Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Vanilla Drop Cookies

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 4 dozen drop cookies

These tender little cookies are the easiest route to holiday cookie success because they require no rolling, chilling, or cutting. For an elegant look, dip the tops of the unbaked dough balls in coarse sanding sugar or chopped toasted nuts. To gild the lily even further, drizzle or dip them in Basic Glaze or Royal Icing and add dragées or sprinkles. You can easily double this recipe.


  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla paste or vanilla extract

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 60
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 25
  • Fat (g): 3
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Cholesterol (mg): 10
  • Sodium (mg): 30
  • Carbohydrates (g): 8
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 1


  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand-held electric mixer), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula as needed.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix until well blended, about 1 minute more.
  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 or more cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.
  • Using a 1-tablespoon ice cream scoop (or two tablespoons), drop rounded balls of the dough about 1-1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.
  • Bake two sheets at a time, rotating and switching their positions halfway through, until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are golden (or darker brown for chocolate cookies), 11 to 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool on their sheets on wire racks for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to the racks to cool completely.
  • Serve, decorate, or freeze the cookies.

Make Ahead Tips

You can cover and refrigerate the shaped, unbaked cookies overnight, or freeze until firm on the sheets and then transfer to zip-top freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in single layers on cookie sheets for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before baking.

Baked, undecorated cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator before decorating.

Decorated cookies can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Coffee Dough: Dissolve 1 Tbs. instant espresso or coffee granules in the vanilla paste or extract before adding with the egg.

Almond Dough: Reduce the vanilla paste or extract to 1 tsp. Add 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract and 1/3 cup ( 1-1/2  oz.) finely chopped toasted slivered almonds with the egg.

Chocolate Dough: Reduce the flour to 6-3/4  oz. ( 1-1/2  cups) and add 2 oz. (1/2  cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy, to the flour mixture. Increase the sugar to 1-1/4 cups.

Lemon Dough: Reduce the vanilla paste or extract to 1 tsp. Add  1-1/2  Tbs. finely grated lemon zest with the egg.

Mint Dough: Reduce the vanilla paste or extract to 1 tsp. Add 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract with the egg.

Orange Dough: Reduce the vanilla paste or extract to 1 tsp. Add 2 Tbs. finely grated orange zest with the egg.

Spice Dough: Add 1-3/4  tsp. ground cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg, and a pinch of finely ground black pepper to the flour mixture. Use vanilla as directed.


For flavor variations, the vanilla amount may vary


Rate or Review

Reviews (1 review)

  • Jackie3 | 01/19/2015

    These were easy to make, but the vanilla version tasted bland on its own. I sprinkled chopped roasted hazelnuts on top, but there was no added flavor, since they weren't baked inside the cookie. Decided to frost them with vanilla frosting, and then they were a huge hit. When I make them again, I will try the spiced cookie version.

Rate this Recipe

Write a Review

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 50%

Already a subscriber? Log in.


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.

Start your FREE trial