Southern Tea Cakes are old-fashioned, simple sugar cookies. Tender and delicious, these classic cookies are a family favorite! 

Southern Tea Cakes are old-fashioned, simple sugar cookies. These classic cookies are a family favorite! //

As a little girl, about the age of four or five, I would sometimes stay with a lady we lovingly called Aunt Myrl. She was of no blood relation, but she cared for me and a few other children as if we were. She had never married and had no children of her own. She was well-known in our small town as the best person to watch young children when mother’s had an appointment to which the young child couldn’t tag along.

She was short in stature with a giant personality. She was full of fun and love both of which she showed in simple ways. She’d sit in the back of the house for hours on end with us making mud pies or taking us to the neighbor’s, Ms. Digby’s home, for a tour of the flower garden. I can’t imagine all of the damage made by our tromping feet as we eagerly grabbed the stems of Ms. Digby’s prized peonies and roses.

I do remember the day I reached for a bloom that seemed to fill the sky with it’s bright coral color only to have the stem snap in my hands. There I stood, holding proof of my over zealousness to have a quick touch. Without missing a beat, Ms. Digby arrived with her garden clippers and Aunt Myrl with a beautiful crystal vase. The stems ragged edges were snipped to leave a clean cut as it was simply slid into the vase. I do not remember any words being spoken as all of the other children stood watching my red-faced embarrassment and the silent handling of my accident.

And with the grace of a Southern belle, Aunt Myrl pressed the vase into my hand while Ms. Digby kissed the top of my head. “It will be okay, dear. Just enjoy the beauty while it lasts. It will be gone quickly.”

Aunt Myrl was also known for her light and buttery Southern tea cakes. If you were lucky enough to be able to stay with Aunt Myrl on Friday afternoons, you’d be able to help her make these bites of heaven and enjoy them as your afternoon snack. It was the one day of the week we all clammered around her feet waiting expectantly for her to grab her apron.

When I married, my Grandmother Verdie gave me a notebook she had written so many beloved family recipes from generations before her, along with my childhood favorites. Tucked inside the notebook was the recipe for Aunt Myrl’s Southern Tea Cakes. Such recipes take me back to my childhood of standing on tip toe watching magic happen on that marble counter topped with a dusting of flour. And I remember the words,

“Just enjoy the beauty while it lasts. It will be gone quickly.”

And I grab my apron and show Sam how to make the best tea cakes I’ve ever tasted.

Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes are old-fashioned, simple sugar cookies. These classic cookies are a family favorite!
5 from 4 votes

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Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 2 dozen cookies
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch



  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  • Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in vanilla and egg, making sure to combine well. Combine buttermilk and baking soda and add to mixture alternately with flour.
  • Lightly flour counter top and roll dough thin. Cut with cookie cutter and place onto prepared baking pan. Place in oven and bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Have you made this recipe?Tag @addapinch on Instagram or hashtag it #addapinch

Robyn xo

Southern Tea Cakes are old-fashioned, simple sugar cookies. Tender and delicious, these classic cookies are a family favorite! //


Originally published October 2010. Republished October 2015.

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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22 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. What wonderful memories! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I have so many great memories of being in the kitchen with my grandma and my dad. So thankful for those times. Have a blessed day!

  2. After you roll the dough out, do you use a cookie cutter or glass to make the cakes? About how thin do you roll the dough? So are they more a cookie than a cake?

  3. I loved this story and it gave me goosebumps that your gran put that recipe in there. Pure love.

    I’m going to give Aunt Myrl’s tea cakes a whirl this weekend. It’s footie grand final and it bores me to tears so in the kitchen I’ll go. 🙂

  4. Aunt Myrl sounds like a real life Miss Piggle Wiggle. You are lucky to have such a wonderful person in your life! Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Two memories I have of my paternal grandmother: Making tea cakes with her and using her foot-pedal Singer. Ah, that was the life!

  6. My great-aunt Ida used to make tea cakes and taffy when she came to visit my grandparents. She never used a recipe. Unfortunately, no one ever wrote the directions. I’ve never been able to find a recipe that even compared. I’ll have to try this one to see if it’s like I remember.

  7. Every food we eat has also memories as you have described your Aunt Myrl and her tea cakes.Life has changed so much everywhere whether one comes from the East or West,North or South.
    We all yearn for those days gone by for there was a warmth and charm that is really missing in today’s harried and hurried lifestyle.
    Just a query could one prepare these tea cakes without the egg?
    Could you post a few recipes without the inclusion of eggs?
    My heartfelt thanks to you in advance.
    Robyn your blog is beautiful and I like your warm style and your dedication which many many women lack due to change in thinking and lifestyle.


  9. My son and his girlfriend were arriving this morning for the long weekend here at the Sunshine Coast Qld, Australia. I decided to try your recipe. The tea cakes came out perfectly and my son ate 6 in a row!
    In Australia, tea cakes (which are cakes not cookies) are covered on top with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.
    For one tray, I added the cinnamon sugar on the top of each tea cake as my husband loves the flavour. These were thoroughly enjoyed as well.
    Plain or with cinnamon they were wonderful and will be a regular treat at my place. Thanks for the great recipe.

  10. My mom’s grandmother raised her and made these tea cakes when my mom was a little girl. I loved having them when I was a little girl, with their slightly sweet taste. My mom was a wonderful cook but I’ve never tried to make them. I don’t think I have her recipe so I’m not sure yours is the same, but I want to try it and find out. Just the thought of those delicious cakes brings back such warm memories.
    Love being a Southern girl.

  11. What a beautiful story… my grandmommie made tea cakes for me as I was growing up… always loved them .. can’t wait to make these and just sit back and enjoy my memories… thank you again

  12. Could these beautiful cookies also be frosted / decorated and enjoyed as Christmas cookies? I absolutely LOVE the basic old fashioned recipe that ‘Cookies By Design’ sells, but the franchise near me closed down . (I know, I know…I should make my own!) There are SO MANY sugar cookie recipes and I’d love to have one that is close to that one….sweet, dense, decadent, and delicious….I believe these southern tea cakes may be THE ones! And thank you for your beautiful memory and beautiful quote…”Just enjoy the beauty while it lasts…it will be gone quickly.”……………………………………sigh.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      You can frost these and decorate the Tea Cakes if you wish. They are a special cookie – with special memories.
      If you’d like to decorate sugar cookies, I have a recipe on here that are rolled out, cut and decorated if you’d like to look at both. They are both very delicious! I know it’s a little early, but I hope you have a Merry Christmas! xo

  13. Do you have to use self rising flour or can you use all purpose flour or cake flour? Would love to make this

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