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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.
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.
How Do You Make Tea Cakes?
To make them, you’ll use the following ingredients:
- Vanilla Extract
- Baking Soda
- 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.
Other Favorite Cookie Recipes
Here’s my family’s Southern Tea Cakes recipe. I hope you love them as much as we do!
Southern Tea Cakes
- 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.
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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.
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.
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
I remember always having tea cakes when I was growing up, too. I hope you enjoy this recipe, BB.
these look like my grandmother’s sugar cookies. always a fave
The tea cakes are to die for. Taste just like my mothers!
Don’t you love when a recipe reminds you of favorite memories? I’m so glad these are like your mother made, Janet.
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!
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.