French Butter Cookies (Sable Breton)

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You know how some baked goods are just incredibly irresistible? Like the chocolate brownie you keep slicing slivers from only to return to for more? Or, in my case, the French butter cookies you promise you’ll only eat one of only to find your plate mysteriously empty?

French Butter Cookies, also known as sables. Sweet, salty, and buttery! Easy cookies that are incredibly irresistible. Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

French Butter Cookies (Sable Breton)

Because trust me, friends, these French butter cookies will have you reaffirming just how much you love butter in your baked goods. There simply is no replacement for some good ol’ fashioned butter.

The French know this. They revere it, in fact.

While most of us balance our meals with healthy fats like olive oil and avocados, they’re celebrating butter in all its glory.

Softened, melted, clarified, salted – you name it, they cherish it.

And who could blame them?

These French butter cookies, also known as sablés in French, are possibly the most widely enjoyed cookie in France.

They’re what chocolate chip cookies are to Americans.

You’ll find these French butter cookies in almost every grocery store in France. The really special ones are found in more upscale markets like La Grande Epicerie in Paris.

I first heard about them when my best friend’s French fiancé told me about a brand called La Mère Poulard.

They are famous for their buttery sablés, tantalizing shortbread cookies that melt in your mouth just as easily as they crumble between your fingertips.

French Butter Cookies, also known as sables. Sweet, salty, and buttery! Easy cookies that are incredibly irresistible. Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

While you can find the La Mère Poulard brand and these French butter cookies everywhere in France, they’re actually a specialty of Northern France.

They’re specifically from the Brittany region (which is where the Breton part of the name comes in). The region is famous for its excessive use of butter, particularly salted butter.

This is the one time I actually stock up on salted baking butter. While I buy spreadable salted butter every now and then for my morning toast, I rarely ever bake with salted butter.

Making these French butter cookies are the exception.

To create these cookies, it’s best if you can use a European, salted variety of butter for its premium quality. The butter is the star here, after all.

While using a generic salted butter brand won’t kill the recipe, why not let the star ingredient shine like it’s supposed to? That’s why I stand by saying it’s best not to skimp on quality here with this ingredient.

Other than the fancy butter, the rest of the ingredients are pantry ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Ingredients like all-purpose flour, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. It’s not a long ingredient list, but that doesn’t mean that these cookies make any less of an impact.

French Butter Cookies, also known as sables. Sweet, salty, and buttery! Easy cookies that are incredibly irresistible. Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

Le Goûter

I also love these French butter cookies because they’re a cinch to whip up.

You don’t have to refrigerate the dough, and they bake in 12 to 15 minutes. So many cookie recipes these day instruct you to refrigerate the dough overnight for best flavor and texture, but these French butter cookies don’t require any of that kind of patience.

You can create the cookie dough and roll it out in under 15 minutes and then bake it in 15 minutes or less, making these a 30-minute project.

In fact, I tend to bake just a handful of them and freeze the rest for random cravings through the following weeks. Not only does it make for quick and easy cookies later, but it’s a great way to keep yourself from eating a whole dozen straight out of the oven!

As these cookies bake, they will crisp up nicely in the oven. Yet, the wonderful thing about them is that they will also instantaneously melt in your mouth (thank you, butter!).

French Butter Cookies, also known as sables. Sweet, salty, and buttery! Easy cookies that are incredibly irresistible. Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

I love having a couple of these cookies with an afternoon cup of tea or espresso.

All of my family and friends love when I bring out a tray of these delicious French butter cookies, especially when they know these taste as good as they look.

To create the cross-hatching pattern on top of the cookies, all you have to do is drag a fork down one way on the cookies, then drag them across in the opposite direction.

A brushing of a single egg yolk on top gives these cookies their glorious golden hue, making them look appetizing and radiant – the way these cookies truly are.

These French cookies are such a delight; it’s no wonder the French love these so much!

