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Christmas cookies are always a favorite with Southern Living readers, so it is little wonder that this recipe for Basic Butter Cookie dough became a holiday favorite. Ellender Mills of Raleigh, North Carolina, sent in this recipe, which ran in December, 1995, and described how she divided the dough into quarters, adding different flavorings, frostings, and garnishes to each quarter to create a wonderful assortment of Christmas cookies. You can make four varieties of cookies from one recipe, and we give you the recipes for Easy Santa Cookies, Pinwheels, Cherry Chocolates, or Almond Brickle Treats. Make one batch of Basic Butter Cookie Dough and divide it into fourths, using one fourth of the dough for each separate cookie recipe. Freeze any unused dough to use later. This Basic Butter Cookie Dough alone bakes up a delicious cookie, perfect for an afternoon coffee break. Combined with the four variations, you have all you need to create a fabulous Christmas cookie platter that is sure to please your family, friends, and even Old Saint Nick.

Ellender Mills


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary test

4 1/2 pounds (about 10 dozen cookies)


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed after each addition until mixture is blended. Stir in vanilla.

  • Divide dough into 4 equal portions; wrap each portion in plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Chill. Proceed with cookie instructions of choice.

  • Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Dip a flat-bottomed glass into sugar, and flatten balls to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Chef's Notes

Try a twist on the butter cookie with these recipes:

Recipe: Pinwheels