Shamrock Shortbread Cookies

shamrock cookies post a red

Festive Shamrock Shortbread Cookies–No Decorating Required

Somebody at my work decided we should all bring green food for a potluck this month. I threatened to share my “salad in a jar” before I remembered my favorite shortbread cookies. Few ingredients and even less talent are needed.  A miniature shamrock cookie cutter, green food coloring, shortbread cookie dough and a simple frosting.  That’s it!  The best part is… NO DECORATING REQUIRED.

If you haven’t tried these cookies in any of the various forms I’ve already blogged about (Pink Shortbread Cookies and Iced Shortbread Cookies for My Valentine), you may not realize how buttery they taste and how easy they are to make. Simply put the dough in a Ziplock bag, seal, roll the dough to a uniform thickness and chill. Open the bag on 3 sides and let your cookie cutter go wild. Because dough has been thoroughly chilled, the cut-out cookies are easy to pick up with your hands or peel off the plastic before transferring to a cookie sheet, ready to bake.

storyboard for pink cookies_edited-2

WARNING: These taste fantastic straight out of the freezer.  Suggest you double wrap and hide if you have freezer moles at your house.

Shamrock Shortbread Cookies
Recipe type: Cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour, all-purpose
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)
  • 2 + drops green food coloring
  1. Combine butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder separately. Add slowly to butter using low speed. Stop beating as soon as the flour mixture is incorporated. Over beating will result in toughness.
  3. Form the dough into a slightly flattened ball, place in a zippered plastic bag and chill about 30 minutes. With bag cracked open slightly to allow air to escape, roll dough until evenly distributed throughout bag. Place back into refrigerator until firm--at least another 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Can be frozen at this point.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  5. Remove cookie dough from fridge and carefully cut two sides of bag with kitchen shears or scissors leaving one side intact. Lay top layer of plastic back and use cookie cutter to make cookies. Because the dough is cold and firm, they should peel off the plastic easily. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Re-roll scraps after replacing plastic over top of new ball and refrigerate a few minutes until firm again. Repeat as needed until all dough is used.
  6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until light brown around the edges. Time will vary greatly depending on the size and shape of cookies. Check early and often. Cool 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack and wait till cold before icing.
  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and extract. If too thick, add more milk a few drops at a time. If too thin, add more powdered sugar or let sit for awhile. Tint with food coloring. Ice cookies and allow to rest until dry. I prefer to turn cookies upside down and dip into icing just enough to cover surface. Goes faster although a little messy till you get the hang of it. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or tightly wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for 1 month in the freezer.

Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. Technique inspired by Dorie Greenspan.



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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Rochelle November 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Do you think these would work with peppermint extract in Christmas Shapes?


Rochelle March 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Can’t wait to try these. I have sooo many ideas. Pink hearts as you mentioned for Valentines Day, lots of pastel eggs for easter. Red maple leaves for Canada Day, (or for my American friends red, white, and blue stars for July 4th) red orange yellow and brown leaves for back to school or Autumn. Brown turkeys and those previously mentioned leaves for Thanksgiving. How about white ghosts, yellow moons, black bats and orange pumpkins for Halloween. It’s endless.


Paula March 18, 2012 at 6:39 am

Love your ideas!


Gina March 18, 2011 at 1:20 am

Update: I took a plate of the cookies to work in the ED tonight and everybody LOVED them! Definite success. 🙂


Gina March 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I’ve been wanting to try this cookie recipe and I finally got around to it today. They were easy and tasty! Thanks for all the great recipes and pictures!


mike March 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

What gorgeous cookies AND opening photo! Is that pie/tart pan? Stunning…. and who wouldn’t like this site? I think your co-workers are nuts… 🙂 Beautifully-glazed cookies – they’re perfection. I made sandwich cookies. Huge ones… not nearly as nice though!


Susie March 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

oh that’s what you needed the cake picture for! Cool! I love the farmhouse cake, so creative!


Karen March 15, 2011 at 4:18 am

Love your cute cookies, Paula. Your niece Gina’s wedding cake is incredible. Wow, so much talent!


Der March 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm

One word for these cookies….. FABULOUS!!!!
And you know if I can do it, anybody can!
I think they are the new official cookie of the Gainer Household. My kids prefer them without the icing, but I say keep the icing coming!
I can’t stop eating them… to steal a quote from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb,
“Cookies are a sometimes food. Cookies are a sometimes food….”


