Sneak Preview: These Simple Iced Shortbread Cookies are irresistible with a thin layer of icing that hardens slightly as it dries–no mess. Check out the clever trick for rolling out the dough and cutting it into shapes without losing your mind.
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What if you could make cut-out shortbread cookies that didn’t make a big mess on your kitchen counter? Try this neat-as-a-pin method to roll out the shortbread and cut it into shapes like these butterflies.
Like most people, I reserve cut-out cookies (biscuits) for holiday celebrations. But, unfortunately, they seemed like a lot of trouble until I found this solution.
Happy Bakers Speak Up:
I’ve made this receive 3x in 3 days. Totally in love. My very picky eater may actually gain weight with these in the house as a reward. Delicious! — HEATHER
Ingredients and Substitutions
- BUTTER: Salted and unsalted butter are both excellent choices. Margarine will not give you the same cookie you see here.
- POWDERED SUGAR: Powdered sugar (aka confectioner’s or icing sugar) contributes to the melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes these cookies popular. If you don’t have access to powdered sugar, try making it with granulated sugar and a blender.
- VANILLA EXTRACT: A tiny amount of almond extract could be substituted for vanilla extract. Maple extract has its fans, too.
- BAKING POWDER: Baking powder has no substitute. Please don’t use baking soda.
- FLOUR: My favorite flour for this recipe is unbleached all-purpose flour. Next in line is bleached all-purpose flour
- MILK: Whole milk works best in icing for shortbread cookies, but reduced-fat milk is OK, too. Although I love to use heavy cream in icing, it’s not the best for cookies because it doesn’t set up as fast.
- FOOD COLORING: This is optional, of course. The paste or the liquid is appropriate. However, start with only a drop or two in the beginning so you don’t ruin an entire batch of icing with too much color.
Do These Cookies Seem Intimidating? Keep Reading
Sticky dough, cleaning up the sticky dough, getting the shaped sticky dough unstuck from whatever you’re rolling them on, transferring the cookie to a cookie sheet, etc. Ugh!
In addition, these cookies beg to be frosted. The kids usually want to add sprinkles or other decorations, too. Just thinking about the potential mess is a “Calgon” moment.
The other day, I ran across a great idea in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking cookbook(paid link). It’s genius!
📌Kitchen Secret📌–A Simple Roll-Out Hack for Iced Shortbread Cookies
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 or peel off the plastic before transferring to a cookie sheet, ready to bake.
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–like these Homemade Oatmeal Pop-Tarts. Give it a try!
Irish Shortbread Cookies with green icing are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day next March.
Try these heart-shaped shortbread cookies for a Valentine’s party or as a special gift. I guarantee the recipient will be thrilled.
FAQ About These Shortbread Cookies
If you keep them in an air-tight container, they stay fresh for a week. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Double-wrap them to store in the freezer for up to two months.
Salted butter is the best substitute. Butter is what makes these cookies taste unique. Margarine or shortening is a compromise.
Parting words: I hope you enjoyed the hack for cutting out these cookies. Even though a zippered plastic bag is sacrificed, I think the time and trouble saved are worth the effort.
Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. 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.
Iced Shortbread Cookie Recipe
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(5 stars if you loved it)
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (85 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons (42-57 g) milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- 1-2 drops pink food coloring
- Combine 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature and 3/4 cup (85 g) confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- Whisk 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose unbleached flour together in a separate bowl. Add this flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture, stirring on a low speed. Stop beating as soon as the flour mixture is completely incorporated. Over-beating will result in toughness.
- Form the dough into a slightly flattened ball and chill for about 30 minutes. Place chilled dough into the plastic zipper storage bag. With the bag slightly open to allow air to escape, roll out the dough until evenly distributed throughout the bag. Place back into the refrigerator until firm–at least 30 minutes–up to 2 days. It can also freeze at this point.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line baking pans with parchment paper, silicone mats, or use cooking spray.
- Remove cookie dough from the fridge and carefully cut three sides of the bag with kitchen shears or scissors, leaving one side intact. Open up and use cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Because the dough is cold and firm, they should peel off the plastic easily. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Re-roll scraps after replacing plastic over the new ball and refrigerate for a few minutes until firm again. Repeat as needed until all dough is used.
- Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until light brown around the edges. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
- Whisk together 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar, 3-4 tablespoons (42-57 g) milk, and 1/2 teaspoon (½ 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.
- Use 1-2 drops pink food coloring to tint the icing. Ice cookies and allow them to sit until the icing dries. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or tightly wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic for one month in the freezer.
All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com