Irish Shortbread Cookies with a Secret for Easy Roll-Out

Sneak Preview: Irish Shortbread Cookies are classic shortbread cookies cut into shamrock shapes and glazed with green icing. Includes an easy roll-out secret for the dough.

Shamrock Shortbread Cookies - Plate of frosted green shamrock shortbread cookiesPin

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Do you celebrate holidays at your office with food? Somebody at my work decided we should all bring green food for a potluck in March. I threatened to bring a green salad. Then I remembered my favorite shortbread cookies.

Three Reasons You’ll Want To Make These Cookies

  1. You will need only a few ingredients and even less talent.  A miniature shamrock cookie cutter, green food coloring, shortbread cookie dough, and a simple frosting.  That’s it! 
  2. The best thing about these cookies, besides the fabulous flavor, is that they need no decorating.
  3. Rolling out the dough doesn’t have to be a sticky mess. That’s where this secret I learned from Dorie Greenspan comes into play.

Happy Bakers Speak Up

“I used to make and eat shortbread when I lived in England. This turned out to be the best! I chilled the dough overnight and made sure to not leave in the oven once a couple of the edges started turning golden brown. Perfection! Thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂” —JOANNA

How To Roll Out Irish Shortbread Cookies Using a Zippered Plastic Bag

shortbread cookie dough in a zippered plastic bagPin
Place the dough into a Ziploc bag and seal it.
rolling out shortbread cookie dough inside a Ziplock bag.Pin
Roll the dough to a uniform thickness that fills the entire bag.
Cookie dough ready to put in the freezer. Pin
Place the bag into the freezer and chill the dough until hard.
Frozen dough pressed flat into a ziplock bagPin
Remove frozen dough from the freezer.
peeling the plastic back from the doughPin
Uncover the dough by trimming two edges and unzipping the top of the bag. Pull back the plastic.

Open the bag on three sides and let your cookie-cutter go wild. Because the dough has been thoroughly chilled, the cut-out cookies are easy to pick up with your hands or peel off the plastic before transferring to a cookie sheet, ready to bake.

Cutting out Shamrock Shortbread Cookies with a cookie cutterPin
Use cookie cutters of choice to cut out cookies. You may need to use a toothpick or the dull point of a knife to extract small pieces i.e. legs, tails, stems, etc.

Here’s the best part…

Clean-up is as simple as throwing the bag away. No flour to sweep up. No sticky dough to scrape from your counter or cutting board.

Dorie’s technique is adaptable to almost any roll-out-the-dough-and-cut-into-a-shape recipe.  Give it a try!

WARNING: These shortbread cookies taste fantastic straight out of the freezer.  I suggest you double-wrap and hide them if your house has freezer moles.

Frosting Shamrock Shortbread Cookies with granddaughterPin
This is a fun cookie to make with kids. They will love eating them, too.

Parting Thoughts: I have a special place in my heart for iced cookies. If you like them too, check out these Simple Cinnamon Jumbles with Brown Butter Icing, Iced Oatmeal Cookies with Coffee Icing, and my Mini Black and White Cookies.

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

several shamrock iced shortbread cookies in a metal pan.Pin
Yield: 36

Irish Shortbread Cookies

Irish Shortbread Cookies are classic shortbread cookies cut into shamrock shapes and glazed with green icing. Use a Ziploc bag to roll out dough for easy clean-up.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 7 votes


Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (85 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


  • 2 cups (227 g) powdered sugar, sifted, if lumpy
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract optional
  • 2 + drops green food coloring


Cookie Dough

  • Combine 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature and 3/4 cup (85 g) powdered sugar into a large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  • Combine 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder in a separate bowl. Add slowly to the large bowl with butter using low speed. Stop beating as soon as the flour mixture is incorporated. Overbeating will result in toughness.
  • Form the dough into a slightly-flattened ball. Place into a zippered plastic bag. Chill about 30 minutes. With bag cracked open slightly to allow air to escape, roll dough until evenly distributed throughout bag. Place back into refrigerator until firm–at least another 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Can be frozen at this point.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F (177˚C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Remove cookie dough from fridge and carefully cut two sides of bag with kitchen shears or scissors, leaving one side intact. Lay top layer of plastic back and use cookie cutter to make cookies. Because the dough is cold and firm, they should peel off the plastic easily. Place onto prepared cookie sheet. Re-roll scraps after replacing plastic over top of new ball and refrigerate a few minutes until firm again. Repeat as needed until all dough is used.
  • Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until light brown around the edges. Time will vary greatly depending on the size and shape of cookies. Check early and often. Cool 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack and wait until cold before icing.


