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Venetian Butter Cookies

The dough for these cookies should be stiff, not crumbly like shortbread, making it easier to form into a tight S shape.

  • Yield: Makes 4 dozen
Venetian Butter Cookies

Source: Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2000


  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Beat to combine. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until fully combined. Reduce speed to low, and add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating until fully combined

  3. Roll a walnut-size piece of dough into a ball, then roll out into a rope about 3 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter. Shape into a decorative S. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Cook's Note

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Reviews (10)

  • domesticempressLtd 11 Apr, 2010

    In Australia it is called Plain flour.

  • domesticempressLtd 11 Apr, 2010

    In Australia it is calle Plain flour.

  • zoe2009 11 Apr, 2010

    Love the recipe, but I am from Australia and would like to know what you mean by All Purpose Flour...

  • Gloriousjean 9 Apr, 2010

    I love these cookies and so do my grandchildren. I am of Italian descent and these cookies remind me so much of the cookies that my grandmother used to bake. Instead of lemon zest, I use anise. Great with a cup of tea!!!

  • Huntgoddess218 9 Apr, 2010

    These would be especially apt to sell at the concession for a local Shakespeare group performing Othello --- The Moor of Venice. LOL

  • Carmy 9 Apr, 2010

    .....and my Godparents made this cookies also. Our family is Italian. Thanks for the memories!!!

  • dncgfool 9 Apr, 2010

    They are also similar to a Greek cookie Iwas given the recipe for when my kids were teething. They loved them ( so did I with a cup of tea).

  • Swtptea415 17 Jan, 2009

    My Italian aunt always made these cookies. We also called them "S" cookies. We never had a recipe because the old italians never cooked with recipes --- it was all visual and tasting. Thank you for the recipe, it will bring back fond memories .

  • denisetollefson 17 Jan, 2009

    My grandmother also made these cookies. She was from Germany and called them "S" cookies. She added the large granule sugar to the top. She's no longer with us and didn't have a recipe written down, but my mom has found one that comes pretty close, as does this one, with the exception of the lemon zest.

  • Wiggy1770 16 Jan, 2009

    I don't know about cookies from Venice, but this is very much like the recipe my old Sicilian granny used when she made butter cookies. They were wonderful, but if you didn't dunk them in something to soften them up, they were a bit jarring on the teeth! I think she rolled them out thicker than 1/4 inch . . . maybe more like 1 inch . . . so they were kind of harder than they had to be!

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