Lady Locks {A Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table Staple}

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Last Updated on August 3, 2020 by Deanna Samaan

Lady Locks is the showpiece of a Pittsburgh cookie table at weddings. This is a flaky cookie with a sweet, creamy filling that you will love at first bite. You also know Lady Locks as a cream horns recipe. In Pittsburgh, the cream horn is a Lady Lock and it is Pittsburgh cookies. Serves 24


Lady Locks title


Pittsburgh Cookies For A Wedding

It is no secret that I am proud of my birthplace, Pittsburgh. I may live in Cleveland, but Pittsburgh is my home. One Pittsburgh tradition I found out is exclusive to Pittsburgh is a cookie table at a wedding.


Lady Locks closeup of ladylocks on a plate
Lady Locks is the showpiece of a Pittsburgh cookie table at weddings.



Wedding Cookie Table

What is a wedding cookie table? A cookie table is when people bring homemade cookies to the wedding. Then those wedding cookies are put on a table. As guests wait for the bride and groom to make their entrance, you munch on these homemade Pittsburgh wedding cookies and drink a drink a cocktail.


I always thought this was standard for weddings until I moved to Cleveland.


Lady Locks overhead view
Lady Locks are a labor of love, but they are so amazingly good!


I do know these wedding cookie tables are becoming popular across the USA. In fact, there were 2 articles wrote about the cookie table tradition. One was in the NY Times the other in the National Post.


Cookies For A Wedding

I am writing up a post for Parade’s Community table for the wedding cookie table. In my quest for links, I discovered no one had the one cookie that is a must at a wedding cookie table, the Lady Lock.



Lady Locks or Cream Horns Recipe

Every wedding has to have this homemade goodie. Lady locks are also called cream horns or clothespin cookies. Why? Instead of metal cones to make the shells you use foil around old fashion wooden clothespins.


It works well, thus giving the name clothespin cookies. The cream horns come because it does look like a horn filled with a creamy filling. If you are searching for cream horn recipes, lady locks recipe or clothespin cookie recipes, it the same.


Lady Locks wide view on the plate on table
Lady Locks are addicting because the flaky shells and the sweet creamy filling they have

Pittsburgh Cookies

These Pittsburgh cookies are a labor of love. A cream horn recipe does take a little bit of work but they are worth it. That why the grandmothers seem to make these for the wedding cookie tables.


Clothespin Cookies

It is the love they have for the couple to make this wonderful, flaky cookie. When I married, my neighbor growing up made the lady locks or clothespin cookies on my cookie table. I asked for the clothespin cookies recipe because I was in love with them, she gave it to me.


Cooking Tip:


o measure dry ingredients: Use the spoon-and-sweep method. Spoon the flour or other dry ingredient into a measuring cup, filling it generously above the rim of the cup. Then, run the back of a knife over the edge to sweep the excess back into the container.  – Source: FoodNetwork


Cookies With Filling

The lady lock or cream horn filling recipe is what makes these cookies. The creamy filling is what makes the clothespin cookie so addicting. It is best to invest in stainless steel cream horn molds also to make these as well.


My Cookie Table

My next marriage, if I have one, I will for sure have a cookie table. Even if I am still here in Cleveland, I will have this wedding cookie gtable tradition. You can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but can not take the Pittsburgh out the girl.


Of course my lady locks will be the showpiece of the wedding cookies. Cookies with filling what is not to love about that? Trust me you love this cream horn recipe.

Check out these recipes from Seduction In The Kitchen:


Lady Locks Full view of the cookies on a plate on the table
Lady Locks are not only the showstopper cookie on a cookie table at Pittsburgh Weddings, but they are good any time of the year.


Reccomended Recipes From Other Food Bloggers:

  • How about this BANANA BREAD COBBLER from Grace and Good Eats to satisy your sweet tooth.
  • Maybe you want the ultimate combo, peanut butter, and chocolate, so this CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE from Pint Size Baker is perfect!
  • Something a little sweet so you want? Well, this DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE SHOOTERS from Cooking On The Front Burner is just right.


