Made with just 5 ingredients, these Shortbread Cookies are perfectly sweet and full of buttery flavor. The perfect cookies to pair with a cup of tea, coffee, or hot cocoa. Dust them with powdered sugar or serve with strawberry or raspberry jam for extra sweetness.
The Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe
This shortbread cookie recipe is your classic cookie recipe – but better! Instead of chilling the dough and slicing it into rectangles or circles, I use a cookie press for adorable cookies (they remind me of a flower, honestly). Plus, these are baked just long enough to lightly brown around the edges so they stay a little softer in the middle.
But they still have that melt-in-your-mouth crisp texture that makes shortbread cookies unique and they’re the perfect balance of sweet and buttery without being TOO sweet. I think you’re going to love these little gems!
Shortbread Cookies vs Sugar Cookies vs Butter Cookies
Shortbread cookies, sugar cookies, and butter cookies…three classic Christmas cookies that have a similar appearance and even share some common ingredients but are definitely not the same!
Butter cookies and shortbread cookies are very similar but butter cookies are made with more sugar and baked at a higher temperature. Butter cookie dough is very versatile and can be scooped, rolled and sliced, or even cut out. The baked cookies are firm and do not crumble.
Sugar cookies are, of course, another Christmas staple. Unlike shortbread cookies, they’re made with a leavening agent and are usually soft, chewy, and light while shortbread are quite dense and contain no leavening agent.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make the Shortbread Cookie Press Cookies (the exact measurements and full recipe instructions are below in the printable recipe card):
- Butter – I used salted butter and did not add any additional salt to the recipe. If you use unsalted butter, you may want to add a pinch of salt.
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract – Using a good, pure vanilla extract is key to making the best shortbread cookies. When there are so few ingredients, the quality of each one is important!
- All-purpose flour
- Milk – I like to use whole milk for baking, but you can use any milk you prefer.
- Cookie Press – This is how I make the beautiful design you see in the photos.
How to Make Shortbread Cookies
These classic Christmas cookies are super easy to make, especially since we’re using a cookie press. That means no scooping, slicing, or cutting!
- Make the dough. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add in the flour, stirring until the dough comes together. Stir in the milk.
- Press the cookies. Transfer the dough to the cookie press. Press onto an un-greased, un-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake. Bake for 6 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.
Can I Make The Dough In Advance?
Yes, shortbread cookie dough is great for making in advance. Prepare as directed then wrap tightly and keep in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze it for up to a month, just be sure to wrap it tightly to prevent freezer burn.
Tips for the Best Shortbread Cookies
Here are a few tips for making this easy cookie recipe.
- Every ingredient counts. With so few ingredients used, the quality of each one matters – especially for the vanilla and the butter.
- Leave just an inch between cookies. These cookies don’t spread a ton while baking so there’s no need to leave the typical 2-3 inches between cookies. 1 inch will do.
- Do not spray the baking sheet. Unlike most cookie recipes, there’s no need to spray the baking sheet or use parchment paper. You won’t have an issue with these sticking to the pan.
- Don’t overbake. These cookies require just 6 minutes in the oven. The edges should be just lightly brown. Be sure to transfer to a wire cooling rack, so they don’t continue cooking too much on the baking sheet.
Can You Decorate Shortbread Cookies?
Shortbread cookies aren’t typically decorated in the same way that sugar cookies are but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy them plain. (Though they’re delicious that way too, of course.) Here are a few ideas:
- Dust with powdered sugar
- Add a bit of strawberry or raspberry jam to the center
- Dip half into melted chocolate (and, optionally, add sprinkles)
- Top with sprinkles or coarse salt before baking
The Perfect Cookie for Gifting
One great thing about shortbread cookies is that they’re incredibly hardy and A) stay fresh longer than most cookies and B) hold up well for transporting. Since they’re already a bit crisp, there’s no need to worry about them staying soft or drying out, like you would with other cookies.
That means they’re one of the best cookies for gifting. You can simply pack them into a cookie tin or a large glass jar, attach a small card, and gift. Perfect for teachers, friends, coworkers, and family members!
These are also good cookies for shipping, if you want to brighten the day of a faraway loved one.
How to Store
As mentioned above, these cookies will last for about a week at room temperature. Keep them in an airtight container or ziploc bag on the counter.
Can I Freeze Homemade Shortbread Cookies?
Absolutely. Just place them in a freezer safe container after they’ve cooled completely. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw on the counter and enjoy.
More Easy Cookie Recipes:
- Zucchini Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Dark Chocolate Cookies
- Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies
- 4-Ingredient Almond Joy Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Add the flour and mix until the dough comes together, then add the milk and stir until combined.
- Scoop the dough into a cookie press. Press the cookies out onto an un-greased, un-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1-inch between each cookie.
- Bake the cookies at 350ºF for about 6 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool.
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- Cookie Press