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These shortbread cookies just melt in your mouth. I have never seen anyone that did not love them!  Some people call these shortbread cookies and others call them tea cakes. My mother-in-law was from Mississippi and very much a Southern lady.  She served these cookies with tea to her lady friends when they came to visit.  They had to be cut with small cookie cutters and served on her best dishes. The ladies would sip their tea and nibble on these buttery treats.

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients with mixer until very crumbly. Take your hands and shape into a ball and put in refrigerator until solid enough to pinch off a piece and flatten on a hard surface. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.


Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees about 25 minutes. Just before removing from oven turn on broiler for about 45 seconds and let brown on top.

These cookies have been a favorite of my family for years. I always make them at Christmas. They will keep several months in air tight containers.

Note: If your dough get too soft while cutting out the cookies, just return to refrigerator for a while or between cookings.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen depending on the size of your cookie cutters.



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  1. my grandmother had tea cakes made when i come in from school many years ago .she always roll them out on a floured board.they were thin an delicious.thanks for this rec.

  2. This recipe differs a bit from the one my mama used when I was little. Ours didn’t have nuts in them, but since I love nuts, I will have to give this one a try.

    Just want to say, too, that I love your blog. I was born and raised in northern Mississippi, but have lived up north for 2 and a half decades now. (I met and fell madly in love with a Yankee. That’s okay, though, because Mama loved him, too, and said he fit into our family like we’d known him forever.) Anyway, I’ve spent all these years teaching him to love my Southern roots as much as I do. He’s become a fan of black-eyed peas, pulled pork barbecue, and sweet tea. Before he met us, he’d never had any of those things. Poor man. 😀

  3. Do these cookies stay soft ? My husband’s Grand mother used to bake what she called Tea Cakes when he was a boy and I’ve never been able to find a recipe for them that stays soft, and I don’t overbake them.

    • These cookies are not soft. They are not hard either. I make them with small bite sized cookie cutters and since they have so much butter they just kind of melt in your mouth. I have made them every year at Christmas for at least 30 years and everyone that has them loves them.

    • There are several Teacake recipes online. When you find one you think might work for you just cream it a little more for a soft cookie

      • Peggy Howard says:

        Marion , I am not much of a cook , lol when you say cream it a little more , do you just mean in the mixer beat them a little longer ?

    • My mother’s were soft, too, and she used white sugar. She did not measure when she cooked and did not go by recipes. Somethings I learned to make by watching her, but some things I can’t. She made the best biscuit ever and I can’t get mine to taste like hers. If you google old fashioned tea cakes you may find the ones you want.

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