Easy Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe

'Tis the season to bake shortbread, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! Although cookies aren't the reason for the season, they are a major part of it, and we have a truly sweet treat to share with you. Recipe developer and food photographer Kate Shungu from Gift of Hospitality is serving up a simple cookie recipe anyone can master. Shungu raves about the ease of preparing these festive delights. "I love how easy [shortbread] cookies are to make, and how buttery they are! They're really delicious with a cup of coffee," she says.

If you're unaware of the background behind the shortbread cookie, then let us fill you in. History holds it that Queen Mary of Scotland received credit for this adapted cookie, and it made its genesis in the early 16th century (via English Tea Store). Shortbread became a part of Scottish tradition. Apparently, it's eaten on New Year's Eve rather than Yule Cakes to commemorate an old pagan ritual (via English Tea Store). Short of yeast and filled with butter (or shortening), out came the decadent shortbread we know and love today. "Shortbread is made without eggs and without any type of leavening, like baking soda and baking powder. As a result, they don't rise, but instead hold their shape and remain crisp after baking," says Shungu. 

If you're ready to embrace this tasty tradition in your own home, it's time to grab the baking mitts, and get started!

Gather the ingredients for Christmas shortbread cookies

These shortbread cookies are perfect for anyone who has a jam-packed schedule, because they don't require a ton of ingredients or prep work. You heard that right! This recipe has only six components to it. So, this should be a quick grocery store run. 

You'll need 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened), ⅔ cup of white granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon of almond extract, ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, and ¼ cup sprinkles. Shungu notes, "I used jimmies for this recipe, but you could also use nonpareils (which are the tiny ball-shaped sprinkles)."

Mix together the batter

To begin this recipe, you'll first want to preheat your oven at 325 F. Separately, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the softened, unsalted butter with your white sugar. Beat them together on high for about two to three minutes. The end result should give a light and fluffy texture. Next, stir in the almond extract and salt.

No rolling pin, no problem! We're sure you'll enjoy this quick method, because, as Shungu says, "The dough doesn't require any chilling or rolling, which makes this shortbread much easier than many recipes."

Add the flour and sprinkles

Once the dough begins to take shape, add half of the flour into the mixer with the butter and sugar. Combine them until the dough comes out light and crumbly. Continue to add in the remaining flour, and don't forget the sprinkles! Mix the ingredients until the dough barely sticks together. That's when you'll know you're done. 

Shungu confirms the crumbly texture is ideal. She says, "The dough should just hold together when finished."

Pat and poke the cookie dough

Before baking, your final step is to take out a 9x9-inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, and pat the dough into one thick layer inside the paper. Use a fork to prick the top of dough. Make prints all over the dough, making a pattern, if you'd like. 

You may wonder why the pricking. Our developers do all things with intention. Shungu says, "Pricking the dough with a fork ensures that the butter doesn't bubble up when baking. It results in shortbread cookies with a smooth top."

Bake until brown, cut, and serve

Slide the baking pan into the oven, and bake these sweet treats for 30 to 35 minutes. Before taking them out, they should be golden brown along the edges. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool completely. 

Using the parchment paper, pull the baked cookie dough from the pan, and cut it into even squares. And there you are! These are simple to make, eat, and store. "The shortbread cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. After that, they will start to get hard and dry," Shungu says. She also mentions that these beauties are freezer-friendly. They will freeze just fine, and they won't ice over. "You can also freeze them for up to one month," and let them thaw at room temperature.

Surely, you'll relish the sweetness of the season as you savor this Christmas shortbread cookie flavor. From our family to yours!

Easy Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe
5 from 84 ratings
These Christmas shortbread cookies are a cinch to make. They're incredibly buttery and will look oh-so festive on your holiday table.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Shortbread cookie
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Christmas sprinkles
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the almond extract and salt.
  4. Add ½ of the flour, and mix until just combined.
  5. Add the remaining flour and sprinkles, and mix until the dough just holds together.
  6. Pat the dough into a 9x9-inch pan. Prick the dough with a fork all over, making a pattern, if you'd like.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.
  8. Cool completely, then remove from the pan, and cut into squares.
Calories per Serving 203
Total Fat 11.7 g
Saturated Fat 7.3 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 30.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 23.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Total Sugars 11.5 g
Sodium 74.7 mg
Protein 1.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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