Cherry blossom cookies 桜クッキー

Cherry Blossom Cookies. photo by Namiko Chen

Celebrate the magic of spring with these crispy and buttery cherry blossom cookies. Topped with edible salt-pickled sakura buds, these cookies are infused with the heavenly fragrance and flavor of Japanese cherry blossoms.

Spring in Japan is so beautiful and magical. All the hills and parks are covered with pink and white cherry blossom trees, and many of them adorn city streets as well.

To celebrate the beauty of cherry blossoms, this week I want to share Cherry Blossom Cookies with you.

Cherry Blossom Cookies with Salt Pickled Sakura
Many of you probably didn’t know that cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese) are actually edible.

In Japan, we preserve them with salt so they can be used in various dishes. However, it’s not as simple as just sprinkling salt over the blossoms. The whole preserving process takes place over several weeks.

Tender young buds are hand-picked, washed and dried. They are then soaked in ume plum vinegar for several days before being dried completely. Finally, they are packed in jars or packages with salt.
You can purchase these salt-pickled cherry blossoms from this Japanese online store ( that ships internationally (this company also sells them on Amazon:, or another brand on Amazon: You might be able to find it at Japanese grocery stores when they are in season. You can also purchase it from Weee:!

Edible Salt Pickled Cherry Blossoms in package
Buttery, Slightly Salty, Cherry Blossom Cookies

These cherry blossom cookies are butter cookies, or you may know them as shortbread cookies or sable cookies. They are unleavened cookies, which means that leavening agents such as baking powder or baking soda are not used in the recipe.

They consist of just butter, sugar and flour, and are often flavored with vanilla. We use salt-pickled cherry blossoms in this recipe, so it adds just enough salty essence to the rich, buttery cookies. You can smell and taste the cherry blossoms, which are the highlight of these cookies.

The texture of the cookies is “crisp,” rather than chewy or soft. It is commonly necessary to chill the dough for easy handling. The chilled dough will give clean, sharp edges to the cookies and holds its shape better in the oven.

Usually, for this type of cookie, you roll the dough into a cylindrical shape, chill, and then slice it into rounds (or roll out the dough, chill and cut it out).

Ingredients Substitution
Powder Sugar vs. Granulated Sugar
I’ve made butter cookies with both sugars and they both work, so you can experiment and decide. I used powdered sugar for this recipe because I read some articles that said granulated sugar in butter cookies would not dissolve completely while being baked. Given that butter cookies don’t contain liquid, the cookies would wind up with a rough texture.

Cake Flour vs. All Purpose Flour
Again, you can make butter cookies with flour. Butter cookies are meant to be somewhat crumbly because they have a high butter (fat) content. If you use all-purpose flour, they will be a bit more sturdy than the ones made with cake flour (a mix of both would be best). Cake flour gives a light texture, and I think it fits better with this cherry blossom recipe. So I opted for cake flour for this recipe. In Japanese, we say this texture is saku saku (サクサク).

Sparkling Sugar
White sparkling sugar can be replaced with granulated sugar. Sparkling sugar has a larger grain so it won’t melt and disappear while being baked. It adds a particular look as well as a nice crunch when you bite into it.

Recipes Using Salt-Pickled Cherry Blossoms
Use salt-pickled cherry blossoms this spring to make these delicious and pretty recipes! Happy spring!

Cherry Blossoms Madeleines:
Cherry Blossom Rice Balls:
Cherry Blossom Milk Pudding:

Celebrate the magic of spring with these crispy and buttery Cherry Blossom Cookies.

Rolled in sparkling sugar and topped with edible salt-pickled sakura buds, these cookies are infused with the heavenly fragrance and flavor of Japanese cherry blossoms. Enjoy them for dessert or an afternoon snack with a hot cup of Japanese green tea.

Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Soaking and Chilling Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1/2 cup of butter is 4 oz, 1 stick, or 8 Tbsp; at room temperature)
1 oz salt-pickled cherry blossoms
1 cup cake flour (1 cup should weigh 120 g; I strongly encourage you to weigh your flour; if you’re using a cup measurement, please follow this method; otherwise, you may scoop more flour than you need; you can substitute an equal amount of certain gluten-free flours)
1/8 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar/powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk (0.5 oz, 15 g per egg yolk)
white sparkling sugar (this is a coarse sugar with larger grains than granulated sugar, so it won’t melt and disappear; it also gives a nice look and crunch)

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, visit

For the full recipe, visit


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