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Lady Locks
Yield: 24 cookies

Lady Locks Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Lady Locks are the show piece of a Pittsburgh cookie table at weddings is this flaky cookie with a sweet, creamy filling. A recipe from Seduction in the Kitchen.


Pastry Shells:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar divided
  • 1/2 cup margarine (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar


  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 teaspoons heaping all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup margarine at room temperature, 2 sticks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash salt


  1. Sift together 3 1⁄2 cups flour, the baking powder and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Add the margarine, shortening and butter and cut in as for pie crust. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, evaporated milk, vanilla and yeast. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Chill overnight.
  3. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Working with small pieces of dough at a time, roll out on a board sprinkled with a mixture of 1⁄2 cup flour, 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar and the confectioners' sugar.
  5. Roll thinly, then cut into strips approximately 1⁄2-inch wide. Wrap on old-fashioned wooden clothespins that have been covered with foil and lightly greased, or use metal baking rods according to manufacturer's directions.
  6. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove the shells from the pins immediately. Let cool, then fill the shells with the filling, using a pastry bag.
  7. Combine the milk and flour. Cook over low heat until thick. Cool completely.
  8. Beat the flour mixture, using an electric mixer. Add the margarine, vegetable shortening, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 4g

Did you make this recipe?

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  • Paula
    February 17, 2016

    The cookie table is a great idea!! Can’t wait to try these.

    • Deanna Samaan
      February 20, 2016

      Awesome! I love this tradition at weddings!

  • cookilicious
    July 8, 2017

    Love the idea of having a cookie table & the name of this recipe surely intrigues me. Would love to give this recipe a try!

  • Dahn
    August 19, 2017

    with as many weddings that I have been to I am surprised I have never seen this cookie, It sounds wonderful and I have got to make these

  • Calleigh - TheForkBite
    August 19, 2017

    I love this flaky cookie with creamy fillings, looks so tempting. How I wish every wedding will serve this so-called cookie table, that would be fun eating this cookie while patiently waiting.

  • Sarah
    August 19, 2017

    You live in Cleveland? I visited last year, what a great city!!! …and these cookies? Yum! They look absolutely delicious!!!

    • cindi
      December 14, 2017

      these are Pittsburgh cookies

  • Amanda Mason
    August 19, 2017

    These look amazing and even though they may take a bit of time and effort to make, it’s so worth it! As I am getting older, I appreciate a good recipe that takes time to make. These types of recipes become precious favorites! I’m printing this one out so I can make it for me family! They will love it!!

  • Amy @ The Cook Report
    August 19, 2017

    Loving the idea of a cookie table! These look lovely

  • Kathi
    August 19, 2017

    Love the story behind the cookie! They look fabulous and what a great tradition!

  • Andrea @ Cooking with Mamma C
    August 19, 2017

    I know they do cookie tables in Youngstown. At my wedding, we had a cookie table for dessert, but we provided the cookies instead of guests bringing them. Your lady locks look fabulous!

  • Sharon
    December 2, 2017

    I live east of Cleveland and always thought The cookie table was an Italian thing. I got married in 1987 and had a huge one. We baked for months. As far as I know it’s a tradition at weddings and have been in this area forever. Anyway the recipe I have for these is quite different but very flaky. I was looking for something a little easier and came across this and will certainly give it a try. I use wooden dowels that I cut to fit my baking pans instead of clothespins as I can get about four on each dowel. Much easier than the clothespins. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks so much.

    • Deanna
      December 2, 2017

      You are so welcome. It is a Pittsburgh based. BUT there is a lot of Italian Catholics that are from Southwestern Pa. It is so much fun cookie tables. I love your dowl idea. It a great idea, it is hard sometimes to find those wooden clothes pin 🙂

  • Michelle M
    December 15, 2017

    Thank you for this recipe. My brother is getting married in the ‘Burgh next spring and I am working on finding the perfect Lady locks recipe. Could you tell me how thin I should roll the dough? Thank you.

