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These simple spiced shortbread cookies are a variation on classic shortbread full of common winter spices perfect for the fall an winter season. As an easy to make and long lasting cookie they’re also great for gift giving to friends and family during the holidays.
Shortbread cookies are my go to whenever I have a cookie craving but not a lot of patience. They’re literally the easiest cookie to make and even easier to customize to my particular tastes of the moment. This time of year, when pumpkins show up everywhere and I start adding soups to my menus, a combo of classic winter spices is just what I need.
Shortbread Vs. Sugar Cookie
Of the more popular cookies during the cooler months, shortbread and sugar vie for first place. But what’s the difference anyway? Sugar cookies are a softer cookie made from a dough with a much higher sugar content, often enriched with eggs, chemical leavening agents and other additions. While delicious, it’s not as simple of a cookie. Check out my Crisco Sugar Cookies for a great recipe!
Shortbread on the other hand is a very simple cookie that at it’s core is only flour, butter, and a small amount of sugar. While I usually add some extract and a pinch of salt, at those aren’t even needed!
You can read all about the classic shortbread, and get my never fail technique for perfect shortbread in my How to Make Shortbread Cookies post. It’s from that core recipe that this spiced version and other delicious variations like Raspberry White Chocolate Shortbread come from!
What you Need
I wasn’t lying when I said all you really need is flour, butter, and sugar to make the base of this recipe. With that, some vanilla extract and a combo of common pantry spices, you can make this Christmas spiced cookie recipe in less than 20 minutes.
There are so many spices you could use to make a spiced cookie, and I bet they’d all be delicious in different ways. For me, part of making everything from scratch works largely because I operate from a core set of pantry items, spices included. For this recipe, you just need these 4 very common winter spices:
How to Make these!
The actual process for making these cookies is as simple as the ingredients. Using the standard creaming technique of blending butter, sugar and extract, then folding in the flour, spices, and salt to form a dough, your cookies will be ready to bake in no time.
Of course I have some tips to make them extra perfect!
- Fold in your dry ingredients as gently as possible. I do this by hand with a rubber spatula to make sure the dough is worked as little as possible. This is how I guarantee soft, tender shortbread every time.
- Turn your dough out onto a clean surface to shape it when it just comes together. A few little loose crumbs of dough are fine, they’ll get mixed in as you shape.
- Speaking of shaping…you have options! I did the simple roll and slice technique, but you can also roll them out and cut them, or even freeform them by hand. (Learn more about your options with my downloadable shortbread cookbook!)
- Bake in a 350°F oven until they’re just barely brown at the very bottom edge that’s touching the baking sheet. Over-baking equals dry cookies, which is never fun. When baked the top will appear dry, not glossy.
- Let them cool on the pan for just a minute or two. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool so they don’t dry out.
If you choose to make these with the slice and roll method like I did, simply shape the dough into a rough log on either parchment paper or plastic wrap. Then roll it up tightly and twist of the ends. Keep your thumbs against either end as you roll it gently against a firm surface.
You may need to occasionally push gently against the ends to keep the log the same width as you roll. Once the cookie dough looks solid and round, stick it in the fridge to firm up. I usually leave it about an hour, but once it’s stiffened up enough to slice, you’re good to go.
Shortbread lasts an exceptionally long time at room temperature when stored in an airtight container. It’s one of the things that makes them so good for the holiday season. Bake them days ahead of your gifting, and they’ll still be perfect!
I’ve certainly kept these for 7 to 10 days, but I usually find them best in the first 5 days. Let them cool completely before sealing them away. Any residual heat can cause too much moisture to form.
I hope you love shortbread spiced cookies as much as I do. They’re a simple way to enjoy the seasonal flavors without much drama. Add these to a holiday gift basket, or just secret them away for yourself to enjoy. Either way, I hope they’re eaten with smiles.
Be sure to check out these other cookie recipes too!
- Lemon Poppyseed Cookies
- Crisco Sugar Cookies
- White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
- Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
- 6 ounces all-purpose flour 1 1/4 cups
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup, 1 stick
- 2 ounces white sugar 1/4 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt*
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Cream together the softened butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Combine the flour, spices and salt. Whisk to mix.
- Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and fold gently to combine until dough begins to form and no dry flour is visible. Some loose dough crumbs are fine.
- Turn dough out onto a clean surface covered with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Press dough into a rough log.**
- Tightly wrap the dough in the plastic or paper and twist off the ends. Roll gently against a firm surface, pressing gently against the ends to keep the log width uniform.
- When dough is smooth and round, transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the cookies 1/4 inch thick with a sharp knife and place on parchment paper, leaving a small amount of space between them.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until top is no longer glossy and the very bottom edge is just barely golden.
- Let sit on baking sheet 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing.
I’d love to hear what you think, feel free to tag me on Instagram @theflourhandprint so I can see how it went! Until next time, Happy Eating!
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.