These unbelievably vegan shortbread cookies taste just like the classic and use just 5 ingredients! Chewy, crisp, “buttery,” and sweet, this Christmas shortbread recipe is the perfect recipe for a cookie exchange!

Amazing Vegan Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Of course, Christmas and this wonderful holiday time of year really needs a classic cookie, especially for all of the fun cookie exchanges and cookie gifting opportunities! And how wonderful would it be to be able to bake and share a deliciously vegan shortbread cookie that is even simpler in ingredients and tastes just like the classic?

These vegan shortbread cookies are truly the shortbread cookie to make this season. You get the wonderfully crisp and melt-in-your-mouth vanilla and sweet taste of a traditional shortbread cookies, but without the eggs and butter!

What is the difference between shortbread and butter cookies?

If you’ve ever had shortbread, you know how lovely it is. It’s crisp, chewy, and deliciously sweet, and just melts in your mouth at the first bite. Butter cookies are also similar and can be quite often confused with shortbread cookies (and even sugar cookies too, but more on that later!).

The main difference between a shortbread cookie and a butter cookie is the ratio of flour to butter. All three cookies are actually very similar in ingredients (even the vegan versions!). However, shortbread cookies tend to have a higher flour content compare to the butter content, whereas butter cookies are more “buttery” and rely on higher levels of butter to flour to create their consistency and texture.

christmas shortbread on parchment paper

Ingredients:

Here are the 5 ingredients you need to make this vegan Christmas shortbread:

  • Flour: I used all-purpose flour, but you could also use gluten free 1:1 baking flour. I’ve tested this with Bob’s Red Mill in the blue bag.
  • Arrowroot starch: You can also swap in cornstarch as needed for these shortbread cookies!
  • Sugar: I used granulated organic sugar (specifically Florida crystals, although I think it’s just local to Florida!). Using organic ensures that your sugar is vegan.
  • Vegan butter: I recommend using Miyoko’s vegan butter or Flora Plant Butter if you’re nut free! Earth Balance also works. It’s not personally my favorite, but if it’s the only option, then you can use it!
  • Vanilla extract: For flavor! I actually used vanilla powder from Anima Mundi Herbals in one test (which is photographed here- you’ll see the specs of vanilla seed!). It’s absolutely wonderful!

How to make vegan shortbread cookies (overview)

For the full written instructions and ingredient measurements, see the bottom of this post in the recipe card. You can also hit the “jump to recipe” button at the top of this post! Here, we’ll go over a brief overview of the steps, along with providing visuals for a better understanding of the recipe.

Here’s how to make these easy vegan shortbread cookies:

  1. Whisk together the flour and arrowroot in a separate bowl.

    Then set aside.

  2. Cream together the vegan butter and sugar.

    You want the butter and sugar to be a fluffy consistency, so this should take about 3-5 minutes. You can use a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a hand mixer. Then mix in the vanilla.how to make shortbread cookies

  3. Add in the flour to the butter mixture.

    Use a silicone spatula to fold the flour into the vegan butter mixture. It won’t seem like it will come together at first, but it does! Keep folding!vegan shortbread cookie dough

  4. Chill the dough.

    This step is imperative! You’ll need to chill the dough for about 30 minutes, until cold.chilling the cookie dough

  5. Roll out the dough to be 1/3″ thick and cut the cookies.

    I used one of my Linzer cookie cutters to create that scalloped edge, but you can also cut your shortbread cookies into squares or rectangles!cutting out the shortbread cookies

  6. Chill the cookies again.

    While the cookies are chilling, you’ll preheat the oven! Make sure that you’ve spaced the cookies about 2″ apart, or they might end up baking together.

  7. Bake the cookies.

    Bake the cookies for just 12-14 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Then allow the cookies to set and decorate!baked shortbread cookies

My favorite part about these vegan Christmas cookies is the decorating part. Much like vegan sugar cookies, you can use a simply royal icing to decorate and make this Christmas shortbread a complete showstopper.

I dip the top of the cookie into royal icing and allow the icing to fully set. Since our vegan royal icing uses aquafaba, it sets quite nicely.

Then I pipe vegan buttercream (colored with rose powder from Anima Mundi Herbals for pink!) in the shape of a Christmas tree, and sprinkle Christmas colored sprinkles or decorating sugar (Sweetapolita has a lot of awesome vegan sprinkles!) for decoration.

In terms of equipment, you’ll also need a piping bag to pipe the icing onto the cookies, but that’s really it! These vegan shortbread cookies are really easy to decorate.

Storage & Freezing tips

If you don’t have the time to bake these shortbread cookies all in one day, not a problem at all. You can easily freeze the dough at various stages and bake when you need them! Here’s how to freeze your shortbread cookie dough:

  • Freezing the shortbread cookie dough: Make the cookie dough all the way through the chilling process. Once the dough is fully chilled, it will be easier to wrap tighter and freeze again. Wrap the chilled dough in another layer of plastic wrap or tinfoil to be sure that no air gets in. Then place the dough into the freezer to chill for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to use it again, you can place it in the fridge to thaw overnight, or leave it at room temperature for about 3-4 hours.
  • Freezing the shortbread cookies pre-cut: If you’ve made the dough, rolled it out, and cut out your shortbread cookies, but don’t have enough time to bake them, you can also freeze them before baking! Place your baking sheet into the freezer to freeze the pre-cut shortbread cookie dough for 15 minutes. Once frozen, remove the baking sheet from the freezer, and stack the cookies in rows in a storage container, placing a piece of parchment paper down in between each row. Cover and freeze for up to 2 months!

