We all want easy recipes during the holidays and well, it doesn’t get easier than cut-out Holiday Shortbread cookies!
Shortbread Cookies come together in a snap and offer the perfect canvas for fun and festive decorations such as drizzles of chocolate and sprinkles of crushed candy canes.
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Classic Shortbread for the Holidays
Shortbread cookies are a great alternative to classic cut-out sugar cookies for fun and festive decorating. Shortbread is ultra buttery and not overly sweet, allowing for sweet decorations such as melted chocolate and crushed candy canes.
These are totally customizable! Here, I used star cookie cutters in two different sizes to create simple holiday cookies. Then, drizzled the cookies in melted white chocolate and dark chocolate and showered them in crushed candy canes.
These holiday shortbread cookies can also be decorated with royal icing like you would sugar cookies. Another great option for creating festive cookies is to dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate or dip the tops of the cookies in melted chocolate. The sprinkle with holiday sprinkles or crushed candy canes.
Preparing Holiday Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread does require at least a few hours of chill time in the fridge, so be sure to work this into your cookie baking schedule. The reason for this is the flour needs a chance to hydrate fully and the butter needs time to solidify so your cookies don’t spread when baked, turning into puddles of butter.
Once chilled, the dough is rolled out and cut into shapes then baked. That’s all there is to it!
The recipe turns out best when the cookie dough has been chilled for at least four hours. This allows the texture to firm up while the flour fully hydrates. The cookie dough would be too soft to slice and bake without first chilling.
Why does flour need to hydrate in cookie dough? Allowing the cookie dough to chill enables the wet ingredients to absorb into the flour, creating an even texture once baked. Chilling the cookie dough also concentrates the flavor of the cookie dough for more flavorful cookies!
Lastly, chilling the dough prevents the cookies from spreading too much in the oven if the butter is too warm.
The powdered sugar helps create the soft, crumbly texture of these shortbread cookies. Granulated sugar gives cookies their crispness. To balance out that crispness in shortbread cookies, a bit of powdered sugar is added.
If you do not have powdered sugar, you can make your own by combining 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds until powdery. Store powdered sugar in an airtight container.
The cake flour is used in this recipe to help create the soft texture of shortbread cookies. If you do not have cake flour, make your own by adding one cup all-purpose flour to a bowl. Then, remove 2 tablespoons from the one cup of flour and add 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk together to aerate and create a light and fluffy flour to add to your cookie dough.
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Looking for more Shortbread Cookie recipes? Give these a try:
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- 1 cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- white chocolate baking bar* (see note) and dark chocolate baking bar or chips for drizzling
- crushed candy canes for sprinkling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined and light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and cake flours. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition
- Tear off a large piece of plastic wrap and place it on a clean countertop. Dump the shortbread dough out onto the plastic wrap and form the dough into a round with your hands (doesn’t have to be perfect). Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside
- Lightly flour a clean work surface. Unwrap cookie dough and place on the floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ½-inch thickness. If the dough is too solid to roll, whack it a few times with the rolling pin to loosen the dough a bit. Or simply wait 5-10 minutes to allow the cookie dough to warm a bit. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut the refrigerated dough (dip the cookie cutter in flour if the dough is sticking to it) and place on baking sheet 1 inch apart (cookies will not spread much). Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are just starting to turn golden at the edges, about 15-16 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow cool on the baking sheets
- In two small microwavable bowls, melt separately the white chocolate and dark chocolate in 30 second intervals on 50% power until melted and smooth. Using a fork, dip the tines into the chocolate and drizzle over top of the cookies. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes before the chocolate sets
- *White chocolate baking bars such as Ghirardelli or Baker's are recommended. White chocolate chips contain stabilizers that help retain their shape even when melted, so these are not recommended for melting and drizzling
- Store decorated cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days
- Undecorated shortbread cookies can be frozen up to 3 months. Place baked and cooled cookies on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze at least one hour. Store frozen cookies in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Thaw at room temperature then decorate as desired
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