Sand tarts are thin, crisp, buttery, cinnamon sugar cookies with almond slices on top. This sand tart cookie recipe is a classic cookie recipe that is perfect for any season.
These sand tart cookies are a great Christmas cookie. They are thin, delicate cookies that have a great crunch and just the right amount of cinnamon sugar flavor. They are totally addictive, so don’t be surprised when these cookies are gone before you know it!
They aren’t as flashy or brightly colored as others, like our Christmas wreath cookies, but their simplicity gives them a humble elegance that will be a great addition to your holiday spread.
There is something endearing about a simple design and delicious taste when it comes to cookies, and this old fashioned sand tart recipe fits this to a tee. If you like a minimalistic look for your holiday table but still want to wow your guest with flavor try our spritz cookies or Mexican wedding cookies. They may look simple, but the will knock your stockings off!
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What are Sand Tart Cookies?
There isn’t much information about the origin of these cookies other than they seem to have originated from the Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish, and Mennonite communities and tend to be more popular in areas with a higher population of these communities.
These Pennsylvania Dutch sand tarts get their name from their appearance. They are thin, round cookies with almond slices on top that make them look like sand dollars. The original recipe and the few places I could find these cookies online didn’t really give great instructions on how to decorate Sand Tarts, so I came up with my own method.
Play around with this recipe if you like and add your own personal touch to the decorations like sprinkling them with colored sugar or sprinkles.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Butter – You will want unsalted butter, so your cookies won’t be too salty.
- Dry Ingredients – You’ll need white granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt
- Eggs – Large eggs
- Vanilla – Always adds deliciousness to your cookies.
- Cinnamon – Gives these cookies that holiday feel.
- Sliced almonds – Some people use pecans instead. Use whatever nut you wish, just make sure it is sliced so it doesn’t overwhelm the taste and texture of your cookie.
How to Make Sand Tarts
Step 1 – Preheat – Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 2 – Cream butter and add sugar – Cream butter in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat until combined.
Step 3 – Eggs and vanilla – Add eggs and vanilla to the mixture and continue to mix until fully incorporated.
Step 4 –Mix dry ingredients – Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and then add to the mixture ½ a cup at a time, mixing on low until the dough is formed.
Step 5 – Let it sit – Let the dough stand for about 30 mins.
Step 6 – Make cinnamon sugar coating – In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar stirring well.
Step 7 – Place on baking sheet – Roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball and then roll in cinnamon sugar. Place balls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to lightly press on each ball of dough and slightly flatten it.
Step 8 – Decorate – Decorate each piece of dough with 5 sliced almonds in a star shape.
Step 9 – Bake – Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.
Step 10 – Cool – Remove from oven and let the cookie cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
Tips for Making Pennsylvania Dutch Sand Tart Cookies
- The dough is very soft. I experimented with chilling the dough and not chilling the dough and honestly didn’t think it made a difference. These cookies are made to spread and become very thin.
- Yes, it is really a 1 teaspoon scoop of dough. I know, I didn’t believe it either, but 1 (slightly overflowing) teaspoon of dough make the perfect size ball for these Sand Tarts. They spread, so even though it seems like such a small cookie they will be much bigger once they bake.
- Place them at least 2 inches apart. Because they spread so much you want to give them plenty of room to grow without fusing together.
How to Decorate Them
Step 1 – Roll 1 rounded teaspoon of dough into a ball and then roll it in the cinnamon sugar.
Step 2 – Place balls on a lined baking sheet 2 inches apart and use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to lightly press on each ball of dough and slightly flatten it.
Step 3 – On top of each ball of dough place 5 thinly sliced almonds in a star shape. I know, it’s such a small ball of dough, just trust me.
Bunch the almond slices together in the middle. They will hang over the edges of the dough but don’t worry, as the dough spreads the almond slices will bake into it. They won’t be perfectly placed, but they will still taste just as delicious.
Yes! You can freeze before or after baking.
Freeze dough – Form the dough into two discs about 2 inches thick. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Before using, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then allow it to come to room temperature before rolling and decorating.
Baked cookies – Let your cookies cool completely and then place them in an airtight container. Place wax paper or parchment paper in between each layer of cookie so they don’t stick together. Seal in an airtight container and place in the freezer. They can be frozen for up to 2 months.
How to Store Sand Tarts
Room Temperature – Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 7-10 days.
Freezer – Let baked cookies cool completely and then place in an airtight container. Place wax paper or parchment paper in between each layer of cookies so they don’t stick together. Seal in an airtight container and place in your freezer. They can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Looking for More Classic Cookie Recipes?
- Gingersnap Cookies
- Berger Cookie
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies
- Crispy Coconut Cookies
- Cowboy Cookies
- Ranger Cookies
- Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- More Cookie Recipes…
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- 1 cup Butter, unsalted
- 1 ½ cups Sugar
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 cups All-purpose Flour
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 3 tablespoons Sugar, granulated
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- Sliced almonds, for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cream butter in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy.
- Gradually add sugar and beat until combined.
- Add eggs and vanilla to the mixture and continue to mix until fully incorporated.
- Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and then add to the mixture ½ a cup at a time, mixing on low until the dough is formed.
- Let the dough stand for about 30 mins.
- In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar stirring well.
- Roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball and then roll in cinnamon sugar.
- Place balls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
- Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to lightly press on each ball of dough and slightly flatten it.
- Decorate each piece of dough with 5 sliced almonds in a star shape.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.
- Remove from oven and let the cookie cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Thanks for stumbling upon this recipe your MIL says were good. Trust me, they are one of my best childhood memories and the best! My Grandmother, from Uniontown, PA made these jewels every year and mailed them to us in FL. Making these today! Will rate 5 stars just for the find!
I can’t wait to hear what you think of the recipe. Please let us know after you make them! 🙂