Cookies are one of my favorite things about the holiday season, and the sheer variety of cookies available at this time of year is mind boggling.  Some are intricately decorated or filled with delicious things.  As much as I enjoy all of those kinds, I adore the simple elegance of sables.  A buttery, crisp cookie dotted with flecks of vanilla bean and crunchy sugar adorning the edges.   Lovely for gifting to others, or for a personal indulgence.  The other great thing about them is that you freeze the dough and then slice and bake, so you can store the dough and then bake them any time you like.  The ingredient list is short and sweet, so it’s a good idea to whip up a batch or two now and then have the dough ready for any last minute people you may have forgotten on your gifting list.

Last year I tried a few different recipes but none turned out quite the way I was hoping so this year I started from scratch and experimented a little more.  Thankfully this time around I was able to achieve the sable bliss I was looking for.  Now my only problem is keeping away from them so there are some left over for sharing.  I guess they need to go up on the top top shelf with the caramel corn.

Note: This recipe was developed as part of my ongoing contribution to the Go Bold with Butter blog.  Head over to see my posts as well as more great recipes from the other awesome bloggers involved with the project!

Thanks for all of your enthusiasm about the charity donation “giveaway” – it means so much to know that my readers appreciate the true spirit of the season.  I’ll be contacting those winners today and can’t wait to hear which charities they select.  Don’t forget, today is the last day of holiday giveaways here on the blog.  Today’s giveaway is a fantastic prize courtesy of Nespresso.  Head on over to the giveaway page to learn more and enter!  


For the cookie dough: 

  • 1 cup (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise*
  • 2/3 cup vanilla sugar**
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt

To finish:

  • Turbinado sugar for coating (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 large egg white mixed with 1 tbsp. water


  • 01

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean pods, and vanilla sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg yolks one at a time, and vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour and salt until incorporated and a thick dough forms.

  • 02

    Gather the dough together and transfer to a piece of parchment paper.  Form into a log about 1¾-inches in diameter.  Roll the dough tightly up in the parchment paper, and twist the ends to seal.  Transfer the dough to the freezer and chill until very firm, at least 2-3 hours.

  • 03

    When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  On a piece of wax or parchment paper, pour a line of turbinado sugar for coating the dough log.  Remove the dough from the freezer, brush lightly with the egg wash, and roll in the turbinado sugar pressing gently to adhere.  Transfer the dough to a cutting board and slice with a sharp knife into rounds just less than ½-inch thick.  Place the dough rounds on the prepared baking sheets.

  • 04

    Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the edges are light golden and the cookies are just set, 14-15 minutes total.  Let cool on the baking sheets briefly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 05

    *Buying a vanilla bean or two in the grocery store is ridiculously expensive!  I buy mine in bulk online, a much cheaper option.  Plus then you always have vanilla beans on hand – a very good thing indeed! 
    ** To make vanilla sugar, split a couple of vanilla beans and store in an airtight container with sugar for a while – at least a few days.  That’s it!  If you don’t have time to wait for vanilla sugar, no worries.  These are just as delicious made with regular sugar.
  • I’m a fan of simple cookies too. What’s there to say about these? I love them :)

  • These sables are gorgeous, Annie! I love that you incorporated vanilla beans and vanilla sugar.

  • These look fabulous Annie!

  • Patti T.

    These sound wonderful and I bet they smell awesome when they are baking.

  • Annie @Annie’s City Kitchen

    Whoa flashback. These cookies remind me of the cookies you get in a tin around Christmas with pinwheels and sables. I have a feeling these are better quality though. Look delish!

  • Kate Eder

    How do you store your bulk vanilla beans? Contemplating a purchase after making so many batches of your vanilla bean caramels this Christmas (big hit by the way, thank you!) but don’t want them to mold or spoil.

  • Cindy

    Thanks for the tip and website reference regarding the purchase of vanilla beans. I have always avoided recipes that call for them because of the expense. I should have checked the internet myself. So many things are cheaper on the internet.

  • annieseats

    They come in a resealable bag so I leave them in that. I’ve never had a problem. Glad you enjoyed the caramels!

  • Wally Denny

    They look so good thanks so much for the recipe!!!

  • Celine

    These are easily the most delicious plain vanilla cookie I have ever had. There is so much flavor and they came out absolutely perfectly. I will be baking these again on Christmas Eve!

