Classic Southern Tea Cookies Recipe for Tea Lovers

Welcome! If you’re looking for a classic Southern dessert recipe, you’ve come to the right place. I’m excited to share my recipe for Southern Tea Cookies with you. These tender and lightly sweetened cookies are a cross between a sugar cookie and a butter cake, making them perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re an experienced baker or just starting out, this recipe is sure to impress.

Growing up in the South, I have fond memories of enjoying these tea cookies at family gatherings and church potlucks. They’re the kind of treat that brings people together and makes them feel at home. I’ve spent years perfecting this recipe to capture that same feeling of comfort and nostalgia.

What sets these cookies apart is the use of buttermilk, which adds a subtle tangy flavor and keeps the texture moist and fluffy. Plus, they’re easy to make with simple ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry.

So go ahead, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea or hot coffee, and let’s make some Southern Tea Cookies together!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Tea Cookies
Southern Tea Cookies

Listen up, y’all! You’re in for a real treat with this Southern Tea Cookies Recipe. I guarantee it’ll have you swooning and licking your fingers for more. This recipe is the perfect addition to any tea party or brunch gathering. Trust me, your guests will be begging for the recipe after just one bite.

What sets these cookies apart from the rest is their soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture thanks to the combination of butter, buttermilk, and all-purpose flour. The addition of vanilla extract gives them an extra boost of flavor that will leave you craving more.

Not only are these Southern Tea Cookies delicious, but they also have a rich history behind them. Used as a staple in African American households during times when resources were scarce, these tea cakes were often made with simple ingredients that people had on hand. They represent a sense of tradition and nostalgia that will transport you back to simpler times.

But let’s be real here – who doesn’t crave a good old-fashioned dessert every now and then? These tea cookies are perfect for satisfying anyone’s sweet tooth. Whether it’s dunked in milk or paired with a cup of sweet tea, their cake-like texture and subtle sweetness make them the perfect treat for any time of day.

So what are you waiting for? Whip up a batch of these Southern Tea Cookies and indulge in a slice of history while satisfying your taste buds. You won’t regret it!

Ingredient List

 These Southern Tea Cookies are a perfect treat for any time of day!
These Southern Tea Cookies are a perfect treat for any time of day!

Get ready to gather all the ingredients needed, we’re about to dive into making Southern Tea Cookies! Here’s what you’ll need:


For this recipe, 1 cup of unsalted butter is required, softened to room temperature.


Next up, 2 cups of granulated sugar. One half will be used for the dough and the other half will be used for rolling the cookies in.


To bind everything together, you’ll need 2 large eggs at room temperature.

Vanilla Extract

A tablespoon of vanilla extract will give your tea cakes that classic Southern flavor.


Buttermilk is essential for that tender crumbly texture in every bite. 1/2 cup is all you need for this recipe.

All-Purpose Flour

You’ll need 4 cups of all-purpose flour. This is the base ingredient for your tea cakes.

Baking Powder and Baking Soda

These leavening agents are crucial in giving your tea cakes their fluffy rise. You’ll need 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for this recipe.

Now that you have all the ingredients, it’s time to move on to the fun part – making those tea cakes!

The Recipe How-To

 Serve these cookies on a fancy platter for a touch of old-world charm.
Serve these cookies on a fancy platter for a touch of old-world charm.

Now, it’s finally time to get our hands dirty! In this section, I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect Southern Tea Cookies.


Before we begin, it’s essential to follow the ingredient list to achieve the right texture and flavor for this classic Southern treat.

You’ll need the following:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. It will make a significant difference in the final result!


  1. First things first, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until you get a fluffy consistency.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well until fully combined.
  4. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Gradually add in the flour mixture and buttermilk to your mixing bowl, starting and ending with the flour mixture (i.e., add the flour mixture in three parts and the buttermilk two parts). Be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl as needed.
  6. Once everything is combined, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill it in your fridge for at least an hour. This makes it easier to handle while rolling out your cookies.
  7. Spread some flour over your work surface or rolling mat.
  8. Take out your dough from the fridge and start rolling it out into 1-inch balls. Place them two inches apart on a lined baking sheet.
  9. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven, until they are golden brown on the bottom and edges.
  10. Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Final Tips

  • For an extra pop of flavor, add some lemon zest to your cookie dough.
  • If you like softer cookies, take them out of the oven slightly earlier than the suggested time.
  • To give your cookies a more uniform shape, use a cookie cutter instead of rolling them out by hand.
  • Make sure you store your cookies properly in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

There you have it— my go-to recipe for perfectly soft and delicious Southern Tea Cookies that will make you feel right at home with every bite!

