Soleils (Parisian Butter Cookies)

October 31, 2017

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: These cookies are inspired by the famous ones from Poilâne bakery in Paris, as well as the lemon-scented version made by Chris Wilkins of Root Baking Co. in Charleston, SC. Make sure to bake the cookies until they are golden on the edges; the toasty, caramelized flavor is key.

Note: This recipe calls for lemon zest to flavor the sugar, but other citrus fruits would work well, too (lime, orange, or grapefruit). You could also experiment with other flavorings like dried lavender in lieu of citrus zest, almond extract in lieu of vanilla, or no flavorings at all.
Catherine Lamb

Makes: around 50 cookies
Prep time: 1 hrs
Cook time: 10 min


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (170g)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (140g)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 lemon zested (or other citrus), if desired
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (4g)
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (300g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (2g)
In This Recipe


  1. In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and citrus zest with your fingers, rubbing the zest to release the oil. This will ensure that the zest is incorporated evenly throughout the cookies.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, cream the butter and sugar together until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure it is evenly mixed. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated, then mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined, scraping down the sides one more time. *Do not overmix!* The dough should still be a bit crumbly, but hold together when pressed.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and form it into two disks. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. (At this point, you can leave the dough in the fridge overnight—just be sure to let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before rolling so it isn't too chilled.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F and cover a few baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper. Take out one dough disc at a time and roll it out on lightly floured surface until it is 1/4-inch thick. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter (or the mouth of a glass), cut out cookies. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch between them. (Note: If you want very clean-cut cookie shapes, refrigerate cut cookie dough for 30 minutes to an hour before putting in the oven.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to turn golden brown around the edges. Take out and allow to cool before packing into gift bags, tupperwares, or lunchboxes.
  5. Note: These cookies freeze well when stored in a tightly-sealed bag or tupperware container. They're also not too sweet, so would take well to being frosted, covered with sanding sugar (before baking), or being used as the bread to sandwich icing or dulce de leche.

More Great Recipes:
Cookie|French|Butter|Serves a Crowd|Make Ahead|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Thanksgiving|Valentine's Day|Winter|Spring|Christmas|Easter

Reviews (8) Questions (0)

8 Reviews

Elizabeth January 1, 2019
These cookies are tasty without being overly sweet, and I like how you can vary the crispness by modifying how thick you roll them out. They're great with the lemon zest, but the most recent time I made them I replaced the lemon zest with almond extract and liked it even better.
Erin December 24, 2018
These are great! I found the dough easy to roll out and work with and the cookie is not overly sweet - like a very pleasant mix of sugar & butter cookie.
William N. December 13, 2018
You need to add salt to the method. It's in the video, but not in the written instructions. (Not that it was terribly hard to figure out! :))
Lorraine F. December 10, 2018
Catherine: Since the butter is so important in flavoring this cookie, what butter did YOU use.
Claire June 4, 2018
Delicious buttery cookies with subtle lemon flavor. The dough is very sticky in spite of putting it in the refrigerator at each stage but I found that flouring both sides of the dough and rolling it between sheets of parchment kept it workable (while being careful not to introduce too much additional flour). I appreciate Antonia James's comment and chose to cover the flavor and convenience questions by buttering the parchment I used on the baking sheets!
dickensthedog May 6, 2018
I find that with many recipes that call for rolling out cookie dough, it is far simpler to roll the dough into logs, chill the rolls, then simply slice and bake the cookies.
Rachel B. December 19, 2017
How long can the dough stay fresh in the fridge? Thanks!
AntoniaJames November 8, 2017
May I respectfully add this bit of wisdom, which seems particularly applicable here: "[B]y all means use butter where a greased cookie sheet is called for. Nothing else does so much for the finish and flavor." Mimi Sheraton, New York Times, December 9, 1981. In other words, for even more of that lovely brown butter flavor, forego the marginal convenience of parchment, and generously butter your cookie sheets instead.