Sand Tart Cookies Recipe by the Amish
Pennsylvania Dutch Sand tarts are addicting little cookies that I grew up eating every year at Christmas. I thought everyone’s family made sand tart cookies, and little did I know that it was a very regional cookie introduced by the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Lancaster County, PA, has a large Amish and Mennonite population, and sand tarts are a favorite Christmas cookie recipe for this region. They are fun cut-out cookies to make with the kids.
And the beauty of the sand tart cookie is how thin and crisp it is, which makes it so addicting. You can never stop with just one or two.
Holiday Cookie Traditions
I'm not sure where the tradition of baking cookies for Christmas started. But according to some historians, this tradition may have started already in the 16th century, originating in Medieval Europe. And I think it's a great tradition.
Of course, we eat far too many sweets over the holidays, and that's probably not a good thing. But there's something about holiday traditions that bring the family together.
The kids get excited about baking cookies, shopping, Christmas lights, family parties, caroling, etc. There's excitement in the air, and "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"
A quote from my eleven-year-old son, after helping me make two batches of these holiday sand tart cookies, "The process is fun, the outcome is delicious."
Old Fashioned Sand Tart Recipe
There is a variety of sand tart cookie recipes available, and some recipes are for drop sand tarts. But we always made cut-out sand tarts. It's so much fun using Christmas cookie cutters and cutting cookies into cute shapes.
Some sand tart recipes, however, are hard to handle. If the dough is too soft and sticky, it's impossible to create a nice cut-out cookie.
I baked two batches of Pennsylvania Dutch sand tart cookies this week. My first batch was really hard to work with. Even after chilling the dough for several hours, they were just too soft. So I played with the recipe to create a dough that was easier to work with. And they still taste great!
So if you have despaired of baking Sand Tart Christmas Cookies, try this recipe. This is an Easy Sand Tart Cookie Recipe.
Amish Sand Tart Cookies Recipe or Sugar Cookies?
What's the difference between Amish sand tart cookies and sugar cookies? There's not a lot of difference. However, sand tarts are usually rolled thinner and brushed with egg wash. This creates a thin and crispy cookie. And sugar cookies are usually thicker, more cake-like cookies that get covered with frosting.
Amish sand tarts are typically brushed with egg wash, then sprinkled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, and have a walnut or pecan on the top. However, this is optional.
Most of my sand tart cookies get sprinkled with Christmas sprinkles because it makes them look pretty.
How to Make Sand Tart Christmas Cookies
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture and mix. Wrap the dough in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least two hours. You can chill the dough overnight, but you may have to let it warm up a bit to be able to roll it out.
Place the chilled dough on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle the top with flour, and roll the dough with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thick (add flour as necessary to avoid cookies sticking).
Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and carefully transfer them to a greased cookie sheet. Brush the top of each cookie with egg wash, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture or Christmas sprinkles.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Baking them longer will create a more crisp cookie, but you don't want them too dark either.
I prefer most of my cookies soft and chewy, but Amish sand tart cookies are the best when they are thin and crunchy.
Can I Freeze PA Dutch Sand Tart Cookies?
Yes, you can freeze these Amish sand tart cookies. Cool your baked cookies, place them in air-tight containers and freeze them for up to a month or two.
More Amish Christmas Cookie Recipes...
Date Pinwheel Cookies, Amish Recipe
Soft and Chewy Amish Gingersnap Cookie Recipe
Amish Drop Sugar Cookies Recipe
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Sand Tart Cookie Recipe, PA Dutch Cookies
- 2 sticks softened butter (1/2 lb.)
- 2 c. white sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
Cinnamon Sugar Mixture: optional
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
Pecans or Walnuts for the top, optional
- Cream butter, add sugar and beat until fluffy.2 sticks softened butter (1/2 lb.), 2 c. white sugar
- Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well.2 large eggs, beaten, 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix until combined.3 c. all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/8 tsp. salt
- Wrap the dough into parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Spread the chilled dough onto a floured countertop. Roll it out to about 1/8" thick (adding flour as needed to keep the cookies from sticking).
- Using cookie cutters, cut them into shapes and carefully transfer the cookies to greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Brush each cookie top with well-beaten egg wash.1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with cinnamon/sugar mixture and place a pecan or walnut halve on top, or sprinkle with chopped nuts. Or if you prefer, sprinkle the tops with Christmas sprinkles.3 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Bake for 9 - 11 minutes. Let them rest for about a minute then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
I'm from Lebanon County, PA, and my Mom and Grandma made them every year for Christmas. I have my Mom's recipe but have not made them in years, but don't know why. Thank you for posting the recipe to remind me of them! I guess I will have to whip up a batch this year.
What can you use if you don't have butter in the house
Margarine or shortening should work.
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