Nutty, melt-in-your-mouth Pistachio Shortbread Cookies! They’re easier to make than you might think and can be prepped up to a week in advance before baking off and sharing. Plus, there are a variety of ways you can dress them up—coat them in sparkling sugar, drizzle with white chocolate or mix in some dried cranberries or stained glass look. The recipe is forgiving which means the options are endless.
Slice ‘n Bake Pistachio Shortbread
I love a recipe that’s elegant and refined while also being incredibly easy and unfussy. These Pistachio Shortbread Cookies are just that. The dough comes together all in the food processor (as do my Pistachio Cake and Hazelnut Cake batters) then gets rolled into a single log and chilled until firm. Then all that’s left to do is slice and bake!
3 Reasons to Love this Recipe
- Can be made ahead: Since there are no eggs in the dough, you can make, form and chill the dough for up to 1 week in the refrigerator before baking. Plus, you can slice the chilled dough and freeze the baked shortbread for up to 2 months. Simply place the frozen slices on a baking sheet and bake as directed, adding a few more minutes as needed.
- The recipe is foolproof: aside from being easy, this pistachio shortbread cookies recipe is also very forgiving. Don’t have pistachios? Use toasted slivered almonds! Want to add some additional flavors? Mix in some chopped dried cranberries or orange peel. Try adding some dark chocolate chunks to the dough or drizzle the shortbread with dark chocolate instead of white. The options are truly endless!
- Can easily be doubled or tripled: This is the perfect cookie recipe if you’re baking for a cookie exchange party. Not only is the recipe low effort, but you can double to triple the recipe depending on how large the exchange is. If you’re looking for another no-fuss cookie, try Chocolate Salami!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- All-purpose flour: I love to bake with alternative flour, but this recipe just needs basic AP flour.
- Raw pistachios: I recommend purchasing raw, shelled pistachios and toasting them yourself in a 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes. Do not use salted pistachios or this recipe will come out far too salty.
- Sugar: ½ cup granulated sugar is all you need! Do not use brown sugar in this recipe—it will add too much moisture.
- Cornstarch: you’ll need ¼ cup of cornstarch for this pistachio shortbread cookies recipe. It’s an important ingredient for creating a crisp, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Spices: for this recipe you will need kosher salt, ground cardamom and nutmeg. Cardamom and nutmeg enhance the pistachio flavor and make it more present. Salt is important for balancing out the sweet flavors.
- Unsalted butter: I always recommend baking with unsalted butter because it allows you to control the seasoning balance. If you are using salted, reduce the added salt to ¼ teaspoon.
- Vanilla: I like to use vanilla bean paste in this recipe, but vanilla extract will also work.
How to Make Pistachio Shortbread
- Process the Dry Ingredients
- Add the Butter
- Form the Dough into a Log
- Slice the Dough and Bake
- Drizzle with White Chocolate
The first step is to process some of the pistachios with the flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt. You want the pistachios to become a fine meal.
Add the softened butter along with the remaining ¼ cup of pistachios, vanilla, cardamom and nutmeg. Process the mixture just until a dough comes together—you don’t want to over-process the dough or chop the added pistachios too fine.
Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently press the dough into a log then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the dough until firm, at least 2 hours.
Slice the dough into rounds and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Alternatively, if you want the edges to be coated in sparkly sugar, roll the dough log through sparkling sugar before slicing and baking.
Bake the shortbread cookies until they are just golden brown and set, this will take about 30 minutes.
For an optional addition, drizzle the pistachio shortbread cookies with melted white chocolate. Alternatively, you can coat the exterior of the dough roll in sparkling sugar prior to slicing and baking for a different presentation.
Expert Tips for Making Shortbread Cookies
- When forming the dough into a log, be sure to press and compact the dough together to ensure there are no air pockets in the dough log. Air pockets can cause the dough to fall apart when sliced.
- Use a very sharp chefs knife to slice the dough log. This will ensure you get even, intact cookie dough slices.
- When measuring out the flour, measure by weight if you can. If you don’t have a food scale, be sure to fluff the flour then spoon and level it.
- Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookies: Once the dough is made, pulse a ¼ cup chopped dried cranberries into the dough.
- Orange Pistachio and Chocolate Shortbread: Add the test of one small orange to the dough. Then dip or drizzle the baked pistachio shortbread with melted dark chocolate. Alternatively, you can add ¼ cup chopped candied orange and ¼ cup finely chopped dark chocolate chunks to the dough.
- Orange Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread: Once the dough is made, pulse a ¼ cup chopped dried cranberries and the grated zest of 1 small orange into the dough. Alternatively, instead of orange zest, you can add candied orange peel. And finally, for an extra pièce de résistance, you can soak the cranberries in a bit of orange liqueur before mixing them into the dough.
- Add a Layer of Lemon Curd: switch things up and make Lemon Bars instead! These bars feature a pistachio shortbread crust and a honey-sweetened lemon curd. Yes plz!
- Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies: believe it or not, these Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies were the inspiration for this pistachio shortbread recipe! They get dunked in dark chocolate and finished with chopped hazelnuts. What’s not to love?
More Cookies to Try
- If you like how short, tender and melt-in-your-mouth these cookies are, then you’ve gotta try Linzer Cookies. Not quite as easy to make as these, but well worth the work.
- If you’re looking for another low-fuss recipe, try Chocolate Salami. It’s a slice and NO-bake cookie that is an absolute show-stopper.
- For the crisp cookie lovers, our Peppermint Cookies are a no-brainer.
- Try something on the complete other end of the cookie spectrum with Hermit Cookies. A deeply spiced cookie with an almost fudgy-chewiness, these cookies are unlike any cookie you’ve ever had.
Pistachio Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup + 3 tbsp (140g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (128g; 4.5 oz.) raw shelled pistachios, toasted*, divided
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (36g) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
- 4 ounces (115g) white chocolate chips
- White sparkling sugar, optional
- Add remaining ¼ cup pistachios, ½ cup (113g) butter and ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste to food processor; process until a dough comes together, pulsing as needed, 20–30 seconds.
- Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and firmly press together then roll into a 1½×12-inch log. Tightly wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 week.
- If using sparkling sugar, pour sugar into a small tray. Unwrap chilled dough and let sit 5 minutes to slightly soften. Roll dough log through sugar, lightly pressing down to secure sugar. Keep rolling and pressing until log is completely covered. (If not using sparkling sugar, move on to step 6.)
- Slice chilled dough into ¼-inch thick slices and transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart.
- Bake until edges begin to brown and cookies are set, 30–35 minutes, rotating pans front to back and up to down, halfway through. Cool cookies on sheet pans 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- If using white chocolate, melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power in 30 second increments until melted. Drizzle over cooled cookies and sprinkle with white sparkling sugar, if using.
- Let chocolate set, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.