Southern Tea Cakes

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes-Plus 1 hour chilling time
  • Cook Time: 8 to 9 minutes
  • Total Time: -57303954.6 minute
  • Yield: 2 1/2 dozen
  • Category: Cookies


Southern Tea Cakes, a biscuit-like cookie, strike a perfect balance between sweet and savory.  The soft, tender texture makes them melt-in-your mouth. Made with a few simple ingredients, they are perfect for an elegant ladies luncheon or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.


1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup solid vegetable shortening, I prefer the Crisco brand

2 cups white granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

4 cups all-purpose flour ( sifted and then measured)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Optional: mixture of granulated sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over cookies after they come out of the oven.


1. Prep the Dough:

– In a large bowl, cream together butter and shortening. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

-Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and lemon extract.

2. Combine Dry Ingredients:

– In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

– Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. The dough should be stiff.

3. Chill:

– Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. This makes the dough easier to handle and enhances the flavors.

4. Roll and Cut:

– Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

– On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1 1/4-inch thickness.

– Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Prick the edges and center with a fork. Pricking the cookie dough helps the steam escape while baking, preventing the dough from forming “bubbles”. Note: I like to make my tea cakes small. I use a 1 1/2 -inch cookie cutter or you can use a small cup to cut them out.

5. Bake:

– Place the cutouts on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.

– Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Immediately after the cookies are taken out of the oven, you can sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of each cookie. This is totally optional.


Do ahead/ Freeze Tips:

The dough can be made up serval days ahead. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to roll out. Also raw cookie dough can be frozen for up to three months. Baked tea cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Simply place the cooled tea cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze them individually. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. This prevents them from sticking together and makes it easy to grab a few whenever the craving strikes.

Tea cakes are better served warm. Popping them in the microwave for 8 to 10 seconds works like magic. If they are frozen, microwave them for 5 or 6 seconds longer.