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Christmas Shortbread Cookies – These cookies have the heavenly melt in your mouth buttery flavor you crave in a shortbread cookie with a subtle vanilla flavor. They are perfect for rolling out and cutting with your favorite cookie cutters.
They truly are a timeless classic– who can get tired of a buttery shortbread cookie?
These shortbread Christmas cookies are great to make as holiday gifts, for your family gatherings or cookie exchange, or even for yourself.
Why You’ll Love This Christmas Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- It’s fun! One thing I enjoy about the holidays is baking classic holiday desserts, and shortbread Christmas cookies are at the top of my list. Being able to cut them into fun shapes and decorate them with sprinkles makes them not only taste like Christmas, but look like it too!
- There’s buffer time. This recipe calls for at least two hours of chilling time. This is perfect for if you want to perep the dough ahead of time or if you are baking multiple things because you can turn your focus to something else for a while without feeling overwhelmed with too many things going on in your kitchen. Or if you are only working on baking these shortbread cookies, it’s a great time to take a break, make yourself a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea, and put on your favorite Christmas movie!
- The dough can be frozen. This recipe makes 24-30 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters. If you don’t need that many, or if you just want to have a delicious premade cookie dough on hand, you can store the shortbread dough in the freezer for up to three months.
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Butter – I use unsalted butter, but you can use salted butter if that it all you have on hand. Just make sure you let your butter come to room temperature before beginning.
- Confectioners sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Salt – omit if using salted butter
- Vanilla extract – adds a sweet vanilla flavor but can be left out or replaced with almond extract if desired.
- Sprinkles – Entirely optional, but add a pop of color and bit of added sweetness.
Kitchen Supplies and Equiptment
- Bowls for mixing
- Hand mixer or Stand mixer
- Cookie sheets
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- cookie spatula
- wire rack for cooling
How To Make Christmas Shortbread Cookies
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Using a stand mixer or hand mixer and large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat to form the dough.
Step 3: Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Step 4: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Step 5: On a lightly floured surface, roll out cookie dough to about ¼ inch thickness (this rolling pin makes this a breeze) Cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter. Gather and roll out scraps as necessary.
Step 6: Use a spatula to carefully transfer cut-out cookies to the prepared baking tray. You don’t have to space them too far apart as they do not spread much at all in the oven.
Step 7: If using sprinkles, press them slightly into the top of the cut-out cookies to help them stick.
Step 8: Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes or until light golden brown in color.
Step 9: Allow your christmas cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool fully. Then, enjoy!
Store your Christmas shortbread cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Make ahead and Freezing
Refrigerator: The dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to one week before baking.
Freezer: For longer storage, the dough can also be frozen for up to three months. If you choose to freeze your dough, simply thaw it out in the fridge overnight before baking. If it is still too firm to roll out, let the dough sit at room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
While shortbread cookies are often made during the holidays, they are also a delicious treat year-round! You can even spice them up to fit the season you’re baking them in.
- During the Fall, I’ll add a teaspoon of cinnamon and pinch of nutmeg for some extra fall flavor.
- During the summer, you could add lemon zest for a fresh finish.
- It’s even delicious to add chopped nuts!
What To Serve With Your Shortbread Christmas Cookies with Sprinkles
I love to have my shortbread cookies with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The cookies aren’t too sweet, so accompanying it with a sweeter drink like hot cocoa is not overwhelming as it may be with some cookies.
Speaking of chocolate, these shortbread cookies are delicious paired chocolate. You can either dip your cookies in melted chocolate or serve up with a chocolatey treat of some kind.
Christmas Shortbread Cookies FAQs
Shortbread cookies are dense and buttery cookies. Sugar cookies are a lighter cookie and have a sweeter flavor.
You’ve probably overcooked your shortbread cookies. A major mistake people make with cookies is keeping them in the oven too long because they don’t look like they are finished baking. This is because your cookies are actually going to bake for another couple of minutes on the baking sheet after you take it out of the oven. If you focus on taking the cookies out when they are just starting to turn golden, they will be perfect. Cooking times may vary by a couple of minutes based on the size of your cookies.
If your shortbread cookies spread out and didn’t maintain their shape, this may be because your dough was not chilled properly. The chilling process helps the butter solidify and hold its shape. If you bake your cookies when they haven’t fully chilled, the butter may be melting too fast, causing your cookies to spread out quicker than they should.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes to Try
- Christmas Cookie Bars
- Italian Anise Cookies
- Christmas Snowball Cookies
- Soft Frosted Christmas Cookies
- Christmas Sprinkle Cookies
- Peppermint Meltaways
Christmas Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- sprinkles optional
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer and large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat to form the dough.
- Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out cookie dough to about ¼ inch thickness and cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter. Gather and roll out scraps as necessary.
- Use a spatula to carefully transfer cut-out cookies to the prepared baking tray, planing them 1-inch apart.
- If using sprinkles, press them slightly into the top of the cut-out cookies to help them stick.
- Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes, or until light golden brown in color.
- Allow cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.