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Every year of my childhood, without fail, one or more of those iconic tins of butter cookies would appear at my grandparents’ home during the holidays. Those very tins, now a bit worn for wear, still float about our lives, having been re-purposed as button tins, thread containers, and receptacles for various nails and screws in the handyman department of the garage.

Danish Butter Cookies on

Spritz Cookies

The cookies were most often Danish butter, a traditional sweet that is sometimes piped into a wreath or even a pretzel. Very similar to German spritz cookies, they’re made from a simple combination of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. Indeed, the word spritz originated from the German word, “spritzen,” which translates “to squirt” in English. They are made by dough being “pushed” or “squirted” from a cookie press. The egg in both recipes makes the dough more pliable and therefore easier to press into a variety of shapes and designs.

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Ready, Set, BAKE!

Homemade baking was and still is a very important part of our family holiday. Cookies, candy, cakes, and cheese straws are for gift-giving, church bazaars and to welcome guests. Thankfully, we’ve ceased making my grandfather’s fruitcake cookies, boozy blobs studded with candied fruit. (I’m not sure if they were meant to be some sort of adverse cookie therapy, but much like the cake for after which they were named I steered clear of those as a child.) Other family favorites include wedding cookies, chocolate snowcaps, and spicy golden gingersnaps.

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I hope you and your family will give them a try. If you don’t have a cookie press you can still make a delicious buttery cookie. 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. Best wishes for a joyful holiday!

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
– Virginia Willis

PS Want to really stretch your baking skills? Give this Old Fashioned Caramel Cake or check out my Chrismas Coconut Cake on Food Network. 

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Danish Butter Cookies

You can bake the cookies on an unlined baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking 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.
Prep Time30 mins
Active Time10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, cookie
Yield: 3 dozen
Author: Virginia Willis


  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 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°F. 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.

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Copyright © 2019 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.



Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. (That means I make a commission if you use my affiliate link to buy the product.)

Published by Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has made chocolate chip cookies with Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking -- but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Virginia is a chef instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen and author of Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network's Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and follow her traveling exploits at

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