  • Whisk together the 2 cups (227 g) powdered sugar, sifted, if lumpy, 3 tablespoons milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract. If too thick, add more milk a few drops at a time. If too thin, add more powdered sugar or let sit for a while. Tint with 2 + drops green food coloring.
  • Ice cookies and allow to rest until dry. I prefer to turn cookies upside down and dip them into the icing just enough to cover the surface. Goes faster, although a little messy, until you get the hang of it. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or tightly wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for 1 month in the freezer.


Serving: 2cookies | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 6mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 79IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a

5-Star Ratings Are My Favorite!Help others find this recipe in search results on the web.

Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather Technique inspired by Dorie Greenspan.

Updated and republished in March 2019.

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Recipe Rating


  1. How many cookies does this make?

    1. Hi Brenda,
      It all depends on how big your cookie cutters are. This recipe makes enough dough to fill a one-gallon zip-lock bag. When you flatten the dough inside the bag, it is the perfect thickness for cookies. I recommend you take a look at one of those gallon bags and figure roughly how many cookies you could cut from that much dough.

  2. 5 stars
    Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness! I typed in “how to roll out shortbread dough” and there was my answer, right in your blog! I love shortbread cookies and my favorite recipe is Rosemary Shortbread. I’ve rolled out dozens over the years but those jagged edges and dough splitting drives me bonkers. I’m so excited that your shared your method and can hardly wait to try it!
    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Vicky,
      Thanks for writing. You made my day! Rosemary sounds fabulous in shortbread. Do you just chop up a little fresh rosemary and add it to a basic shortbread recipe?

  3. Can you split recipe ingredients by shortbread mix and icing, or state how much of each ingredient to include in the method (you have noted both 2 cups powdered sugar and 3/4 cups powdered sugar in ingredients list, but I don’t know which applies to which)

    1. Hi Aisling,

      I have corrected the recipe. I’m sorry it was confusing. Hope this is not too late.

  4. 5 stars
    I used to make and eat shortbread when I lived in England. This turned out to be the best! I chilled the dough overnight and made sure to not leave in the oven once a couple of the edges started turning golden brown. Perfection! Thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂

  5. Do you think these would work with peppermint extract in Christmas Shapes?

  6. Can’t wait to try these. I have sooo many ideas. Pink hearts as you mentioned for Valentines Day, lots of pastel eggs for easter. Red maple leaves for Canada Day, (or for my American friends red, white, and blue stars for July 4th) red orange yellow and brown leaves for back to school or Autumn. Brown turkeys and those previously mentioned leaves for Thanksgiving. How about white ghosts, yellow moons, black bats and orange pumpkins for Halloween. It’s endless.

  7. Update: I took a plate of the cookies to work in the ED tonight and everybody LOVED them! Definite success. 🙂

  8. I’ve been wanting to try this cookie recipe and I finally got around to it today. They were easy and tasty! Thanks for all the great recipes and pictures!

  9. What gorgeous cookies AND opening photo! Is that pie/tart pan? Stunning…. and who wouldn’t like this site? I think your co-workers are nuts… 🙂 Beautifully-glazed cookies – they’re perfection. I made sandwich cookies. Huge ones… not nearly as nice though!

  10. oh that’s what you needed the cake picture for! Cool! I love the farmhouse cake, so creative!

