Old-Fashioned Vanilla Tea Cake Cookies

Tea cake cookies recipe

The Spruce 

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
67 Calories
5g Fat
6g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 67
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 59mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 5mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tea cakes have long been a favorite cookie in the South. The name probably dates back to early colonial days and the British tradition of afternoon tea. The tea cake is also a signature food consumed on Juneteenth. June 19th is Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday observed in the United States. It is a day marked to celebrate the day that word that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed finally reached Galveston, Texas, and enslaved people in the United States were freed.

They are similar to sugar cookies, made with basic ingredients. Many tea cakes are rolled, but these cookies are made with a softer drop dough.

Tea cakes let you swap available ingredients, such as butter for shortening, and molasses for sugar. Some recipes add citrus and spices. This version uses the drop method, resulting in two-bite confections that you can enjoy plain or dress up with poppy seeds and a drizzled lemon glaze. Serve the tea cakes with a cup of tea or an afternoon coffee.

Tru this buttermilk tea cake version.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven to 425 F.

    Gather the ingredients for the tea cake cookies
     The Spruce
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

    Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl
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  3. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives.

    Cut in the shortening
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  4. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

    Add eggs and vanilla
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  5. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.

    Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets
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  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

    Bake until the edges begin to brown
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  7. Serve and enjoy!

    Tea cake cookies
     The Spruce
Article Sources
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  1. A proclamation on Juneteenth day of observance, 2021. The White House.