Simple Shortbread Cookies for Big-Time Events

Every year, a few pals of mine gather together, sip hot cocoa, and sample each other’s homemade holiday cookies, taking home each other’s leftovers. I find myself being invited to participate in these cookie events with increasing frequency, and this year I needed a recipe that would be manageable when scaling up to make 10 dozen cookies.

I found the perfectly scalable recipe with shortbread cookies.

Shortbread is a simple, buttery, unleavened cookie which is traditionally made from butter, sugar, and flour. It has so few ingredients, and mixes up with such ease, that it’s perfect for your big cookie events. You can roll out the dough and cut in into shapes, or you can ball the dough and make dome-shaped cookies. The ingredients are simple, and the dough is extremely versatile, but the best part is how much folks will enjoy them—sweet, buttery, and slightly crisp, they’re always a hit. You can even use local ingredients like Hope Creamery butter and Dakota Maid flour to make shortbread that’s more unique to our region.

Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cut-outs or 5 dozen dome-shaped cookies

3 ½ cups flour
1 lb. butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. corn starch
Sprinkles for decorating (optional)
Crushed pecans (optional)

In a bowl, whisk the flour with the salt and corn starch. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract and the crushed pecans. Gently stir in the flour mixture until incorporated—don’t mix it any longer than necessary to incorporate the flour. I use my stand mixer, but you could use a handheld mixer as well.

Once the flour is mixed in, divide the dough into four even parts. Flatten the dough into disk shapes, seal them in a bowl or with plastic wrap and let the dough chill until firm (about an hour).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle of the oven.

For cut-outs: On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. I like to mix a bit of powdered sugar in with my rolling-out flour for extra sweetness. Trim the edges of the dough.


For simple shapes, cut into squares, triangles, or parallelograms using a pizza cutter. You can also use cookie cutters to cut shapes.

For dome-shaped: Use a tablespoon to form round dough balls and place them on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.


Place cookies on baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.)

You can sprinkle with decorative sugar before baking, or dust with powdered sugar after baking. You can also dip these bad boys in chocolate after baking.


Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

If cooking the dough as balls, toss them in powdered sugar while they’re still warm so it sticks.

Shortbread cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a week, or they can be frozen.

It seems the variations are endless with this versatile dough. Have a shortbread variation that you love? Please share it!