Shortbread - Simply the Best Holiday Cookie Ever

Fabulous Shortbread cookies

The shortbread cookie is often known for its crumbly texture and the high amount of shortening that is used to make the treat. This is a cookie that is a Scottish favorite. The first cookies were made in the 12th century with the invention being attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots. Her recipe in the 16th century closely resembles cookies that are made today. Many shortbread recipes are used to make Christmas cookies as the texture is pliable enough to shape into Christmas designs and holds up well to icing and other decorations. Shortbread was once a luxury and a special treat for ordinary people who couldn't afford some of the finer things that the upper classes had to enjoy. 

Basic Shortbread Recipe

There are a few shortbread recipes that you can use when you want to create the golden dessert. However, it's best to stick with a simply recipe that isn't hard to mess up and that will give you the beautiful texture and flavors that you desire with the cookie. It only takes about four ingredients and a little over an hour to finish combining and baking. After your cookies are out of the oven, you can decorate them so that you have a beautiful platter of Christmas cookies to serve at a party, enjoy with the family or give as gifts. 

The first thing you want to do is preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine two cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar in a bowl. Pour these ingredients into a food processor, pulsing until they are gently blended. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and one cup of softened butter. You also want to add a teaspoon of water. The dough shouldn't be too watery because the cookies won't hold their shape when they are placed on the baking sheet. It's better to have them a little drier than anything else so that they will have the dense texture that shortbread cookies are known for without them being too crunchy. 

Place the dough onto a cookie sheet, and roll it out flat. Then, roll the dough into a log, wrapping it in plastic wrap before placing in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. After this time, remove the dough so that you can cut it into even slices. Place the cookies about two inches apart so that they have a bit of room to expand. Bake for 12 minutes, letting cool completely before decorating. If you store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they will usually stay fresh for about a week. 


  1. two cups of all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  3. 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar
  4. teaspoon of vanilla
  5. teaspoon of water
  6. one cup of softened butter



Decorating Ideas

One of the fun things that you can do with shortbread cookies is to decorate them for holidays, especially Christmas. There's nothing like getting up in the morning to enjoy a shortbread cookie with coffee or enjoying the cookies with hot chocolate while looking at the tree with the rest of the family. You can shape the cookies into images that look like trees, snowflakes, reindeer and more before baking them to make them a little easier to decorate as you'll have lines in place to follow with the cookie. 

A mitten is easy to make when it comes to cookies, and it's even easier to decorate. Use a tube of red icing to outline and fill the cookie. You can use another color if you don't like red, possibly letting your children decorate their own with their favorite color. Add edible snowflakes across the bottom and sugar crystals on top of the icing in the same color. This will give the appearance that there is wool on the mitten. 

If you make snowflakes, you can use white icing to make a design so that each cookie is different. Sprinkle with white, silver or blue sugar crystals. Christmas trees are usually the cookie that is the most fun to make. Spread a layer of green icing on the cookie before getting to work decorating with colored sprinkles, small gumdrops and other colorful candies so that your tree is unique. The same can be done with snowman cookies. Spread white icing on the cookie before decorating with a thin line of colored icing for a scarf and sprinkles for the hat. 

There are many other designs that you can create with the shortbread cookie for Christmas. From a beautiful wonderland with snow, cardinals and a red bow to candy canes or red and white, you'll find that decorating these cookies for Christmas is a tradition that you can enjoy with your family for years to come. Consider adding a few other ingredients to the cookie dough if you want them to have a festive taste, such as peppermint or a bit of cocoa for a hot chocolate taste to the cookies.