Southern Tea Cakes

Image of Southern Tea Cakes

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!

A Homemade Tea Cake Cookie 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 the Best 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

These are some of the best treats ever…classic, but unique!

Print

Southern Tea Cakes

  • Author: Cookies and Cups
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description:

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!


Ingredients:

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

Glaze

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

Instructions:

  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.

Notes:

store airtight for up to 3 days

Keywords:: tea cake recipe, southern tea cake recipe, how to make tea cakes, tea cake cookie recipe, easy cookie recipe, 10 minute cookie recipe, best tea cake recipe, easy southern tea cake recipe

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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68 Responses
  1. Jennifer

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it tonight and my family absolutely loved it, as did I. I will be remaking this one time and time again! The only thing is I got 38 cookies despite the yield stating 13 – 15. Maybe mine were smaller?

  2. Kathy

    Oh my gosh,just came across your website and your teacake recipe. I have never seen another teacake recipe like my grandmothers. Yep, they are hard to master, but worth it! Thank you, can’t wait to try your recipe.

  3. Tennesseean

    I have been trying for years to find a recipe that comes close to Ham N’Goody’s tea cakes. Now I can stop looking! These are amazing. Thanks!

  4. Kay

    I’m sitting here dying for one of these – other plans will have to be postponed today – gotta make tea cakes!! The only thing I’m planning to alter is the icing color. I have this weird obsession with pale pink for all things icing. Hope I’m not desecrating some sacred Southern law…Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Ellie

    If you are getting flatter cookies instead of little cakes, it might be because you are using baking soda instead of baking powder. I think baking soda needs acid to activate it, but I’m not sure.

  6. Johnna Phillips

    Funny, when I started readying is I was thinking, “I should tell her about Ham ‘n Goodys”.. then I kept reading 🙂 We have Ham ‘n Goodys here in Knoxville, TN. Their Tea Cakes and Glazed Lemon Cookies are legendary around here. I’ve found no other Tea Cakes like them anywhere. No other cookie/cake is quite the same texture as a Tea Cake. If your recipe comes close I will be your fan for life! (the non-stalkerish type) My grandmother used to make them for her children in North Carolina so yes, definitely a Southern thing.

  7. Kori

    Hey there! Found this recipe months ago on Pinterest and thought these looked really good! I made them today and they came out pretty darn nicely! I didn’t use the vanilla bean because I didn’t have it, I just used extract, and for the icing I also used extract – vanilla and almond. I think everybody will enjoy these!

  8. Ashley

    Delicious! Thanks for the recipe 🙂 I’m a lemon feen so after making your original I made them (uhhh, the next day…) substituting vanilla and the beans for lemon extract and rind, and for the icing with rind and lemon juice – turned out great; if you like lemon!

  9. Victor

    Perhaps extra spreading could be caused by different ways to measure flour? When dry ingredients such as flour and sugar are measured by weight (for home bakers, for the scale, in grams works best). This way everyone, every time would have consistent results, provided that mixing methods are consistent. Also, what kind of flour is being used? Different types and brands work up differently.

    Regards.

  10. My Grandma’s Newton made us grandkids tea cakes, but her tea cakes called for almond favoring. Here’s were roll out cookies. She would put our hands on the dough and cut around them, and we would get hand cookies. Thank you for reminding me of such nice memory!

  11. jodi

    shelly – made these for book club and they were da BOMB!!! oh my – everyone raved about them and asked for the recipe. I LOVE tea cakes (and starbucks vanilla bean scones) and these were amazing. just the right everything. I also used a smaller scoop (didn’t even have to roll them) and got about 32. (and they were still big) delicious!! thanks for doing all the hard work for us!!

  12. Kim

    Just made these tonight, followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfect, not too much spreading! I used a cookie scooper and ended up with 40 of these deliscious cookies and had plenty of glaze! Starbucks has mini vanilla bean scones and this recipe reminds me of them, except for the price! Thanks 🙂

  13. Jennifer R

    We used to have a Ham N Goody’s in Nashville and I always got their T-cakes. I actually mourned when they closed the doors and while I have duplicated their teacake, I couldn’t duplicate the glaze. Your teacakes look yummy – although I do love the almond flavoring in the ones I fell in love with.

    1. Johnna Phillips

      They’re still open in Knoxville! Northshore Rd near Kingston Pike. Just a tiny jump of I-40 at Papermill Rd to get there for anyone passing through. Well worth it! The tea cakes (un-glazed) are my favorite but the other big favorite is their glazed lemon cookies.

  14. Vicki

    I made these tonight and they are DELICIOUS! I didn’t glaze them yet because I can’t resist warm-just-baked anything. I’ll add the glaze tomorrow and they will be ready for a party (-: thanks for the awesome recipe.

  15. MrsSW

    Great recipe! Thanks for putting all the time and effort into perfecting it. Is your family tired of tea cakes yet? 😉

  16. cherie

    Yummy – thanks for doing the leg work!
    I’m guessing whoever had a problem with them overspreading either had a warm kitchen/pan or perhaps the oven runs a bit hot? I’ll keep it in mind – can’t wait to try them out!

    1. Shelly

      I didn’t chill my dough. The dough didn’t spread much for me at all when I rolled it into balls. Very strange that you would have that result. You certainly could try chilling the dough, it definitely wouldn’t hurt!

  17. My grandma (Russian/Polish) made Russian teacakes for Xmas every year with my mom. They were SUPER fussy. I was a little kid and just remember my mom and grandma agonizing over the recipe and making sure not to burn then after all the work. When they’re done right, tea cakes are amazing! But as you said, too dry, too cake-ish, falling apart, etc. So many issues can plague them. Yours are perfect. Way to stick with the recipe til you had it just right!

Leave a Reply

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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