No proper Southern tea party, wedding reception, or baby shower is complete without a candy dish brimming with delicate buttermints. Traditionally colored in a rainbow of pastel hues, they are light and crisp with a buttery richness, a refreshing minty flavor, and a texture that melts in your mouth. The classic recipe is a little tricky and requires expert candymaking skills. But with our simplified Christmas Butter Mints, which require no cooking and only a few kitchen staples, you can whip up a batch in no time. When freshly made, buttermint dough has the consistency of modeling clay. You can roll it and cut it with fanciful cookie cutters, press it into candy molds, or simply roll it into logs and cut into pieces with a sharp knife. The mints need 24 hours to rest and dry, uncovered, before they'll be firm enough to serve.

Nancie McDermott and Jill O'Connor


Credit: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe Summary test

30 mins
24 hrs
24 hrs 30 mins
10 dozen


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat butter with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed until light and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until mixture forms a stiff, crumbly dough, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add evaporated milk, peppermint extract, vanilla extract, and fine sea salt. (If using peppermint oil, start with 6 drops, and taste the dough to see if a stronger peppermint flavor is desired before adding more oil.) Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and soft and has the consistency of modeling clay, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Remove dough from mixer bowl, and shape into a smooth ball. Cut ball in half; wrap 1 dough ball half in plastic wrap, and set aside. To color the remaining dough ball half, use a wooden pick to deposit a little of the red food coloring gel onto dough; massage in with your fingers until evenly blended. Keep adding food coloring gel, a little at a time, until it reaches the desired shade of red.   

  • Divide red dough portion and reserved white dough portion into 4 equal portions each to make 8 equal portions (4 red and 4 white). On a flat work surface sprinkled with some powdered sugar, gently knead together 2 red portions of dough with 2 white portions of dough until the mixture looks marbled. (Do not overmix.) Roll into a long, smooth, 1⁄2-inch-thick log with visible swirls of both red and white color showing. Using a sharp knife, cut log into 60 (1⁄2-inch-thick) pieces. Repeat process with remaining 2 red dough portions and 2 white dough portions. Transfer buttermints to prepared baking sheet.

  • Let buttermints dry at room temperature, uncovered, 24 hours. (They'll develop a crisp outer shell with a sweet, creamy, minty middle.) At this point, buttermints can be bagged up for giving as gifts, spooned into a candy dish, or stored in an airtight container or ziplock plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.