Sometimes you find the perfect cookie for Christmas and then by law you have to make that cookie every year. This is one of mine, it’s for a shortbread cookie and it only has 5 ingredients. This recipe is so quick to make and always is delicious. I found it years ago in a Martha Stewart magazine and it’s the best!

You start with an incredibly simple shortbread dough and then add whatever extras you love. Usually I double the batch and make 2 or 3 varieties. What makes this even better is that you shape the dough into logs and chill or freeze it. Then whenever you want some fabulous cookies, you just slice them and bake. Angels will be singing!

Ideas for Cookie Flavors

  • Chocolate and Cherry
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Milk Chocolate
  • White Chocolate and Cranberry
  • White Chocolate and Pistachio
  • Cranberry and Pistachio
  • Vanilla
  • Spice
  • Pecan
  • Chocolate and Freeze Dried Raspberry

    These are just a few ideas, try your favorite extras and you might just create your signature cookie! Tips and tricks will follow the recipe.

    Shortbread Cookie Recipe

    • 1 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      Softened butter, powdered sugar, and salt ready to be creamed with a wooden spoon.

      Combine the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. I used my copper bowl because I’m trying to be fancy. Cream them together until they are smooth and there are no lumps from the powdered sugar. You can also sift the sugar if there are a lot of lumps but I don’t usually bother with that.

      Creamed softened butter, powdered sugar, and salt for Shortbread Cookies.

      Another thing I do when I’m baking is to add the salt, spices, and any baking powder or baking soda to the butter and sugar when I’m creaming them so they are incorporated very well. If you aren’t thorough when you mix them in with the flour you can end up with lumps of baking powder or salt and that’s not anyone’s idea of fun!

      Now add your flour and mix well. It may be difficult to mix it all in but persevere!

      All-purpose and spelt flour being mixed into Shortbread Cookie dough.

      Now it’s time for the fun part! Decide what extras you want to add in and divide your dough if you’re doing more than one flavor. I decided to do two of my favorites, chocolate cherry and pecan.

      Finely chop your extras if needed. I find it’s easier to slice the cookie rolls if the extras are pretty fine. Here I have some of my dad’s pecans all chopped and ready to go on the left. On the right I have chopped some dark chocolate chips but left the dried cherries whole. They are pretty easy to slice in the dough.

      Chopped pecans to add to half a recipe of Shortbread Cookie dough.
      Chopped chocolate and cherries to add to half a recipe of Shortbread Cookie dough.

      Awesome Chocolate Tip!

      A note about chopped chocolate. One of the cookbook writers I love, Dori Greenspan, is a fan of using chopped chocolate and she’s right! Instead of chocolate chips she chops bars of her favorite chocolate. As you can imagine, that is fabulous, but I usually have more chocolate chips around so I use them.

      Now just mix those yummy things into your cookie dough. I use parchment paper to fold the dough over onto itself and mix it in but your can use your hands or a mixer too.

      Shortbread Cookie dough and chopped pecans ready to be combined.
      Shortbread Cookie dough mixed with chopped pecans.

      Once your extras are mixed in well, shape the dough into a log 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. It depends on how big you want your cookies to be and how many you want. For my family I need the most cookies possible so I usually aim for a 1 1/2 inch roll of dough.

      Next wrap your dough in parchment or waxed paper and chill overnight or freeze until you are ready to bake cookies.

      Sliced Pecan Shortbread Cookie dough.
      Sliced Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookie Dough.

      Now just slice your cookie rolls into 1/2 inch slices. If the dough is frozen you might want to let it sit on the counter for an hour or so to soften. Frozen dough may chip or break a bit when you slice it. Usually I’m too impatient so I just patch the sliced dough back together and go for it.

      Bake the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350° for 15-20 minutes. I sometimes use a silicone liner instead of parchment but I love parchment paper because it doesn’t involve any cleanup.

      Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookie dough ready to bake.

      Cool your cookies on a rack and enjoy!

      Tips and Tricks

      • Substitute whole wheat or spelt flour for part of the all-purpose flour.
      • Bake cookies longer for a crisper cookie (my preference).
      • Bake just until the edges are barely colored for a softer cookie.
      • Seal frozen dough in a ziptop storage bag. You can keep the rolls of dough several months in the freezer.
      • Frozen cookie dough rolls make great gifts. Tie a bow around the wrapped roll and include a note with baking instructions.
      • Substitute 1/2 cup of cocoa for part of the flour to make a chocolate shortbread cookie.