French Butter Cookies, also known as sables. Sweet, salty, and buttery! Easy cookies that are incredibly irresistible. Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

French Butter Cookies (Sable Breton)

Yield: 20
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Classic French butter cookies made with a shortbread-type of dough and salted butter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar, 120 g
  • 1/2 cup + 5 tbsp salted butter*, 200 g
  • 3 egg yolks, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, 4 ml
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, 280 g, plus more for dusting work surface

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 1 minute.
  2. Add 2 egg yolks and the vanilla extract, and mix on medium speed until they're incorporated. Stop to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula before resuming the mixing. Add the flour in and mix on low speed just until the dough starts to clump together.
  3. Lightly flour a wooden board or counter before placing the mass of dough onto it. Use your hands to shape the dough into a big ball. Then sprinkle some flour on top of the dough before using a rolling pin to roll the dough out. As soon as the dough starts sticking to your pin, sprinkle a pinch of flour on the dough, then resume rolling. Roll your dough out until it's approximately 1/4" thick.
  4. Use medium round cookie cutters (2.25"/5.75 cm) to cut out round cookies from the dough. Use a sharp-edged spatula to transfer the cookie rounds onto the baking sheet. Place 12 cookies on the baking sheet, spaced out from each other. Beat the remaining yolk in a small bowl. Use a fork to make a cross-hatch pattern on the cookies (drag the fork down vertically on the cookie, then drag the fork across horizontally). Brush the tops of the cookies with the beaten egg yolk.
  5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they're a deep golden color. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Notes

Typically, 1/2 a cup of salted butter contains 1/4 tsp of salt in the butter. Therefore, if you're using unsalted butter in this recipe, you'll want to add a scant 1/2 tsp of salt in the recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 20 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140
French Butter Cookies, also known as sables. Sweet, salty, and buttery! Easy cookies that are incredibly irresistible. Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

44 thoughts on “French Butter Cookies (Sable Breton)”

  1. I like to have to cookies with orange zest. Questions:

    1. How much orange zest in Mg/oz or spoon measure do I put in?
    2. When do I mix it in at the beginning when I mix sugar and butter or later on when I put in the egg yolks.

    Thank
    Ami Sasson

    Reply
    • Hi Ami! I love orange zest too. I usually add the zest of 1 small to medium orange when I make cookie recipes. I never measure it out as it doesn’t need to be an exact science. 🙂 For optimal orange flavor, I recommend rubbing the zest into the sugar first (just using your fingers) to combine, then continuing on with the recipe card as stated to beat the sugar with the butter.

      Reply
  2. Looks yummy!

    I have a silly question to ask. When these are store bought and they’re very hard does that mean they’re over baked or possibly stale?

    Reply
    • Hi Sylvia! No silly questions! I’m thinking that if it’s store-bought, it’s probably because the cookie is stale. Then again, it could be that their recipe causes the cookies to be over-baked but I would think that a cookie company would avoid that before packaging and selling the cookies. An ideal sablé is crisp, yet buttery and melts in your mouth. The ones I’ve had in Paris are always sold like that, but if you’re buying the cookies elsewhere in the world, maybe they’ve been sitting on the shelf too long.

      Reply
  3. Hi I have a box of the lemon shortbread cookies from La Mere Poulard… delicious! How can we incorporate lemon to this recipe? Thx

    Reply
    • Hi Maggie! Usually the best way to incorporate lemon flavor is to include lemon zest, so you could do that. I might also add a little bit of lemon extract (maybe 1/4 tsp) to help amp up the lemon flavor. 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi Addie! Do you mean dye the dough or just decorating the top? If you mean dying the dough, then I don’t see why not as they’re simply a more crisp and buttery version of a sugar cookie, so it could work! I haven’t done this though so I can’t speak from experience. If you mean decorating the top, that should also work. Happy Holidays!

      Reply
  4. I’ve had these cookies for the first time in Paris and I was hooked at first bite and will definitely bake this.

    I’ve had them in chocolate as well, how can I add chocolate?

    Reply
    • Hi Veronica! The egg yolk plays a super important role in tenderizing the cookie so it doesn’t come out dense or chewy. I’ve never substituted them in a recipe like this, but people often recommend applesauce as an egg substitute (usually 1/4 cup applesauce per egg). Again, I can’t definitively say what the results will be but that’s just what I’ve heard! 🙂

      Reply

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