With only six ingredients (plus sprinkles, of course), these Whipped Shortbread Cookies may be the easiest recipe you’ll make this holiday season. They take less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish–NO chilling required! Recipe also includes a how-to video tutorial.
Whipped Shortbread: The Easiest Holiday Cookie
Today I’m sharing a new addition to my collection of Christmas cookie recipes, and I think you’re really going to like this one! These whipped shortbread cookies are simple and quick, use less than 10 ingredients and there’s no chilling required!
These cookies have a classic, buttery flavor that’s reminiscent of my butter cookies, only lighter. They’re great served alone or with a mug of hot cocoa, and they’re sure to stand out in any cookie exchange. They’re perfect for the upcoming holidays (and simpler than classic sugar cookies) but really, they’re delicious any time of year.
You may be familiar with my standard shortbread cookies; even though they share a name, these whipped shortbread cookies are more airy. Thanks to some extra corn starch, they truly melt in your mouth!
Let’s get started!
What You Need
Since this recipe has so few ingredients, the quality of each one is particularly important. Keep this in mind as you gather your ingredients. Here’s what you need!
- Butter. While standard butter will work fine, this is a recipe where European butter will really shine (if you can find it).
- Powdered sugar. Using powdered instead of granulated sugar contributes to the airy, melt-in-your mouth consistency of these cookies.
- Vanilla. This is the time to use your good vanilla extract, if you have some.
- Salt. Use plain table salt–no need to get fancy here!
- Flour. Make sure to measure your flour properly and use a kitchen scale if you have one, because it’s easy to accidentally use too much flour. Too much flour will make the dough dry, crumbly, and difficult to work with.
- Cornstarch. Powdered sugar already contains cornstarch, but we up the ante by using a bit more to give these cookies an even better, more melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Sprinkles. For decoration, you can use nonpareils, jimmies, or colored sanding sugar. Or you can skip them entirely! The sprinkles make these easily customizable for whatever holiday or event you happen to be celebrating!
SAM’S TIP: Almond extract would also taste lovely in these cookies! You could substitute some of the vanilla (I’d start with just ¼ teaspoon since it’s quite potent, adding more according to your taste preference) for a twist on the classic whipped shortbread flavor.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Whipped Shortbread Cookies
- Beat together butter and sugar for several minutes until you have a light, airy, pale yellow and fluffy mixture. A stand mixer is great for this, if you have one!
- Stir in vanilla and salt then gradually add flour and cornstarch with mixer on low-speed.
- Scoop dough into balls and roll each briefly between your palms to make a smooth ball. into before placing on your prepared sheet about 1-2 inches apart.
- Use a fork to gently flatten each cookie (sort of like a peanut butter cookie, but we’re only using our fork one way instead of making a crosshatch pattern). Top with sprinkles (mandatory) and bake for 12 minutes. Don’t over-bake these cookies or they’ll be dry and crumbly.
SAM’S TIP: Make sure you whip your butter and sugar really, REALLY well. I like to use a stand mixer for this step, because it gets the job done much faster (just make sure to scrape sides and bottom of the bowl periodically!). Once I get to the point of adding the flour, I like to be much more gentle with the dough to avoid overdoing it, which can not only make the cookies a bit tough, but it can also make the dough greasy and difficult to work with.
Frequently Asked Questions
They are very similar; however, butter cookies are more rich and tender where whipped shortbread cookies are airy and light.
Cornstarch is one of my favorite secret ingredients! In these cookies, it keeps them from spreading too much, and it contributes to the melt-in-your-mouth texture that whipped shortbread is known for. Note that powdered sugar already contains cornstarch, but by increasing the amount and adding additional, we improve the texture even more!
While I largely prefer using unsalted vs. salted butter, you can use salted if that’s all you have on hand. Just reduce the salt that is called for in the recipe to ¼ teaspoon.
More Recipes You Might Like
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Whipped Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter¹ softened
- ¾ cup (90 g) powdered sugar (plus additional for imprinting cookies)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons (17 g) cornstarch
- Nonpareils jimmies, or colored sanding sugar for decorating, optional
- Preheat oven to 325F (165C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium-high speed (use high speed if using a hand mixer) until lightened in color, fluffy, and creamy. This will take at least 5 minutes with a stand mixer and possibly a bit longer if using a hand mixer. If needed, pause occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the butter and sugar are being well creamed.1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter¹, ¾ cup (90 g) powdered sugar
- Add vanilla extract and salt and stir until combined.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¾ teaspoon table salt
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and cornstarch.2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons (17 g) cornstarch
- Turn mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add flour, stirring until just combined.
