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Vanilla-Bean Sablé Cookies

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 2 dozen cookies

These simple French shortbread cookies are a revelation when made with the very best ingredients: high-fat European-style butter, sea salt, and plump vanilla beans. If you like, you can substitute 2 tsp. vanilla extract for the vanilla beans; add it with the egg yolk.


  • 2 soft, plump vanilla beans
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, preferably high-fat European-style, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1-1/3 oz. (1/3 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Sanding sugar, white or colored

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 140
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 70
  • Fat (g): 8
  • Saturated Fat (g): 5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Cholesterol (mg): 35
  • Sodium (mg): 50
  • Carbohydrates (g): 14
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 1


  • Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seed pulp into a small bowl; add the granulated sugar. Using your fingers, rub them together until blended.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix the butter on low speed until smooth and creamy (you don’t want it to get light and fluffy), about 1 minute; mix in the salt. Add the vanilla sugar and the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add 1 egg yolk and mix for 1 minute. Still on low speed, mix in the flour just until blended; the dough will be soft.
  • Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it gently a few times. Divide it in half and shape each half into a 9-inch log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking liners.
  • Sprinkle about 1/2 cup sanding sugar onto a piece of waxed paper. Combine the remaining egg yolk with a splash of water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Brush each log with the egg wash and roll it in the sanding sugar until evenly coated. Trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged. Using a knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Put them on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between rounds.
  • Bake the cookies, rotating and swapping the baking sheets’ positions halfway through, until the cookies are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes; then carefully transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving. Sablés shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need to cool so that their texture will set properly.

Make Ahead Tips

Packed in an airtight container, the cookies with keep for at least 4 days. You can also freeze the unbaked logs of dough, wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 months. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cutting and baking; there’s no need to fully defrost them.


Once you’ve scraped the pulp from the vanilla beans, stash the pods in a canister of sugar to make vanilla-sugar.


Rate or Review


  • Epiqurean | 04/05/2016

    I'm obsessed-- LOVE. I was in search of a cookie that is similar to what I have purchased at La Maison du Chocolat in NYC and these completely fulfilled. I used euro-style higher fat butter and vanilla beans, and rolled them in white decorating sugar. Great party trick - serve alongside vanilla gelato with a little espresso poured on top (affogato), magical!! I will be making many, many more batches of these.

  • marijaded | 12/28/2015

    These are just wonderful. They are not too sweet. They are a bit crumbly (the way they should be) and just perfect for coffee or tea. I've made them a few times now and they are perfect. I do freeze them in 3 logs and that way I can make a few when the craving strikes. I use old paper towel cardboard to keep them perfectly round.

  • user-417205 | 05/29/2015

    These are a favorite in our house. Like a shortbread but the 1 yolk gives it slightly extra richness

  • slcabot | 04/25/2013

    This recipe is one of my new absolute favorites! I was so thankful to find it online...I was looking for a recipe to feature a beautiful bufala butter that I picked up at a specialty grocer-higher protein than standard cow butter, spread on bread it's more similar to ice cream than butter. The simple ingredients and delicate preparation method completely did the trick. It was a smashing success! I dusted with demerara sugar which added a nice (but very subtle) molasses flavor and garnished the tops just after pulling out of the oven with a pinch of vanilla salt. I recommend this recipe to anyone who loves good butter!

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