Once your shortbread cookies have been baked, here’s how to store them:

  • Refrigerator: Allow the decorations to set. You can also place the cookies onto a cookie sheet and into the freezer to fully set for 10 minutes. Then carefully place the baked cookies into an airtight container, lining each row with parchment paper. Place the container into the fridge. The cookies will last about 6 days.
  • Freezer: Repeat the same storage process for the refrigeration, however, this time place the cookies into the freezer. They’ll last about 3 months in the freezer.
vegan shortbread cookies

Vegan Shortbread FAQs

Can I use oil instead of butter?

Unfortunately, these shortbread cookies will not work too well with oil. With coconut oil, you would need to add in water to help balance out the fat content, but that might result in the cookie spreading too much.

Can these vegan shortbread cookies be made gluten free?

Yes, you can easily make these vegan gluten free shortbread cookies by substituting in gluten free 1:1 baking flour (I specifically use Bob’s Red Mill in the BLUE bag, it’s called 1:1 Baking Flour!).

What is the difference between shortbread cookies and sugar cookies?

We’ve gone over what makes a shortbread cookie different from a butter cookie, but sugar cookies are also quite similar! What makes a shortbread cookie different from a sugar cookie is that sugar cookies typically have the addition of almond flour or almond extract for flavoring. In terms of taste and texture, sugar cookies also tender to be a bit lighter in texture than shortbread!

What vegan butter do you recommend?

For the best tasting vegan shortbread cookies, I recommend using Miyoko’s vegan butter. I personally use the salted version and that’s why my Christmas shortbread cookie doesn’t contain any added salt!

Should shortbread dough be chilled before baking?

You will absolutely need to chill the shortbread cookie dough before rolling it out and before baking. I know how tempting it is to just bake your cookies all in one go, but it really is crucial to chill the dough if you want your Christmas shortbread cookies to hold their shape! To speed up the time of chilling, however, I like the chill the pre-cut shortbread cookies in the freezer right before baking. You’ll need only about 15 minutes rather than 30 minutes then!

Why are my shortbread cookies crumbly?

This can happen if you omit the arrowroot starch (or cornstarch) from the recipe. It’s just a tablespoon, but that tablespoon actually does quite a bit of work in this shortbread cookie recipe! Arrowroot starch helps to bind the ingredients together and create a bit of a smoother texture, so that your vegan shortbread cookies aren’t crumbly.

vegan christmas shortbread

I know you’re just going to love these easy vegan shortbread cookies! They’re the perfect Christmas treat, just so easy to make, and a wonderful cookie gift if you’re doing a cookie exchange!

Be sure to check back for the remaining days of Cookie Week here, where I’ll update the new recipes, along with an update on how to build your very own cookie box!

Want to save this recipe for later? Add it to your favorite recipe board on Pinterest!

Amazing Vegan Shortbread Cookies Recipe

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

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Amazing Vegan Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Easy Vegan Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: thebananadiaries
  • Prep Time: 5
  • 30 min, chill time:
  • Cook Time: 12
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 32 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

These unbelievably vegan shortbread cookies taste just like the classic and use just 5 ingredients! Chewy, crisp, “buttery,” and sweet, this Christmas shortbread recipe is the perfect recipe for a cookie exchange!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour or gluten free flour
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegan butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional decoration:


Instructions

  1. Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  2. Prep: Measure out all ingredients. Make sure you have a round and ridged cookie cutter, such as one you would use for Linzer cookies.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and arrowroot starch. Set aside.
  4. Make the dough: In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with paddle attachment, and cream together the vegan butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated. Sift in the flour, and use a silicone spatula to fold until the flour has completely mixed into the dough. This will take a bit of effort, but it does entirely mix into the butter.
  5. Chill the dough: Place the shortbread dough onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes or until the dough is completely cold again.
  6. While the dough is chilling: Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll out the dough: Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper or a clean surface, as well as the dough and rolling pin. Roll the dough to be 1/3″ thick. Use your cookie cutter and cut out the shortbread cookies. Peel back the dough and use a spatula to transfer the pre-cut cookies to your baking sheet. Make sure that the cookies are at least 2″ apart. Repeat the process for the remaining dough. You should yield 32 shortbread cookies.
  8. Chill the cookies again: Place the cookie sheets into the freezer this time, and chill the dough while the oven preheats to 350F.
  9. Bake the cookies: Once the oven is preheated, place the chilled baking sheets into the oven, and bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden and set. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes to solidify (they will be soft when they first come out of the oven).
  10. Decorate the shortbread! Once the cookies are cooled, you can dip them into royal icing and pipe Christmas trees onto them. Sprinkle with vegan confetti sprinkles and enjoy!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cookie no decoration
  • Calories: 77
  • Sugar: 4.7 g
  • Sodium: 55.3 mg
  • Fat: 2.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.7 g
  • Fiber: 0.2 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: vegan shortbread, christmas shortbread, shortbread cookies, easy shortbread cookies