Southern Tea Cake Cookies Recipe

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If you’re looking for a classic Southern treat that pairs perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee, these Southern Tea Cake Cookies are just what you need. These soft, slightly sweet cookies have a hint of nutmeg and a buttery flavour that’s sure to bring back nostalgic memories of home.

Why You’ll Love These Cookies

  • Simple Ingredients: Made with things you probably already have in your pantry.
  • Quick and Easy: Ready in under an hour, including chill time.
  • Versatile: Perfect for any occasion, from tea parties to holiday gatherings.
  • Comforting: Soft, buttery, and lightly spiced – pure comfort in a cookie.

Ingredients Overview

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preparing the Dry Ingredients

  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg until well combined. This ensures that the leavening agents and spices are evenly distributed throughout the flour.

Creaming the Butter and Sugar

  1. Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes on high speed. This step is crucial for incorporating air into the mixture, which helps the cookies rise and become tender.

Combining Wet and Dry Ingredients

  1. Add Egg and Vanilla: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until fully incorporated.
  2. Incorporate Dry Ingredients: Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing until a smooth dough forms. Do not mix the ingredients too much, as this can make the cookies tough.

Chilling the Dough

  1. Chill the Dough: Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes to firm it up. Putting the dough in the fridge makes it easier to work with and keeps the cookies from spreading too much while they’re baking.

Baking the Cookies

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it lightly.
  2. Portion the Dough: Using a small ice cream scoop, melon baller, or two spoons, portion out 1-tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them into balls using your hands.
  3. Prepare for Baking: Place the dough balls 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and gently flatten each one slightly with the bottom of a cup or mug.
  4. Bake: Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown.
  5. Cool: After taking the cookies out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack to cool all the way.

Tips for Perfect Tea Cake Cookies

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: For easier mixing, make sure the egg and butter are at room temperature.
  • Chill the Dough: This step is essential for maintaining the shape of the cookies.
  • Don’t Overbake: Keep an eye on the cookies and remove them as soon as the edges start to turn golden.

Health Benefits

While these cookies are a treat, they can be part of a balanced diet. Homemade cookies allow you to control the ingredients and avoid preservatives found in store-bought varieties.

Variations and Add-Ins

  • Spices: Add a pinch of cinnamon or allspice for additional warmth.
  • Citrus Zest: Incorporate lemon or orange zest for a refreshing twist.
  • Nuts: Mix in finely chopped pecans or walnuts for extra texture.

Serving Suggestions

  • With Tea or Coffee: These cookies are perfect alongside your favorite hot beverage.
  • Ice Cream Sandwiches: Use the cookies to sandwich a scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream.
  • Holiday Gift: Pack them in a decorative tin for a thoughtful homemade gift.

Storing and Reheating

  • Storage: The cookies can be kept at room temperature for up to a week in a container that doesn’t let air in.
  • Freezing: Freeze the dough balls before baking for up to three months. More time should be added to the baking time if you are baking from frozen.
  • Reheating: Warm cookies in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to enjoy them soft and warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Salted Butter Instead of Unsalted?

Yes, but cut down on the salt in the recipe so that the flavors are balanced.

What if I Don’t Have Nutmeg?

You can substitute with an equal amount of cinnamon or omit it altogether for a different flavor profile.

How Can I Make These Cookies Gluten-Free?

Use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that substitutes cup-for-cup with regular flour.

Can I Freeze the Dough?

Absolutely! Freeze the dough balls on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag. Bake directly from frozen.

What’s the Best Way to Keep the Cookies Soft?

Store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread to maintain moisture.


These Southern Tea Cake Cookies are a delightful treat that combines the warmth of home-baked goodness with the simplicity of classic ingredients. Perfect for any occasion, they are sure to become a family favorite. Enjoy them with a cup of tea, coffee, or as a sweet snack any time of the day. Happy baking!

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