This butterfly cookies recipe makes perfectly crisp, crumbly and melt in your mouth textured shortbread cookies.
Rolled and cut into pretty butterfly cut out cookies, these butterfly sugar cookies are decorated with homemade colored sugar in green and turquoise and make the best cookies and perfect sweet treats for special events like birthday parties, baby showers, Mother's Day, and Easter!
These butterfly theme cookies are adapted from my classic shortbread cookies recipe. The dough requires only 3 simple ingredients - butter, sugar, and plain flour. To these, I added vanilla and then rolled and cut them into pretty butterfly-shaped cookies.
To decorate these simple butterfly cookies, I made my own colored sugar. And I simply sprinkled it onto the top of the cookies for absolutely gorgeous decoration for my butterfly shortbread cookies. And that's all you need to decorate these pretty cookies - no need for piping bag or piping tip or any piping skills. It's that simple!
Table of contents
- How to Make
- Butter should be soft but firm
- The best sugar to use for the cookie dough
- Should you knead the dough?
- The best way to roll and cut the dough
- Do the cookies rise or spread when baking?
- How to color the sanding sugar?
- Should you adjust the baking time for different cookie sizes?
- How to store these delicious cookies to retain their crisp and crumbly texture?
- Like this simple and easy decorated cookie recipe? Here are my other posts you might want to check out
- Recipe (Printable)
How to Make
- Granulated & Coarse Sugar
- Plain Flour
- Vanilla Extract
- Food Coloring ( I used Americolor Peacock and Chartreuse)
Mixing the cookie dough
The cookie dough is mixed in the exact same way as my classic shortbread cookies here.
- Start by adding butter and flour into a medium-sized bowl.
- Mix both on medium speed until the mixture turns crumbly. You can also use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Alternatively, you can also rub in the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it turns into a crumbly texture.
- Stir in the sugar and mix until well combined.
- At this stage, the cookie dough would still be crumbly.
- Add vanilla essence and mix again.
- Turn the dough onto a clean workspace and press it together to form a ball. There is no need to knead the dough. Suffice if you press it together to form a dough ball. Set it aside.
Making the colored sanding sugar
- Measure coarse sugar into separate bowl for each color you wish to use. Add a few drops of food coloring into each. Use a gel-based food color so that the sugar does not turn wet.
- Use a spoon to mix the color in. The best way to mix it is by pressing the color down with the back of the spoon. That way, the colors get distributed more effectively. Continue mixing until the sugar is all evenly colored. At this stage, if you wish to increase the intensity of the color, repeat the process by adding more color to it.
- Let these sugar mix dry out while you roll and cut your butterfly cookies. For these cookies, I used 2 different colors of sanding sugar - green and blue.
- These are the food coloring I used - Americolor Peacock and Chartreuse. You can use any other colors you like. Bright and dark colors will make good choices. You can also decorate your butterflies in rainbow colors to make pretty colorful butterfly cookies.
Rolling and cutting the cookies
- Divide dough into smaller sections for easy rolling.
- Place each section of the dough in between 2 parchment sheets on your work surface. To ensure the thickness of my cookie dough is consistent, I use 2 dowel rods on either side of my cookie dough and literally roll on them. You can also use rolling pin guide rings, but I prefer to use my dowel rods. Using the rolling pin guide rings or the dowel rods help produce cookies that are of a consistent thickness.
- Carefully peel off the top layer of the parchment paper.
- Use a butterfly cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. I cut mine using a butterfly plunger cutter. This is not really a cookie cutter (I bought this for cake decorating actually), but it worked really well for these butterfly shortbread cookies. Since the shortbread dough is rather soft, use a flat spatula or an icing scraper to lift the cut out cookies of the parchment paper.
- Turn the cookie over onto your hands and carefully neaten the sides of any loose cookie dough. And then place the cut butterfly cookies onto baking sheets or lined baking tray.
- Next is the fun part. Sprinkle the sanding sugar as you wish. Press it down gently to hold it in place. For these butterfly cookies, I sprinkled the green for the top wing and the turquoise for the bottom section.
Baking the cookies
- Bake the sugared butterfly shortbread cookies at 175 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes until the sides start to turn golden brown.
- Once baked, remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack.
- Store the butterfly cookies in an airtight container. This decorated shortbread cookie recipe yields approximately 49 butterfly cookies measuring approximately 6 cm by 4cm each.
Butter should be soft but firm
- The butter I used in this shortbread cookies recipe is salted. You can use unsalted butter too, but remember to add about ¼ teaspoon fine salt when rubbing in the flour and the butter.
- Butter should not be too soft. Ideally, it should still be firm, but soft enough to be poked with your fingers.
