Food

Butter Cookies (With Just Three Ingredients)

This month, we’re featuring simple desserts—things you can whip up easily with just a few ingredients. These delicious butter cookies from Cara at Big Girls Small Kitchen can be made with just flour, butter and sugar. Here’s how to make them…

Three-Ingredient Butter Cookies
by Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls Small Kitchen

Every time I pull these three-ingredient butter cookies from the oven I’m amazed that I made these melt-in-your-mouth treats with nothing but butter, sugar and flour. That has to be the simplest cookie in the world! I bake them for late-night sugar cravings or last-minute guests. The three baking mainstays turn into a crumbly and rich cookie that’s very, very good.

Of course, loving simple sweets doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes want to complicate things. Fortunately, you can decorate these butter cookies with almost anything that suits your fancy—or that you find in the back of your pantry or fridge. Though whipping up the dough is a one-person job, it’s fun to recruit a helper to flatten and garnish each cookie.

What to garnish with? Sometimes I embrace my inner kid and decorate with sprinkles or chocolate chips. Other times, I turn the cookies into sophisticated bites, with pine nuts, sesame seeds, goji berries or grains of sea salt. You could do a row of any topping that appeals!

Recipe: Three-Ingredient Butter Cookies

You’ll need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
Garnishes (optional): walnuts, sprinkles, goji berries, chocolate chips, blanched almonds, shelled pistachios, pine nuts, big grains of sea salt, tiny spoonfuls of jam—or whatever you like!

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer or your very strong arm, cream the butter in a large mixing bowl until it turns white, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue to beat for about five minutes, until very smooth and creamy. The combination will look a lot like buttercream! Retire the mixer and slowly work in the flour with a spatula. The dough will be really soft, but that’s fine.

Take walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls, then flatten slightly. Place them on the baking sheet three inches apart (the cookies will spread a bit). Make a dent in the center with your finger and place your garnish, if using one, into the center of each cookie. (If you’re using jam, make a deeper dent so it doesn’t pour out.)

Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, watching carefully—you want to catch the cookies right when they’re firm and just barely beginning to get golden around the edges. It’ll depend a little bit on your oven, which is why I gave a big range. Cool cookies on the sheets for 10 minutes, then use a thin spatula to move them to a rack to cool completely.

Thank you so much, Cara!

P.S. No-bake French silk pie and Nutella banana bread.

(Photos and recipe by Cara Eisenpress. Thanks to Caroline Donofrio for her help with this series)

  1. Lexi says...

    Umm mine are too soggy (yes after I baked them) they are way too spread out too

    What did I do wrong?

  2. SugarCraved Mom says...

    My dough is wet and no way possible to make balls with. I double checked everything and all measurements are correct so why is my dough wet? I added more flour slowly till I got a soft pliable dough so hope they come out right!

  3. Isis Taylor says...

    well i have just put them in the oven for 15 mins. They look sooooooooooo good!!! I hope they taste yummy. they probably are cuz i just know. I put sea salt on top with one blueberry. Thx for this recipe! ;-)

  4. GEORGIOS says...

    Hi, I used olive oil instead of butter and a little congnac in the mixture. I baked for twelve minutes until brown enough. When I tried to remove one cookie from the tray in the oven, it crumbled away. Now I have them out of the oven to cool down. I hope this trick works to make the cookies firm. Else I don’t know what I did wrong.

  5. December Cookie Baker says...

    I have to make millions of cookies at Christmas time. Can I freeze the dough and how long will it stay good until I bake them? I like recipes I can make an October, freeze and cook after the first week in December. I also want to use the Wilton’s and also Dallies Candy Icing decorations. Can I bake the cookies with them on there or should I put them on after I bake the cookies? None of the boxes say if I can bake them on the cookies or not .

  6. Fatima says...

    I just made these today. They were so tasty and crispy! I used confectioners sugar and added a little bit of milk.

  7. Anett says...

    Do you have a suger free reciep for tbis cookie treat?

    • Beth says...

      I just made these today using coconut palm sugar and they were amazing! Just like the butter cookies I remember before giving up refined sugar. They are a darker color, but they taste and feel like the real thing (: I’ll try them with whole wheat flour next.

