Make these sweet and tasty French Butter Cookies. Also known as Sables Breton, these are a simple cookie that are simply delicious. Made with a high-quality butter, these easy cookies are perfect for an afternoon snack or to accompany a cup of tea.
The elegance of these delicious French cookies is in the simplicity. These crumbly cookies are made with a handful of basic ingredients, but when combined together, they melt in your mouth. I’d make these for a bridal or baby shower, a holiday baking tray, or for yourself when you need an indulgent treat!
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French Butter Cookies (also called Sablés Bretons)
If you’re wondering why these cookies are called “French” cookies, let me enlighten you! It’s all about the butter- French butter.
In America, our butter generally contains less butterfat, around 80%. French butter, on the other hand, has a higher fat content. It must contain a minimum of 82% butterfat.
French butter is also cultured, meaning live active cultures are added to the cream before churning the butter, improving that “butter” taste. We don’t do that here in America.
While you can certainly use regular American butter in this recipe, for the best results, look for European-style butter if you can. Trust me; you’ll notice a difference!
These Sable Breton cookies are a staple in French grocery stores. They often have a crisscross pattern on the top of each cookie, which you can mimic with the tines of a fork if desired.
Ingredient List: Sable Bretons
These delicious cookies came from the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics – see publishing information below the recipe.
To make the best butter cookie you’ve ever had, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup (or 2 sticks) of European butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
How to make French Butter Cookies
- In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. (You can also use a hand mixer.) Add the egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.
- In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Gradually add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix on low speed until just combined.
- On three separate sheets of plastic wrap, roll the cookie dough into three logs 1 ½ inches thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
- When ready to bake, place a rack into the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment.
- Remove one log from the fridge and roll it in the granulated sugar, making sure to coat it completely. With a sharp knife, cut slices 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices on the prepared baking sheets 1 inch apart.
- Optional – with a toothpick, make 4 decorative holes in each cookie. Or, drag a fork lightly across the tops of the cookies, then repeat in the other direction for a crisscross pattern. See note in the recipe card.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Transfer baked cookies to a wire rack so that they can cool completely.
Can I use salted butter in this recipe?
Yes, you can use salted butter to make French sable cookies. In fact, if you’re going to use French or European butter, I prefer the salted variety over unsalted butter. Just make sure to omit the salt in the recipe.
How to store leftover Butter Cookies
If you have any of these classic cookies left over, you can store them on the counter in an airtight container. They will be good for up to 3 days if they last that long!
You can also freeze leftovers. It’s great if you want to stop yourself from eating all of them in one sitting! Place them in a freezer bag or other airtight container, then freeze for up to 2 months.
Can I make the dough ahead of time?
You can make this dough following the recipe up to the point where you would chill it for an hour. Then instead, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze it for up to 2 months.
The dough must be thawed enough to slice before baking, but don’t let it get too warm or it will be too soft and difficult to work with.
Wouldn’t this be a nice treat to give as a gift? You could freeze a log of cookie dough, then wrap it in festive paper with baking instructions! I’ve done that with sugar cookie dough, but these French Butter cookies are even better!
If you like these French Butter Cookies, you’ll enjoy these other cookie recipes:
- Linzer Cookies– these beautiful cookies are perfect for any holiday or special event
- Lace Cookies– these delicate cookies look complicated and elegant but are so easy!
- Coconut Macadamia Sugar Cookies– the crunch of the nuts in these sugar cookies elevates them to a new level!
- Cream Cheese Cookies– these soft cookies melt away in your mouth!
- Joan’s Coconut Ranger Cookies– packed full of goodness and flavor, these are a hit with the whole family!
- Funfetti Cookies– these sweet cookies are perfect for a birthday treat or just for fun!
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French Butter Cookies
- 1 cup European butter room temperature, *See Note
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ½ cups sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.
- Gradually add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until just combined.
- On three separate sheets of wax paper, roll the dough into three logs 1 1/2-inches thick as follows. Take one third of the dough and place it in the center of the wax paper with the long edge closest to you. Fold the edge of the paper over the dough and using the straight edge of a ruler or dough cutter, pull the ruler towards you applying moderate pressure. The paper and ruler will roll the dough for you. I've found it easiest to form even and rounded rolls using this method, but if you have your own way using some plastic wrap, go for it.
- Twist the ends of the wax paper or plastic wrap to seal and put into a tall glass or glasses so that each roll is standing on its' end. Refrigerate for at least one hour to overnight.
- When ready to bake, place a rack into the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment.
- Remove one log from the fridge and roll it in the granulated sugar, making sure to coat it completely.
- With a sharp knife, cut slices 1/4-inch thick.
- Place the slices on the prepared cookie sheet 1-inch apart.
- With a toothpick, make 4 decorative holes in each cookie or using the tines on the back of a fork, make a criss-cross pattern as you would for a peanut butter cookie.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
- Transfer cookies to a wire rack so that they can cool completely.
These cookies came from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook – The Original Classics, p. 530; author, Martha Stewart; publisher, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.; ISBN 978-0-307-39382-1.
This post was originally published on February 23, 2012 and was Day 350 of my original 365 Days of Baking. It has been updated in format and with pictures on October 20, 2023.