- Scoop dough into tablespoon-sized scoops and briefly roll between your palms to make smooth balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) apart.
- Use a fork to gently, slightly flatten each cookie. If the cookie dough is sticking to the tines of the fork, dip the fork in a bit of powdered sugar first to prevent sticking.
- Sprinkle cookies with nonpareils, jimmies, or sugar, if desired.Nonpareils
- Transfer to 325F (165C) oven and bake for 12 minutes. Cookies will still be light in color when finished baking. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before removing.
¹ButterButter is the most important ingredient in your whipped shortbread and the better quality you use, the better your cookies will taste. If you can get your hands on European butter, I recommend using that for this recipe (though they’ll still be delicious if you can’t!). The butter should be softened, but not so warm that it appears melty or oily.
Salted ButterIf using salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe to ¼ teaspoon.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Tried something a little different with half of this batch. Iced the top with a very lightly lemon flavored ricotta cheese icing. Then added a dollop of my favorite recipe of Meyer Lemon Curd. They are an absolute hit!!
Love you’re recipes! They teach the subtleties and chemistry of cookie making when reading all the tip sections. Thank-you so very much for all your hard work with this site.
I’m so glad everyone enjoyed them so much, David! I appreciate your comment more than you know and I’m very glad to be able to provide recipes for people. Thank you so much for your support. 🙂
Made this recipe a few times now as everyone Loves them. For anyone making these for the first time and didn’t read the tips section, butter is the Key! Seriously the better the quality of butter the better the cookies texture and most of all flavor. At minimum use unsalted butter as it is always fresher (compared to salted), have tried imports of high quality and they’re very good. The best batch I’ve made by far was picking up some fresh churned butter (by hand) from a market they wasade by Menonites (similar to the Amish). OMG!! This recipe came to life showing how much the old line “quality ingredients make the dish”.
Have tried preparing these with cut up chunks of a very good quality milk chocolate bar placing the peices on top of the cookie before baking. Simply marvelous!
Once again, thank-you so much for your amazing recipes.
Loved these cookies! They are sooo easy and delicious. Only thing i did different was added less salt and threw in some cinnamon and it was to die for
These recipe so good!!! Made a batch for my daughter’s lunch and I can’t keep my hands off! Thank you for all you share…I know the recipes from you will always be spot on!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so glad you like them, Julia! Hopefully your daughter enjoys them just as much 😊
Made these just before Christmas and they went so fast I had to make a second batch. The best cookie recipe I’ve tried and I’ve been making baking for decades. I even made a batch of the dough to be the base for my chocolate caramel shortbread. Well pleased!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy you love the recipe, June! Thanks so much for commenting ❤️
I’m looking forward to trying these!
I used another recipe and my cookies melted away in the oven, hoping for better luck with this recipe!
I hope you love them, Emmy! 🙂
Made two batches of these today, one with vanilla and one with almond – both are amazing!! I also made your molasses cookies, soft ginger snap cookies, the pecan pie bars and the lemon bundt cake!! Thank you for all the amazing recipes. Next on the list are the Peanut butter blossoms to see if they can beat out my old recipe!!
Made this recipe last year and just about to made again this year for Christmas. SO easy. SO good. I froze after baking and brought them out the day of serving, thawed at room temp and they were as if I had baked fresh! Couldn’t he any easier! Great recipe I’ll use every year! Happy Holidays!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy this one has become a staple for you Janice. Happy Holidays! ❤️
My daughter made these last night to take to a party…. so easy and good! You may have already answered this in previous posts but, question…. we froze several of the dough balls and wondered if they should be brought up to room temperature before baking or can be baked from frozen with an additional couple of minutes? Thanks!
Hi Barb! You can bake them from frozen with just a minute or so added. 🙂
Made these once before and enjoyed them. Added a mildly orange flavored glaze to some that worked well. Now making a larger batch for a holiday party and thinking of doing some just plain and then a few with different twists (again probably just as easy glazes for simplicity). Any flavor recommendations?
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
That sounds delicious, David! Peppermint, vanilla, lemon, and almond would all be great options too 🙂
Just made these for the family and they were a big hit! I used Kerrygold Irish butter (it’s all I could find) and the cookies were simply scrumptious!! Absolutely making these again!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Wonderful! We’re so happy you enjoyed them Jackie 😊
I love these and so do my kids as they wouldn’t leave me alone for them. I even caught my boy sneaking them out of the freezer lol I will definitely make them again and I look forward to finding some really good European butter to use in the recipe!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
That’s too funny! Thanks for letting us know how everyone likes them 😊