  8. Kate says...

    Can I cut cookie cutters to make different cookie shapes?

  9. Allison E. says...

    How many cookies does this make?

  10. Barbara Dusenbery says...

    I made these last week for some ladies and the verdict was thumbs up. I like that they are easy to make and really good too. So good in fact, I’m making them again today, then again on the 24th for our kids. Thanks for such a good recipe.

  11. Rosie Becerra says...

    Oh my God. These are so easy. Delicious. Crispy. Will never use another cookie recipe. You can tweak it by adding flavor of vanilla extract,etc. Top them w any jam or Nutella. They do taste better w butter but we’re delicious w margarine, too. I am going to ground pecans and add to flour.

  12. Anonymous,. says...

    can i make these without flour?? what can i substitute????

  13. Pam says...

    I made these last night and they spread really bad. The flavor was great, but I wish I knew what I am doing wrong.

  14. Sierrah says...

    i added peanut butter to the mix and topped with Kisses. Delicious!

  15. Ramona says...

    I try it right now ! I already made the recipe and now cooking in the oven! i am pretty sure myhusband will love it !

  16. lucy barber says...

    it took longer than expected but once they@re finished they are delicious

  17. Ashley says...

    Can i use vegetable oil spread?

  18. gemma k says...

    I have made one giant cookie with chocolate chips to cut up and serve for desert! hope it tastes good!

  19. Kyla says...

    Thank you so much. My boyfriend loves them. They will be made and handed out for christmas lol. Thanx again

  20. Wow just had them and what a treat! So simple to make. This is going to be my goto recipe for cookies. Thanks so much

  21. Mmm, these are easy and delicious! :) I put nonpareils on some.. and coconut and a bit of cinnamon on the rest.

  22. Anonymous Anonymous says...

    Um… is it okay if my dough is crumbly?

    • Mine was crumbly so I just added some milk and mixed it in the electric mixer again!

  23. Ramona says...

    I MADE THESE COOKIES AND THEY CAME OUT GREAT MY DAUGHTER AND I LOVED THEM. I ADDED PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY TO IT. I MIXED PEANUT BUTTER AND CAN JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE. IT WAS GOOD

  24. Amber Nichole Gordon says...

    Do I have to “retire the mixer” for the flour? Because I have a VERY weak arm…

    • My arm is also pretty weak so I just put it back in the electric mixer and it turned out fine!

  25. Amber Nichole Gordon says...

    Hi! I am only 11 years old but I love to bake! My name is Amber! My family just moved so we don’t have a lot of food ingredients to work with. I love that you posted this recipe and I will DEFINITELY be baking this… Actually… RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3…2…1…BAKE!

  26. liyana-leigh says...

    Mmm yummy delicious fast treat for mybabys … Simple just like me ;)

  27. Ivyuna says...

    Thanks I loved the cookies when I baked them

  28. Will normal butter work?and will self rising flour work???

    • Brittney says...

      That’s what I used they turn out fluffy but really good add melted jelly to the top almost like a non messy pancake

  29. Ava says...

    I love the cookies, I will definitely make these again.💙💙💙💙

  30. Emily says...

    Happy with the results. Very easy to make and I managed to roll walnut-sized cookies nicely… each of them.

  31. Conny says...

    Just finished baking them. I topped with some fig muscat jam and sprinkle of sea salt, deliscious! However, I yielded 20 cookies, my idea of a walnut seems slightly smaller than most ;)

  32. Eve says...

    I am only 12 years old, but I love baking. And I only have a little bit of ingrediants, but I managed to make/bake these cookies. They were delicious! My whole family loves them!

  33. These are terrific. Thanks! Now I just need those little silver balls my grandmother always kept in her pantry.

  34. Jen says...

    I literally only have flour, butter, brown sugar, and oil in my cabinets right now. (Please don’t judge me – I’ve been really sick for over a year now, haven’t been able to work in a year, savings are almost gone so money is super tight). I was looking for something to make for my son and me to eat and I came across this recipe. Sounds easy and perfect, and hopefully delicious!

    • Sierra says...

