Sakura cookies are a classic shortbread cookie with an elegant floral flavor and buttery crunch made with staple ingredients, topped with a simple glaze and dried Sakura flowers. Cherry blossom cookies are the perfect sweet treat to whip up for all of your spring occasions!
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What are Sakura cookies?
Sakura cookies are beautiful icebox cookies with a lovely cherry blossom nuance and a nice buttery crunch. A sweet glaze and dried cherry blossoms make for an easy and elegant decoration, but the cookies are so good you can eat them on their own, sans the icing.
Cherry blossom cookies look so beautiful in their simplicity. They’re packed full of sweet, butter aroma and surprise with the fruity, slightly salty flavor of dried Sakura blooms. The cookies are a wonderful springtime delicacy and are very giftable.
Cherry blossom cookies are incredibly delicious and easy to make. They’re a twist on classic shortbread cookies created with pantry staples – butter, sugar, flour, and of course, cherry blossoms! Check out the recipe card at the end of the post for exact measurements.
- Dried Sakura petals, a Japanese specialty, infuse every bite of these Sakura cookies with a spectacular floral flavor. The flowers are pickled in salt and plum vinegar to preserve them and retain the beautiful pink color. You can order them online, for example, on Amazon. I’ll talk more about this fascinating ingredient in the FAQ section below.
- Flour: All-purpose flour gives the cookies structure. When measuring by volume, be sure to use the spoon-and-level method to measure your flour. Too much flour will make cookies dry and crumbly.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar (white sugar) sweetness up the cookies while offering a little texture.
- Butter: Since dried cherry blossoms are salted, I recommend unsalted butter for this Sakura cookie recipe. Set the butter on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes beforehand to soften a little, but not longer than that.
- Water: A splash of water is needed to get the texture of the cookie dough just right.
This simple glaze adds another layer of sweetness. Of course, icing the cookies is optional. Unglazed cookies are beautiful, too, and show pink specks of cherry blossom petals.
- Powdered sugar makes up the base of the simple glaze.
- Water to smooth out the glaze.
- Dried cherry blossoms: I decorated with more cherry blossoms for an elegant finishing touch.
How to make Sakura cookies
This Sakura cookie recipe is simple and easy! In just a few steps, you’ll have tasty cherry blossom cookies in the oven. Really, the hardest part is waiting for them to cool and get iced!
Step 1: Cream sugar and butter
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, for about two minutes.
Step 2: Add flour and cherry blossom
- Sift the flour into the bowl. Add the cherry blossom petals and whisk until crumbly.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water and knead until just combined. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
- If the dough seems too sticky, add 1 tbsp flour at a time until it just starts to come together.
Step 3: Shape the dough
- Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap (cling film) or wax paper.
- Shape the dough into a log about 2 in / 5 cm in diameter and 8 in / 20 cm long.
Step 4: Chill
- Wrap the log in plastic wrap/cling film and put it into the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Step 5: Preheat the oven
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (baking paper) and preheat the oven to 325°F / 170°C / gas mark 3.
Step 6: Cut cookie rounds
- Using a sharp knife, slice thin rounds of the log and place them on the baking tray, spacing the cookies 2 in / 5 cm apart.
Step 7: Bake
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Watch the cookies closely while baking, so they don’t overbake. It’s okay if the cookies seem soft and underbaked, they will continue to cook as they cool.
Step 8: Cool
- Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are set enough to be handled.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Step 9: Mix glaze
- Place the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp water and stir until smooth.
- If the glaze seems too thick, add another 1/2 tbsp of water.
Step 10: Decorate cookies
- Dip the cookies in the glaze halfway.
- Put the cookies on a wire rack and gently press dried cherry blossoms into the icing.
- Allow the glaze to set. Enjoy!
Tips for the best cherry blossom cookies
Here are a few tips to ensure that your Sakura cookies turn out light and soft with a delicate crumb. Every bite will be soft and chewy!
- Properly measure flour. You will get the most accurate results with a digital scale. Still, if you measure with cups, use the spoon and level method. Using a spoon, add spoonfuls of flour into your measuring cup until it overfills. Then scrape across the cup with the back of a flat knife to level off any excess flour.
- Cream the butter and sugar. Creaming gives the Sakura shortbread cookies their soft, tender texture. When you whip butter and sugar, it generates volume and aerates the mixture. The result is irresistible!
- Don’t overbake. This cherry blossom dessert is supposed to be light and tender. When you overbake, the cookies become dry and hard. Remember that cookies continue to bake a bit on the baking sheet after removing them from the oven.
- Let cookies cool for a minute. At first, the cookies seem soft and fragile. It’s essential that you let them sit on the cookie sheet (tray) for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Edible Japanese cherry blossoms go well with many different flavor pairings. If you are looking for ways to customize this Sakura recipe, look at the following suggestions.
