These adorable bite-sized cookies are a holiday favorite! Spritz cookies are sweet and buttery and can be flavored and decorated in so many different ways for any occasion.
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I am obsessed with holiday cookie recipes right now.
These cookies are so much easier than sugar cookies that you have to roll, cut, and decorate, but they’re still just as pretty and perfect for celebrating any occasion!
WHAT ARE SPRITZ COOKIES?
Spritz cookies were all the rage in the ‘80s and ‘90s. These crispy, buttery cookies are made by pressing the dough through a cookie press. The patterned holes in the press form the dough into a design when the press is lifted.
Because the dough does not spread, it holds the shape of the design when the cookies are baked.
That’s right, spritz cookies practically decorate themselves!
These crisp, buttery cookies are sort of a cross between a sugar cookie and shortbread. They are bite-size and perfect for piling onto a platter at the holidays, both because of their poppable size and because of their festive designs.
Spritz cookies can be left as-is or decorated with sprinkles, food coloring, chocolate, or even flavored like these gingerbread spritz cookies.
Are spritz cookies the same as butter cookies?
Spritz cookies and butter cookies are both considered “crisp” cookies and both have a very butter-forward flavor.
Sometimes you will even see spritz cookie recipes labeled as “spritz butter cookies.”
Traditionally, the difference between the two types of cookies is that spritz cookies contain egg, while butter cookie recipes traditionally only contained flour, butter, and sugar.
These days, you will often see a crossover between the two recipes, with butter cookies sometimes containing eggs or spritz cookies being considered a type of butter cookie.
I tend to agree that spritz cookies are pretty much a butter cookie, but if you’re a traditionalist, just keep in mind that the egg in the recipe is what makes the two cookies different!
MAKING THESE COOKIES
Spritz cookies are so much fun to make. Pressing them is almost meditative, and it’s so fun to see how the designs turn out!
They’re also great to make with kids, who will enjoy picking out press designs to try and adding sprinkles and decorations.
Ingredients you’ll need
The dough for these cookies is very simple. You will need:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract or peppermint extract (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 cups flour
Having soft butter is a key to getting a nicely mixed dough. If you forget to set yours out ahead of time, check out my tips for how to soften butter quickly.
Vanilla is important for enhancing the flavor of the cookies. If you have a favorite bottled brand, use that! Or you can use homemade vanilla extract.
This time of year, I also like to flavor my cookies with a bit of almond extract or peppermint extract for an extra-festive touch. When I make these during the spring, I will sometimes add lemon extract!
Equipment you’ll need
In order to make spritz cookies, you will need one specific piece of equipment: a cookie press.
Most cookie presses come with a set of disks in a variety of patterns for different holidays and occasions, but you can also buy sets with other patterns as well. There are tons of options for the winter holidays, but you can get sets for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and everyday.
How to make spritz cookies
Start by making the cookie dough.
Use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will take about 3 minutes.
Add the egg, milk, vanilla, and flavor extract if you are using one. Beat this mixture well to combine.
Whisk together the flour and salt and gradually add this to the wet ingredients on low speed until just combined. The dough should be smooth.
Now it’s time to start pressing your cookies.
Use a spoon or spatula to add a portion of your dough to the cookie press. Be careful not to overfill it! Assemble the press according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
To press the cookies, place the bottom of the cookie press flat against an ungreased baking sheet. Click the handle of the press. Lift the press straight up – the dough should separate from the press and stick to the baking sheet.
Since the cookies do not spread, you can place them as close together on the baking sheet as your cookie press will allow.
Refill the press with more dough as needed, swapping out for different plate shapes as desired.
Once your baking sheet is full, bake the cookies for just 6-8 minutes. The cookies will be set and the bottoms barely golden when they are done.
Let the cookies cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet, then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Spritz cookies are pretty just the way they are straight out of the press, but you can make them even more fun with a few different decorating ideas!
COLOR THE DOUGH. Use food coloring to color the dough. Add 1-2 drops to the whole batch of dough, or divide the dough into portions and use 1 small drop for each portion.
USE SPRINKLES. After pressing the cookies but before baking, top the cookies with sprinkles or colored sanding sugar.
DIP IN CHOCOLATE. After baking and cooling, dip or drizzle the cookies with melted chocolate, candy melts, or almond bark. Add sprinkles or sanding sugar before the chocolate sets.
You can combine any or all of these decorating techniques in one batch of spritz cookies for a whole variety of fun and festive cookies!
Don’t forget that while spritz cookies have always been really popular around Christmas, they can be made for any holiday or occasion, so don’t hesitate to pull out this recipe for Valentine’s Day, wedding or baby showers, birthdays, or just because it’s the weekend!
STORAGE AND FREEZING
Crisp cookies like spritz cookies, butter cookies, and shortbread will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.
These cookies also freeze well. Add them to an airtight container or a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Because spritz cookies are so small, they will thaw quickly at room temperature, so don’t stress about taking them out of the freezer too far ahead of when you plan to serve them.
- Sprinkles or nonpareils
- Colored sanding sugar
- Melted chocolate almond bark, or candy melts
- Food coloring
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg, milk, vanilla, and almond or peppermint extract (if using); beat well.
- Whisk together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
- Spoon a portion of the dough into a cookie press fitted with your desired plate shape. Press cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet: Place the bottom of the cookie press flat against the baking sheet and click the handle of the press. Lift the press straight up; the cookie should separate from the press and stick to the baking sheet. Cookies will puff but not spread, so place them as close together as the cookie press will allow.
- Refill the press with more dough as needed until the baking sheet is full.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes until the cookies are set and the bottoms are barely golden. Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet; remove to a wire rack to cool completely.