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

  • 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

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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71 comments on “Southern Tea Cakes”

  1. Ms. Shelley, I just tried your southern tea cake recipe. They were absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for the recipe.

  2. Loved these. My husband couldn’t stop eating them. I made 1″ balls which made nice small 2 bite cakes. Perfect for a “tea” party.

  3. I made these for the first time yesterday and they were delicious! I love the texture and the taste is just what I love.

    I’ve noticed several people have had issues with dry or crumbly dough. I think you do have to be careful to scoop the flour into the cup so that you don’t have too much flour. And I prefer weighing ingredients to be sure. But the brand and type of flour makes a huge difference. White Lily is my preferred flour for baked goods such as cakes, quick breads and cookies like this recipe. The protein content is lower so it’s perfect. It may be difficult to find in some areas but there are others that are similar.

    I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tap vanilla bean paste and it was perfect!

  4. Love your recipes! One question, I’ve heard that cups vary from continent to continent, and I always struggle to get the recipes from cups to dl to grams, would you consider also typing in the grams? It would make the receipts accessible for Europe and also professional cooking and baking.
    Thanks, and have a nice day ☀️
    Best regards from Norway

  5. These cookies are delicious! I added some green sprinkles on top for St Patrick’s Day- I think these would be easy to decorate for different occasions. Like another person commented my dough was rather dry and crumbly after adding the flour. I’ve had that issue with some cookies lately and I’m wondering if my house is just dry. In any event, I was able to form the cookies and they taste great! Next time I am going to try adding some lemon zest.

  6. I’m a little new at baking, do you use both vanilla extract and beans? Or just one ? Just 1 teaspoon of whatever I have on hand?


    I bake on the regular and always share with my girls I work with. One of my girlfriends asked if I ever made tea cakes. I told her no, but immediately started my search. Your recipe fit the bill of what she had described to me. I made these for her and she was so excited. They were spot on for what she remembered and with the glaze it sent them straight over the top. I am becoming a certain fan! My husbands favorite cake ever is the apple fritter cake I found on you blog. I will definitely be looking atound more and recommending your blog! Thanks!

    1. I am two years later with this question but just found this beautiful recipe right now. First of all your son sounds exactly like mine and calls it like he sees it .
      My question is : can I roll this dough out and stamp it with molds? Thanks and I hope you will see this!

  8. My kids and I loved it! I did not have the vanilla bean, but it tasted really good even without it. I also did not have a mixer and made it by hand, and it worked out. Thank you!

  9. Carolyn Moorman

    I don’t have a stand mixer. Do you suppose I can get good results with this recipe? Thank you!

    1. I mix these and all my cookies by hand. I prefer to do that. I have a hand and a stand mixer. Now for the cookies – I first made them for a culinary event. Loved them so much and I’ve made them numerous times. Everyone asks for the recipe.

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