Substitutions and Variations

 Enjoy a cozy evening in with a hot cup of tea and a plate of these deliciously crumbly cookies.
Enjoy a cozy evening in with a hot cup of tea and a plate of these deliciously crumbly cookies.

Looking for ways to switch things up? I have got you covered! While these Southern Tea Cookies are perfect as is, there are some simple variations and substitutions you can try to make them your own.

First up, you can swap the butter for unsalted butter if that suits you better. Or, if unsalted butter is too bland for your tastes, consider trying salted butter instead.

If you want to change up the flavors a bit, try adding some cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough. Alternatively, you could add maple extract or almond extract to give them a different flavor profile.

For something a bit more unique, try replacing the buttermilk with sweet tea or even Russian tea for an unexpected twist on this classic recipe.

Finally, I know that not everyone has all-purpose flour on hand. If that’s the case for you, try using self-rising flour instead by omitting the baking powder and baking soda from the recipe.

These simple substitutions and variations are easy ways to play around with this old-fashioned southern tea cakes recipe and create something that perfectly fits your taste preferences. So go ahead and experiment – it’s all part of the fun of making homemade tea cookies!

Serving and Pairing

 These handmade cookies are a great way to impress your guests and show off your baking skills.
These handmade cookies are a great way to impress your guests and show off your baking skills.

What’s a southern tea cookie without an authentic sweet tea to wash it down with? In my experience, there is no better way to enjoy a batch of these delectable treats than with an ice-cold pitcher of sweet, freshly brewed tea. The balance of the light, crumbly texture of the cookie with the bold, refreshing flavors of the tea creates a classic and satisfying combination.

If you’re feeling adventurous, I would also recommend trying these cookies with other Southern favorites like pecan pie or peach cobbler. Trust me, there’s nothing better than a warm piece of cobbler paired with a freshly baked Southern tea cake. If you prefer something less sweet, these cookies can also be enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk.

When serving these cookies for guests, I would suggest sticking to traditional dessert accouterments like platters, cake stands, and decorative trays. Adding fresh-cut fruits and whipped cream can take this classic dessert to new heights, giving it an elevated feel that makes it perfect for special occasions like weddings or baby showers.

I must note that these cookies are delicious enough on their own that they don’t require any additional garnishments – and that’s evident from the classic way Southerners have savored them for years. Simply put, they’re perfect just as they are!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Savor each bite of these sweet and delicate cookies.
Savor each bite of these sweet and delicate cookies.

Now that you have made these delicious Southern Tea Cookies, you may wonder if it’s possible to make them ahead of time, store them for later, and reheat them without ruining their texture and taste. The good news is that these cookies can be easily made ahead of time and stored for a few days without losing their freshness.

To make these tea cakes in advance, prepare the dough as instructed in the recipe and shape them into small balls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Once chilled, you can bake them whenever you want, and they will turn out fresh and fluffy.

If you have leftover tea cookies after serving or want to store larger quantities for later use, you can keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Be sure not to stack them on top of one another or they will stick together. You can also store them in the fridge for up to a week, but note that they may dry out slightly.

When reheating these cookies, place them in a preheated oven or toaster oven for about 3-5 minutes at a low heat setting so that they don’t burn. This will restore their freshness and add an extra warm touch.

These teacakes are a great dessert to have on hand whenever you need something sweet to pair with your afternoon tea or coffee. Whether hot or cold, iced or sweetened, these tea cookies are perfect for any lazy afternoon spent enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Add some flair to your next tea party with these Southern Tea Cookies.
Add some flair to your next tea party with these Southern Tea Cookies.

