Christmas Cookie-palooza: Orange poppy seed butter cookies.

This Christmas cookie recipe is totally up my alley: buttery but not too sweet, pretty and delicious. I love the speckled look of the poppy seeds and the pop of orange flavor.

I didn’t intend to, but I realized that I’ve favored slice-and-bake cookie recipes this holiday season. No wonder: These recipes are easy to make in steps … you can mix up the dough and then come back to the baking later. Once you’ve mixed the dough, the baking-off happens super quickly. Slice-and-bake cookie dough is great for making ahead and freezing until you, um, realize you have a cookie exchange THIS AFTERNOON that you completely forgot about.

This recipe for Orange Poppy Seed Butter Cookies has been stashed in my three-ring recipe binder forever; it originally appeared in a newspaper of unknown origin, and it is attributed to James Beard Award-winning chef Nancy Silverton of the influential La Brea Bakery in L.A. I haven’t changed a thing about it. You could also make these cookies with lemon (or even better: Meyer lemon) zest in place of the orange.

And with this, friends, here’s my final Christmas cookie recipe for this year. Happy baking, and lovely holidays with family and friends!

orange poppy seed butter cookies

makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 tablespoons grated orange zest (from 2 or 3 oranges)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds (or a 1.25-ounce jar)

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), whip the butter and orange zest together until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4–5 minutes. Blend in sugar, then blend in egg yolk and vanilla. Add flour and poppy seeds and mix to combine. Divide dough into thirds and roll each third into a log about 1 1/4-inch in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to slice each log into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange rounds on lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 15–18 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time, until cookies look dry and very lightly brown on their edges. Cool on a wire rack.

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