Easy Butter Cookies – Three Ways

A basic shortbread butter cookie recipe three delicious ways- snowballs, slice n’bake cookies and thumbprints.

This recipe for butter cookies is a gem that I’ve recently mined on the internet. It’s a basic cookie dough recipe that contains zero egg (which means you can eat the dough without that raw egg nagging at you), and can be twisted and turned into all sorts of creations.

A basic shortbread butter cookie recipe three delicious ways.

I snagged the original recipe off of a snowball cookie recipe I made after Warsaw’s first snowfall. I watched as a basic dough recipe (mainly butter, sugar and flour) morphed into one of the best cookies I’ve ever tried – my mom and I polished off the snowballs the weekend they were made.


I decided to play around with the dough and from there, the jam thumbprint cookies and the chocolate dipped hazelnut slice n’bake were born.


These cookies can be made by the mass, and make great gifts around the Holiday season when placed in a clear gift bag tied sealed with a festive ribbon. I know I’m a little late posting this recipe in regards to Christmas, but really, this recipe can be used throughout the year with nips and tweaks as you see fit to suit the occasion.

A basic shortbread butter cookie recipe three delicious ways.

A couple of things to remember:

  1. For the snowballs, you do need to coat them twice in the confectioners’ sugar. This not only ensures that the sugar will stick to the cookie, but also tastes way better.
  2. When making a ‘thumbprint’ indentation for the thumbprint cookies, you’ll need to press down on a ball of dough. This ball tends to crack easily around the sides. You could either seal the cracks by gently rubbing and smoothing them out with your fingers. I find that they don’t crack much when you press the dough down immediately after rolling the ball, before it dries slightly.
  3. For the chocolate coated hazelnut slice n’bake– the dough needs to be rolled into a log shape and it is necessary that you chill the dough before slicing- otherwise it won’t slice well.

Butter cookies = the most versatile (and delicious) cookie recipe ever.

Basic Butter Cookies - Three Ways


Base recipe

  • 1 cup (200 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/4 ( 280 g) cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) raspberry jam (or your favorite jam/filling)
For the glaze (optional:)
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp (15-30 mL) water -- you may need a little more depending on thickness

Snowball Cookies

  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
  • Confectioners' sugar for coating (around 1/2 cup)

Hazelnut-Chocolate Slice n' Bake

  • 1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 200 g chocolate (of your choice)
  • 2 tsp flavorless oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.
  3. Mix in the flour to form a dough. The dough should be firm and thick.

For the thumbprint cookies:

  1. Roll the dough into 1 tbsp sized balls.
  2. Place on the cookie sheet and press each one down slightly with your thumb to produce an indentation. The sides of the cookie balls may crack when you do this- you can either smooth out the cracks with your fingers, but I find that they don't crack as much if you press them down as soon as you've rolled the ball.
  3. Fill each indentation with 1/2-1 tsp raspberry jam or any jam of your preference.
  4. Bake for 15-17 min.
  5. Let the cookies cool before glazing.
  6. For the glaze, mix 1/2 cup icing sugar with a 1-2 tbsp of water till pipeable but still loose. Using a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off, drizzle the cookies with glaze. You could also just skip the glaze and dust with icing sugar- or keep them plain.

For the snowball cookies:

  1. Add 1 cup of finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the cookie dough recipe.
  2. Roll the dough into 1 tbsp sized balls using your hands, and place on the cookie sheet. Do not press the mounds of dough down. 
  3. Bake for 15 min (they will puff up slightly as they bake). If you have to, it is better to under-bake than over-bake the snowballs.
  4. While still warm, roll the cookies in the confectioners' sugar. The coating will immediately start to melt- this is what you want. Place the cookies back onto the tray and let them cool completely.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled completely, roll them once more in the confectioners' sugar- this is when they really start to look like snowballs.

For the hazelnut slice n'bake:

  1. Add 1 cup of chopped hazelnuts to the cookie dough recipe.
  2. Divide the dough into two portions and place each one onto a sheet of cling wrap. Form each portion into a log shape about 1.5 inches (3-4 cm) height-wise.
  3. Cover each log completely in the cling wrap and chill the logs for at least an hour in the refrigerator or until firm. Chilling is necessary in order to slice the cookies properly.
  4. Slice the log to form circles .5 inches (1 cm) thick and 1.5 inches (3-4 cm) wide. Place the circles onto the cookie sheet slightly apart, and bake for 15-17 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, melt 200 g chocolate (I use half milk and half dark) in the microwave stirring every 20 seconds or over a double boiler. Stir in the 2 tsp of vegetable oil. This ensures that the chocolate stays glossy.
  6. Dip the cookies into the chocolate about halfway, then place back onto the cookie sheet to set. Chill the tray so to harden the chocolate faster.

  • Technically a cup of butter is 224 g, but butter here is found in 200 g blocks- so that's what I use and it turns out fine.
Base recipe adapted from Allrecipes