To achieve the best outcome for Southern Tea Cookies recipe, you have to keep in mind these helpful tips:

1. Measure ingredients carefully: Baking is a precise science, and it’s necessary to measure ingredients accurately for the recipe to work out as intended. Use measuring cups and spoons instead of estimating your measurements.

2. Use room temperature ingredients: All the necessary ingredients should be at room temperature, especially the butter and eggs. It will help them combine better, resulting in a more consistent dough.

3. Cream butter and sugar well: The butter and sugar should be well creamed until light and fluffy before adding other ingredients, ensuring that the finished dough is well mixed and produces soft, crumbly tea cakes.

4. Don’t overwork the dough: Work quickly while mixing all the ingredients together, and avoid overworking the dough once all the dry and wet ingredients are combined. This can develop gluten in the dough and make cookies tough instead of tender.

5. Chill the dough before baking: To ensure cookies hold their shape during baking, cool down dough for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight if possible.

6. Use parchment paper or silicone mat when baking: Always line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat to prevent sticking and make cleaning up easy after baking.

7. Rotate halfway through baking: Halfway through cooking time, rotate the cookie sheets from front to back to guarantee they bake evenly.

8. Avoid opening oven doors frequently: Try not to open your oven frequently when baking cookies as heat loss can affect their development causing them to become misshaped.

With these useful tips in mind, you can make Southern Tea Cookies that look like they came straight out of a bakery!


Now that you have learned the key details regarding Southern Tea Cookies, it’s time to address some frequently asked questions. Whether you’re an experienced baker or new to the kitchen, these FAQs will provide additional guidance as you prepare this classic Southern dessert. Don’t hesitate to read on for tips and recommendations that’ll help you achieve picture-perfect results every time.

What are tea cakes made of?

A warm and comforting delicacy known as teacake is popular in Australia and India. It is a butter cake that takes less than half an hour to bake and is often served alongside a cup of tea. This cake is made of basic ingredients, including flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and cinnamon. It can bring immediate warmth and happiness to one’s day.

Why are tea cookies called tea cookies?

Tea cakes hold a special place in the hearts of many Southerners, regardless of their race. Although they originated in Britain to accompany tea time, the cookies have undergone changes in the South and turned into a beloved treat for snacking.

What is the history of Southern tea cake cookies?

Tea cakes have a deep history in the American South, and are particularly connected to enslaved people who made them for their masters and loved ones. After the Civil War, many of these bakers left the region and passed their recipes down through generations of African American families. As a result, tea cakes are still a beloved treat in many Southern kitchens today.

What are Russian tea cookies made of?

When it comes to making Russian tea cakes, the process is quite straightforward. Typically, the recipe includes only a few ingredients such as flour, water, butter, and ground nuts. The type of nut used can vary depending on the desired variation of the cookie. Once the tea cakes have baked, they are dusted with powdered sugar while still hot, and then again when they have cooled down.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Southern Tea Cookies recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves flavorful cakes with a subtle buttermilk tang. It’s a versatile recipe that can be customized to fit individual taste preferences and dietary restrictions. With its simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, this cake cookie recipe is perfect for both beginners and experienced bakers alike.

Don’t hesitate to add these delicious cookies to your dessert menu, as they pair perfectly with any hot or cold beverage, especially sweet tea or iced tea. Whether you’re hosting a family gathering or looking for a cozy snack to enjoy during a lazy afternoon, these cake-like cookies will undoubtedly impress your guests.

So don’t wait any longer, gather all the ingredients and follow these detailed instructions step by step. And before you know it, you’ll have an authentic Southern treat that will transport you straight to the heart of Dixie. Trust me; with this recipe in hand, you won’t need to travel far to experience the warmth and hospitality of Southern cuisine.

Southern Tea Cookies

Southern Tea Cookies Recipe

Another great recipe from the south.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 72 cookies
Calories 72.3 kcal


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 lb butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together.
  • Add remaining ingredients and blend well.
  • Dough should be soft.
  • Roll dough out onto a floured surface until approximately 1/4-inch thick.
  • Cut dough into desired shapes and place on lightly greased baking sheets.
  • Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 1367gCalories: 72.3kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 2.8gSaturated Fat: 1.7gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 54mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 5.7g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Cookie and Brownie, Dessert
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