Christmas Cookie Shortbread Recipe - 2 Ways!

Here’s a basic shortbread recipe that makes a lovely Christmas cookie in 2 different versions. A Shortbread Chocolate Chip Snowball and a festive Shortbread Thumbprint.

The dough is exactly the same, a simple ingredient one bowl recipe of course. We always want lots of different cookies at Christmas but don’t want to spend the whole month in the kitchen. So, vary slightly what you do with the dough after mixing and you have two unique cookies!

Both cookies have that basic smooth, buttery shortbread flavor underneath.


Christmas Cookie Shortbread Recipe - 2 Ways!

Christmas Cookie Shortbread Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • Additionally, either frosting (recipe below) for the Shortbread Thumbprints or chips for the Shortbread Snowballs.
  • shortbread

    Christmas Cookie Shortbread Recipe - 2 Ways!

    Christmas Cookie Shortbread Recipe

    1) Cream the Butter, Confectioners Sugar, Vanilla & Salt.

    creamed butter

  • Add the Flour gradually while beating at low speed just until combined. Do not over beat.
    That’s it! You’ve got your basic shortbread dough that’s ready to bake for these snowball cookies or thumbprints. Continue to whichever section you choose (or both).
  • shortbread dough

    Instructions to Make Red & Green Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

    Shortbread Cookies

    These cookies are festive like cut-outs, but way easier to make and yet slightly richer and tastier than most cut-out recipes. You don’t get the unique shapes, but you get vibrant color and lots of sweet buttery taste. Start with the basic shortbread dough and then:

    1. Roll (in your hands) the basic shortbread cookie recipe made in steps 1 & 2 into little balls and place on un-greased cookie sheet. Then gently press your thumb into the center of each ball.
      Cookie Dough

    2. Bake at 350° for 8 – 10 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden around the edges.

    3. Frost, once completely cooled, using the frosting recipe below. It’s best to use a spoon to just drop a teaspoon (approx.) into the center of each cookie and it will level itself to fill the hole.
    Shortbread Thumbprints

    Instructions to Make Frosting:
    1. Whip 2 Tablespoons of softened butter in a large bowl then add 2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar, 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla and 3-4 Tablespoons of Milk (or water) and mix well. Frosting should be slightly runnier than that used to frost a cake.

    2. Move 1/2 the frosting to another bowl. Add 4-6 drops of red food color to one bowl and stir well. Add 4-6 drops of green food color to the other bowl and stir well. Drop about a teaspoon of frosting into the center of each baked cookie.
    3. Frost half the cookies with the green frosting and the other half with the red frosting.

    Instructions To Make Shortbread Snowball Cookies

    Food Waste

    These cookies are even quicker to make than the shortbread thumbprints, again start with the basic shortbread recipe and then:

    1. Stir in about 3/4 of a bag of red semi-sweet chips (or dark chocolate) into the basic shortbread dough made with steps outlined above.
    2. We found that this bag of red & dark chocolate purchased at the Valentine’s clearance sale and kept refrigerated worked perfect, but you could use Christmas ones too.


    3. Scoop onto un-greased cookie tray.
    4. shortbread

    5. Bake at 375° for 8 – 10 minutes until the edges begin to turn golden.

    6. Sprinkle with some sifted Confectioners Sugar while still warm.
    7. shortbread

    Need Cookies for Hannakah? Then add blue food color to 1/2 the frosting and silver sprinkles to the top of the other half which are frosted in the white icing. Out of confectioner’s sugar? See our sugar substitute page to make your own at home.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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