Classic Shortbread Cookies

These Easy Shortbread Cookies are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with that classic sweet and buttery flavor. Sprinkled with sugar and dipped in chocolate, they make an excellent addition to your holiday cookie tray!

A close-up shot of chocolate covered shortbread cookies arranged on a white plate

Easy Shortbread Cookies for Christmas

There’s never an inappropriate time to make shortbread cookies. They’re quick and easy enough for a last-minute dessert, but you can also dress them up and turn them into a festive holiday treat. This recipe makes classic shortbread cookies with a chocolate twist!

I love how long these cookies can be stored for. It really comes in handy when you have a bunch of Christmas desserts to eat your way through. It also makes them a wonderful gift option – one that’s easy and inexpensive, yet full of homemade charm. With their vanilla flavor and chewy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, these chocolate-covered cookies will be a hit!

What is the Difference Between a Sugar Cookie and a Shortbread Cookie?

While sugar cookies and shortbread cookies both rely heavily on butter and sugar, they’re quite different in terms of both taste and preparation. Shortbread cookies are a bit less sweet, they require fewer ingredients and have a denser texture from the lack of a leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder. Sugar cookies are more of an American thing, but shortbread cookies are a popular treat across the globe!

A plate of six shortbread cookies on top of a white marble countertop

Recipe Ingredients

This dessert has a short and simple ingredient lineup, in true shortbread cookie fashion. Here’s what you’ll need:

Unsalted Butter: Brought to room temperature.
Powdered Sugar: This is what makes the cookies melt in your mouth.
Salt: To balance out the sweetness.
Vanilla Extract: Be sure to use a high-quality extract for the best flavor.
All-Purpose Flour: For structure.
Sugar: Sprinkling some sugar over your shortbread cookies helps them develop that crisp exterior.
Chocolate Candiquick (Optional): Or another melting chocolate of choice. You’ll need 4-6 ounces, depending on whether or not you’d like to add chocolate to every cookie.

How to Make Classic Shortbread Cookies

You don’t have to spend a bunch of time or effort on these cookies. Preparation takes just a few minutes, and the dough only needs to chill for half an hour!

Make the Cookies

Beat Butter & Sugar: Beat the butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

Add Salt & Vanilla: Mix in the salt and vanilla extract.

Add Flour: Slowly add in the flour and mix until the dough is well combined.

Chill: Shape the dough into a disc and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to bake.

Heat Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roll Out Dough: Roll out the dough until it’s slightly less than half an inch thick. You may need to let it come to room temperature first. I don’t use flour or anything to roll out the dough – I just roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper.

a disc of rolled out shortbread dough on top of a white surface

Shape & Dock: Cut the cookies into shapes of your desired size (I make mine 1×3-inch rectangles). Use a toothpick to poke holes in each cookie.

A pastry cutter slicing out rectangle shapes from the slab of cookie dough

Add Sugar: Sprinkle about half a teaspoon of sugar onto each cookie.

Sugar being sprinkled over twelve docked sections of dough on a lined baking sheet

Bake: Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden. Refrigerate additional cookies until the first batch is baked. If your cookies are thicker than I make mine, you may need to bake them for longer.

Let Cool: Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Freshly-baked shortbread cookies lined up on a silpat-lined baking sheet

Add the Chocolate

  1. Melt Chocolate: Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, mixing after each interval and reducing the microwave time as needed so the chocolate doesn’t burn. If you have a candy melting pot, you can use that instead.
  2. Add to Cookies: Once the chocolate is melted and the cookies have cooled completely, drizzle the chocolate over your cookies. Alternatively, you can dip each cookie halfway into the melted chocolate.
  3. Let Set: Place the cookies onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow the chocolate to set.
A platter full of rectangular shortbread cookies with some dipped in chocolate and others plain

Tips for Success

Listed below are a few important tips to keep in mind when you’re whipping up these classic cookies. Be sure to give them a read!

