This Grand Adventure: Chelsa-Bea: Holiday Baking - Shortbread Sugar Cookies

December 3, 2013

Holiday Baking - Shortbread Sugar Cookies

Easy Shortbread Sugar Cookie Recipe. Perfect Holiday Cookies!

Welcome to December! The holiday season is in full swing at my house. The last few weeks I’ve been busy whipping up batch after batch of my favorite holiday treats to share with you! While I might be picky about what kinds of sweets I eat, I’m a sucker for a good Christmas cookie. I couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to some of my favorite holiday recipes. We’ve seriously gone through four pounds of butter in the last two weeks. Although, I’m not to sure I should admit that.

I want to kick off this holiday series with a family recipe for a simple and melt-in-your-mouth shortbread sugar cookie. Although this isn’t your traditional sugar cookie recipe, it’s the one I prefer. My mom’s been making this shortbread for over 30 years. I don’t have a clue where the recipe came from, except that it can be found a well-used index card inside her old recipe box.

Holiday Cookie Recipe |  Shortbread Sugar Cookies

This cookie couldn’t be simpler to make. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “baker” you could make these with ease. With less than five ingredients, it’s one of those things that can be whipped together in mid-November, then kept in an airtight container until you’re ready to enjoy. Since there is an incredible amount of butter in these mouthwatering-cookies, they will remain moist even with time. And, as my mother maintains, actually get better with age.

I like to keep a batch on hand during the holidays in case we have friends stop over for an evening cocktail and we want a little nibble, or if I need a little mid-afternoon indulgence with a cup of tea. Moreover, if you’re like us, and you’re family and friends live all over the country, these cookies are the perfect holiday gift to send through the mail. Because of their consistency, they hold their shape and ship beautifully.

Basically, these cookies are awesome, so get in the kitchen and make some! You can find a very amateur Instagram video-tutorial of the making of the shortbread here.

Holiday Baking |  Shortbread Sugar Cookies

Shortbread Sugar Cookies

Makes one 9x13 pan


1 1/8 cup sugar
4 sticks of butter (1 lbs.)
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt

Several tablespoon of crystallized ginger nibs (can be ordered from The Spice House)
Zest of one lemon or orange

To Make Shortbread Sugar Cookies 

Preheat oven 250°.

Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment.

Cream together 1-cup sugar and all butter. Once creamed together nicely, slowly add the flour, then the cornstarch and salt.

If adding, mix in ginger, lemon or orange zest. This recipe is best when you make it your own. Add the candied ginger, the lemon, orange zest or whatever additive you think might be delicious. Feel free to experiment. You probably can’t go wrong.

Pat it into baking pan.

Bake for 1 ½ hours at 250°.

Remove shortbread from the oven, but do not turn the oven off.

Cut into small bite size pieces, cutting down the middle then cutting across into section. Sprinkle cookies lightly with remaining sugar, until they are evenly coated. If you are feeling really fancy, feel free to use sanding sugar.

Turn the oven off. Place pan back in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and allow shortbread to cool, in pan, for 10-20 minutes. The cookies will be very fragile when they first come out of the oven and will easily fall apart if handled. Once cooled, they can be enjoyed and stored in an airtight container or are easily frozen and saved for a later date.

Enjoy, today with a cup of tea or a delicious holiday cocktail in the near future!


  1. should you butter/spray the pan before putting them in there to bake?

    1. Nicole, I actually lined the pan with parchment (which I'll add to the recipe). But I think if you don't need parchment, you would want to spray or butter the pan. Thanks for asking!

    2. thanks for the fast response! i used my better judgement and greased my pan :)

  2. Oh these look awesome! Can't wait to try them, I love simple delicious cookies, and your photos are so cute!

  3. Hello! I just made these tonight... they are now chilling, and I can't wait to try one! I experimented with some additions. I added a teaspoon of almond extract, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a dash of brandy. The raw dough tasted amazing and I'm hoping the finished product tastes just the same!

    1. This sounds so amazing! I will definitely need to try this!

  4. 1/2 cup corn starch? I don't bake much so just want to make sure I'm not going to mess these up.

    1. Yes, 1/2 cup corn starch. I know it sounds weird but it works! And tastes delicious! Hope you enjoy!

  5. Oh My Gosh! These are absolutely, melt in your mouth, undeniably AMAZING! I wish you had warned me that they are a "betchya can't eat just one" cookie! They were supposed to be for guests tomorrow. Thank on to your Cranberry Orange Coffeecake.

    1. Ha, Kim! I should have warned everyone that they are pretty addicting once you get started! Glad you enjoyed them so much! It makes me so happy!

  6. I have been looking for this cookie recipe for 30 years!! I made a batch for my Christmas tins and my mom and aunt ate so many while we baked that I had to make another batch! Happy New Year and a million thank u's Chelsea!

    1. Mrs. King, thank you so much for the kind words! Makes me happy that you enjoyed them so much!

  7. I absolutely love this recipe. However, I have baked them twice now in my oven, following the recipe to a T and they are MUSH when they come out. I am not sure what I am doing wrong. I have ended up putting them back in the oven for an extra hour, then having them sit again in the oven for another hour after it is turned off.....any suggestions??

  8. Can these be decorated with icing / candy coating?

  9. Oh my, this is such a simple recipe! Even a first-time baker could make these easily. I sprayed my pan because I didn't have parchment paper. Worked beautifully. I have to say that these are the best shortbread cookies/bars that I have ever had! I truly adore shortbread so I enjoy coming across a simple but delicious recipe. Enjoy!!