Buttermilk Cookies with Honey Buttercream Frosting are like the top of a cupcake – soft, fluffy, and loaded with frosting. They are light, perfectly sweet, and so delicious.

I made these cookies to use up some leftover buttermilk, and WOW, they are so good. I started making buttermilk muffins the same way – as a way to use up leftover buttermilk – I’m starting to realize that buttermilk is such a wonderful and versatile ingredient.

These cookies are a little different than the Amish Cookies that use brown sugar – these are more of a cakey cookie, which I normally would not willingly choose – but these are SO good. (I normally am one to choose the chewy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies – not one with a cake-like texture – but these cookies are just so delicious in their own way.)

A buttermilk cookie with thick frosting and a bite taken out of it with two cookies behind it.

These buttermilk cookies have just the right amount of sweetness – they are a little plain on their own, but when combined with the honey butter frosting – it’s almost like a sweet muffin top with melted honey butter. The wonderful flavors come together so well. They are such a different kind of cookie – and they are so delicious.

Table of Contents

🥘 Ingredient Notes

The ingredients in buttermilk cookies, laid out in bowls and labeled.

For the Cookies

  • Butter, softened
  • Sugar
  • Egg, room temperature
  • Vanilla Extract
  • All-purpose Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Kosher Salt
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk is one of the staple ingredients in this recipe. I would not use a homemade buttermilk substitute here (the kind you make by mixing a tablespoon of lemon juice or a tablespoon of white vinegar with a cup of regular milk.) You really do taste the tang of the buttermilk in the base of the cookie, and I would be worried that the substitute wouldn’t have quite the same taste.
The ingredients in honey butter frosting, laid out in bowls and labeled.

For the Frosting

  • Butter, softened
  • Honey
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Kosher Salt

Optional

  • Sprinkles
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Chocolate Chips

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • An Electric Mixer – You can use either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. I like the stand mixer because it is easier to use once you start adding flour!
  • Cookie Sheets with Parchment Paper or Non-Stick Baking Mats/Silpats
  • A Cookie Scoop

🥣 How to Make It

For the Cookie Dough

  • Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Cream butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture with the mixer at a low speed, alternating with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. (Add the flour mixture in small amounts so that the flour doesn’t explode everywhere.) The dough will be sticky but should be manageable.
A collage of images showing how to make buttermilk cookies, steps 1 - 5.
  • Roll the cookie dough into balls, about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half in size, and place the rounded tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. (They will spread a little.)
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
A collage of images showing how to bake buttermilk cookies.
  • Place the cookies on wire racks to cool.
Buttermilk cookies cooling on a cookie rack.

For the Honey Butter Frosting

  • To make the frosting, cream softened butter with your mixer – I use the whisk attachment to kind of whip it – then whip it with the honey to get it kind of soft and fluffy like whipped honey butter.
  • Add in half of the confectioners’ sugar, then when fully incorporated, add the remaining powdered sugar and salt. Beat until smooth. If you want the frosting to be runnier like icing, you can add a little milk, but I like this frosting like cupcake frosting – it is SO good.
A collage of images showing how to make honey butter frosting, steps 6 - 10.

Let the cookies cool, then spread the thick frosting all over the cookies. If desired, sprinkle with sprinkles or chopped nuts.

Make sure the cookies are mostly cooled before frosting them, or the frosting will melt off of the cookies. (Though honestly, if you are just enjoying them at home – it is delicious to spread some frosting on the warm cookie and let it melt a little. It is just like melting honey butter on a warm muffin.)

This is such a simple cookie, and they have such an amazing flavor – they are soft and subtly sweet and make a great treat to bring to family gatherings.

TIP: If you are going to make these cookies for cookie trays or cookie boxes, do not stack them, or the frosting will get squished – be sure to lay them flat.

A hand holding a frosted buttermilk cookie over a plate of cookies.

Recipe Yield

This recipe makes about 36 cookies that are about one tablespoon in size or 20-24 that are one and a half to two tablespoons in size.

Frosted buttermilk cookies with Christmas sprinkles and nutcracker knives with extra frosting.

Variations

These cookies are like comforting cookie pillows – they would be so delicious with other flavor extracts added.

  • Buttermilk Christmas Cookies – Prepare as instructed above, but top with Christmas sprinkled.
  • Lemon Cookies – Add lemon extract instead of vanilla extract to make lemon buttermilk cookies. (Or do half and half, so the lemon flavor is not too strong.)
  • Almond Cookies – Add almond extract instead of vanilla extract to make almond buttermilk cookies. (Or do half and half, so the almond flavor is not too strong.)
Frosted buttermilk cookies with Christmas sprinkles and nutcracker knives with extra frosting.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of buttermilk in these cookies?

Buttermilk gives the cookies a little bit of a tang and also helps the cookies rise as it reacts with the baking powder and causes them to puff up.

What is the texture of these buttermilk cookies?

