Pennsylvania Dutch Country residents know that holidays can only be complete with fresh sand tart cookies.

These delicate, buttery desserts are so light that you can’t eat one. Sand tarts look like a Southern tea cake or sugar cookie at first glance. The differences end there.

This cookie, despite being simple, is a classic Pennsylvania Dutch holiday tradition. This centuries-old recipe was passed down through generations. It proves that even the most essential ingredients can make something special, especially when made with love.

Find out what makes these cookies so delicious and how they have survived the test of time.

What are Sand Tarts?

German settlers brought the Pennsylvania Dutch culture to Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the people who live in the region proudly share their stories and hobbies with tourists. They still make their favorite recipes and share them with others. Sand tart cookies are one of their most loved foods.

Many people are surprised to learn that sand tarts do not contain tarts. They are a shortcrust pastry filled with filling. Sand tarts are delicate, light-colored cookies made of golden sand that melt into a delicious buttery texture.

Although the Pennsylvania Germans claim to have created this threat, other cultures insist that they did so willingly. There needs to be clarity about the cookie’s name because the recipes are similar and can be traced back to similar eras. Most people agree that the cookie’s name can be attributed to its texture or the cinnamon topping, which looks like “sand.”

This recipe requires just six ingredients.

Flour An all-purpose white flour lighter than whole wheat flour or almond flour makes it the most popular ingredient.

Eggs These cookies add structure, moisture, and stability, all crucial properties for German sand tarts.

Butter Unsalted room-temperature butter is always used as the temperature can affect its texture and flexibility.

Sugar: Adding flavor to the dough allows it to expand in the oven.

Vanilla extract: In addition to smelling incredible, the vanilla extract also adds flavor to your dough.

Salt A small amount of salt can enhance the flavor and make cookies chewy.

You may be an experienced baker who has made a lot of cookies. However, you might have noticed some ingredients that needed to be added to traditional baking recipes. Sand tarts do not require a leavening agent such as baking soda or baking powder. They should be as thin as possible. These cookies are distinguished by the baking techniques and ingredients used.


The structure of the dough will determine the final result of your cookies. To ensure the dough is uniform, there are several steps.

Keep it chilled: regardless if you use a sand tart recipe, the dough should remain cold in the fridge until you are ready for it to be rolled out. It is essential to keep the dough chilled. Don’t let it get too warm. You should roll out the dough and cut or shape it. Keep the leftovers in the fridge or bake them right away.

Making sure you roll the dough properly is critical to your cookie’s baking success. Experienced bakers recommend using a cotton pastry cloth with a rolling pin to manipulate the dough. It would help if you always used enough flour, no matter how you rolled the dough out. Too much flour can make the dough stickier and cause cookies to have a different texture.

Roll it thin The dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. The dough should be light enough to be transparent so that you can see the cutting board beneath it.

Bakers use a metal spatula to transfer the cut-outs onto parchment-covered baking sheets. This ensures that the dough remains intact and cools down.


Sand tarts can be baked at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes. These cookies bake extremely fast due to the thinness of their dough. It is possible to bake multiple batches of cookies in one day. The cookies should be baked until they turn golden brown.

Many bakers love to use cookie cutters to make cute holiday-themed shapes. Drop sand tarts can be made by simply spooning the dough onto a baking sheet.

Bakers often use several baking sheets when baking multiple batches. The butter will melt if the dough is transferred to a warm baking sheet. Keep the dough refrigerated until you bake it.


Do not let the name fool you. Sand tarts differ from sand and don’t taste dry or super crumbly. Sand tarts are delicate and moist, with a crisp texture, while being chewy and tender. The cookies have a slight crumble, but they only break down once you eat them. They melt into a delicious combination of buttery sweetness and delicate, buttery texture.

These cookies are easy to make, and you can create multiple batches to have plenty of leftovers to share or enjoy later. These cookies can’t be stored like other desserts. They will become dry and crumbly if they are not stored correctly.

Keep extra cookies fresh by storing them in an airtight box in an excellent location. You can save any leftover dough by rolling it into a log and keeping it in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also store the dough in the fridge for up to one month.


Traditional sand tarts are decorated with cinnamon. They can be decorated in many ways, depending on their origin or personal preference.

Amish sand tarts can be decorated using a cinnamon sugar glaze, brushed with egg wash, and topped with cinnamon sugar. Colored sugar is another popular decoration, especially during the holidays. Sprinkles, powdered sugar, and almonds are also standard toppings.

These treats are best saved for winter. However, you can make them into summer snacks by adding a teaspoon of vanilla and lemon extract.


Sand tarts are often compared with other cookies that look similar but are not the same. While they are identical to Southern tea cakes and sugar cookies, there are notable differences that make sand tarts their dessert.