Old-Fashioned Vanilla Tea Cake Cookies

Tea Cookies
Iain Bagwell / Getty Images
  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 48 Servings

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 also played an important role in early African American food history.

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 or shortening and molasses or 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 tea cakes with a cup of tea or an afternoon coffee.

What You'll Need

  • 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 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make It

  1. Heat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine; cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Drop batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Do tea cakes bring back childhood memories? Check out these other tea cakes recipes:

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 67
Total Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Unsaturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 59 mg
Carbohydrates 6 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)