Food & Drink

Louisiana Pillowcase Cookies

A sweet delight with a great Southern backstory

Photo: Denny Culbert

Alzina Toups is a muse on Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana, where she cooks and shares the Cajun food she grew up with. This recipe is adapted from one of hers. Alzina’s mother was of Portuguese descent, and her father was from a line of Nova Scotia fur trappers. Alzina learned to hunt, trap, and prepare all the delicacies of South Louisiana. She was a trawler with her husband for years before she started cooking for small parties in her son’s machine shop. People from all over the world make the pilgrimage to Alzina’s to taste her version of Cajun food.

According to Alzina, the story of these cookies began with oyster fishermen. They worked during the cold winter and could be on the water for weeks at a time. They brought cookies onto the boats in a pillowcase, to remind them of the warmth of the homes they would soon return to. These cookies are slightly sweet and puffy, like a cross between hardtack and a sugar cookie. —Melissa M. Martin


  • Yield: 2 dozen cookies

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    • 1 cup raw unrefined sugar

    • 1 tbsp. baking powder

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

    • 2 large eggs

    • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse, pulse, pulse. Add the butter and pulse for 30 seconds. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  2. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

  3. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness and cut it into whatever shape you desire (I like to use an alligator-shaped cookie cutter). Dip the cookie cutter in flour first, then press it into the dough. Use an offset spatula to transfer the cookies from your work surface to the prepared baking sheets.

  4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely. These cookies taste great for up to a week; store them in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Excerpted from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa M. Martin (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2020.