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Traditional Soft Shortbread Cookies

Traditional Shortbread Cookies are a popular treat during the holiday season. Dress them up in your best winter, holiday or seasonal décor. You can also enjoy with homemade chocolate ganache and homemade decorator icing for cookies. This recipe is simple and quick to make, and yields the best buttery shortbread cookies.

Put them on a Thanksgiving party tray or decorate them up and put them in a Christmas cookie exchange. They are great for Easter and any other event that could use shortbread thumbprint cookies. One of the best things about these simple cookies is the ability to make them as fancy or as simple as you want. The basic ingredients allow for the flavors to stand out and bake a soft, fluffy cookie that is a beautiful balance of sweet cookie dough.

They make a wonderful snack cookie due to their mild flavor and simplistic nature. Satisfying and perfect for sharing.

Shortbread 2
This shortbread recipe make great cookies

A delicious, traditional cookie

Grandma’s shortbread pressed spritz cookies recipe is another shortbread cookie dough recipe designed to be put through a cookie dough press. Easy to make and decorate, and a wonderful replacement to buying the popular Walkers shortbread cookies that we all know and love.

They can be left plain and enjoyed for the beautiful prints in the dough, or embellished with a delicate frosting and sprinkles.

Short Bread Cookies
Kids enjoy the chance to decorate cookies for the holidays

From Icing and sprinkles to ganache

Butter cookies and shortbread are versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on your personal preferences. They make a wonderful canvas for kids to get creative and decorate, but they are also delicious to enjoy plain with a cup of tea or coffee as an afternoon snack. 

If you prefer to dip them in ganache, shortbread cookies with chocolate is a decadent and sophisticated option that everyone will love. A simple chocolate drizzle has become a favorite garnish because the rich chocolate brings depth to the mild flavor that shortbread holds.

Decorating the cookies

Homemade shortbread is always popular. Decorating them is a whole new level of challenge if you really want them professional looking. We usually just keep it fun and simple.

  • This recipe makes a nice flat shortbread that is easy to decorate and won’t break easily.
  • Make the cookies in whatever shapes you wish and COOL completely
  • whip up a batch of decorator icing and adjust the consistency with a drop or two of water.
  • If your handy with a decorator bag use a number 3 tip from Wilton and adjust the icing to stream through the tip evenly with little pressure. Now put the icing where you want it and cover with sprinkles.

The best method of creating truly beautiful shortbread cookies takes a lot of time but it’s a beautiful hobby

These cookies allow for you to design sophisticated desserts that elevate your event or party. You can purchase a few basic tools to build elaborate depth and unique color combinations. The secret is in the patience and execution of the decorating process.

Sugar cookies or shortbread?

Sugar cookies are usually the ones that carry fancy designs and bring that extra bit of flair to the party table, but shortbread can also provide stunning cookies to create show stopping party treat. Use them as a way to bring the unique personalities of the bride and groom to their wedding, enhance the theme of a baby shower, provide beautiful birthday cookies, or deliver a personalized treat for a company event.

  1. Create your design plan
  2. Bake and cool the shortbread in your preferred shape
  3. Put the different colored icings you need in separate decorator bags
  4. Outline the colored area and then return to fill in the colored section
  5. Each color section must dry and set before you begin the next color
  6. Here’s a video on beginner cookie decorating
Shortbread Cookies Cut Out In Holiday Shapes On A Breadboard

Make it a fun food craft for the family

If you’re baking shortbread cookies with young kids, as we usually are, just spread an even layer of decorator icing over a cookie. Now set the cookie with the liquid icing top in front of your child with plenty of sprinkles, sugar eyes or whatever you prefer.

You can set up stations for the kids to use a variety of colors, embellishments, and tools depending on their skill level and how creative they want to be. Bowls of simple royal icing and plastic knives are very easy for little ones to use because they don’t require much dexterity. Children can add multiple colors and frost their cookies as much as they want.

A variety of sprinkles, candies, and sugars that elevate the seasonal or event theme can be available for a beautiful finish and added flair.

Child Showing Her Decorated Shortbread Cookie
Christmas shortbread cookies are always a tradition in our family

Royal icing is the best option

Making and decorating shortbread cookie cutouts is a wonderful foodie craft for the kids. Let them help with the cookie cutter placement on the dough. Bake and cool the cookies then pour on royal icing. This is a very simple icing of meringue powder, confectioners sugar, some water and food coloring. It will be loose and easily spreadable for kids to play with, while drying quickly and hardening into a stable finished product that will hold any decorations in place.

Why royal icing?

