I absolutely love Hawaiian food. Poke, musubi, malasadas, kalua pork, huli huli chicken, mac salad, haupia, shave ice, manapuas, loco moco, hawaiian banana bread, and anything with coconut, pineapple, or lilikoi. I have some friends that live on Maui, and the first time I visited them, I came home with an extra suitcase of jams and preserves, honey, salt, flours, and local candy, snacks and cookies. And then I spent the next few months making everything I could think of with lilikoi. My husband and I even had L&L Hawaiian Barbecue cater our wedding.
Obviously I had to try my hand at making a copycat recipe of those famous Hawaiian macadamia shortbread cookies. And these are insanely good!
This recipe doesn’t spread, so you can use it to make cut-out cookies to decorate, or for slice-and-bake cookies. I dipped mine in some tempered callebaut chocolate, and topped with chopped macadamia nuts. And because I had left over mac nuts and tempered chocolate, I made some chocolate covered macadamia nuts! If you can’t make it to the islands, bring the islands to you!
Always chop by hand or grind add-ins (chocolate chips, candy, nuts, cookies, or dried fruit) in a food processor to the consistency of coarse sand. Large add-ins will leave you with jagged edges when you cut out your cookies.
Are these technically shortbread or sugar cookies?
They’re kind of both. It’s fine to call these either “decorated sugar cookies” or “decorated shortbread cookies.” But I’m going to refer to any of my cookie recipes that can used as a base for cookie decorating as “shortbread sugar cookies.”
- 2 parts flour to 1 part fat
- No eggs
- No leavening agent
- Dense and crispy
- 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat
- Contains eggs
- Contains a leavening agent
- Light and Chewy
All of my shortbread sugar cookie recipes don’t rise or spread, can be used for cookie decorating, have egg, but no leavening agent, and have a 2 ¼ parts flour to 1 part fat. Which makes them fall somewhere between a shortbread and a sugar cookie. They’re both shortbread and sugar cookies, and neither shortbread or sugar cookies, at the same time. They’re Shrodinger’s cookies!
All of my shortbread sugar cookie recipes can be used for slice-and-bake cookies as well!
If you would like more info on my preferred ingredient brands, tips and tricks, FAQs, and a little cookie science, I cover all of that in my No-Spread Lemon Shortbread Sugar Cookie Recipe.
Macadamia Shortbread Sugar Cookies
- measuring spoons and cups
- mixing bowls
- cling wrap
- cookie cutters
- large knife
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup roasted macadamia nuts, unsalted finely chopped
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt optional
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Grind in food processor, or chop, macadamia nuts until the texture of coarse sand.
- Whisk flour, cornstarch, macadamia nuts, and salt (optional) together and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugars with paddle attachment, on medium-low speed, until fluffy and pale in color (about 5 minutes).
- Add egg and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the paddle with a spatula, and then continue to mix on low speed for another 30 seconds to ensure everything is fully incorporated.
- Add dry ingredients, all at once, and mix on low speed just until dough starts to come together and no dry bits remain. Do not overmix.
- Turn dough out onto cling wrap, tightly wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- Knead, roll, cut out cookies, and return to fridge or freezer until firm. Leave a couple inches between cookies.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 1-5 minutes until edges are starting to turn golden brown.
- Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet before handling.
- The reason for adding 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to your dough is to prevent your cookies from shrinking or spreading during baking.
- You want to grind all add-ins (macadamia nuts) as fine as possible, comparable to the texture of almond meal or coarse sand. Larger pieces will leave you with jagged cookie edges.
- If making slice-and-bake cookies, split dough in half, roll into logs, wrap tightly in cling wrap or parchment paper, and refrigerate before slicing and baking.