Some good, basic butter cookie recipes include the ones featured on Epicurious and Martha Stewart. Both recipes call for flour, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
To make Epicurious' basic butter cookies recipe, begin by combining these dry ingredients in a bowl: 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In a separate bowl, cream together 1 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter and 1 cup of sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 large egg. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter-and-sugar mixture, then roll the dough in a long log, and wrap it with plastic wrap. Chill the dough before cutting slices from the dough and rolling them out into cookies. Bake the cookies at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes.
For Martha Stewart's butter cookie recipe, start by creaming together 1 cup of confectioners' sugar and 1 cup of unsalted butter, then adding 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix in 4 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. If desired, you can brush an egg wash made from 1 large egg white and 2 teaspoons of water over the cookie dough and decorate with sprinkles and sugar.