Southern Tea Cakes are old-fashioned, simple sugar cookies. Tender and delicious, these classic cookies are a family favorite!
Count your blessings if you have ever had a traditional Southern tea cake! They are one of my all-time favorite cookies – and I’ve tried my fair share! They are so tender while not being too overly sweet. They are perfect for enjoying with a cup of tea, coffee, or even a mug of hot cocoa.
What are Tea Cakes?
Tea Cakes is an heirloom recipe for a slightly sweetened sweet treat made of simple ingredients that most people have on hand. Tea Cake recipes are handed down through families, as is this one from my Grandmother. Some tea cakes are more cake than cookie, while others are more cookie than cake – it depends on the ratios of the ingredients included in the recipe. My family’s recipe is more cookie than cake, which I love.
How Do You Make Tea Cakes?
To make them, you’ll use the following ingredients:
- Butter – use good quality butter, as it lends so much flavor to these cookies. Use softened butter to cream together with the sugar.
- Sugar – granulated sugar is used in these cookies.
- Vanilla Extract – use good quality vanilla extract in this recipe and in all baking. I like to use my homemade vanilla extract. Do not use vanilla flavoring, as it can leave a bitter aftertaste in some recipes.
- Eggs – allow your eggs to reach room temperature to combine more evenly into the cookie dough.
- Buttermilk – your buttermilk should also be at room temperature for the best results. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can use a buttermilk substitute. You’ll only need a little buttermilk in this recipe, but it serves an important part of the recipe for flavor and texture.
- Flour – you’ll use all-purpose flour for this cookie recipe.
- Baking Soda – works as a leavener in this cookie recipe.
- Cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Stir in the buttermilk.
- Gradually add the flour and baking soda until well combined.
- Divide the dough in half, wrap each half well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour to overnight.
- When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a cookie cutter and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake in 350º F oven until lightly golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring from the baking sheet.
Can You Decorate Tea Cakes?
Growing up, we never added a frosting to our tea cakes, but you certainly can if you wish to. I’d recommend my cookie icing recipe, which is so easy and delicious!
You may also consider adding other flavorings to your cookie dough, such as cinnamon or lemon zest, or substituting half of the vanilla extract with almond extract. You can also sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a dust of cinnamon sugar when you remove them from the oven, if you like.
How to Store
These tea cakes keep well on the counter in an airtight container for a few days.
Here’s my family’s Southern Tea Cakes recipe. I hope you love them as much as we do!
Southern Tea Cakes
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and then add the eggs, one at a time. Add buttermilk until incorporated.
- Gradually add the flour and baking soda into the creamed butter mixture until just combined.
- Divide the dough in half and wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour to overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350º. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with cookie cutters and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.