened butter, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, vanilla bean, egg, and salt. The butter and sugar are mixed in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. This traps air, adding texture to the cookie. The salt, vanilla, and eggs are added in for richness and flavor. Gradually stir in the flour until hydrated. Do not overmix, or it will be difficult to pipe!
These cookies are crisp with an aromatic vanilla flavor from real vanilla beans. If you don’t have access to vanilla beans, paste or extract can be used. If you use vanilla extract, you won’t get the speckled appearance.
Pipe the dough
I use a piping bag and 1/2-inch round and star piping tip (Ateco 806 for round and 824 for star tips) to create the fluted pretzel, wreaths, and circle-shaped cookies. You can also place the dough in a resealable plastic bag, cut off a 1/2-inch tip and create the wreath-shaped cookies by making conjoined circles, shown below.
Pipe them onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, about 2 inches in size. I sprinkle the tops of these cookies with sparkling coarse sugar, but you can also use granulated sugar.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then bake one tray at a time. They are ready when the surface looks dry, and the bottoms are lightly golden brown in color, about 11 to 13 minutes. Let them sit on the warm pan for about 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. The butter will firm up when it gets to room temperature, which makes the cookies crisper.
Aren’t these adorable cookies when filled in white paper cups and packed into festive tins? I found these Christmas-decorated tins at the 99-cent store. They had a lot of sizes, shapes, and color options for a great price.
Vanilla Danish butter cookies are perfect for dipping in tea or coffee, as they are very sturdy. If you’re like me and prefer to make personalized DIY gifts for the special people in your life, you can have fun creating your own cookie tin. I like to add a variety of treats like Milano cookies too. Happy baking!
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Shape the cookies with no piping bag or tips
Medium to large resealable plastic bag works well. You can cut the corner off the side of the bag to the desired thickness, about ¼ to ½ inch. Use your imagination to create different shapes and designs. The dough is pretty stiff and does not spread much during baking. For designs that are meant to have a hole in the center, like the wreaths, make the center gap big enough, so it doesn’t close completely after baking.
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Vanilla Bean Danish Butter Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to 60 to 65°F (16 to 18°C)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, measured then sifted
- Preheat the Oven – Position the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350°F (177ºC). Line two large sheet trays with parchment paper and set aside.
- Make the Dough – Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add salt, vanilla, and egg. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gradually add the flour to the bowl, mixing on low speed for about 1 minute.
- Pipe the Cookies – Scrape the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1⁄2" star tip or desired tip. Pipe 1 ½ to 2" pretzel or wreath shapes onto the parchment paper-lined sheet trays, at least 2" apart.If desired, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar or large coarse sparkling sugar.
- Bake – Bake one tray at a time. Bake until cookies are lightly golden on the bottom, about 11 to 13 minutes.
- Let Them Cool – Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Use Softened Butter: The butter should be cool and give some resistance when poked.
- Flour Selection: Gold Medal all-purpose flour was used in this recipe.
- Vanilla Bean Substitution: Use 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- Work Quickly: The longer you let the dough sit in the piping bag, the thicker it becomes. Try to pipe right after making the dough if possible.
- If Too Thick to Pipe: Shortbread cookie dough tends to be thicker than other piping dough. If needed, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, and combine until just mixed.
- If too Soft to Pipe: If the dough is too soft and does not hold its shape, gradually add 1 tablespoon (9 g) of all-purpose flour at a time, adding more as needed up to ¼ cup (36 g). The dough typically gets thicker as it sits as the proteins absorb the moisture, so try to wait a few minutes between adding additional flour.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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