    • Deanna
      December 15, 2017

      Congrats!!! You want it thin but not so thin that you can see through it. I say roll the dough between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and it will do nicely 🙂

  • Karen
    January 5, 2018

    I am an Italian Catholic from Pittsburgh as well and also live in Cleveland. I remember the cookie tables as well and surprised that I have not seen so many here. Can’t wait to try your recipe!

    • Deanna
      January 5, 2018

      A fellow Pittsburger in Cleveland!!! I never knew it wasn’t a common thing until I moved to Cleveland!! I love to know how you like it!!

  • Colleen
    January 17, 2018

    I was so excited to find this recipe being from Pittsburgh, I had these at my wedding, and when I saw this I knew I will be making these for my daughters wedding. I did a test run the other day but the cream never came together it resembled cottage cheese but very runny. Any idea why this happened?

    • Deanna
      January 17, 2018

      Hmmm, that is odd. No lemon or anything was added, right? (I know lemon can make milk go cottage cheese like) Did you use almond milk by chance? I know almond milk sometimes can make a pastry cream go funny. The only other thing I can possibly think of is with flour milk mixture maybe wasn’t cool enough? I know I made that the night before and put in the fridge overnight and then make them the next morning. You want that to be cool. That is actually the thickening is the milk-flour mixture.

      Another version if want to try this, It actually Paula Deen filling she did for something she called Magnolia trumpets. I have played with this a bit, but she used regular granulated sugar, To me it a bit crispy because of the sugar. I played with using powdered sugar instead, I have used this on cupcakes as a frosting:
      1 cup Unsalted butter, soften
      1 Cup Crisco
      1 cup powdered sugar (may need to add more if it not stiffening enough, this can vary the original recipe was 2 cups granulated, it better to go small and then add as needed.)
      2 Egg whites
      2 teaspoons of Vanilla
      1/2 cup milk
      Combine everything but the milk in the stand mixer beat till everything is combined.
      Heat up the milk to lukewarm and slowly, (1 tablespoon at a time) add it to the mixture and mix everything together till you get the thickness to where you want it. Then pipe into the shells

      • Colleen
        January 17, 2018

        Ok maybe I’ll try the other recipe. I let it the milk mixture cool in fridge for 3 hours, no lemon at all. I did use milk that was 1% does that make a difference? Also how long do you cook that mixture? Mine started to boil a little but I stopped it since you didn’t say to bring to boil. It was nice creamy and thick when I put it in fridge. I really want your recipe to work because despite the texture the flavor was delicious. Maybe next time I’ll let milk mixture sit overnight. Do you ever use butter? Or always margarine?

        • Deanna
          January 17, 2018

          Yeah, 1% can make a difference, due to the fat content of the milk (but better than skim!) Try whole milk (if don’t want to do whole milk, 2% would be good too, I have used that myself, I do tend to buy 2% Honestly whole does make taste good and because the fat, anything with fat just taste better LOL). Just cook it until start to thicken. That usually right before it starts to boil. When cooking it keep stirring till reminds you of thick cream soup, is the best way I can think to describe it. Honestly, since this recipe, I admit I do use unsalted butter, I do try to stay away from margarine. I think I am going to update this and put that in there 🙂

          • Colleen
            January 18, 2018

            Thanks Deanna, I’m going to keep on trying your recipe probably with butter though.

          • Deanna
            January 18, 2018

            You are welcome!

  • Colleen
    January 18, 2018

    Also have you ever tried powdered sugar instead of granulated in it?

    • Deanna
      January 18, 2018

      the Paula Deen recipe, yes. With Powdered sugar, have to start with a smaller than granulated and work up to get the correct amount. It because granulated is larger where powdered is granulated sugar but been pulverized to make it powdered

  • debi at Life Currents
    February 23, 2018

    These look amazing. Like a cannoli, but better! I can’t wait to try them!

