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

Looking for more easy cookie recipes? I think you’ll love my Chewy Sugar Cookies, Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, and easy Peanut Butter Cookies.

Photograph of stack of teacake cookies on a white platter. //

If you have ever had a traditional Southern tea cake, count your blessings! 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.

Photograph of tea cakes on a white platter. //

How Do You Make Tea Cakes?

To make them, you’ll use the following ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Flour
  • Baking Soda

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • 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 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 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.

Photograph of stack of tea cakes. //

Here’s my family’s Southern Tea Cakes recipe. I hope you love them as much as we do!

5 from 7 votes

Southern Tea Cakes

Dessert 1 hr 25 mins

Photograph of stack of teacake cookies on a white platter. //
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 40
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
Southern Tea Cakes are old-fashioned, simple sugar cookies. These classic cookies are a family favorite!


  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 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.


These tea cakes keep well on the counter in an airtight container for a few days.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 162IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

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Robyn xo

Cookie Recipes

Robyn Stone

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

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Recipe 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. Robyn what a sweet story. You brought back very poignant memories of some similar ladies in my young life. Thank you sooo much for sharing. Great recipe as well.

  3. As a Southerner, I love Teacakes too! I introduced them to my kids last year, and they loved them. So glad to have this recipe!

  4. 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?

  5. 5 stars
    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. 🙂

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 5 stars

  11. 5 stars
    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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 5 stars
    I’ve always enjoyed “tea cakes”!!! My grandmother and aunt always made some of the BEST!!!! They are both gone now and how I wish I had paid attention to their baking as for learning to make them myself. Nevertheless, I have tried many and many were good but your simple recipe has come the closest to the ones my grandma and aunt made than any other recipe I’ve followed.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. I’m so happy this recipe is so similar to the ones your grandmother and aunt always made, Cecelia. I am so thankful that I have my grandmother’s recipe.

  16. I have my mother’s recipe, but I want to try this one. Back in my Mother’s day, she had a lot of grandchildren and kept a pile of tea cakes made; she used them for her banana pudding, since vanilla wafers were not existent. I also, make them to crush and use for my cheese cake crusts. They are flexible and can add chocolate or what-ever needed for flavoring. Thank you for this recipe

    1. I remember always having tea cakes when I was growing up, too. I hope you enjoy this recipe, BB.

    1. Don’t you love when a recipe reminds you of favorite memories? I’m so glad these are like your mother made, Janet.

  17. 5 stars
    Love this cookie!! So much like our grandmother made for us. She lived in Ark and we lived in south Texas. She would get up early and hand make these cookies (no electric mixer) and put 6-8 cookies in a bread sack for each of us to have our own for the ride to Texas. They were hot and steamy!! We loved them so much. Early morning treat for our trip! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. I love how these recipes bring back memories of our mothers and grandmothers making them for us when we were growing up, don’t you , Lisa? I think of my grandmother every time I make these.