May 21, 2020

Small Batch Birthday Cookies

One bowl, small batch white chocolate birthday cookies. Reminiscent of boxed birthday cakes but in chewy cookie form. No mixer necessary and ready in 20! 

4.80 from 10 votes
Yield: 4
Jump to recipe
small batch birthday cookies

One bowl, small batch birthday cookies. Reminiscent of 80s and 90s style boxed birthday cakes but in the form of a chewy cookie. These are made without a mixer and are ready in twenty! 


small batch birthday cookies

Ever reached for a ‘birthday cookie” and found yourself biting into a simple sugar cookie with sprinkles? Maybe those have charm when you are just seeking to fill a sweet-craving; but a real birthday cookie, imo, should cause you to pause, bringing to mind memories of childhood birthdays and the wonderful taste of an old-fashioned funfetti birthday cake.


Small Batch Cookie Recipes

When I set out to create a small-batch recipe for birthday cookies, I wanted a cookie that packed that wonderful nostalgic flavor but also for it to be (and stay) chewy, a day or two later. This meant sticking with a sole yolk and just brown sugar like I did in these beloved one yolk chocolate chunk cookies. But, rather than just add sprinkles and imitation vanilla to that dough, I wanted to really drive the birthday cake flavor home so I reached for white chocolate.


White Chocolate and Sprinkles for “Birthday Cookie” Flavor

When did white chocolate and sprinkles become synonymous with ‘birthday cake flavor’? Idk but this trader joe’s birthday chocolate bar convinced us a few years back that white chocolate belonged with all things birthday (it is also, it turns out, a very good bribe for getting a 2 yo to take her medicine, lol). We can’t find those bar at TJ’s anymore (but I’m convinced it was made by these guys) though it appears that other brands like Godiva and Kitkat have gotten on the white choc/bday boat as well and I think this is a smart move; birthday cake with just vanilla and sprinkles is ‘okay’ but white chocolate gives it the zhuzh – exactly what we are going to do with our cookies today!


small batch birthday cookies

How to get the ‘Birthday’ Flavor in a Cookie: White Chocolate & Sprinkles

The first thing a baker will tell you about making something “birthday” flavored is that you need to use imitation vanilla (the fab Christina Tossi popularized this nugget). The sugars and flavorings from the sprinkles are also going to contribute to that flavor. But we like to go beyond the status quo here at buttermilk and so we’ll add some white chocolate to the dough itself. We’ll also use cake flour which will not only lend that signature taste but the starch will help us achieve our chewy texture.

Small Batch Birthday Cookies, aka Happy Cookies

These cookies make me HAPPY for so many reasons and I think they’ll have the same effect on you:

  1. They are super simple to make: you won’t even need a mixer! The dough is one bowl!
  2. They come together in ten, and bake for another ten. Yep – ready in twenty!
  3. They look happy don’t they? It’s the power of sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles.
  4. They TASTE LIKE BIRTHDAYS SHOULD! I feel like a kid when I’m eating them. A happy kid who just had the best 9th birthday and is going to bed snug in my brand new bday pajamas. That happy!


birthday cookies small batch

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Flour: Bleached cake flour is wonderful for – you guessed it – cakes! It does particularly well in white cakes lending them a fluffy, tight crumb. If you were curious to nerd out on how cake flour is made check out this KAF article. Basically, cake flour has a very low protein content, is very finely ground and has a higher percentage of starch added to it. Alternatively you can use a low-protein content all-purpose flour which would also work well here.
  • Vanilla: Imitation not pure (but if you only have the latter, use that). If you’ve made one of my white cakes, you’ll have seen imitation before. Watkins is my favorite brand.
  • Chocolate: I tried this with guittard’s white chocolate chips (above photo) and with a white chocolate lindt bar (rest of photos) and saw some subtle differences (since we are melting the chocolate into the batter it’s going to contribute to both texture and taste). With the bar the cookies spread more and maintained chewiness throughout. With the chips my cookies spread a bit less and gave a thinner, crisp edge (I suspect this has something to do with the added palm oils).
  • Butter: if you only have salted butter, just omit the salt from the recipe.
  • Sugar: Don’t substitute brown with white here, the white will cause the cookies to spread a lot and will change the texture.
  • Sprinkles: with cakes you need to be careful about using naturally dyed sprinkles because they bleed but this doesn’t matter as much in cookies (not enough liquid in the dough for this to happen) so use whatever you have! I used a mix of naturally-colored jimmies and some sequin circles.


Recipe for Small Batch Birthday Cookies

Small Batch Birthday Cookies

Chewy brown sugar and white chocolate cookies that explode with fun, and funfetti.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4
4.80 from 10 votes


  • half a stick of unsalted butter 56g
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped , 45g
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar 70g
  • 1 tsp imitation or pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour or a low protein all-purpose flour 85g
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips or more white chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup sprinkles


  • Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Into the bowl add the butter, white chocolate and brown sugar. Stir until melted. Alternatively, melt in the microwave or directly in a pot (over low heat).
  • Remove from heat and whisk until shiny and cohesive. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine.
  • Whisk in the egg yolk, until shiny.
  • Fold in the cake flour, baking soda, sprinkles and chopped white chocolate. Dough will be very soft.
  • Chill the dough for 4 hours (or orvernight) in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Dough will be much firmer now. Scoop 1.5-2 tablespoons onto the cookie sheet and leave from for the cookies to spread. If you want more sprinkles on the top, dip the balls in a bowl of sprinkles.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are just beginning to turn golden. Let cool before lifting.