    • Deanna
      February 25, 2018

      I admit I never had cannoli! They are really good 🙂

  • michele
    February 23, 2018

    I have been looking for a great recipe for these cookies forever! They are wonderful– exactly as I remembered them!

    • Deanna
      February 24, 2018

      I love the filling in them. They really are one of a kind 🙂

  • Sandra Shaffer
    February 24, 2018

    What a pretty dessert! I love the tradition behind Lady Locks, but boy I can think of all types of occasions to serve these beauties!

    • Deanna
      February 25, 2018

      I love lady locks! They are so yummy!

  • [email protected]'s Dinnertime Dish
    February 25, 2018

    These cookies look so fancy and delicious!

  • Michaela Kenkel
    February 25, 2018

    I have never heard of these!! They look scrumptious!!

  • Jennifer A Stewart
    February 26, 2018

    These cream horns are everything!! I never heard the name Lady Locks but I have never been to Cleveland. I might need to take a trip and crash some weddings!

  • Debra C.
    February 26, 2018

    I love how different areas of the country have their own traditions, the cookie table sounds really neat! What a great way to share something special with everyone! Your cookies look so good, what a delicious sweet treat!

  • Michele @ Bacon Fatte
    March 1, 2018

    Couldn’t agree more… We had a cookie & sweets table at our wedding, and it was a HUGE hit with out guests! I won’t wait for the next wedding to make these cookies… They look delicious!

  • Madi
    March 1, 2018

    I had never heard of lady locks before but they look incredible! What a fun wedding tradition!

  • Bea
    March 4, 2018

    7cant wait to make these!! Thanks for sharing the details of your recipe.

  • Michelle
    April 21, 2018

    My daughter is getting married in about 2 months to a Pittsburgh native and we are planning a cookie table to honor that tradition. Can the cookie portion of these cookies be frozen? Add the filling after they thaw? How long will they store in a refrigerator? They look delicious! Thank you!

    • Deanna
      April 22, 2018

      Congrats! Yes, these can freeze. I tip to make sure they freeze well is when putting in gladware than wrap the container in saran wrap as well. It helps so they don’t get freezer burn. I could freeze with the filling in them. You could also do as you said as well. Store in the fridge 3-4 days at the most after the thaw.

      • David Carl Svec
        May 24, 2018

        I am so happy to find your site,I am from Port Vue and I have injoyed tour site.

  • Shirley Wood
    June 5, 2018

    My hubby will enjoy this recipe. He likes trying new dessert recipes and enjoys a challenge. Then he likes to get the first bite. These look delicious!

    • Deanna
      June 5, 2018

      Thank you!!! These are my favorite cookies, I love when at the weddings 🙂

  • Mary
    October 17, 2019

    I made the shells for the first time. (My grandma was from Pittsburgh, so using her filling
    recipe. Can I fill them ahead? (One day) Wedding is this Saturday here in So Calif., but
    I don’t want them to be soggy.


    • Deanna
      October 20, 2019

      You can, it should be good!

  • Dana
    December 11, 2019

    Can you freeze filled ladylocks without the shell getting soft once thawed?

    • Deanna
      December 11, 2019

      My aunt used to do this and she used to say the secret was to double line the box with saran wrap.

  • Lori
    December 25, 2019

    My filling is too grainy after beating in stand mixer for almost 10 minutes. Why won’t the sugar incorporate? Do I need to mix longer?

    • Deanna
      December 26, 2019

      It could be from not getting the milk hot enough, I get the milk to almost scalding before I do the flour, it helps melt the sugar better

  • Debbie
    September 14, 2020

    How long did you beat it? It will usually separate at first but keep beating and it will come together. I would use whole milk

    • Deanna Samaan
      September 17, 2020

      I come to find it depends where I am at, here in Florida with humidity I swear I am beating much longer then I did in Pittsburgh. I never timed it but I say I usually beat it for a long time I say 15 minutes