Butterscotch Cookies (a.k.a. “Icebox” Cookies)

This is a cookie that has been a part of every Christmas for me, as far back as I can remember. This was probably one of, if not the first Christmas cookie I learned to bake at my mother’s side. It is simple, delicious and has a special place in my heart.

This is my Great-Grandma’s recipe and was originally named Butterscotch cookies but somewhere along the way we started calling them “Icebox” cookies. That is the name I most often call them. They have a butterscotchy flavor but are stored in the icebox so I guess either name is appropriate. They are made with simple but yummy ingredients like brown sugar and walnuts. The dough for these is formed into a log and then chilled (or frozen) before slicing and baking. It’s a wonderful dough to make ahead and you can slice off however many cookies you need at a time and return the remaining dough to the refrigerator for another time. It is easy enough to slice with a sharp nice from frozen so there is no reason to thaw them.  As with any frozen cookie dough, they will take a bit longer to bake from this state than from that called for in the original recipe. I must note that these wouldn’t “taste” quite right to me if they were perfectly round- they always seem to get a bit of a square edge from slicing and that’s the shape that I associate with them now and always. 🙂


A nice variation on these is to add a bit of orange zest to the dough! Delicious!

These won’t brown up a lot, nor do you want them to. In fact they may seem a bit soft when you first take them out of the oven but they will firm up quite a bit upon cooling so don’t over-bake them! This recipe make a lot of cookies so you will have some to bake now and a log to keep in the freezer for a rainy (or snowy) day.


Butterscotch Cookies (a.k.a. “Icebox” Cookies)


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (you don’t have to toast them but it’s a nice touch)


  • Cream butter with the sugar until fluffy
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition
  • Beat in the vanilla
  • Mix in the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt gradually until almost combined
  • Mix in the walnuts until just combined

Butterscotch (aka icebox) Cookie Dough

  • Form the dough into 4 logs


  • Wrap in plastic and chill or freeze


  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the center position. Line half sheet trays with parchment or silicone mats
  • Slice the dough to desired thickness (1/4 – 1/2 inch thick) and place on cookie sheet about ½ inch apart. These won’t spread much
  • Bake 8-10 minutes (or about 15 minutes if baking from frozen)
  • Allow to cool on sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack
  • Store in airtight container



5 responses to “Butterscotch Cookies (a.k.a. “Icebox” Cookies)

  1. My mom always made peanut butter logs for us. I like butterscotch so much better though, that I’ll make these as soon as I can cook again. Beautiful. Wish I had some right now. I’m suddenly really hungry. I would probably have to limit myself to cutting off only 3 or 4 at a time though, because if I baked a dozen I would eat them all in one sitting. That wouldn’t be a good idea even though it would be a delicious one.

  2. I love having logs or bags of a lot of things in the freezer. Really glad I have them now that I can’t do any cooking. Even need help warming things up right now, but not starving. There’s always chocolate on hand.

  3. Pingback: Lebkuchen | therapy bread·

  4. Pingback: Holiday Cookie Trays 2013 | therapy bread·

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