Christmas Shortbread Cookies with the Ultimate Holiday Garnish

Christmas Shortbread Cookies are gorgeous and they taste amazing because they have that classic and unmistakable shortbread flavor.

shortbread cookies decorated for Christmas on a serving tray

Christmas is the best time of year for cookies. Cookies of course are not seasonal. However, there is some sense of seasonality that goes with making home-baked cookies. Especially when you are more focused on decorating said cookies.

Whether it’s sprinkles or icing you use to top your delicious baked goods, it seems like from gingerbread men to other shapes and types of cookies you can find them warming kitchens everywhere during the chilly winter nights. Who doesn’t have a tableful of gingersnaps, raspberry thumbprint cookies, sprinkle covered sugar cookies, and– my favorite– Christmas shortbread cookies in the month of December?

Christmas Shortbread cookies with Icing

Christmas shortbread cookies with icing are gorgeous and they taste amazing because they have that classic and unmistakable shortbread flavor. For my shortbread lovers out there, you have got to try this recipe. It will become a holiday tradition in the years to follow! First, let me share a little bit of information about shortbread, how you make it and what makes these Christmas shortbread cookies so special.

a closeup of Christmas Shortbread Cookies

How to Make Shortbread

Shortbread is so great tasting you might never believe that it really only takes three ingredients to make. What’s really important is how you use them. Unsurprisingly, these tasty Christmas shortbread cookies use quite a lot of butter. It’s the main source of the flavor. Some even say you can improve the overall taste of your shortbread if you use a particular kind of butter (European style) but we aren’t going to go that far.

Cream the butter with sugar. The sugar to butter ratio should be 1:2. That means twice as much butter as there is sugar. You can smoothly blend these two ingredients in about two minutes with a stand mixer. There is more to this recipe below of course, but all you need next to make it a proper shortbread is flour. Good old all-purpose flour will do. You don’t need cake flour, which some people want to do because they feel like all-purpose seems too “general use.” Cake flour, however, is not the right kind while all-purpose flour (as the name implies) works quite nicely.

shortbread dough rolled out

Additional Suggestions for making the best Christmas shortbread cookies

Use salted butter. If you can’t find it, or don’t have it and want to use the butter you’ve got at home, just add a pinch of salt before creaming it.

When you cream the butter, make sure the butter is still cool to the touch, but workable. You want it to be on the cold side of room temperature. It sounds a little bit extra, but it makes a big difference.

Another ingredient tip that can make a difference is swapping the regular sugar with powdered sugar. Regular white sugar works great, but if you are out to buy these ingredients, powdered sugar is another option. There are even some shortbread recipes that call for brown sugar and that honestly sounds amazing, even though I haven’t tried it yet.

Sift your flour into the mixing bowl and mix the dough just enough to get a smooth texture. If you don’t want the cookies to spread in the oven, chill them for up to one hour in the refrigerator. You can also roll them into a log before doing this and cut the log into cookie rounds instead of rolling the dough and using a cookie cutter.

The History and Origin of Shortbread

The reason we think of shortbread cookies as a festive treat may be because traditionally shortbread has been considered expensive and used only for special occasions. According to Heritage Shortbread, some traditions involving shortbread are breaking it over the head of a bride before entering her new home. You would also offer shortbread to the first person who enters your home in the new year. This special guest was known as “the footer”

The website also states that shortbread came about in medieval Scotland and is one of the country’s most popular and well-known dishes. Originally, shortbread was made with old bread, baked again with sugar and seasonings. Over time the bread was made with more butter and less yeast which made it more like the cookie we are familiar with today.

Traditional shortbread would come in one of three ways: a round, a finger, or a wedge– also known as a petticoat tail– cut up from a larger circle.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies with a silver tray of cookies in background

Classic Christmas Cookies

There are a few types of cookies that I would call Christmas classics. There’s gingerbread (obviously), especially when it is used to make little dolls or a house. There are raspberry thumbprint cookies as well. Those Swedish cookies and the Danish ones too are right up there with shortbread cookies as the most traditional. Though sugar cookies also make the list, it’s the shortbread that feels the most like the holidays for me. That’s why I enjoy making these Christmas shortbread cookies and dressing them up in melted white chocolate and the most delightful holiday sprinkles.


Christmas Shortbread Cookies on a tray

Hand-Dipped Perfection

This recipe is really easy to make and the white chocolate melts easily in the microwave. I like this method because it is fast and effective. It doesn’t require a stovetop or additional pots. However, if you prefer to use a double boiler you can. If you don’t have a double boiler, I don’t recommend trying to fashion one out of what you’ve got. It’s unnecessary and messy and potentially dangerous. Just use the microwave. Trust me. It works!

A sliver tray with Christmas Shortbread Cookies

The Best  Christmas Garnish

The thing that tops this cookie off for me is the special sprinkles I use. They look like holly berries and they are so cute. They make the Christmas shortbread cookies look as incredible as they taste. Also, they are so stylish! I love serving them to people because their elegance is really impressive at Christmas parties. You can find these Christmas sprinkles at stores or online. They are fairly common and made by Wilton, so they are easy to find. Here is a link to for the exact holly sprinkle mix.


Christmas Lights Cookies 

Maraschino Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies 

Copycat DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

shortbread cookies decorated for Christmas on a serving tray

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Christmas Shortbread Cookies are gorgeous and they taste amazing because they have that classic and unmistakable shortbread flavor.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 40 Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup White Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups White Candy Melts or White Almond Bark
  • 1/3 cup Christmas Sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and then slowly beat in the flour until just incorporated.
  • Fold the dough out onto a floured surface. Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and roll out until 1/4" thickness.
  • Use a round cookie cutter and cut out 40 cookies, re-rolling the dough as needed.
  • Place the cut cookies on the prepared baking sheets, about 1" apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  • Allow the cookies to cool as you melt the white candy melts.
  • Melt candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl for 25 seconds. Stir and reheat as needed.
  • Dip each cookie individually in the melted candy melts, covering up to one half of each cookie.
  • Place cookie back on the cookie sheets and decorate with Christmas sprinkles as desired.
  • Allow candy melts to set before storing or serving.

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