  • Elizabeth

    These look perfect for gifting (…or more accurately: eating, and then making a second batch to give away)! Do you think a light brown sugar would substitute well for the turbinado?

  • Made these for christmas gifts with red sugar for the decorative sugar…they were super cute and super delicious!

  • Meg

    I had resolved not to bake anything until my final exams are over, but these just kept calling my name. Of course as I was baking them, I didn’t realize how very similar the ratio of ingredients is to my family’s spritzgebäck recipe, and so when I took that first bite I was beyond thrilled to discover that familiar taste. Just what I need to get me through the next week and a half. I love the addition of the vanilla bean. That flavor is just spot on, even without the vanilla sugar, which I did not have on hand. I love the crunch of the turbinado sugar on the sides. Awesome. Great job developing this recipe. I can’t wait to share with my law school friends as sustenance for finals!

  • annieseats

    Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed them. Sometimes you have to allow a bit of baking to actually get through finals! Good luck with your exams :)

  • Lauren M

    Thanks for the great post! What packaging through Garnish do you use for truffles and fudge? Also, did you get the clear plastic bags the vanilla sables are in through Garnish. and finally, just out of curiosity, how do you contain all your smaller packages when you deliver to your friends/family. Do you place them all in a bigger holiday bag/box or do you just hand them out as is. Was just wondering! Thanks!

  • mamy81

    This is the EASIEST cookie I have ever made. Fool proof. They are a nice addition to Christmas just based on ease alone. That said…I love them. Last year I made the chocolate peanut butter cookies for a cookie exchange contest. I won. But truth be told I like these way more. Simple, not too rich, and tasty, tasty. I have all the ingredients on hand. I know I will make these over and over. Love me a good butter cookie.

    Doesn’t have to be complicated to be good!!!

  • annieseats

    I think just some of the smaller cardboard boxes if I remember correctly. I sort of change every year and just make whatever I happened to buy work for what I have, so it’s hard to remember exactly.

  • Deanna

    Love your Anne”s Picks, but I can find last month 8. There were a few recipes I wanted to make from the list. Can you please supply those? Thank you

  • annieseats

    Unfortunately those lists are not archived anywhere in particular. They were mostly Thanksgiving themed though, so if you click on the Thanksgiving category, you should find most of them.

  • Deanna

    Thank you.

  • Stephanie

    Oh my! This recipe looks wonderful! I had your French Butter cookies ondeck to bake as a gift for my father-in-law (who loves those “Blue Tin” Danish cookies.) Are these similar? I may have to make both!

  • annieseats

    Both are great and both are similar to the beloved cookies in a tin :) I adore the cookies from both recipes, but these are a little bit simpler to make.

  • Diana

    These are delicious!!! I never heard of them until you posted the recipe and at that point last year I was done Christmas baking. I made them this year and I think they are my favorite out of the 20ish things I made. Thanks for sharing another great recipe!

  • Jennifer

    I just don’t know what to say about these cookies—delicious, easy, pretty, different. I could go on! I needed a cookie for a cookie swap, and saw this recipe as an “Annie’s Pick”. So very glad I made these! I had a few extras which the kids gobbled up, then begged me not to take them. Can’t get better than that! Super easy–no changes, no tweaks. I will be making these again and again. Thanks Annie!

  • Noreen

    Just received my vanilla beans per your recommendation. How do I store these? Thx

  • Lauren

    I have to say I love your photography. So often you see 1000 pictures in a post of the same thing, and I appreciate the thought that goes into your picking of only a few gorgeous shots!

    I made this for a my Christmas goodies box for friends this year, and wow. Delicious! I am making some more for Christmas Eve at Grandma’s.

  • annieseats

    Thank you Lauren! Growing my photography has been one of my favorite things about having this blog, and it always feel nice when someone recognizes my efforts, so thank you for the compliment! I am glad you enjoyed the cookies as well. I think I’ll be baking these this weekend – love them!

  • annieseats

    I store them in an airtight bag.

  • Juli Marie

    How do you store your extra vanilla beans when you buy in bulk?

  • annieseats

    In an airtight bag.

  • Karen C

    I love these cookies! I made the vanilla sugar and I can’t imagine making them without it. I gave these as part of my Christmas cookie box for my co-workers and they were a hit. I also made your Cappuccino Fudge as part of the cookie
    box and I have requests for more of both. Thank You, Annie :)