Royal icing isn’t made for it’s flavor or texture, and will only add visual enhancement to the cookies. Royal icing provides a strong and stable decor that once dried will hold in place and not bleed into other colors on the cookies. It is also a great option because of it’s understated flavor. Royal icing will not take away from the tasty shortbread, it only enhances the visual beauty of them.

If you are going for flavor above all else, you can provide a basic buttercream or similar frosting that will stay creamy and delicious. We made a light cinnamon frosting that the grandkids enjoyed very much.

How to make Shortbread Cookies from scratch

These cookies are simple and straightforward, but they do require some attention to a few details. Here are our tips to making the very best light and fluffy cookies.

  • You don’t want to over mix or overwork the dough! However, you will need to add flour to the dough and work it as you shape the dough or cut it out.
  • This dough is very soft and can be tricky to get a good shape until enough flour is worked in.
  • Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or so until it gets firm, but not hard.

Can you store shortbread?

Yes, these cookies store very well when properly prepared and sealed. They can be baked a day or two in advanced, and then decorated on the day of your event. You can also decorate them early and store them as long as you know the icing will not soften and smudge.

Is shortbread easy to travel with?

Shortbread is perfect to include in cookies exchanges, picnics, and bake sales because they are so simple in flavor but can also be decorated in fun and enjoyable ways. When baked properly the cookies will be strong and sturdy enough to stack and pack into goodie bags or boxes, which makes them great for sharing with friends and family.

The dough can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a day or two before baking, provided it is wrapped tightly in airtight coverings.

Shortbread Cookies
A fun food craft for little ones

Tips for homemade shortbread cookie success

Although these cookies are simple and very basic, they do require some attention to details in preparation for the most successful bake. Shortbread should be stable and stackable, but still soft and easy to chew.

  • Work with room temperature butter
  • Make sure the dough is not overly hydrated, it should require you pushing it together to stay in place
  • Allow the dough some time to rest, covered in the fridge before rolling it out. This helps the flour hydrate through without over working the dough or adding too much liquid
  • These cookies roll out easily on a lightly floured surface
  • Cut out whatever shape you like using a cookie cutter. Or, you can cut the dough into wafers, squares or other shapes
  • After cooling to room temperature, eat them plain, or dip them in yummy chocolate ganache
  • Make a batch of our royal icing and decorate them with frosting and sprinkles

Full Recipe Shortbread Cookies

You can easily double this recipe if you are planning to make a large batch for a crowd. The dough can also be prepared a few days in advance and stored in the fridge for quite a few days. It makes a great party dessert because these cookies can be served in so many different ways, everyone is sure to enjoy them.

Shortbread Cookies
Yield: 25 -3 inch cookies

Shortbread Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

A traditional Holiday cookie. Shortbread cookies are easy to make and fun to decorate for any holiday or event.


  • 1 Cup butter , softened to room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Superfine Sugar
  • 2 Cups Flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In your food processor (Or a large bowl) mix together the butter, vanilla and sugar until thoroughly blended.
  3. Add the flour and mix (or pulse in your food processor) until a soft dough forms. Do not over mix.
  4. Chill in fridge a half hour until the dough is firm and easy to roll out.
  5. On a floured board roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes as desired.
  6. Bake 8 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving Calories 116

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Traditional Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Recipe Source:

Decorator Icing for cookies | Homemade Food Junkie

Thursday 24th of December 2015

[…] wanted to ice my shortbread cookies for valentine’s day. I don’t usually make iced cookies so I had to go hunt up a […]

Candy Cane Cookies - Homemade Food Junkie

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

[…] may enjoy as well.  Almond Joy cookies, Reeses Pieces cookies. Spritz cookies, sugar cookies, and shortbread are in our archives if you’re interested! We also have a gluten free 3 ingredient Peanut […]

Heather @ new house new home

Thursday 5th of February 2015

Thanks for featuring my recipe and linking back to my blog. It's always exciting to see that others appreciate your work. Glad that the cookies turned out so well. Love the heart!!


Thursday 5th of February 2015

Heather we LOVE your recipe! Thanks for stopping by!


Monday 29th of December 2014

This is so creative recipe! I enjoy your site as usually:)


Monday 29th of December 2014

Thank you Dragona! These shortbread cookies are really fun and easy to make. Thank you for visiting!


Saturday 27th of December 2014

These are really so cute and sound delcious too. I love shortbread cookies! They are the pefect accompaniment to coffee or tea. Happy holidays Diane to you and your family!


Saturday 27th of December 2014

Happy Holidays Hadia! Thank you so much for the visit. These cookies were a real hit at our Christmas party. The grandkids loved them!

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