Pistachio shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate and topped with more pistachios and sea salt! I love holiday baking season, especially when I’m baking these pistachio shortbread cookies. These are slice-and-bake cookies, and the dough can be made ahead of time.
December has begun and I’m very excited about holiday baking season! Baking cookies is so much fun, especially when it’s time to decorate them. I love pistachios, so I knew I had to bake pistachio shortbread cookies right away.
The pistachio shortbread base is so tender, buttery, and perfectly sweet with a hint of salt. Plus, they are dipped in smooth dark chocolate, then topped with pistachios and sea salt. Sounds pretty darn good, right?! I seriously have a weakness for these pistachio shortbread cookies.
I’ve got some pretty awesome holiday baking recipes coming. In fact, I just posted my favorite peppermint mocha cookie recipe! Stay tuned for more holiday baking recipes, friends. You’ll love them!
Slice-and-Bake Shortbread Cookies
One of the great things about this pistachio shortbread recipe is that you can make the dough ahead of time.
I usually make it the night before and refrigerate it so it’s firm and ready to be sliced the next day. They need to refrigerate for at least 3 hours anyway. You definitely don’t want to bake shortbread cookies if they are not cold and firm…unless you want sloppy and shapeless cookies.
Some things to keep in mind when baking shortbread cookies:
- Start with softened, room temperature butter: You’ll need to cream the butter with the sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Also, don’t try to take a shortcut by using cold butter. Cold butter pockets in the dough create flaky “cookies.” Now, I know some people like to use cold butter and make the dough in the food processor, but I’ve found that that doesn’t work too well – shortbread dough made with cold butter turns out a bit too coarse, at least in my experience.
- Chill the dough: The shortbread dough needs to stay cold and firm for the cookies to maintain their shape in the oven. Refrigerate the shortbread dough in logs (see picture below) for at least 3 hours or overnight. Overnight is better.
- Make sure the sheet pans are cooled down and use parchment paper.
- Bake at 325 degrees F: A relatively low baking temperature prevents the cookies from browning too fast.
That’s my shortbread cookie wisdom right there. If you have any other tips or suggestions, feel free to share in the comments section below!
Pistachio Shortbread Cookies Ingredients
Only 8 ingredients needed in this easy pistachio shortbread recipe, and the list includes the decorative items too!
- Softened unsalted butter: Make sure it’s softened and at room temperature so you can cream it with the sugar.
- Granulated sugar: Don’t substitute for brown sugar here, or your cookies will turn out chewy.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla makes everything better!
- All-purpose flour: You’ll need about 2 1/4 cups.
- Salt: I love that hint of salt in shortbread.
- Lightly salted pistachios: Coarsely chopped so you don’t get bug chunks of pistachio in each bite.
- Dark chocolate: Pistachios and dark chocolate go so well together. However, you can use semi-sweet chocolate instead if you want.
- Flaky sea salt: This is optional.
As you can see, this pistachio shortbread cookies use very easy-to-find ingredients, many of which you may already have in your pantry!
How to Make Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
Making these cookies is super easy and fun! You can find detailed ingredient quantities and instructions in the recipe card below, but here’s the gist:
- Make the dough: Softened butter, sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla.
- Roll out the dough into two logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Slice them: use a sharp knife.
- Bake them! 325 degrees F for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown.
- Decorate them! I dipped them in melted dark chocolate and topped them with pistachio pieces and sea salt.
Yup, that’s it! Easy peasy.
Honestly, I think the hardest part is waiting for the dough to harden in the refrigerator. Patience is a learned skill.
Make Them Ahead
The great thing about this pistachio shortbread recipe is that it’s a great make ahead option! I don’t know about you, but with so many things to bake this month, make-ahead cookie recipes make life so much easier.
You can make the dough up to 3 days in advance and refrigerate them. Just make sure that you shape them like logs (wrapped in plastic) so that they are ready to slice and bake.
You can also freeze unbaked shortbread dough for up to 2 months. Remember to thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator before slicing them.
Decorating These Cookies
To decorate these cookies, I used:
- Melted dark chocolate
- Pistachio bits
- Flaky sea salt
Here are some ideas to decorate the cookies:
- Dip them halfway through in the melted chocolate and top with pistachios and sea salt (this is what I did!)
- Drizzle chocolate over the cookies and top with pistachios and sea salt
- Dunk the entire cookie in chocolate (you may need to double up on the chocolate) and top with pistachios and sea salt
- Make patterns with the melted chocolate. To do this, place melted chocolate in a Ziploc bag and snip off a small hole in the corner. Then, make the patterns you’d like, such as hearts, lines, dots, etc.
You get the point: just be creative and do whatever you feel like doing!
And there you have it! Easy, simple, and elegant!
I think pistachios, shortbread, and dark chocolate are the perfect combination. It’s nutty, a bit sweet with a hint of salt, and decadent…all in one bite. These shortbread cookies were definitely a big hit in my house. Another great recipe to check out is my friend Sandra’s pistachio cardamom cookies!
You’ll absolutely love these cookies. I promise!
More holiday baking ideas on the blog:
- Peppermint Mocha Cookies
- Cranberry Crumb Bars
- Nutella Sandwich Cookies
- Strawberry Cake Roll
- Classic Apple Pie
- Apple Bundt Cake
Thank you for reading! And please don’t forget to pin this recipe. Much appreciated!
Tips for Success
- For the dough, start with softened butter at room temperature: you’ll cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, and in order to do this, the butter needs to be softened.
- Chill the dough for AT LEAST 3 hours or overnight! The cookies need to be cold before they go into the oven so that they retain their shape.
- Use parchment paper (not wax paper): Parchment paper will keep everything clean and easy to remove.
- If you’re making multiple batches, make sure the baking sheets are cooled down in between.
- Transfer them to a cooling rack: After they have cooled down a bit (about 2-3 minutes after you remove them from the oven), transfer the cookies to a cooling rack using a spatula. This will ensure even cooling and prevent soggy cookies.
Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup lightly salted pistachios, plus about 1/3 cup more for topping (shells removed, coarsely chopped)
- 12 oz dark chocolate bar
- Flaky sea salt
- In a stand mixer (using the paddle attachment) or with a handheld mixer, beat the softened butter on high speed for about 1 minute until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until light and fluffy for about 1-2 minutes. Decrease to medium speed, and mix in the salt and flour until evenly incorporated. Add the pistachios and mix a few more times on low speed until evenly incorporated.
- Divide up the dough into two equal parts. Transfer each dough onto plastic wrap and roll into 2.5 inch diameter logs. Wrap tightly, twisting the ends (see picture above). You should have two logs. Refrigerate them for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Slice cookies into 1/3 inch thick slices, and place them on prepared sheet pans. Make sure they stay cold so that they retain their shape in the oven. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden on the edges. They will look soft, but will harden as they cool down.
- Remove from oven and let them cool on the pan for a 5 minutes or so. After they are manageable, transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
- Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate in the microwave oven, checking and stirring every 10-15 seconds. Dip cookies halfway through into the melted chocolate, and place on a lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with the pistachio bits and some sea salt if desired. Let them cool until the chocolate hardens. Enjoy!
- Special equipment: stand mixer or handheld mixer, plastic wrap, sheet pans, parchment paper, cooling rack.
- If making multiple batches, make sure to cool the sheet pans in between.
- Make ahead: You can make the dough ahead of time (steps 1-2) and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the unbaked dough for up to 2 months - when ready to use, thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.