Mom's Buttermilk Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling
These soft, tangy buttermilk cookies are topped with creamy frosting are easy to make and perfect for any occasion.

Updated: Jul. 09, 2024

Buttermilk cookies are a classic treat with a soft, tender texture and a slightly tangy flavor, thanks to the unique addition of buttermilk. This simple cookie recipe combines a handful of pantry staples and is topped with a creamy homemade frosting. These cookies are perfect for any occasion and offer a delightful balance of sweetness and tanginess, making them a standout treat in any dessert spread.

Ingredients for Buttermilk Cookies

  • Butter: You’ll need butter for both the cookie dough and the frosting. Make sure it’s softened so it blends smoothly with the sugar and other ingredients.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar is used to sweeten the cookie dough.
  • Egg: A large egg that acts as a binding agent at room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract: A high-quality vanilla extract is needed for both the cookie dough and the frosting.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour is the best type of flour for cookies. It’s not as tough as bread flour yet not too delicate as cake flour. Use the spoon-and-level method to measure flour accurately since too much can dry the cookies out.
  • Baking soda: Baking soda is used to help the cookies rise, creating a light and tender texture.
  • Salt: A dash of salt is added to activate the baking soda and balance the sweetness.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk gives the cookies their signature tangy flavor and tender texture. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute it by mixing 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and letting it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Confectioners’ sugar makes the frosting smooth and sweet.
  • Milk: This recipe uses 2% milk in the frosting to achieve a creamy consistency and enhance the smoothness of the spread.
  • Walnuts (optional): You can sprinkle finely chopped walnuts on top of the frosted cookies for added crunch and a touch of nutty flavor.


Step 1: Make the cookie dough

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; add them to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

Step 2: Shape and bake the cookies

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake until edges are lightly browned, for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the wire racks to cool.

Step 3: Make the frosting

Combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat the mixture until smooth and spread over the cookies. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, if desired.

Recipe Variations

  • Add some lemon: Add a teaspoon of lemon zest to the dough and a tablespoon of lemon juice to the frosting for a bright, citrusy twist.
  • Toss in chocolate chips: Mix in a cup of mini chocolate chips into the dough for a classic chocolate chip cookie with a tangy twist.
  • Try a tropical twist: Mix in 1/2-cup of shredded coconut into the dough and top the frosted cookies with toasted coconut flakes for a tropical touch.

How to Store Buttermilk Cookies

To keep your cookies fresh you can store them in an airtight container between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. When stored this way they should be good for three to four days.

Can I make these cookies ahead of time?

Yes, you can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to two days or store it in a freezer bag and freeze for up to three months.

Buttermilk Cookies Tips

What if my frosting is too thick or too thin?

If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more milk. If it’s too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

How can I make my cookies softer?

Ensure not to overbake your buttermilk cookies. Remove the cookies from the oven when the edges are lightly browned to keep the centers soft and chewy.

Why did my cookies spread too much?

This could be due to the dough being too warm. Chilling the dough before baking can help control spreading.

Mom's Buttermilk Cookies

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield about 3 dozen


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  2. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake until edges are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  3. For frosting, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over cookies; if desired, sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 135 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 15mg cholesterol, 88mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.

I treasure my mother’s recipe for these comforting cookie pillows. The tender treats are topped with thick frosting and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts. —Jane Darling, Simi Valley, California
Recipe Creator