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Icebox Shortbread

This recipe makes two logs of dough. The logs can be refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to three months (thaw before slicing and baking). To make two flavors with one recipe, divide the dough in half in step 1 before adding mix-ins (and use half the amounts given).

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Makes 36
Icebox Shortbread

Source: Everyday Food, December 2004


For the Shortbread

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling

Flavor Variations (optional mix-ins and coatings)

  • Mix in grated zest of 2 oranges and 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Mix in grated zest of 2 lemons; coat with 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • Mix in grated zest of 2 limes; coat with 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • Mix in 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots; coat with 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • Mix in 1/2 cup mini chocolate or peanut-butter chips
  • Mix in 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger; coat with 1/4 cup sesame seeds


  1. With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms. Stir in desired mix-ins.

  2. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of floured waxed or parchment paper. With floured hands, gently roll each into a 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Dividing evenly, sprinkle logs with desired coating if using, rolling log (to help coating adhere) and pressing in gently. Wrap logs tightly in the paper, and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (To store longer, wrap log and paper tightly with plastic wrap.)

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs; with a serrated knife, slice dough 3/8 inch thick (if dough crumbles, leave at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes). Arrange slices, about 1 inch apart, on baking sheets.

  4. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Reviews (28)

  • blubayou33 19 Dec, 2013

    Great recipe for even "bad" bakers like me. A note for fellow novices: the softness of the butter can dramatically affect the texture of the dough. Don't worry if your dough seems too soft to possibly roll or cut; the fridge is the great equalizer and all will come out well. Trust the recipe!

  • mary_graves 22 Feb, 2013

    Thanks andyhp. These are wonderful shortbread cookies - good to know I can make lots at once.

  • andyhp8424 21 Feb, 2013

    I've made these for years and have doubled and tripled it and they always come out just fine.

  • mary_graves 2 Feb, 2013

    Does this recipe work well if doubled? Has anyone tried?

  • rcoward 15 Aug, 2012

    I made these with chopped candied cherries and they were just like we used to buy at our favourite, now gone, bakery. Mmmm good!!

  • ltsullivan 5 Dec, 2011

    I make these every year. Ginger is my favorite. I also make the apricot pistachio. Very easy and very festive.

  • Tarc 25 Sep, 2010

    We do these every year, and everyone loves them. We do always end up making one roll of double pistachio (inside and out), and at least two with mini-chocolate chips and a good peppermint extract. I think I'm going to try dried strawberries and mini-white chocolate chips this year as well.

  • coynecollection 21 Feb, 2010

    This could even be easier by one need to roll out dough. Just drop into your wrapping medium and use it to form into log. Save a surface!
    We raided our maraschino bottle for cherries to chop, and the juice to substitute for vanilla. Happy birthday President Washington!

  • BolzanGCC 6 Dec, 2009

    We love this recipe. Our favorite combo is mini chocolate chips mixed in and the outside rolled in crushed candy cane.

  • wunderland 20 Feb, 2009

    i've also tried pressing the dough into shaped molds - works well.

  • wunderland 20 Feb, 2009

    this is an easy, tasty and versatile recipe - lovely for the holidays.

  • Chiwee 9 Jan, 2009

    These cookies really melt in your mouth nicely.

  • nora_medina 6 Dec, 2008

    THis is such a great receipe ; I always go back to it when I want to create my own variations; tender cookies every time!

  • MarthaRnTx 5 Dec, 2008

    Thank You my G-ma made cookies for my boys when they were little to have with their milk coffee. I never got the recipe

  • Knightcraft 23 Nov, 2008

    I added these to our Christmas cookie list last year. They're fantastic!

  • nutsaboutcookin 24 Mar, 2008

    Super and great shortbread recipe. Not dry at all - very moist. I made and froze and just pulled out over weekend to bake. Made 4 different logs. Dried fruit was a big hit and log with chocolate chips and nuts were super. Will definitely make again and keep in freezer for those last-minute emergencies.

  • mamarog3 23 Dec, 2007

    I made these cookies (one batch with add ins of mini chocolate chips and one with grated (meyers) lemon rind and poppy seeds. I also made an older recipe of Martha's for basic shortbread with the ends dipped in semi sweet chocolate. They were a big hit at the cookie exchange that I went to and believe me I had a lot of competition. I have added these to my Christmas cookie menu.

  • Indyweaver 20 Dec, 2007

    These were so quick and easy and they have a fabulous flavor - I made the chocolate chip and also the cranberry-orange. Will definitely make them again!

  • nbt 11 Dec, 2007

    First I made with poppy seed it was excellent but I think my poppy seed was not fresh enough and today Apricot

  • DenaLouise 8 Dec, 2007


  • zola 7 Dec, 2007

    These are so easy, and very tasty!!

  • annbogal 6 Dec, 2007

    Fayth, it's really pretty easy to fix. you just need to add Xanthum Gum. The proportions are 1/2 t per 1 cup of gluten free flour. happy baking!

  • mindybelle 5 Dec, 2007

    Fayth - go to and check out Jules Sheperd's new book. She also has a gluten-free baking mix. I wish Martha would have Jules on her show!

  • glutenfrimat 5 Dec, 2007

    Fayth, try adding some extra gluten free flour (about 1/4 cup) and 1 tbs fiber, like physillum or potatofibers. Good luck!

  • Fayth 5 Dec, 2007

    I would LOVE this recipe BUT I need it to be Gluten free.
    It is really hard as a Mom trying to bake for all the school holiday parties, to find a good shortbread recipe.
    I have replaced the flour with Gluten free flour but the cookies are too crumbly...Any suggestions?

  • Styxx34 5 Dec, 2007

    You can also roll the dough into 1 inch balls, dip in egg white, roll into chopped walnuts bake for about 10 minutes then take them out place your thumbprint into each, continue baking until lightly brown, when they're cool put whatever jam or jelly you like into the depression. Be sure to grease the pan.

  • pelli78500 5 Dec, 2007

    We're having a cookie exchange at the office, and this recipe will make it easy for me to shop and make several different selections for the plates! Thanks for the idea!

  • firefighter2 4 Dec, 2007

    these are simple and have the feel of days gone by. Really enjoyed them. with an English background these are the types we used to have

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