  11. Love your cute cookies, Paula. Your niece Gina’s wedding cake is incredible. Wow, so much talent!

  12. One word for these cookies….. FABULOUS!!!!
    And you know if I can do it, anybody can!
    I think they are the new official cookie of the Gainer Household. My kids prefer them without the icing, but I say keep the icing coming!
    I can’t stop eating them… to steal a quote from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb,
    “Cookies are a sometimes food. Cookies are a sometimes food….”

    1. Thanks Der. Glad they were a hit. Sounds like unsalted butter worked just fine. These definitely need to be a “sometimes food.” I eat way too many when they are in the house.

  13. Hi Paula

    Lovely looking shamrock cookies. What size of cutter did you use? The only one I can find in the UK is 12.5 cm (5 inches) which seems very large! Love the idea of the green icing. As always, marvellous!

  14. cute shamrocks! your photo of them is beautiful.

  15. Paula,
    I love this post!!! I always enjoy hearing about the family and seeing their many talents. I never knew your mom made cakes. That wedding cake Gina made, It was awesome!!! Right now though I would settle for one of or two of your cookies. Yum!

  16. TheKitchenWitch says:

    How did you know that I love shortbread cookies right out of the freezer?

    These cookies are adorable. Slainte!

  17. ha! We have freezer moles at my house. They have even learned that a wrapped package labeled Brussels Sprouts is probably not Brussels Sprouts 🙂

    Beautiful slide show of beautiful decorated cakes.
    The cookies look and sound delicious too! Pretty pastel green frosting.

    1. You are too clever–labeling cookies as Brussels Sprouts. I’m pretty sure that would work at my house–until they catch me eating a cookie and insist on knowing where I found it.

  18. Freezer moles and *get it done yesterday gene*…you are too funny. The cookies are too cute and I enjoyed the streaming video of all the cake bakers/decorators in your family. As good as your salad in a jar may be, I’m sure that your co-workers appreciated these little shamrock cookies even more.

    1. I’m not sure my co-workers appreciate salad in a jar. They just think I’m weird. 🙂

  19. Wow I love your cookies! I also have another question as I notice you use the same theme as I do for one of my blogs ( but I cannot get a good plugin for comments but yours seems just like the one I need. Can I ask which one you are using?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Simone, I use CommentLuv, ReplyMe and Akismet. Not sure exactly what you’re looking for but hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Thanks! That is exactly the info I needed (specifically the replyme one!)

  20. Love the pictures of the cookies and the cakes. Wish I had the “baking” energy that you have. But I thought you were making a cake today so am surprised to see the cookies. Oh… maybe the cake is coming up??

  21. Wow, those look so cute 🙂 I never thought of pressing the cookie dough out in a ziplock bag, what a neat idea!

  22. Kathy - Panini Happy says:

    These are so simple and festive for St. Patty’s Day!

  23. Love, love, love the slideshow!!!! We definitely have some talented people in our family!!!!!
    I plan on making these cookies this week… but I only have mickey mouse cookie cutter… I think that will work!

    1. Agreed on the family decorating talent. Mickey mouse will work just fine and I can imagine how tasty it will be to nibble on his ears.

  24. Kalynskitchen says:

    Your cookies are just adorable. I’m definitely not a cake or cookie decorator either, but the wedding cake is pretty impressive.

    1. Thanks Kalyn, Sounds like we are kindred spirits when it comes to decorating–lots of other areas too.

      How are you doing these days? Finding a new normal without our dads is difficult–don’t you think? Some days better than others. Same for you I suspect.

  25. Ok, I remember these cookies from your previous posts and am *so* making them for work this week. Timing of your post is perfect as I was looking for a good, easy green cookie to bring in. I will report back! Thanks for this one, Paula!

    1. Can’t wait to hear. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying your pound cake series.

  26. I really should invest in some food coloring. These sweet little bites would be a nice treat to send with my fiancée who has a cross-country flight on St. Patrick’s Day!



    1. I use the cheap food coloring from the grocery store although I’m told the paste is better. Your fiance will be thinking very nice things about you if you send these with him. Guarantee it.

      1. You are probably correct about that. Happy weekend to you and yours!