- Sake: For a more complex aroma, substitute the water with sake. Sake has a mildly sweet, fruity flavor that enhances the taste of the cherry blossoms.
- Matcha: For matcha Sakura cookies, add 2 tablespoons matcha powder to the cookie dough. Match will lend the cookies a light green color.
- Chocolate Chips: The fruity-salty notes of Sakura pair beautifully with milk chocolate. Add 1/3 cup mini milk chocolate chips to the cookie dough and bake the cookies as directed, and you have tasty chocolate cherry blossom cookies.
How to store Sakura cookies
Once the salted cherry blossom cookies have cooled, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. I like to add a slice of bread to my cookies, so they don’t dry out. The cherry blossom cookies will absorb moisture from the bread and stay soft.
Can you freeze Japanese cherry blossom cookies?
Yes! This cherry blossom cookie recipe freezes well. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Unbaked cookie dough: You can freeze the cookie dough log for 2 to 3 months. Place the cookie dough in a freezer bag to prevent smells from seeping in.
- Baked cookies: Stack the cookies in a freezer-friendly container or zip-top bag and store frozen for up to 3 months. Let the cookies come to room temperature to enjoy. While you can freeze iced cookies, it’s best to freeze the cookies without the glaze.
Cherry Blossom Cookies
- 2 cups / 240 g / 8.5 oz all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1/2 cup / 1 stick / 115 g / 4 oz salted butter, cold (can sub for unsalted butter + 1/8 tsp fine salt)
- 1/2 cup / 100 g / 3.5 oz granulated sugar (white/caster sugar)
- 3 tbsp dried cherry blossoms
- 1/2 cup / 50 g / 1.3 oz powdered (confectioners’/icing) sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp water
- dried cherry blossoms
- Cream sugar and butter. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, for about two minutes.
- Add flour and cherry blossoms. Sift the flour into the bowl. Add the cherry blossom petals and whisk until crumbly. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water and knead until just combined. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If the dough seems too sticky, add 1 tbsp flour at a time until it just starts to come together.
- Shape the dough. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap (cling film) or wax paper. Shape the dough into a log about 2 in / 5 cm in diameter and 8 in / 20 cm long.
- Chill. Wrap the log in plastic wrap/cling film and put it into the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (baking paper) and preheat the oven to 325°F / 170°C / gas mark 3.
- Cut cookie rounds. Using a sharp knife, slice thin rounds of the log and place them on the baking tray, spacing the cookies 2 in / 5 cm apart.
- Bake. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Watch the cookies closely while baking, so they don’t overbake. It’s okay if the cookies seem soft and underbaked, they will continue to cook as they cool.
- Cool. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are set enough to be handled. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Mix glaze. Place the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp water and stir until smooth. If the glaze seems too thick, add another 1/2 tbsp of water.
- Decorate cookies. Dip the cookies in the glaze halfway. Put the cookies on a wire rack and gently press dried cherry blossoms into the icing. Allow the glaze to set. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 105Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g
What are dried Sakura blossoms?
Edible dried Sakura cherry blossoms are a Japanese food specialty. The blooms are preserved in salt and ume plum vinegar, which gives a subtle blossom scent and helps to retain their beautiful pink color.
What do pickled cherry blossoms taste like?
Dried cherry blossoms have a subtle, flowery flavor. They taste salty, and you can notice the fruity plum flavor from the ume vinegar. In Japan, dried Sakura is used to make drinks and tea and all sorts of sweets and treats like mochi and these Sakura cookies.
Where can I buy dried cherry blossoms?
You can buy pickled Sakura blossoms in specialty food stores that focus on Japanese and Asian cuisine, and online on Amazon, Etsy, and the Anything From Japan store. The product is available in the form of whole flowers or petals without stems.
Can I make this cookie recipe with other dried flowers?
Yes! This floral cookie recipe will also work with other botanicals, such as dried rose, calendula, and cornflower petals. I also have this recipe for lavender cookies if you are interested in that flavor.
What is the meaning of Japanese cherry blossoms?
Cherry blossoms are an integral part of Japanese culture. On her site, The Japanese Way, Yunna Morishita shares her passion for Japan’s culture, art, and food. I want to share this quote where she explains the significance of Sakura:
“The easiest way to describe it is that the cherry blossoms represent a time of renewal, similar to other spring solstice festivals in Western countries. The cherry blossoms only bloom for a few short weeks during the beginning of the spring and quickly die after pollination.
During this short period, there are a number of festivals hosted in honor of the spring season, including meals, parties, and even national sumo wrestling competitions!
One of the deeper meanings behind the festivities is to appreciate the short life of the cherry blossom. It encourages people to appreciate the beauty in the small things and to realize how short life is. This, in turn, transfers to a greater appreciation for friends and family (hence the celebrations and festivities).”
Be sure to visit Yunna’s blog! It’s an excellent resource to learn more about Japan and its beautiful, multi-faceted culture.