Thai Sugar Cookies

An unexpected ingredient gives these Phuket treats a crunchy fortune cookie-like texture.

  • Serves

    Makes 50–60 cookies

  • Cook

    30 minutes


By Austin Bush

Published on April 18, 2024

This recipe is brought to you by the SAVEUR Cookbook Club, our passionate community of food-loving readers from around the globe celebrating our favorite authors and recipes. Join us as we cook through a new book every month, and share your food pics and vids on social media with the hashtags #SAVEURCookbookClub and #EatTheWorld.

In his travels through the island city of Phuket, cookbook author Austin Bush noticed an abundance of sweets and snacks made with wheat-based flour. Though most Thai-style treats are rice-based, the cuisine of Phuket province is shaped by the history of its Chinese residents, most notably laborers who brought with them an appetite for wheat-based noodles, breads, and treats. These cookies, sold by a Phuket bakery in operation for more than two generations, are known by Hokkien Chinese as khanom naa taek, or “cracked top.” Their light color and small size make them a perfect snack to accompany coffee or afternoon tea.

Ammonium bicarbonate is an ingredient used as a leavening agent in many Thai sweets and baked goods. During the baking process, it releases both carbon dioxide and ammonia, and can produce a strong, almost noxious smell. At high heat, however, the aroma disappears completely, leaving behind a flavor akin to fortune cookies. (If your oven can’t reach as high as 500°F, Bush suggests cranking it to its maximum heat and baking a minute or two longer to ensure your cookies emerge crispy, toasty, and ammonia-aroma-free.)

Adapted from The Food of Southern Thailand. Copyright © 2024 by Austin Bush. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.


  • 1½ cups all-​purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ammonium bicarbonate
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1–2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Step 2

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, ammonium bicarbonate, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the oil, egg, food coloring (if using), and 1 tablespoon of water. Using your hands, knead until the ingredients are well incorporated.

Step 3

Roll heaping teaspoons (10 grams each) of the dough into balls and space at least ½ inch apart on two large unlined baking sheets. Using your finger, make a shallow dimple in the top of each ball. 

Step 4

Bake, rotating halfway through, until the cookies are just firm and slightly toasted on the bottom, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets. The cookies are best eaten the day they are baked but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. 

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