Butterfly cookies recipe

(80 ratings)

These beautiful butterfly cookies will be the hit of any party.

butterfly cookies
(Image credit: TI Media)
Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins plus decorating time
Cost RangeCheap

These butterfly cookies offer up a colourful twist on the classic sugar cookie, perfect for birthday parties and an occasion where you need a bit of flare. 

Ready in just 35 minutes from the time when you combine your butter and sugar, these cookies aren't only some of the quickest to make - but also the easiest. They use six simple ingredients that you're more than likely to already have in your store cupboard and your fridge. As for the icing, that's up to you. Go bright and bold with primary colours or stick to a more neutral palette for a laid-back decoration.


For the cookies:

  • 125g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops of vanilla
  • extract
  • 1 medium egg
  • 250g (8oz) plain flour

To decorate:

  • 1-2 x 500g packet royal icing sugar
  • Paste food colourings in various colours
  • Sparkling sugar, optional
  • Hundreds and thousands, optional

You will also need:

  • Butterfly cookie cutters
  • Baking sheets, lined with non-stick liners or baking parchment
  • No. 2 writing piping tube(s)
  • Small disposable piping bags
  • Toothpicks




  1. Set the oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the flour until the mixture binds together to form a dough. If the dough is very soft, wrap it in a plastic bag and chill it until it’s firm enough to roll out. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 3-4mm (nearly 1⁄4in) thick and use cutters to cut out shapes, re-rolling trimmings as necessary until all the dough is used.
  3. Place the cut-out shapes on the lined baking sheets. If there is time, chill the shapes for 10-15 minutes before baking. Bake the biscuits in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies start to turn golden at the edges. Remove the baking sheets from the oven.
  4. Leave the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To decorate the cookies, make up the royal icing, following the directions on the packet, until it’s a piping consistency. Divide the icing between several bowls and then colour them according to the colours you want to decorate the butterflies. Fit the piping tube into a piping bag and fill with a dark-coloured icing. Add a little water to the other colours of the icing to soften it, so that when you shake the bowl the surface levels, and fill different piping bags with the other colours.
  6. Carefully pipe the outline of a butterfly in a darker-coloured icing.
  7. Cut off the end of the icing bags with the softer icing to give a small hole and fill in the outline using small, circular movements. Tap the cookie on the work surface to level the icing.
  8. Working quickly, cut the ends off the other piping bags as the coloured icings are to be used and pipe detail on the cookies, such as lines and dots. Use the tip of a toothpick to drawn lines across the piped lines to give a feathered look before the icing sets.
  9. For simpler decoration, pipe a dark outline and flood in with a softer icing. Sprinkle over sparkling sugar and hundreds and thousands, if you like.
  10. Pipe the body and head of the butterfly using the No. 2 piping tube and the stiffer darker-coloured royal icing.

Top tips for making butterfly cookies:

For a smooth surface, decorate one cookie at a time and work quickly so that the coloured details sink down into the main icing. If the icing is too thick, add a little water, but be careful not to make it too runny or it will slide off the cookies

You might also like: 

Chocolate chip cookies

Sugar cookies recipe

Peanut butter cookies

Food & Recipes writer

Sue McMahon is a former Food and Recipes Writer at GoodTo and Cooking Editor at Woman's Weekly. Her primary passion is cakes and Sue regularly travels the world teaching cake decorating. Her biggest achievement to date was winning the Prix d’honneur at La Salon Culinaire International de Londres beating over 1,200 other entries.