  • Use Room Temperature Butter: If your butter is cold, you won’t be able to properly combine it with the other ingredients. Set it out on the counter a couple hours before you start making your dough. If you cut the butter up, it will soften more quickly.
  • Don’t Forget to Dock: Poking small holes into your cookies with a toothpick allows the steam to escape from them as they bake. This is known as docking, and it helps your cookies hold their shape. It also adds to the classic shortbread look.
  • Do I Really Have to Chill the Dough? Yes. For several reasons reasons. One, the chilling process stabilizes the butter, which prevents spreading from occurring. Two, the dough is far easier to work with after chilling. Three, the moisture sets in the dry ingredients and gives a more tender cookie.
  • Keep the Second Batch Refrigerated: If you’re unable to bake all 20 cookies at once, remember to keep the second batch in the fridge while the first one is in the oven. This ensures that the cookies will not spread as much.
  • Roll the Dough Out between Parchment Paper: This way you don’t add extra flour. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and it’s far less mess and things don’t stick.
Six shortbread cookies in two separate stacks on top of a piece of parchment paper

Variation Ideas

Shortbread cookies can go from classic to creative in tons of different ways. If you want to add some more spunk than a little melted chocolate, check out the variations below!

  • Add Pecans: Chopped and toasted pecans make a lovely addition to these shortbread cookies. They add a nice crunch and tons of flavor! You can also use another toasted nut of choice.
  • Use a Different Extract: If you’d like to infuse your cookies with a flavor other than vanilla, simply switch up the extract you use. Almond and lemon are both great options!
  • Add Sprinkles: Adding festive sprinkles to your shortbread dough is a simple way to dress up these cookies for Christmas or another holiday. You could also sprinkle them onto the chocolate before it sets.
  • Make Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies: If you really want to go all out with the Christmas spirit, I recommend making my easy Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies!
A serving platter full of shortbread cookies with a small bowl of Christmas sprinkles in the background

How to Store Chocolate Covered Shortbread Cookies

These cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature once the chocolate has set completely. They’ll last that way for up to a week!

If you’d like to store them for a few extra days, you can transfer them to the refrigerator. If you do this, I suggest bringing them to room temperature before chowing down.

Can I Freeze These?

Yes – if desired, you can freeze your shortbread cookies for up to a month. Place them in a freezer-safe container or a storage bag with all the air squeezed out. If your cookies are covered in chocolate, I recommend layering them between pieces of parchment or wax paper to prevent sticking.

Thaw out frozen shortbread cookies in the fridge before serving them. Bring them to room temperature before enjoying.

Print
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A close-up shot of chocolate covered shortbread cookies arranged on a white plate
Recipe

Classic Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 20
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Scottish

Description

These Easy Shortbread Cookies are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with that classic sweet and buttery flavor. Sprinkled with sugar and dipped in chocolate, they make an excellent addition to your holiday cookie tray!


Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (58g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (195g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar, for sprinkling
  • 46 oz chocolate candiquick (or similar baking/melting chocolate)
  • Sprinkles, optional

Instructions

Make the Cookies

  1. Beat the butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
  2. Add the salt and vanilla extract and until well combined.
  3. Slowly add in the flour and mix until the dough is well combined. Don’t over mix.
  4. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to bake.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Roll out the dough until it’s slightly less than half an inch thick. You may need to let it come to room temperature first. I roll mine out between two pieces of parchment paper, which are non-stick and don’t require using additional flour.
  7. Cut the cookies into shapes of your desired size (I make mine 1×3-inch rectangles). Use a toothpick to score the cookies.
  8. Sprinkle a little sugar onto each cookie.
  9. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until done but not golden. Refrigerate additional cookies until the first batch is baked. If your cookies are thicker than I make mine, you may need to bake them for longer.
  10. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Add the Chocolate (Optional)

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, mixing after each interval, until melted and smooth.
  2. Dip each cookie halfway into the melted chocolate, then add some sprinkles, if desired.
  3. Place the cookies onto a sheet of parchment and allow the chocolate to set.

Keywords: shortbread christmas cookies, chocolate dipped cookies, cookies for santa

More Christmas Cookies to Try

Every celebration deserves a decadent batch of cookies. The following recipes will have everyone crowding around the dessert table!

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Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12