santa’s shortbread cookies

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

Santa, I hope you like shortbread.

I must admit, the jolly old man was going to get Oreos this year. But when Dillon asked to make homemade cookies for Santa (and Frosty?) my motherly guilt kicked in.

We decided on sweet, buttery shortbread. My recipe uses regular sugar instead of confectioners sugar, which is what you’ll find in most shortbread cookies. I also use self-rising flour to lighten the texture. These ingredients yield a more tender and flaky cookie, similar to Walker’s Scottish shortbread.

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

Whenever I make cookies that require rolling & cutting, I like to split the workload up into 2 days.

Day 1- Make the dough. Chill for at least 30 minutes- overnight.

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

Day 2- Roll & Cut.

Roll the dough to about 1/4 ” thick. Do this between 2 sheets of floured parchment. Plastic wrap will work too.

Find some cookie cutters and get to work! I used mini Christmas ones by the way…

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

If at anytime the dough starts to soften (and it will), pop it back into the fridge to chill and then start again.

Prior to baking, freeze the shaped dough on a lined cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. This helps to keep its shape when it hits the hot oven.

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

Bake at 325 F for about 20 minutes. They should be golden, but not too brown.

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

Lightly dust with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot


Santa's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever CarrotSanta's Shortbread Cookies | The Clever Carrot

* Shortbread requires only a few ingredients; butter, flour & sugar. It’s best to seek out good quality products for maximum flavor. You will definitely taste the difference!

santa's shortbread cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: makes 30-40 mini cookies
  • 1¼ c. self-rising flour*
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • ⅓ c. sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. confectioners sugar for dusting
* For best results, use store bought self-rising flour (not homemade). Commercial self-rising flour has a low protein content that yields a light and tender cookie. This flour is available in most grocery stores and can be ordered online from King Arthur Flour.
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line 1 or 2 cookie trays with parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until light and fluffy. You can also use a stand or hand held mixer for this.
  3. Sift the flour into the food processor.
  4. Run the machine until the dough comes together. It should be a little crumbly and soft, but not too sticky. Tip the dough out onto a work surface, and bring the dough together to form a ball.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes- overnight.
  6. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick. Do this between 2 pieces of floured parchment paper. Floured plastic wrap will work too.
  7. To keep them from sticking, dip the cookie cutters in flour and press into the dough. If the dough begins to soften, place it back into the fridge to chill, and then start again.
  8. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, transfer the cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Place in the freezer for at least 5 minutes prior to baking. This will help to keep its shape before going into the oven.
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes) or until lightly golden. Rotate the pans halfway through cooking to promote even browning.
  11. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on the tray. Transfer to a wire rack.
  12. When the cookies are completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container for 1 week.


    • Emilie says

      Awww thanks Katy!!! Your Christmas cookies are still the best. You’re the only one who can make those darn gingerbreads!!!

  1. says

    Emilie, they’re gorgeous!! Thanks for the tip about chilling the shapes before baking – I always struggle with Christmas shortbread, especially in the middle of our hot summer! xx

    • Emilie says

      Hey Barb! Yeah, you wouldn’t believe what a difference it makes to use self- rising flour instead of regular all purpose. It gives them just the right amount of lift without making them cakey! Merry Christmas to you too!! Xx

  2. Linda says

    Just curious, these sound so good and a little better than the normal “sugar cookie” for our “kids cookie night” Would these or have you ever iced decorated them instead of the powdered sugar?

    • Emilie says

      Hi Linda! I’ve never decorated these cookies with icing sugar before (I have no patience!!), but I’m sure they would look pretty all dressed up and decorated. Alternatively, you could roll the dough into a log, press it into colored sprinkles, and then slice & bake :)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Meghan! I love baking with salted butter by the way ;) You can go ahead and use salted butter for this cookie recipe, but you absolutely have to replace the self rising flour with all purpose flour + 1/2 tsp baking powder. Self rising flour has salt in it, so it will be too salty otherwise. I speak from experience… Happy Baking!

  3. Karen says

    Emilie, I am a new follower. This recipe looks delicious. There are so many ways to measure flour. Could you tell me how many ounces you use per cup?

  4. Kate says

    Thank you.

    You have an estimable recipe for duplication and tinkering.

    I am a pastry chef, these ingredients are easy to come by and often snobby chefs look sideways at using self rising or regular sugar.
    As a pastry chef who has been amongst some of the haute cuisine snobbish elite high earning food industry fanatics I find that when you have no pretensions about how to create food you find beauty and grace and serendipity that transcends banality or stodgy ideas and you end up with a wonderful food and memory attached.

    This recipe I “borrowed” for today I’m attributing to you in my treasury of personal recipes for my children. The cookies we are baking are feeding friends and strangers at a gathering to create Christmas for a family who needs a “Santa”.

    Thank you for your energy and time that made my mise en place speedier and less difficult!

    Most Sincerely & Humbled, La Bonne Chef

  5. says

    Hi, I love sugar cookies! Your recipe looked great can you help.. I can’t get the dough to stay together. I followed directions exactly. HELP Thank You Mary

    • Emilie says

      Hi Mary! If the dough is not sticking together, there might not be enough moisture in the mixture. This could be due to weather, brand of self-rising flour etc. Even if you used all purpose flour, the dough might be more dry. Try adding a tiny bit of water while processing (just 1 tsp at a time). But don’t overdo it! The dough should be crumbly but stick together when you pinch a chunk between your fingers.

  6. Marie says

    These look great! Just one question. Does the butter have to be at room temperature or cold. My husband has been wanting shortbread so I figured I’d give these a try.

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