These cookies are like the top of a cupcake or a muffin. They are so soft and fluffy, and the icing is just, well, the icing on the cake.

Is there a substitute for buttermilk in this recipe?

Honestly, I wouldn’t substitute anything else. These cookies are buttermilk cookies. If you use something else, they won’t be buttermilk cookies anymore. (Normally, I fully support a buttermilk substitute, but not in this case.)

A buttermilk cookie with thick frosting and a bite taken out of it.

More Recipes Using Buttermilk

Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.
The inside of a buttermilk cookie with frosting melting on the top.

🥫 How to Store Your Cookies

Allow the cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack before storing them. I like to store the cookies unfrosted in an airtight container at room temperature. I store the frosting in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator.

To prepare the leftover cookies, I take the frosting out about 30 minutes to one hour before I plan on frosting the cookies to let it soften, and the cookies taste like they are fresh from the oven. You can even microwave the cookies to make them warm and soft again – for 5-10 seconds, just don’t go crazy, or the frosting will melt. (Though, yum!)

You can also freeze the cookies and frosting and make them when you need them. This makes it easier to prepare Christmas cookies in large quantities. (See below for more instructions.)

How to Freeze Cookies

I like to bake a batch of cookies and frosting, then separately freeze them. I freeze the cookies in a bag and suck out all the air, then freeze the frosting in an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap against the top surface of the frosting. Put the lid on and freeze until they are needed. Defrost and spread the frosting on the cookies!

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✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Use a cookie scoop to make the cookies more uniform in size.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly with the mixer at a low or medium speed so that the flour doesn’t explode everywhere.
  • Use a non-stick baking mat (I use a Silpat) to keep the cookies from sticking to your baking sheet. This also keeps the bottoms of the cookies from cooking too fast. (Dark cookie sheets also tend to heat up quickly, and the bottoms of cookies will burn, so try to use a lighter cookie sheet.)
  • If you are making multiple batches of cookies, allow your cookie sheet to cool in between batches or use multiple cookie sheets.
  • Make sure that your rack is in the center of the oven when baking cookies – too close to the top or bottom of the oven can result in uneven baking.
Four frosted buttermilk cookies on a white plate.

Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!

📝 Recipe

A buttermilk cookie with thick frosting and a bite taken out of it.

Buttermilk Cookies with Honey Buttercream Frosting

5 from 1 vote
Buttermilk Cookies with Honey Buttercream Frosting are like the top of a cupcake – soft, fluffy, and loaded with frosting. They are light, perfectly sweet, and so delicious.
Author: Kari
Servings: 24 cookies
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Cooling Time: 25 mins
Total: 52 mins

Ingredients  

Cookies

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Honey Butter Frosting

Optional

  • sprinkles
  • chopped pecans

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
    ½ cup butter, 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Beat in egg and vanilla extract next.
    1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
    2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternating with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. The dough will be sticky, but it should be manageable.
    ½ cup buttermilk
  • Roll the cookie dough into balls, about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half in size, and place the rounded tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. (They will spread a little.)
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
  • Remove to wire racks to cool.

Honey Butter Frosting

  • To make the frosting, cream butter, then whip with honey. (I like to use the whisk attachment of the mixer.)
    ½ cup butter, ½ cup honey
  • Add in half of the confectioners' sugar, then when fully incorporated, add the remaining sugar and salt. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
    2 cups powdered sugar, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Let the cookies cool, then spread the thick frosting all over the cookies. If desired, sprinkle with sprinkles or chopped nuts.
    sprinkles, chopped pecans
  • Make sure the cookies are mostly cooled before frosting them, or the frosting will melt off of the cookies.
  • Serve and enjoy! See notes below for how to best store the cookies.

Notes

How to Store Your Cookies

Allow the cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack before storing them. I like to store the cookies unfrosted in an airtight container at room temperature. I store the frosting in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator.
To prepare the leftover cookies, I take the frosting out about 30 minutes to one hour before I plan on frosting the cookies to let it soften, and the cookies taste like they are fresh from the oven. You can even microwave the cookies to make them warm and soft again – for 5-10 seconds, just don’t go crazy, or the frosting will melt. (Though, yum!)
You can also freeze the cookies and frosting and make them when you need them. This makes it easier to prepare Christmas cookies in large quantities. (See below for more instructions.)

How to Freeze Cookies

I like to bake a batch of cookies and frosting, then separately freeze them. I freeze the cookies in a bag and suck out all the air, then freeze the frosting in an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap against the top surface of the frosting. Put the lid on and freeze until they are needed. Defrost and spread the frosting on the cookies!
The base of this cookie recipe is based on this recipe from Taste of Home, though I used a different frosting to make it more like a delicious cupcake top.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookiesCalories: 214kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 153mgPotassium: 30mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 24gVitamin A: 255IUVitamin C: 0.04mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: buttermilk cookies, fluffy cookies, leftover buttermilk recipes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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Hi, I’m Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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