Holiday Butter Cookies
Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Makes 35 to 40 cookies

This recipe is remarkably adaptable: Try swapping out the almond extract for vanilla, chocolate, or lemon extract.

Instead of dusting these cookies in cinnamon sugar, you can coat them in chocolate: Let cookies cool completely, then dip in melted chocolate, transfer to a parchment-paper-lined sheet tray, and set aside in a cool place until chocolate is firm, about 2 hours.


  • 24 Tbsp. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest (from ½ orange)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 6 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon


Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1¼ hours (includes cooling time)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until well combined, about 1 minute. Add milk, baking powder, salt, and eggs and beat again until well combined, about 1 minute; the mixture will look broken. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Beat in zest and almond extract until combined. Add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, using as much as needed until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Line a large sheet tray with a few layers of paper towels; set aside. Pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 1½" and heat over medium-high heat until oil registers 375° on a thermometer (or dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil—if it starts to bubble, it's ready). Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 cup sugar and the cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough briefly to bring it together, then divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8" rectangle and, using a sharp paring knife or pizza cutter, cut into ¾" strips. Tie each strip into a knot, tucking the ends under slightly. Working in batches, fry cookies, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet and let drain briefly. While still hot, toss in cinnamon sugar to coat. Eat immediately or let cool.

Adapted from One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes by Tracey Zabar (Rizzoli, 2011)