If you’re looking for a more elegant and understated cookie, these vanilla bean shortbread are perfect. They keep their shape, and don’t spread, so you can use this recipe for roll-and-cut decorated cookies, slice-and-bake cookies, and this dough is also the perfect base for tarts. I made some slice-and-bake cookies with these, that I sprinkled with sanding sugar before baking, and they tasted just like Royal Dansk cookies. So next time you get tricked by a blue tin filled with a sewing kit, you can whip up a batch of these!
You can use vanilla bean pods or vanilla bean paste for this recipe, and read my post on how to use a vanilla bean. And hang onto used vanilla bean pods and read up on how to make vanilla extract.
You can also use pre-made vanilla bean paste. Nielsen-Massey makes top-shelf vanilla bean paste, and you can never go wrong with any of their products. I recently found some organic vanilla bean paste from Taylor & Colledge that I love, and I’ve been using it in all my recipes instead of vanilla extract.
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.
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!
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Vanilla Bean Shortbread Sugar Cookies
- measuring cups and spoons
- mixing bowls
- paring knife
- 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
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or beans scraped from 2 vanilla bean pods
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Whisk dry ingredients (flour and cornstarch) 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, extract, and vanilla bean paste, 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 from oven and allow to fully cool on cookie sheet before handling.
- Make sure all ingredients are room temperature.
- The reason for adding 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to your dough is to prevent your cookies from shrinking or spreading during baking.
- 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.
Do you have to put them in the freezer before baking, I don’t have any room in my freezer for that
Tyler April Townley
You don’t have to, but I do recommend it. Chilling them before baking helps prevent spreading as well as makes sure they bake crisp. If you have space in your fridge, that’ll work too.
Can this dough be used in a cookie press?
Tyler April Townley
I’ve never used this recipe with a cookie press. I’m going to test it out now that you’ve asked, but in the meantime, I’d suggest you look for a recipe for spritz/press cookies.
Hi, Tyler! I got to this recipe from the vanilla bean group and your friend Lauren. I was wondering about your comment about this cornstarch. Do you mean to add an additional 1-2 T of cornstartch to the 1T you already showed, or just as an FYI that it can be done and helps? Thanks!! I’ll make them soon!!
Tyler April Townley
Hi Heather, the note about the cornstarch is just an explanation of why cornstarch is one of the ingredients. You don’t need to add an additional tablespoon of cornstarch to your dough, although I’ve done it on accident before (lol), and it didn’t negatively affect the dough.
Thank you for the explanation! I’m looking forward to making them and the not spreading….