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Icebox Shortbread


These buttery cookies can be made with mix-ins such as orange or lemon zest, dried cranberries or apricots, pistachios or peanut butter chocolate chips.

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

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.

Cook's Notes

This recipe makes 2 logs of dough. The logs can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months (thaw before slicing and baking). To make 2 flavors with one recipe, divide the dough in half in step 1 before adding mix-ins (and use half the amounts given).

Reviews Add a comment

    31 MAR, 2017
    This recipe is delicious and simple, basically, 1 bar of butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of flour! I roll the dough when I have time and bake whenever I want to. All of my friends loved it. Thank you, this is my fav!!
  • jonesp54
    14 MAR, 2017
    My new favorite cookie recipe.
  • HollyHen
    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!
    22 FEB, 2013
    Thanks andyhp. These are wonderful shortbread cookies - good to know I can make lots at once.
  • andyhp
    21 FEB, 2013
    I've made these for years and have doubled and tripled it and they always come out just fine.
    2 FEB, 2013
    Does this recipe work well if doubled? Has anyone tried?
  • ferlie
    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!