Perfect thick, buttery, bite size Christmas Shortbread Cookie Bites will put an instant smile on your face.
Traditions can run deep during the Christmas holiday season and one of our family’s traditions is to make a batch of cookies every day starting mid November. We then wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in ziplock bags and freeze them in the freezer. Closer to our Christmas parties in December, we remove them from the freezer and thaw the cookies and serve them on a platter to share during our holiday event.
When I think of a sugar cookie, I think of these shortbread squares. They have the same concept with rolling out the dough, but they are cut into 1-inch squares. Instead of using a cookie cutter, and having to reroll the dough to use every last bit, you simply roll your dough into a square or rectangle and use a knife, pastry cutter, or pizza cutter to make uniform square shapes.
How to Make Christmas Shortbread Cookie Bites
- Mix flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a food processor or stand mixer.
- Add chunks of butter.
- Pulse or beat until soft dough forms.
- Sprinkles can be mixed in or left for topping.
- Move cookie dough to bowl and knead into a ball.
- Roll dough onto parchment paper.
- Freeze cookie dough on cookie sheet in freezer for 15 minutes.
- Cut shortbread dough into 1-inch squares.
- Pour Christmas sprinkles into a small shallow bowl.
- Press cookie squares into sprinkles.
- Bake in 350°F oven for 18-22 minutes.
- Allow to cool then transfer to cooling rack.
Ingredients in Shortbread Cookie Bites
Flour: Use regular all-purpose flour, no need to use baking flour. In addition, this recipe does not use any added cornstarch beyond powdered sugar but still has a crunchy soft texture to each bite. To measure out flour correctly, I like to use a kitchen scale to weigh it. However, simply scooping the flour into a measuring cup with spoon works well too. Be sure to level the top of the flour off with a flat butter knife.
Butter: When I bake, I like to use unsalted butter. I also like to use a good quality butter because it contains less water in it compared to cheaper brands. Less water means the cookies won’t spread as much and will result in a stronger butter taste. Also, unsalted butter allows me to control the amount of salt in this recipe since each brand varies in salt quantity. I like to stock up on good quality butter during the holidays while it’s on sale and freeze it for the year.
Flavoring: Shortbread cookies need a little flavor added to the dough. To achieve this, I like to add baking extracts and salt. Both vanilla extract and almond extract add a classic shortbread flavor.
Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar, also know as confectioners’ sugar, is much finer than white sugar and dissolves quickly when used in baked goods. It also contains cornstarch which helps to absorb moisture from the other ingredients thus making your shortbread cookies tender and chewy.
Sprinkles: In my shortbread bites, I am using nonpareils Christmas sprinkles. I bought mine from amazon but they also carry them at retail stores like JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Walmart. Wilton also carries these sprinkles on their website. However, any type of sprinkles or jimmies can be used. During the Christmas season in December, I like to use red, green, and white sprinkles. If I’m making them for other occasions during a different season, I’ll use other varieties of sprinkles.
Shortbread Cookie Bites Reader Tips and Questions
Can I place the dough in the refrigerator and make it later? Make this recipe in advance, especially when holiday commitments and calendars get full with family and work events. Opt to chill your dough in the refrigerator as well, especially if you aren’t going to make the cookies right away. The dough can be chilled in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Be sure it is covered in plastic wrap. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, let the dough chill on the countertop for 30 minutes and then trying rolling it out with a rolling pin. For the best results, roll the dough out on parchment paper and cover it with another sheet before refrigerating until it’s ready to be used. By taking this extra step before storing it to chill for several days, it’ll make the cookie process go much faster since the dough is semi-soft.
Could I freeze the shortbread cookies? Yes. The cookies freeze well. Be sure to place them in a freezer safe bag that is sealed well. They will freeze for up to 2 months. This goes for both baked cookies and cookie dough.
Why are my cookies spreading or dark on the bottom? If using dark cookie sheets, I recommend using a lighter color cookie sheet or lowering the temperature of the oven by 25°F. The darker the cookware, the more the pan absorbs heat and bakes the dough faster. Dark pans tend to brown the bottom and sides of the cookies more. If the cookies are spreading, which they should not, be sure the dough is chilled in the refrigerator longer.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. For the best results, line baking sheets with parchment paper instead of using nonstick bakeware or greasing the cookie sheets. Greasing your cookie sheets promotes the cookies to spread out more. A silicone baking mat works just as well as parchment paper.
Don’t over mix the cookie dough. This dough comes together pretty easily with the use of a food processor. Simply run it until the dough balls up on the side in a pretty uniform shape. If a stand mixer or hand mixer is being used to make the cookies, simply keep mixing until a dough forms. Squeeze the dough together a few times to speed up the process. Next, move the dough to a mixing bowl and knead it until the ingredients are fully mixed and combined.
Rolling the dough and cutting it. Sprinkle a work surface with powdered sugar or flour. I like to lay down parchment paper first then sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Rub the rolling pin with flour or powdered sugar and roll the dough out into a rectangle or square. To make the squares, I like to use a ruler and mark the dough at the 1-inch mark then cut a line down it vertically. Next, I place the ruler next to the vertical line of dough and cut it at the 1-inch mark all the way down the ruler.
What’s the difference between shortbread, butter cookies, and sugar cookies?
Shortbread Cookies: These tender cookies have the highest ratio of butter to flour and because of this, they are baked at a lower temperature for longer. The cookie should be crumbly, but not crisp. This cookie can be made into thicker slices since it does not contain a leavener and in addition, it makes a great pan cookie.
Butter Cookies: Butter cookies fall somewhere in between a shortbread and a butter cookie. They are an unleavened cookie made primarily from butter, flour, and sugar. An egg is used in making this cookie. Butter cookies can be made as a drop cookie but because of the softer dough, it makes them perfect to pipe out of a bag onto your cookie sheet or brought through a cookie press such as spritz cookies.
Sugar Cookies: The name itself gives this little gem away. They also have the highest ratio of flour to fat between the three types of cookies, which makes them a harder, crunchier cookie that holds its shape quite well. Sugar cookies are most often roll out cut out cookies. These cookies usually have egg and some sort of leavener in them.
Other Christmas Cookie Recipes You’ll Love
- 15 Most Popular Christmas Cookie Recipes
- Snowball Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies
- Christmas Pretzel Hugs
- Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies
- Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies
- Cherry Snowball Cookies
- Pecan Finger Cookies
Christmas Shortbread Cookie Bites
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 7 tbsp powdered sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract optional
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 sticks
- ½ cup nonpareils Christmas sprinkles
- In a food processor or stand mixer, combine flour, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix together.
- Cube butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and add to food processor or mixer.
- Pulse or mix until soft dough forms. If using a stand mixer, this may take a little longer. I find it useful to press the dough together occasionally. Sprinkles may be added now into the dough or pressed into each piece once rolled later.
- Once dough has come together, move to a mixing bowl or countertop and knead into a ball.
- On parchment paper, roll the dough into a ½-inch thick square.
- Freeze on cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut shortbread cookie dough into 1-ich by 1-inch squares using a sharp knife, pastry cutter, pizza cutter. I like to use a ruler for this step.
- In a small bowl, add sprinkles.
- Press each cookie square into sprinkles if not already added to dough. Transfer dough to baking sheet.
- Bake in oven 18-22 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly golden brown.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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