These Black Sesame Cookies are buttery, nutty, crisp and so addicting. With a unique combination of sweet and savory flavors, they are delightful with a cup of morning coffee or afternoon tea. The perfect holiday cookies to make and gift!
Have you tried black sesame seeds in cookies before? With a rich nutty aroma and textures, black sesame is easily one of the most popular ingredients used in Japanese baked goods and confectionery.
These Black Sesame Cookies (黒胡麻クッキー) are buttery and nutty, and I’m sure you are going to fall in love with them.
Black Sesame Seeds in Japanese Cuisine
Know as the very first culinary spice, sesame seeds are widely used in Japanese, Chinese, and many other Asian cultures. In Japanese cooking, you can find sesame seeds being used to flavor desserts and sweets such as mochi, ice cream, cakes, cookies, muffins and more. Its uses are so dynamic that we use it in both sweet and savory dishes.
In this icebox cookie recipe, sesame seeds impart an incredibly rich aroma and nutty flavor that it’s impossible not to love.
What Makes This Cookie a Favorite?
- Buttery & crisp
- Unique, nutty flavor from the black sesame seeds
- A touch of savory in the cookies (not overly sweet)
- Easy to bake
- Festive looking from the crushed sesame seeds (like sparkles)
- Freezer friendly (up to a month!) and ideal for holiday gifting
Just like the Matcha Green Tea Cookies, they are equally popular and sold everywhere at bakeries in Japan.
Two Types of Flours in Sesame Cookies
I used both all-purpose flour and almond flour/ meal to give these cookies an enhanced nutty flavor and texture. You can find almond flour and almond meal in the market, and both work for this recipe.
The main difference between the two is that the almond meal is much more coarsely ground. You’d be able to see small brown specks of almond skins in the final result. Since the speckled look is what we are after, almond meal is great for these sesame cookies.
I hope you enjoy these delicious sweet and savory Black Sesame Cookies. You can use white, black, or both sesame seeds for these cookies. My favorite is definitely the black ones!
Black Sesame Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter (measure ½ cup (8Tbsp, 1 stick) + ½ Tbsp to be precise)
- 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (plain flour) (if you use a measuring cup, fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off. Otherwise, your flour ends up with more than 160 g.)
- ¼ cup almond meal (¼ cup + 4 tsp to be precise; I used Trader Joe's almond meal)
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- ⅛ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- 5 Tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
- 1 large egg yolk (You can add the whole egg instead of just the yolk. The difference is the texture of the final result. Cookies made with egg yolks would give the most crumbly, rich, crisp cookies. Many icebox cookies use only egg yolk to produce the texture.)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make the Dough
- Cut the butter into small cubes and keep them refrigerated until ready to use (I cut on parchment paper and wrap up the butter for easy transfer.).
- In the food processor, combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt. If you don’t have a food processor, you can simply use a bowl to mix all the ingredients.
- If you want your sesame seeds to be of fine texture, add them now. If you prefer to keep the original shape of sesame seeds, add them with egg yolk later on.
- Take out the butter from the refrigerator and mix together. If you use a regular bowl to mix, use a dough/pastry blender to combine the butter into the dry ingredients.
- Lastly, add egg yolk.
- If the food processor is small (like mine) and it doesn’t look like it’s mixed completely, take it out and mix well with a silicone spatula.
- Form the dough into a ball and cut in half.
- Roll it to a log approximately 2” (5 cm) across. For me, it’s easier to work when the dough is wrapped in plastic wrap. While rolling, unwrap some parts of plastic wrap then roll again. Form a nice shape. I wasn't paying attention so my log is flat on one side...
To Chill the Dough
- Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least an hour (you can put them in the freezer to speed up the process as well).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Remove the dough from plastic wrap and cut into discs about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick (if you prefer thicker cookies, cut into discs about ½ inch (1.3 cm) and you get 20 cookies total).
- Place them on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. If you are baking in batches, make sure to keep the second batch in the refrigerator to chill until baking.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store cookies in an airtight container. Enjoy the cookies within 3 days while they are best, or keep them in the freezer for up to a month.
More Easy Holiday Cookies You’ll Love:
- Matcha Green Tea Cookies
- Butter Cookies
- Cherry Blossom Cookies
- Meyer Lemon Cookies
- Chinese Almond Cookies
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on December 13, 2012. The content has been updated in January 2020.