Paula March 14, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thanks Der. Glad they were a hit. Sounds like unsalted butter worked just fine. These definitely need to be a “sometimes food.” I eat way too many when they are in the house.


Anne March 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi Paula

Lovely looking shamrock cookies. What size of cutter did you use? The only one I can find in the UK is 12.5 cm (5 inches) which seems very large! Love the idea of the green icing. As always, marvellous!


Suzanne March 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm

cute shamrocks! your photo of them is beautiful.


Sandy March 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I love this post!!! I always enjoy hearing about the family and seeing their many talents. I never knew your mom made cakes. That wedding cake Gina made, It was awesome!!! Right now though I would settle for one of or two of your cookies. Yum!


TheKitchenWitch March 13, 2011 at 10:07 am

How did you know that I love shortbread cookies right out of the freezer?

These cookies are adorable. Slainte!


Lorraine March 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

ha! We have freezer moles at my house. They have even learned that a wrapped package labeled Brussels Sprouts is probably not Brussels Sprouts 🙂

Beautiful slide show of beautiful decorated cakes.
The cookies look and sound delicious too! Pretty pastel green frosting.


Paula March 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

You are too clever–labeling cookies as Brussels Sprouts. I’m pretty sure that would work at my house–until they catch me eating a cookie and insist on knowing where I found it.


Paula March 13, 2011 at 7:44 am

Freezer moles and *get it done yesterday gene*…you are too funny. The cookies are too cute and I enjoyed the streaming video of all the cake bakers/decorators in your family. As good as your salad in a jar may be, I’m sure that your co-workers appreciated these little shamrock cookies even more.


Paula March 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

I’m not sure my co-workers appreciate salad in a jar. They just think I’m weird. 🙂


Simone March 13, 2011 at 5:17 am

Wow I love your cookies! I also have another question as I notice you use the same theme as I do for one of my blogs ( but I cannot get a good plugin for comments but yours seems just like the one I need. Can I ask which one you are using?
Thanks so much!


Paula March 13, 2011 at 5:39 am

Hi Simone, I use CommentLuv, ReplyMe and Akismet. Not sure exactly what you’re looking for but hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by.


Simone March 13, 2011 at 5:41 am

Thanks! That is exactly the info I needed (specifically the replyme one!)


Debbie March 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Love the pictures of the cookies and the cakes. Wish I had the “baking” energy that you have. But I thought you were making a cake today so am surprised to see the cookies. Oh… maybe the cake is coming up??


Dee D. March 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Wow, those look so cute 🙂 I never thought of pressing the cookie dough out in a ziplock bag, what a neat idea!


Kathy - Panini Happy March 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

These are so simple and festive for St. Patty’s Day!


Der March 12, 2011 at 9:28 am

Love, love, love the slideshow!!!! We definitely have some talented people in our family!!!!!
I plan on making these cookies this week… but I only have mickey mouse cookie cutter… I think that will work!


Paula March 12, 2011 at 9:50 am

Agreed on the family decorating talent. Mickey mouse will work just fine and I can imagine how tasty it will be to nibble on his ears.


Kalynskitchen March 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

Your cookies are just adorable. I’m definitely not a cake or cookie decorator either, but the wedding cake is pretty impressive.


Paula March 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

Thanks Kalyn, Sounds like we are kindred spirits when it comes to decorating–lots of other areas too.

How are you doing these days? Finding a new normal without our dads is difficult–don’t you think? Some days better than others. Same for you I suspect.


Nina March 12, 2011 at 8:29 am

Ok, I remember these cookies from your previous posts and am *so* making them for work this week. Timing of your post is perfect as I was looking for a good, easy green cookie to bring in. I will report back! Thanks for this one, Paula!


Paula March 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

Can’t wait to hear. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying your pound cake series.


Sis March 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

Good job!


heather March 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

I really should invest in some food coloring. These sweet little bites would be a nice treat to send with my fiancée who has a cross-country flight on St. Patrick’s Day!




Paula March 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

I use the cheap food coloring from the grocery store although I’m told the paste is better. Your fiance will be thinking very nice things about you if you send these with him. Guarantee it.


heather March 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

You are probably correct about that. Happy weekend to you and yours!



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