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Simple Shortbread Cookies with Icing To Make Them Irresistible

Preview: Try these simple but irresistible shortbread cookies with icing. Check out the super-cool method for rolling out the dough and cutting it into shapes.

What if you could make cut-out Shortbread Cookies that didn’t make a big mess on your kitchen counter? Try out this neat-as-a-pin method for rolling out the shortbread and cutting it into shapes such as these butterflies.

Pink Shortbread Cookies with icing--ready to eat

For most people, myself included, cut-out cookies are reserved for holidays. They seem like a lot of trouble, don’t you think?

Sticky dough, cleaning up the sticky dough, getting the shaped sticky dough unstuck from whatever you’re rolling them on and transferring the cookie to a cookie sheet, etc. Ugh!

On top of that, they need to be frosted. Furthermore, the kids usually want to decorate them, too. Just thinking about the potential mess is a “Calgon” moment.

Check out this shortcut…

The other day, I ran across a great idea in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking cookbook. It’s so easy!


shortbread cookie dough in a zippered plastic bag

Simply put the dough in a gallon-size Ziplock bag and seal.

rolling out dough inside plastic bag
Roll the dough until it fills the bag and is a uniform thickness.
Cookie dough ready to put in the freezer.
Place the bag in the freezer and chill the dough until hard.
Remove frozen dough from the freezer.
peeling the plastic back from the dough
Uncover dough by trimming two edges and unzipping the top of the bag. Pull back the plastic.

Open the bag on 3 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 cutter
Use cookie cutters of choice to cut out cookies. You may need to use a toothpick or 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 most any roll-out-the-dough-and-cut-into-a shape recipe.  Give it a try!

uncooked pink shortbread cookies



Try these valentine-shaped shortbread cookies for Valentine’s party or as a special gift. I guarantee the recipient will be thrilled.


Small cookie cutters are recommended for this recipe. Not only are small cookies more appealing to eat at parties, but they’re easier to handle before they’re baked.

niece eating cookie
Kid-tested and approved!


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    Yield: 72 bite-sized cookies

    Shortbread Cookies with Icing

    Shortbread Cookies with Icing

    A simple but delicious shortbread cookie with a smooth butter icing. Kids and adults alike love these.

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 12 minutes
    Total Time 32 minutes


    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 cups flour, all-purpose
    • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    • 3-4 tablespoon milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)
    • pink food coloring


    1. Combine butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
    2. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add mixture slowly to the butter mixture, stirring on low speed. Stop beating as soon as the flour mixture is completely incorporated. Over beating will result in toughness.
    3. Form the dough into a slightly flattened ball and chill about 30 minutes. Place chilled dough into plastic zipper storage bag. With bag slightly open to allow air to escape, begin to roll out dough until it is evenly distributed in flat shape throughout bag. Place back into refrigerator until firm--at least 30 minutes--up to 2 days. Can also freeze at this point.
    4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, silicone mats, or grease generously with cooking spray.
    5. Remove cookie dough from fridge and carefully cut three sides of 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 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.
    6. 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 before icing.


    1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and extract. If too thick, add more milk a few drops at a time. If too thin, add more powdered sugar or let sit for awhile. Use food coloring to tint the icing. Ice cookies and allow to sit until icing is dry. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or tightly wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for 1 month in the freezer.

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    Nutrition Information:


    72 cookies

    Serving Size:

    3 cookies

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 8mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

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    Jill Billions

    Friday 20th of December 2019

    Easy way to roll it out for sure but you’re Wasting all that plastic. Tossing it and filling up land fills or oceans. You can do the same thing between 2 pieces of parchment paper and reuse them over and over many times.


    Monday 8th of February 2016

    Hi, I am looking for a glaze to put on top of shortbread cookies - is this icing more like a glaze rather than a thick icing? and does it harden just a bit after it has dried so that the cookies could be stacked on top of each other? Thanks so much!


    Monday 14th of April 2014

    Approximately how many cookies do you get per batch? I realize it probably varies depending on the size cookie cutters you use, but on average?


    Wednesday 16th of April 2014

    Nancy, The original recipe predicted 20 cookies but that is a full-size cookie. It makes at least 2-3 times that many of the smaller cookies that I like.


    Wednesday 25th of December 2013

    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!


    Wednesday 19th of September 2012

    Are we allowed to pin this? Your site has a follow me button, but not a button saying I can pin. Thanks