Cookies & Cups > Recipes > Cookies > Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes are more like a cookie than cake. This authentic recipe makes thick, buttery cookies topped with vanilla bean icing!

Make sure to try my Kentucky Butter Cake Cookies too!

This Is My Authentic Southern Tea Cakes Recipe!

So, I feel like I know my way around a cookie. I’ve been posting recipes here for almost 10 years…and certainly before that “cookie enthusiast” was a bullet on my resumé. Long story short, I feel like I’m fairly familiar with the cookie game. Anyhow, a few years back I was chatting with a new friend who introduced me to the Southern Tea Cake. If you are as unfamiliar as I was, they are melt in your mouth delicious, buttery, soft cookies that were completely one of a kind. They aren’t “cakey” at all (yay!). There are lots of versions out there for tea cakes…sometimes they’re glazed, sometimes they’re plain, sometimes they’re dusted with powdered sugar.

I have seen recipes where they look a lot like a sugar cookie, and sometimes they look like scones. My recipe is neither of those. It’s literal perfection…everything you want a tea cake to be. It took me a while to get this right, but it was worth every calorie.

Southern Tea Cakes

How to Make Tea Cakes:

I used vanilla beans in mine, but feel free to use any extract in these that you would like…like almond, rum, coconut, amaretto…really it’s up to you!

And let’s just address the elephant in the room here. I used vanilla beans…which unfortunately (according to my son) makes these my cookies look like biscuits and gravy. So tea cakes in my house are now lovingly referred to as “gravy cookies”. I mean, I guess I see it. Whatever.

Tea Cake Dough

The dough for these is super simple, with no chill time necessary. Just roll the dough into balls and place them on a lined baking sheet. It’s very similar to a sugar cookie dough…

When they are baked they won’t spread too much, leaving them tall.

Plain tea cakes...perfect like this, dusted with sugar, or even better with a poured frosting!

Go ahead and whip up your super simple vanilla bean glaze…

Vanilla Bean Glaze

And then pour it onto each little tea cake…

Glazing my tea cakes

See how pretty! You do this when they are warm for a thinner glaze, or cooled for a thicker glaze.

I let the glaze set up and then I couldn’t wait to dig in.

Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes are some of the best treats ever…classic, but unique!

How To Store:

These can be stored at room temperature for up too 5 days, or you can freeze these for up to 30 days. Just make sure they’re stored airtight!

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Image of Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 17 reviews
  • Author: Cookies and Cups
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


These Southern Tea Cakes took me a LONG time to perfect, but now, they’re such an easy cookie recipe! A perfectly dense and thick, but soft, sweet, and buttery dessert. The vanilla bean glaze on top makes these extra special, and the tastiest treat!



Tea Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla and beans from one vanilla bean pod (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 34 tablespoons milk
  • 1 vanilla bean with beans scraped out


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together for 1 minute until mixed. Add in eggs and vanilla (and vanilla beans), baking powder, and salt and mix until incorporated, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Turn mixer to low and mix in the flour until the dough just comes together.
  4. Form the dough into 2- inch balls and place on lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are slightly golden, careful not to over-bake.
  6. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack while preparing your glaze
  7. For glaze whisk ingredients all together in a bowl. Pour directly over the tea cakes.
  8. Allow glaze to set before eating.


store airtight for up to 3 days


  • Serving Size: 1 tea cake
  • Calories: 163
  • Sugar: 16.7 g
  • Sodium: 81.3 mg
  • Fat: 4.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29 g
  • Protein: 2.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 15.6 mg

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78 comments on “Southern Tea Cakes”

  1. These are sooooooo GOOD!!! I love that these are not overly sweet. They’re a soft and fluffy cookie and an absolute favorite.. I don’t bother with the glaze, they’re that good!

  2. This has been my go-to since 07/2019. My son-in-law, who’s from MS requested tea cakes at the baby shower. I went on a quest to find the right recipe. I had testers at work because I’ve never tasted them. Needless to say, this recipe trumped the rest. I followed the recipe without the glaze. Thank you for sharing!!

  3. I whipped the butter like you do for a typical cookie recipe and the result was not as dense a cookie, and it spread a little more in the oven. They were a hit either way. Cookie itself is very subtle, and the icing adds the perfect touch (for the vanilla glaze I just combined powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla paste). They’re kind of like those classic sugar cookies with the pink frosting you find at the store… but way better.

  4. Susan Kaminskas

    The recipe ask for 1T vanilla extract and 1 vanilla bean if just using extract how much should I use

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