      Praying for you and your family xo

  35. Sam Adams says...

    Does anybody know how much this in kg/g is? I am on holidays in london and they often use kg and g (i am actually from brooklyn)

  36. Darlene R Coleman says...

    Turned out very good for first timer. Did everything by hand. Dough a little dry so sprinkled water. Took 25 mins at 350 in a small counter top toaster over. YUMMY!

  37. Elle Coombes says...

    I tried theses out myself these were delicious will definitely making these again soon ❤

  38. Aurora says...

    Tried this and loved it. Simple and brilliant. Thanks for sharing! Another reason why I’ve been reading this blog for yonks.

  39. Steph says...

    Love your topping ideas! I’ve been making these for years as thumbprints with raspberry and apricot jam. Everyone expects them at holiday time! The recipe I use is for Rosenmunnar, or Swedish thumbprints. The ingredients are doubled, use salted butter, and a little less sugar (same amount as yours, minus the extra tablespoon. So 1/2 cup total for a doubled recipe.) Some variations I’ve tried: made them with brown sugar, with coarsely ground pecans, have even patted all the dough into a 9×13 (chill for 15 min in the freezer, then poke holes all over with a fork- like shortbread) and swirled jam on top. Cut into squares while still warm in the pan. When I do that with raspberry jam, sometimes I sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top as soon as I take them out of the oven. It’s a keeper recipe for sure that every one loves, no matter how you make them. Can’t wait to try your ideas!

  40. Genevie says...

    How many cookies can one batch based on your recipe serve? Really excited to try the recipe out myself! :)

    • Sanvi says...

      about 8. :D

  41. Ao1f3 says...

    Is there any other flour I can use apart from all purpose?

  42. Amber Van Sweden says...

    Just came across this recipe. I quickly put together a batch (this recipe yields about 8 cookies). SOOO GOOD! These cookies are just like the really soft sugar cookies with colored frosting found in many stores. Their cookies are soft just like yours! What makes these great is we know exactly what the ingredients are. We can even top them with our goodies making this a more healthy treat than those store bought cookies. Thanks for sharing your magic cookie recipe with us! <3

  43. Amber Crane says...

    Quick, simple and perfect. I added pecans and they are so tasty! Thank you!

  44. Emoji says...

    Can you use brown sugar for this too?

    • sarah says...

      yes you can use brown sugar I used it in mine and they came out perfect!

  45. Toni Gilbert says...

    Can you substitute margarine for butter

    • Of course. I always use margarine when making these delightful cookies, but they’ll have a salty twinge to them. But nothing me and my family don’t enjoy.

  46. Connie Lindler says...

    I made these tinight on a whim, and WOW, they were a HUGE hit. My cookie monsters loved them and especially more since they were homemade. Great recipe

  47. Lisa says...

    Can I make these with gluten free flour (ALL PURPOSE) will that work?

    • yea definitely. i always make these cookies with all purpose flour.

  48. Jennifer Estrada says...

    Super easy and very yummy, especially with a cup of coffee!!!

  49. lawyerlyn says...

    thanks for sharing this. i made this using salted butter and brown sugar and they still turned out great. thanks once more!

  50. I made them yesterday! They are awesome! I just added some lemon grated lemon ^^ My grandma also liked them and asked me to give her recipe ~ I will definitely make them again! I will post pictures on my blog :3 Thanks for great recipe!

  51. This looks lovely! I want to try making them for Halloween, but I’m not sure if I should make two measures? How many of them do we get with one measure? Thank you! :3

  52. Jenni-jen says...

    O.M.G loveeed these cookies definitely a keeper, I followed recipe as is and enjoyed them very easy to make.

  53. Brittany says...

    I just made this recipe didn’t have all purpose flour just self rising…thought it wouldn’t make that much of a difference but it really did they were horrible… guess I’ll go get the right flour and try again

    • Megan says...

      I used self rising and it turned out just fine. Maybe you did something wrong..

  54. Jen H says...

    I make these quite often, thanks for the yummy recipe! I put either raspberry jam in the middle or nutella! Can’t stop eating them 😊

  55. Autumn Nam says...

    This is amazing! Just finished making them after dinner.My kids love them!!I Recommend this to anyone!

