Christmas Cookie: Agnes Badertscher’s Refrigerator Cookies

When our three boys were small, many boxes flew between Ohio and Arizona. Both sets of Grandparents lived in Ohio and we lived in Scottsdale, Arizona.

3 Badertscher Boys, Scottsdale, 1967

3 Badertscher Boys, Scottsdale, 1967

Naturally they were excited by any box that the mailman brought, but they jumped particularly high when they realized a cookie box from Grandma Agnes Badertscher had arrived. The box was sure to include refrigerator cookies.

Today, decades later, when I asked one of my sons if he remembered Grandma Badertscher’s Christmas cookies, he immediately said yes, and I believe his eyes were twinkling. The cookies may have been plain-jane round, tan, and un-frosted, but they had a memorable melt-in-the-mouth texture and sugary taste to remember.

Agnes who made refrigerator cookies

Agnes and Paul Badertscher with two boys. Scottsdale 1963

The lasting love of Agnes Badertscher’s Butterscotch Cookies, a refrigerator cookie, proves that cookies do not have to be complicated to be a hit.

Somewhere, I have a hand-written recipe card that Agnes wrote for me, and I have made the cookies before, but wouldn’t you know–this year when I got ready to share the recipe with you, I could not find the card. Thanks to Ken’s sister, Kay Badertscher Bass  for coming to the rescue by e-mailing me a copy of this heritage Christmas Cookie recipe.

Besides being easy to make, these cookies are the most convenient ones on my list of Christmas cookies because you make the dough, roll it up and store it in the refrigerator, ready to slice and bake. Before the Pillsbury Dough Boy was born, housewives were making refrigerator cookies, and if you want to avoid artificial ingredients and fancy packaging, you can do the same.

Agnes Badertscher’s Butterscotch Cookies


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter or Crisco
  • 2 eggs (beat until light)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar in 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts or coconut (optional)


1. Mix sugars and shortening.
2. Add eggs.
3. Sift dry ingredients together
4. Stir all together
5. Add nuts or coconut.
6. Shape into a roll [approx 2" diameter] and refrigerate.
7. Slice and bake at 350 degrees.


Kay Badertscher Bass recalls her mother placing half a maraschino cherry in the center of each cookie, to make it more festive for Christmas.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

I am a grandma and was named for my grandma. I've been an actress, a political strategist and a writer.I grew up in various places, went to high school in Killbuck, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. My husband and I moved to Arizona after graduation and have three adult children. I love to travel and read. I ponder family as I cook. Look for my DNA profile on Ancestry.

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