Christmas Shortbread Cookies

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4.75 from 8 votes
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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.

Along with classic Christmas sugar cookies and gingerbread men, shortbread cookies are one of the quintessential Christmas cookies.

They truly are a timeless classic– who can get tired of a buttery shortbread cookie?

Christmas Shortbread Cookies with sprinkles on serving platter with christmas decor around them

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.
Snowflake Shortbread Cookies with Sprinkles

Ingredients

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.

Bowl of all-purpose flour, two sticks of butter, bowl of salt, bowl of confectioners sugar, cup of vanilla extract and to bowls of holiday sprinkles
  • 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

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.

Two image collage:  On left, dry ingredients on top of wet ingredients in bowl. On right, dry and wet ingredients combined to form shortbread 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. 

Shortbread cookies being cut with snowflake and circle cookie cutters

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.

unbaked shortbread cookies on lined baking sheet, arranged evenly and close together

Step 7: If using sprinkles, press them slightly into the top of the cut-out cookies to help them stick.

Snowflake shortbread cookies with sprinkles on top on lined baking sheet

Step 8: Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes or until light golden brown in color.

Snowflake Shortbread Cookies on lined baking sheet. Some are topped with sprinkles, others are plain

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!

Storage

Store your Christmas shortbread cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Tray of christmas shortbread cookies with festive sprinkles

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.

Flavor Variations

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!
Holiday Shortbread Cookies topped with Sprinkles piled on countertop

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.

Snowflake and circle-shared shortbread cookies with sprinkles on top served on a white plate next to branch of Christmas tree

Christmas Shortbread Cookies FAQs

What is the difference between sugar cookies and shortbread cookies?

Shortbread cookies are dense and buttery cookies. Sugar cookies are a lighter cookie and have a sweeter flavor.

Why is my shortbread cookie so hard?

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.

Why didn’t my shortbread cookies keep their shape when I baked them?

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

Recipe
Christmas Shortbread Cookies cut in snowflake and circle shapes, and decorated with holiday sprinkles.
Recipe
4.75 from 8 votes

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Author: Jaclyn
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 25 minutes
These easy Christmas shortbread 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.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles optional

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Storage: Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Make ahead: The dough can be made up to 1 week ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cut and bake.
Freeze: For longer storage, freeze the dough for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 116kcal | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 20mg
Christmas Shortbread Cookies cut in snowflake and circle shapes, and decorated with holiday sprinkles.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Easy five ingredient shortbread christmas cookies

4.75 from 8 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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