  56. Beautiful images !beautiful everything ! Going to try this soon

  57. Just baked the cookies tonight, and they turned out fantastic!!! My boyfriend couldn’t stop eating them, even though he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth. I would have never thought that it’s so easy to make such a wonderful dessert. Thanks so much for this recipe x x x x Csilla

  58. I’m not much of a baker, but I tried making these cookies and totally failed. I followed the instructions, but the cookies spread too thin and fell apart. Any advice?

    • You probably added too much sugar and butter, or not enough flour.

  59. I made these with my 2 1/2 year old this morning. I didn’t read the recipe properly (I added the sugar and flour at the same time) and they still worked out-hooray! They’re delicious and ones to make again. Thanks Cara, Jo and Caroline.

  60. Yay! I’m so excited to try this recipe: both of my kiddos are allergic to eggs, which makes everything infinitely more complicated than it already is. (Egg substitutes just don’t really do the trick for taste, unfortunately) If this recipe works, I’ll be so happy! Thanks! XO, Regi

  61. I love how simple to make these are and how the toppings are unlimited. I’m totally going to give these a try for sure.

  62. Oh…. These are super tasty. My kids and I made them this afternoon with sprinkles. Thank you for the terrific treat. These will be my go to sugar cookies forever.

  63. I wish I had an oven in my kitchen to bake these for my girls!!!
    Thank you!!!

    • JAMI says...

      You should try looking up instructions for making your own easy bake oven it is as simple as a box and a 45 or 60 watt bulb they’ll be even more impressed when they help you make the oven!!!! double the fun and totally reusable science, engineering, food, hands on quality time with the kids 1000 reasons to try it!

  64. @Kathleen: nope! Salted could be really nice…they’ll just be salty :)
    @Kathryn: that’s exactly how I first learned about them. I’ve never tried with clarified butter though – will do!

  65. These will be great for my preschool class. We bake every Friday, but it’s hard to find something easy, quick and egg free (for those with allergies!).

  66. Do you think it makes a big difference (in the deliciousness) if you use whole wheat flower?

  67. This is a classic Lebanese recipe for butter cookies called Ghraybey. They are traditionally made with clarified butter and sometimes rose water or orange blossom water is added in, pine nuts or pistachios are the traditional topping. They typically come out around Christmas, it was really why I loved family gatherings as a child!

  68. so simple. yet really what else do you need besides butter and sugar ha
    planning on making these this weekend!
    http://www.vivreblog.com

  69. These cookies look so cute and I love that they are easy. Perfect for spring birthdays!

  70. I just discovered these cookies myself and am in love! Also a great addition is sticking some candy, like a mini reese’s, in the middle and covering it with the dough. Makes a great little surprise.

  71. I love this idea for last minute guests!! Simple but delicious, and what’s better hospitality than fresh cookies?
    I’d smother them with raspberry jam and make teeny sandwich cookies!
    Abby
    happyfoodhappyhome.com

  72. My go to peanut butter cookies are super simple, 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg. Mix all together, roll into balls, bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Super simple and they go from idea to table in 20 minutes. And they are gluten free to boot!

  73. love this! I’m not a baker so anything simple, I’ll try!

    I also have a great dessert featured on my blog with 3 ingredients and no baking: Rocky Road Bars!

    Vanessasrunway.com

  74. These seem great for parties and such where people have different tastes/allergies! I would do some with chocolate, some jam, some sprinkles, maybe some with cinnamon sugar…

  75. I like these because the kids get super impatient and my wife gets upset when they “give up” making cookies on us! But it’s because they’re are 2 and 4 and have short attention spans. With only 3 ingredients, this is a recipe they can handle. Thanks for Tom, have to show wife. Might add a few pecans if that works? http://www.raiseyourgarden.com

  76. Jo says...

    Thank you, Joanna (and Cara of course), for this genius recipe! Those butter cookies look so good! The recipe will save many moms’ lives, I’m sure… Thanks so much!

  77. These look very yummy! I usually make very similar cookies, with more ingredients :) but I put jam in the middle.

  78. desserts always seem so complicated to make at home, love the idea of this series! great for kids, too. :)