- Never use butter that is too soft that it does not hold shape. You can still make the shortbread cookies with this butter, however, you cookies will not be as soft and crumbly as they should.
The best sugar to use for the cookie dough
- The best sugar for shortbread cookies is granulated sugar. You can also use powdered sugar. Coarse sugar is too coarse and is best avoided. This is because it will leave little specks of sugar in your baked shortbread cookies.
Should you knead the dough?
- To ensure these butter cookies turn out crispy and crumbly, take note to not overwork the dough once it comes together. Suffice if you press it together to form a ball.
- This is because, when you work it for long, the gluten in the flour becomes stretchy, and there is a tendency for your cookies to become hard.
The best way to roll and cut the dough
- This cookie dough is slightly crumbly but soft. It does not stick to the finger but does tend to stick a little to the rolling pin as you roll it. For smooth rolling, divide the dough into smaller sections and roll each section between 2 parchment sheets. That way, it does not stick to the rolling pin and a lot easier to work with.
- And when lifting the cut butterfly cookies onto baking trays, it is really helpful to use a flat spatula or an icing scraper. These tools help in retaining the shape of the cookies as they are transferred to the baking tray.
Do the cookies rise or spread when baking?
- These sugared cookies can be placed close to one another in the baking tray. That is because they do not rise in size or spread during baking. They do puff up a little, but it's almost negligible.
- There is also no need to refrigerate the cut out cookies before baking. They are able to retain their shape without the need to be chilled first before baking.
- Hence, when placing these butterfly butter cookies in a baking tray for baking, a mere gap of about 1cm to 2 cm is sufficient, for easy handling.
How to color the sanding sugar?
- The blue and turquoise sanding sugar I used on my butterfly cookies is homemade. All you need is coarse sugar and gel-based food color.
- It is best to use gel-based colors. Liquid color can leave your sugar wet, and you would need a long time to allow it to dry up and ready to use.
Should you adjust the baking time for different cookie sizes?
- The baking time indicated in my recipe card below is for butterfly shaped cookies measuring approximately 6cm by 4 cm. The thickness is about ½ cm.
- If your cookies are larger or thicker than this, the baking time would need to be increased accordingly. And if they are smaller, then the time needs to be reduced as such.
How to store these delicious cookies to retain their crisp and crumbly texture?
- This sugared shortbread cookies recipe yields cookies that last well. I have tried keeping them for 3 weeks, and they were fine. Just remember to store them in an airtight container to retain their crispiness.
Like this simple and easy decorated cookie recipe? Here are my other posts you might want to check out
- 3 Ingredients Shortbread Cookies
- Jam Filled Shortbread Cookies
- Matcha Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate and Glaze Icing
- Snowflake Cookies
- Brown Sugar Shortbread - Quick & Easy Cut Out Cookies
- Butterfly Birthday Cake - An Easy Butterfly Themed Design
- Butterfly Cupcakes
- Elegant Butterflies Wedding Cake
- How to Make Royal Icing Butterflies
- Flower Cake with Edible Butterflies
- Daisy Cookies - Pretty Flower Cookies
- Christmas Wreath Cookies
- Strawberry Jam Cookies
- Easter Egg Cookies
Here the full printable version of my butterfly cookie recipe:
Butterfly Cookies - Easy Decorated Shortbread
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 200 g butter salted
- 300 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Colored Sanding Sugar for Decoration
- 140 g coarse sugar
- green and turquoise food color gel based
- Preheat oven to 175°Celsius. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
- Start by making the sanding sugar. Divide the coarse sugar equally into 2 bowls. Add a drop of the turquoise food color in one bowl and the green food color in another.
- Mix the sugar with a spoon until the color is all well distributed. Add more color if you wish to have a deeper color. Leave the colored sugar aside to dry.
- In a separate mdeium sized bowl, add the butter. Sift in teh flour and mix both on low speed until it turns crumbly. You can also use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter into the flour or rub it in with the tips of your fingers.
- Stir in the sugar and mix well, followed by the vanilla extract. The mixture would still be crumbly at this stage.
- Turn the dough onto a clean workspace and press it together to form a ball.
- Divide the dough into smaller sections and roll each section between 2 parchment sheets.
- Peel off the top parchment sheet and cut out the cookie dough with a cookie cutter. Carefully lift the cut cookies, with a flat spatula, neaten the edges and transfer onto the baking tray.
- Sprinkle the colored sanding sugar on top of each cookie and press it in softly with your fingertips.
- Bake the butterfly cookies for approximately 12 to 15 minutes until the sides of the cookies start to turn light gold.
- Remove cookies from oven. Let them rest in the tray for a few minutes before transfering them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store the decorated butterfly cookies in an airtight container.
And that's pretty much my simple and easy decorated butterfly cookies recipe for you..
Happy baking 🙂