French Butter Cookies

The Cookie That Makes Everyone Happy

Phyllis Inspiration, Lifestyle 15 Comments

It’s time for another reader request topic: French baking recipes! Oh, I just love this subject. French baking sounds fancy, but in reality, is very simple. What makes it special is using the proper techniques combined with high-quality ingredients.

The recipe I have chosen to share is perhaps the simplest cookie of all. It is humble in shape and color, but absolutely divine in flavor and is a fancy version of the dearly loved boxed Nilla Wafer. Today, we are talking about French Butter Cookies!

Butter cookies, also known as sablés, are traditionally French, and there are many ways to make them. This cookie, featured in Bake from Scratch and originally from Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog, falls along the lines of shortbread with extra butter and egg yolks, making for a rich, crisp bite. A final dusting of sanding sugar dresses them up and adds a pleasant crunch.

For these cookies to be the best they can be, my recommendation is to use high-quality butter. The taste is truly unparalleled. The reason I chose this cookie is because it is loved by children and adults equally. It’s buttery and vanilla-forward flavor profile is a hit with kids, and adults (myself included) love them for their nostalgic quality.

There is nothing greater than a freezer full of this cookie dough. To freeze, simply place the 2-inch rounds you will cut in step 3 and place them in a freezer-safe bag for storing until just the right time! When company comes, you’ll have a sweet and delicious treat ready in moments.

5.0 from 1 reviews
French Butter Cookies
Makes 36 cookies
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (255 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) fine sea salt
  • 3 large egg yolks (56 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups plus 1 tablespoon (321 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg yolks and vanilla, and beat until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, beating until dough starts to form a ball. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut dough. Using a metal spatula, gently place 12 cookies on each prepared pan. (Any dough scraps can be rewrapped and refrigerated while cookies are baking.) Sprinkle generously with sanding sugar.
  4. Bake, one batch at a time, until edges begin to brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool completely on pans. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Comments 15

  1. What is Presidents butter? I’ve never heard of it. I’m from South Carolina. I use Land of Lakes. I love your column.

  2. Thank you so much Phyllis!!! I’ll be making these as soon as I get the butter!!! You’ll be the topic of conversation this weekend with all the cookie monsters around here!!! Many, many thanks!!!!

  3. Phyllis, thank you so much for this recipe! I love these cookies and would love to make them this weekend! I’ve made Galettes before but they never quite turn out like the ones I had in Brittany. I know there are a number of great French butters out there but if you could tell us which butter you prefer, that would be wonderful! My husband’s old teammate is coming this weekend and I’d love to make them! He and my husband are like two little kids before bedtime! They’re always looking for cookies! Mille Mercis!!!

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  4. Mmmm those sound delicious!
    So, I immediately printed the recipe.
    Then I noticed that they are rolled and it made me wonder if one could use a cookie scoop, roll in a ball, and use a little press on them or the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar? It might also be possible to make a cylinder of the dough, chill and slice like you would a refrigerator cookie. I guess I just don’t really like rolling out dough 🙂 so, it is just an idea.

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      I think that both of those techniques would work beautifully! I’m glad to hear that you are giving this recipe a try, enjoy!!

  5. Like so many of the best things in life, these cookies are simple yet so very wonderful. Pure BLISS to use a “Victoria” term! My sister and I bake a similar recipe, but have never used only the yolks of the eggs, so I cannot wait to try this version. I love the idea of freezing the dough to have it ready for unexpected guests, but I think I would probably be so tempted to bake them in small batches for me whenever I get a butter craving! Thank you for the recipe. Merci!

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    1. It’s a large crystal sugar that does not dissolve easily with heat. You often see it sprinkled on top of muffins and, of course, cookies like the recipe here.

  6. YAY! I’ve wanted a really good butter cookie recipe for a long time. There are plenty recipes but not for cookies like these. They sound really scrumptious!
    Can’t wait to make them.

  7. Can’t wait to bake these! Thanks for the recipe! My alternative to chocolate chip cookies has always been sugar cookies. These sound even better.

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