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Icebox cookies are buttery with vanilla flavor. They can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Add your favorite mix-ins for a fun festive cookie!

Icebox cookies scattered.

Here we go! It’s cookie season. Ok, ok. If I am being totally honest, all seasons are cookie season as far as I am concerned. At least around the Holidays I don’t have to sneak around and hide my passion for cookies.

It’s hard for me to imagine a cookie I don’t like. Chocolate chip, yes, yes, yes. Peanut butter blossoms. Oatmeal scotchies. All the basics.

At Christmas, I like to add a few special holiday cookies to my cookie jar. Peppermint meringues, iced oatmeal cookies, and of course, jam-filled thumbprints are among my favorites. These vanilla butter icebox cookies are the perfect cookie to make for any holiday.

The rich buttery vanilla flavor of these cookies is somewhere between a shortbread and a sugar cookie, with its own distinct flavor. If you want it to be crunchier (though it won’t have the crumbly shortbread texture), cook it a little longer. If you want a softer texture, cook it a little less.

These cookies are super versatile. You can serve them plain, just as they are, and they are so delicious. Or you can jazz them up with sprinkles or jimmies, or any other add-ins of your choosing.

Some of my favorites to add in are chocolate chunks, sprinkles, finely chopped nuts, dried cranberries, or crushed candy canes.

Mix your choice of add-ins into the dough before chilling, or roll the dough logs in the jimmies or nonpariels before the second chill. They can be decorated for Christmas, Easter, Hannukah, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day or any other holiday you celebrate.

For a slightly more sophisticated holiday cookie, add in chocolate chunks, dried cranberries and orange zest.

The very best thing about these cookies is that they can be baked all at once and added to a gifting cookie box, or do what I love to do and keep a log of dough in the fridge and slice off one or two at a time for a snack to satisfy a holiday sweet cookie craving.


Recipe Snapshot

  • TASTE: Vanilla and Butter steal the show in these cookies.
  • TEXTURE: Crisp and firm.
  • EASE: Easy!
  • TIME: Under a half an hour, plus 3 or more hours of chilling time

What You’ll Need

Ingredients

  • Butter – use softened unsalted butter, for the best flavor.
  • Granulated sugar – white sugar is fine.
  • Eggs – to hold the dough together.
  • Vanilla extract – these cookies are known for their vanilla flavor so use the best quality vanilla extract you can find.
  • All-purpose flour – I am partial to the King Arthur’s brand, but use your favorite.
  • Baking powder – for a bit of leavening.
  • Salt – just a touch.
  • Add-ins: sprinkles, non pareils, chopped nuts, chopped chocolate, dried cranberries

Recommended Tools

  • Electric mixer
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper
Stack of icebox cookies.

How to Make Recipe Name

These cookies require that the dough be chilled for about 4 hours before baking. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line the baking sheets with parchment paper about a half an hour before you plan to bake the cookies.

  1. Mix the wet ingredients. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low just until combined. Stir in any add-ins you choose to use.
  3. Chill the dough. This requires two chills – the first for about 45 minutes, until the dough is firm enough to shape. Divide the chilled dough into 2 portions, and form each in a 4 to 5-inch long log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  4. Cut and bake. Cut the logs into ¼-inch slices and place them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden, about 9-12 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Handy tip:

These can be made holiday icebox cookies for whichever holiday you are celebrating. Use red and green sprinkles for Christmas, blue sprinkles for Hannukah, red sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, green sprinkles for St. Patrick’s Day, and so on and so on.

Tips For Success

  • Measure flour properly: For the best results, use a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. Or follow my tips on how to measure flour without a scale.
  • Chill the dough: It is important to chill the dough for at least 4 hours before slicing and baking. If the dough is not cold enough, the cookies will spread too much.
  • Add-ins: Use about 1 cup of mix-ins. You can also press sprinkles into the outside of the dough once it is rolled into a log.
Icebox cookies with a bite taken out of one.

Storage & Freezing

  1. Keep baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
  2. Unbaked cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap then place it in an airtight container. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then slice and bake.

More Cookie Recipes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – cookie baking and full cookie jars on every countertop! These are some of my favorite recipes.

Did you try this recipe? I would love for you to leave me a 5-star rating or comment. This way, I have a better understanding of which recipes you like and can create more of them.

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Printable Recipe

Icebox cookies scattered.

Icebox Cookies

Yield: about 35 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

Icebox cookies are buttery with vanilla flavor. They can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Add your favorite mix-ins for a fun festive cookie!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • optional add-ins: sprinkles, non pareils, chopped nuts, chopped chocolate

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low just until combined. Stir in any add-ins you choose to use.
  3. Chill the dough for about 45 minutes, or until firm enough to shape.
  4. Divide chilled dough into 2 portions; form each portion into a 4 to 5-inch long log. Wrap in plastic or waxed paper. Refrigerate the dough logs until very firm, at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Cut a log into ¼-inch slices and place them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake until lightly golden, 9 to 12 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen.

Measure flour properly: For the best results, use a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. Or follow my tips on how to measure flour without a scale.

Chill the dough: It is important to chill the dough for at least 4 hours before slicing and baking. If the dough is not cold enough, the cookies will spread too much.

Add-ins: Use about 1 cup of mix-ins. You can also press sprinkles into the outside of the dough once it is rolled into a log.

Make ahead tips:

  1. Keep baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
  2. Unbaked cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap then place it in an airtight container. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then slice and bake.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 35 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 34mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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