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+ servings
German butter cookies with cookie cutter
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5 from 9 votes

Old Fashioned German Butter Cookies

An authentic German recipe that is perfect for Christmas, Easter and Birthday Parties. Easy to prepare, quick to make. Tastes delicious
Course Cookies/ Biscuits, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine German
Prep Time 13 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Servings 80 cookies
Author Marita
Cost $5


  • stand or hand mixer
  • silicon baking mat
  • pastry brush


  • 125 g butter 4.4 oz unsalted
  • 125 g sugar 4.4 oz
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 5 egg yolks from medium eggs at room temperature
  • 280 gr plain flour 9.8 oz ( I use German type 405 flour. similar flour in the US is pastry flour, UK plain flour)

To decorate

  • 1-2 egg yolks
  • sprinkles


  • With a hand or stand mixer knead the butter, sugar, salt and lemon peel with the dough hook. Add the egg yolks one by one. 
  • Sieve the flour and add to the butter mixture. 
  • Knead to a dough ball. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave the rest in the fridge for about an hour. 
  • Preheat the oven to around 170°C or 338°F
  • Prepare your work surface with some flour. Or, use a silicone baking mat. Roll out the dough to 3mm thickness with a rolling pin. You can use a sheet of cling film over the dough or cover your rolling pin with some flour to avoid the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.
  • Cut out butter cookies in various shapes with your cookie cutters.
  • Place on a tray prepared with baking parchment.
  • If desired apply some egg yolk on the top with a brush. You can also add some sprinkles.
  • Bake for around 10 minutes. Leave to cool before transferring into a cookie tin.


My tip is to use up the leftover egg whites for German Coconut Macaroons or Baiser Cookies. 

Decoration Options 

There are several ways you can decorate these cookies.
  • The traditional German cookie decoration is just to brush them with some egg yolk before placing them in the oven. Optionally you can also decorate them with some sprinkles on top of the egg yolk.
  • Decorate them with some melted chocolate, once they have been baked. 
  • Another traditional German cookie decoration is to add some lemon icing. Just mix 100 gr of icing sugar and 2 spoons of lemon juice, to a thick mass and spread evenly over the cookies. 
  • Spread them with jam. Just take two of the same shape, spread some jam on one of them and sandwich them together.

Storage instructions 

Germans start making these types of cookies (Butterplätzchen) around four weeks before Christmas. They can last a long time. 
In Germany, we store them in biscuit tins. Make sure you store them in an airtight container and at room temperature. You can store different kinds of cookies in one cookie tin. If you don’t want to store different kinds of cookies in one tin, you can separate them with a sheet of baking parchment, so the flavours do not mix.
If the cookies turn out too hard, add a couple of slices of cut apple into the tin.