Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

These pistachio shortbread cookies are tender and crumbly like shortbread, yet subtly flavored and sweet like cookies. So which are they? Who cares when they taste this lovely!

Five round pistachio shortbread cookies with a few broken pistachios on the side

Are these little lovelies pistachio shortbread or are they pistachio cookies? They’re buttery and rich like cookies but tender and crumbly like shortbread. They’re also subtly flavored and perfectly sweet. Maybe they’re both.  Perhaps they’re neither. We’ll let you be the judge. Whatever you call them, they’re definitely a godsend during the hectic holiday season seeing as the cookie dough can be made and rolled into a log, stashed in the fridge or freezer, and then sliced and baked as needed. Originally published April 19, 2013.Leslie Mackie

Pistachio Shortbread Cookie

  • Quick Glance
  • (8)
  • 20 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 20 2-inch cookies
5/5 - 8 reviews
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Pulse the flour, granulated sugar, salt, pistachios, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor for 1 to 2 minutes, until the pistachios are finely ground. Scatter the butter pieces in the food processor and pulse several times to cut the butter into the flour. Stop pulsing when the ingredients just come together and cling to one another. (Watch carefully, as food processors work very fast and can easily overmix the dough. At first the mixture will have a coarse, crumbly texture, but then if you’re not careful it will quickly turn into a paste.)

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a log about 2 inches in diameter and 10 inches long. (If the dough is too sticky, toss it in the fridge for 10 or so minutes to make it easier to work with. Dampening your hands ever so slightly with cold water also helps.) Place the log on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Tightly roll the wrap around the log and twist the ends to seal them securely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days. (This dough also freezes well for up to 3 weeks if wrapped tightly in plastic.)

Position 2 racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF (163ºC). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut the chilled cookie dough into 1/2-inch-thick coins and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly brush the top of each shortbread cookie with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden brown on both top and bottom. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the pistachio shortbread cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

These pistachio shortbread cookies were really good. They came together very quickly and had a wonderful flavor. I could see using other nuts in place of the pistachios.

I’m addicted to pistachios and looked forward to this pistachio shortbread cookies recipe. The directions were very explicit and certainly would help the novice be successful. I didn’t find the dough “sticky,” and I used the overnight chilling option. The color is a “natural green”—as the recipe states—only before they bake. After they bake they’re a golden brown with some green flecks. These aren’t really shortbread texture. They’re crumbly to the tooth and definitely similar to sablés croquants. The pistachios give a nice texture to the shortbread, but the pistachio flavor is very subtle and masked by the other ingredients. The cookies might benefit from substituting pure almond flavoring for the vanilla. When I make these again, I’ll double the recipe. All of the above being said, they were so good that I did eat 6 before stopping.


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  1. I’ve made with toasted hazelnuts in place of pistachios, and the results were supreme. In place of 1/2 tsp. vanilla, I used 1/4 tsp hazelnut extract and 1/4 vanilla. Oh, they’re so lovely. My husband remarked “. . .I can’t stop eating these. . .”. Keeper! As usual with you guys, thank you.

    1. You’re welcome, Judith! Hazelnuts do sound like a lovely pistachio substitute, particularly with the additional hazelnut extract. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  2. I’ve made these for Christmas for several years, and they are always a hit. This year I tossed in a couple of tablespoons of cranberries which is pretty and delicious.

  3. First time I’ve made shortbread cookies in the food processor. I think I did something wrong, or maybe it was because I doubled the recipe, but when I turned the mixture out onto my baking slab, it was all crumbs and wouldn’t come together at all. I put it back into the food processor and added 1/2 + more butter, then turned it back out and it came together. I’m a little worried about the extra butter, but am hoping that the cookies come out well in the bake. My two rolls are currently resting in the fridge. Will update once they are baked off. I do welcome any advice or comment about my crumbly experience. Was it because I doubled the recipe?

    1. Hi Lillian, it was possibly because you doubled the recipe or maybe didn’t process quite long enough. The dough will be a crumbly dough but should come together. Please let us know how the additional butter worked and how the cookies stayed together once baked.

      1. Well–the baking didn’t go so well. The cookies spread out into thin wafers on my baking mats. I could hardly get them off in one piece, and some just crumbled as I tried to lift them off the mats. I kept the crumbles and we are using them over ice cream, and they are delicious. I’m thinking that maybe I over-processed the dough in the first place, and I think the extra butter was also a factor in the spread during the baking. Next time I will make one recipe and follow it to a T!

        1. Hi Lillian, I’m so sorry about the cookies. I worried about that extra butter. As baking recipes can be so precise, we find it is best to make them as written initially, then once you get the hang of the recipes, you can play around with it.

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