For the white chocolate I like using a Lindt white chocolate bar - it's good quality chocolate and not overly sweet. You can use more chopped up lindt as chunks to add in (they cookies might spread a bit more but it's fine) or use some white chocolate chips, I like Guittard. 
The added white chocolate & sprinkles amounts are suggested - use less if you like. 

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Super tasty and perfect for your next party! These are super easy to make, thin and chewy, and have the perfect funfetti flavor! I did roll them in sprinkles before I baked, and they look like the perfect explosion of color and delicious birthday party flavors!

  2. 5 stars
    Equally fun and delicious! The sprinkles and white chocolate definitely combined to create the flavor that I think of when I hear ‘birthday cake’. I used regular vanilla extract, but I’ve heard of the imitation trick and can see how that would make them taste even more nostalgic lol. Just for reference I got about 12 cookies from my batch, but I made them on the smaller side. So soft and chewy too!

  3. 5 stars
    Made these today with the 1 egg white double chocolate cookies from your site. These were perfect. Melting some white chocolate into the dough is brilliant! These spread perfectly for me and I used the lindt white chocolate. I got distracted and the dough chilled till it was solid… so I let it warm up till I could scoop it, then threw the tray in the freezer for a few minutes before baking. That worked perfectly for me and I ended up doing the full 12 minutes. I’ve never made this many recipes from one blog, but you keep making these original recipes that always work out perfectly, so thank you for putting in the leg-work of testing! I love these small batch recipes, because I can make a few types of cookies when people come over and don’t have 1000 cookies left over that I most definitely will finish off embarrassingly fast.

  4. i accidentally left the batter in the fridge for 4 hours. it’s rock hard now – how do i remedy this? i hope i didn’t waste all the batter!

  5. 5 stars
    You are officially one of my favorite food blogs – small batch cookies? Who knew I needed this all my life?! But seriously, this is fantastic. My husband and I often want a couple of cookies without being stuck with the whole batch. These are perfect and delicious. I made these for my birthday week because sprinkles and also why not! I even found some birthday cake flavored chips to add to the batter. I’ll definitely be working my way through your other small batch recipes 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    This really was a lot of fun (and yum!)

    I wanted something like Sam’s chewy egg yolk Muscovado Spice Cookies, but with Sprinkles instead, that I could sandwich as a happy cookie. Couldn’t remember where the recipe was (it’s on Rodelle for anyone looking – definitely a must-try Buttermik by Sam recipe!) and was pleasantly surprised when this recipe popped up in Google when I searched “1 egg Buttermilk by Sam”.

    Usually I read all the before parts/hints and read the recipe several times before baking, but I wanted a quick bake.
    I haven’t made a recipe like this before, where you heat the sugar/white choc/butter into an interesting mixture. In my haste, I misread and only saw 1/2 cup of white choc, so I melted the 1/2 cup white choc (80g) instead of the 1/4 cup (40g).
    I reduced the white choc chunks to “correct” my oopsie, but this swap did cause my cookies to spread a bit more (still yum though) – basically a great reason why you should read the recipe properly before you begin.

    Oh and it was very satisfying folding in the spinkles. And you think waiting 20-30min is long, but you can do the dishes while the dough chills and then they bake VERY quickly, which is good.

    When I opened the oven, it smelled like a birthday party. These cookies really do bring you happiness and it did feel like the childhood kind.

    • Oh that’s so cool you made the muscovado cookies Trish! I worked hard on that recipe so it’s good to know they are loved! And thank you for the wonderful notes on the birthday cookies! They do k ind of smell like a party – love that analogy!

  7. 3 stars
    The structure of the cookies is fine. However, these were almost sickeningly sweet! I get that it’s a childhood birthday kind of cookie, but this was just too much. I may make these again as they had a pleasant flavor, but I’ll definitely be using less sugar next time.

  8. 5 stars
    My 21st birthday was last month and I threw myself a party and invited all of my favourite (food blogger) friends and of course you were invited !! I made an entire board full of birthday cake flavoured sweets and these were such a hit! So easy to make and were my little sister’s favourite-ever cookies. I think they’ll make an appearance at everyone I love’s birthday… and half birthday… and quarter birthday… you get it ((:

  9. 5 stars
    Theses were sooo delicious and cute but mine came out very flat, perfect texture though. My leaveners were fresh, I even refrigerated the dough to make sure that wouldn’t happen and weighed my ingredients. What could have gone wrong? Thank you!

    • Aw, I’m sorry to hear it! I think it could be a few things – how the ingredients were measured, the protein content of the flour, and the thing that I’ve found most often makes mine flat: the type of white chocolate used. Every white chocolate (chip or bar) has a different set of ingredients and in different quantities; I think those with more cocoa butter might make for a thinner cookie.

  10. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday – I just made them for me this week and they turned out perfect. They were a spot of happiness at the end of a tough week.