holiday shortbread cookies

wanna impress your friends/coworkers/family/significant others with the easiest and least time consuming cookie recipe ever?

then whip up a batch of shortbread. butter + sugar + flour + mixins. and make them holiday by mixing in white chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistachios. that's it. virtually impossible to screw up.

notice i said virtually impossible. because yes, you can screw these up. how? by being in such a holiday rush that you turn your oven on to broil instead of bake. and not notice until you've baked two sheet pans of cookies. and only figured it out when the bottoms of them aren't cooked. so pay attention this time of year. mistakes happen to the best of us.

cranberry, pistachio & white chocolate shortbread cookies
adapted from ina garten
30 minutes, plus chilling, makes 3 1/2 - 4 dozen

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup roughly chopped pistachios
1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. mix in the vanilla extract.
  2. in a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour and salt.
  3. add the flour & salt to the butter mixture. mix on low speed until it just starts to come together. add the cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate a half a cup at a time until it's incorporated. mix until the dough forms a ball.
  4. roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter (roll it wider or skinnier depending on how big you want your cookies). roll the log in some wax paper.
  5. chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  6. preheat the oven to 350F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  7. slice the log into 1/4 inch slices. place the slices on the sheet pan. they don't spread much, so they can be pretty close together.
  8. bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown.
  9. remove from the pan and cool to room temp.


  1. These are delicious!! Made them yesterday. They are so buttery and flavorful, and I'm looking forward to bringing them to holiday parties.
    My only suggestion is to make a couple logs that are maybe 1.5" diameter. This should make them easier to cut through without the dough crumbling, and allows for smaller cookies (they are very rich). That way, you can eat more of them :)

  2. Mine are so dry the log won't stay together at all...even after being in the fridge....any suggestions?

    1. Add a little more softned butter until it holds together.

    2. I know that the instructions say to mix 'until it just starts to come together' but this is a shortbread recipe and shortbread should be kneaded (on a very lightly floured surface) for up to 10 minutes, and the longer that you knead it, the better it will be. You don’t want the mixture to become too warm from your body heat whilst kneading so you may need to put it into the fridge for a few minutes to chill it slightly before resuming. The kneading process really does help to bind the dry mix without recourse to additional butter or any liquid.

  3. i have two suggestions for too dry cookie dough. first, try crumbling it in a bowl and mix in a tablespoon or so of softened butter. mix it really well - this should be enough butter to hold it together. my other suggestion - and i've done this before, when my dough was too dry to roll - is put the dough in a bowl and with your mixer on, add water, maybe a teaspoon at a time, being sure to mix well after each addition, until it comes together. you shouldn't need much water. good luck!

  4. I love these cookies! They are so festive and delicious! I made them over the weekend and everyone enjoyed them! I blogged about them today.

  5. My friend made me a batch of these for Christmas this year. I hid them from my family!!! I just finished the last one a couple of days ago and then begged my friend for the recipe.

    Thank you!!

  6. These look great! Do you think they could be frozen in logs like icebox cookies?

    1. I don't see why not. to be perfectly honest, i have a frozen log of shortbread flavored with grapefruit zest in the freezer to bake up sometime. i plan to put it in the fridge a day or two i bake it so it warms up to fridge temp for baking. i expect it to be fine.

      the only thing you might risk is soggy nuts! the pistachios might lose some of their crunch if they're in the dough for a long time.

  7. I just finished baking these cookies to send in a care package to my husband in Afghanistan and they are SO SO good! I think I'll have to make another batch to keep for myself! I had a bit of trouble cutting them without crumbling, so I just rolled them out and used a cookie cutter. That worked fine for me. Thank you for this recipe, I think it'll be a standby Christmas cookie from now on! :)

  8. So excited to make these cookies for my co-workers.

  9. I'm going to make these this week. Does anyone have a suggestion on the pistachio's? Salted or Unsalted? The recipe doesn't say. Unsalted makes sense to me, but I'm having a hard time finding them.

  10. i only have pecans or walnuts would either work?

    1. either would work, they just won't taste the same as pistachios. (i'm not a fan of walnuts!)

  11. I have made these every year for the past several years and they are so delicious and easy. They are so rich, they taste like you spent hours making them!

  12. Every year, I go to a cookie swap party. This year, someone brought these and I lost my MIND. I have a batch in the fridge now! Thanks for such a great recipe! (I love cookies and blog intermittently over at www.missmenagerie.com.)

  13. I make these EVERY YEAR to take to my friends on my Christmas trip. I don't think they would let me in the door without them.


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