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.Leslie Mackie

Five round pistachio shortbread cookies with a few broken pistachios on the side.
4.93 / 26 votes
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!
David Leite
Servings20 cookies
Calories93 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup shelled raw or roasted pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, sanding sugar, or raw sugar, for garnish


  • 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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Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 93 kcalCarbohydrates: 9 gProtein: 1 gFat: 6 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 2 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 12 mgSodium: 59 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Leslie Mackie. Photo © 2012 Jim Henkens. All rights reserved.

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.

These delicate little pistachio shortbread cookies are quite addictive. I ate more than I care to admit before I put them away. The recipe itself was very straightforward. My roll of dough wasn’t perfectly round and was longer than specified in the recipe, so in the end I had 40 little cookies. Some were about 1/2 inch thick, as directed in the recipe, and the others more like 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. I baked the thinner cookies for a few minutes too long. The 1/2-inch-thick cookies took 17 to 18 minutes to bake. The finished product didn’t have flecks of green from the pistachio. Oh, as a side note, I don’t have a full-sized food processor so I used the small bowl/blade that came with my stick blender. In order to do so I just blended a half recipe at a time. I think that sugar with larger crystals would be nice instead of granulated sugar (and maybe a few grains of salt, too).

How much easier could these pistachio shortbread cookies be to make? Not much. You throw everything into the food processor and there you go. I used roasted pistachios because I had a bag of them in the fridge. Before baking the cookies, I brushed some of them with water and sprinkled sugar on the top as the recipes instructs. However, I didn’t notice any difference between those cookies and the ones I did nothing to. I rotated the sheet pan 180° after 8 minutes, and 7 minutes later the cookies were done. On a whim, I melted some semisweet chocolate in the microwave and dipped half of each cookie into the chocolate and then into chopped pistachios. It looked beautiful, however, it took away from the sheer simplicity of the cookie. We found that the cookies are best plain.

I absolutely loved these pistachio shortbread cookies and knew they’d get a big thumbs up from my tasters at the Lakers Game. First, a 9-year-old boy tasted the cookie and had the biggest smile on his face, and asked for another. The cookie came out a winner, as did the Lakers against the Chicago Bulls. About 20 tasters thanked me for sharing, including Jeannie Buss, President and owner of the Lakers, who thoughtfully evaluated the cookie. She concluded that if you like shortbread you’ll find it delicious, and thought it should be served with coffee or afternoon tea. (She prefers denser, sweeter, more satisfying sweets as after-dinner desserts.) The cookie is easy to make, wonderful to freeze for surprise guests, and all around a slam dunk of a recipe.

These subtle and sweet pistachio shortbread cookies were a hit. The cookie has a light crunch with a crumbly texture and the palest pistachio green color with a lovely sheen from the sugar on top. The flavors weren’t too bold and were well-balanced. A few minor challenges popped up. To start, it was difficult to find raw pistachios (I eventually found them at a Whole Foods in the bulk section). I also didn’t have as much cookie dough as the recipe indicated I should have. I could only make a 2-by-7-inch log out of the dough and therefore, only made about 14 cookies instead of 20. Next time, I’ll make the diameter of the cookie about 1 1/2 inches. The sugar on top is important since it adds a bit more sweetness to the cookie.

I loved this simple pistachio shortbread cookies recipe. With only 6 basic ingredients I wouldn’t doubt that you have most of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry already. The recipe calls for raw pistachios, but I had roasted in my pantry so I went ahead and used those. I thought they worked really well in the recipe. My only critique of the recipe itself is that it took my cookies 25 minutes to bake, not the suggested 15 to 18 minutes. They were still very soft at 18 minutes, but with 25 they were perfectly sandy and crumbly after they cooled. I think the addition of extra sugar on top of the cookies before they bake is a nice touch. I’d like to try it with sanding sugar instead of regular granulated sugar just for a bit more texture. Overall, these are delicious cookies that are great as a snack, would be wonderful with tea or coffee, and would be a nice addition to a dessert platter with some fresh strawberries and fancy chocolates.

Such an easy pistachio shortbread cookie to make and with such superior results. It’s crumbly and buttery, just as a shortbread cookie should be. The use of pistachios clearly takes this basic shortbread cookie to the next level. This recipe makes exactly 20 cookies. I shelled the pistachios and then decided it’d be a good idea to remove the skins. I boiled water and submerged the pistachios in the hot water for a few minutes. The skins slipped off very easily. The cookies were perfectly baked in 15 minutes. I used only 1 cookie sheet, which was adequate for the 20 cookies. A tablespoon of the sugar was about all I used for garnishing the cookies. This is a versatile cookie that can be made for various occasions. Because of the green hue, they’d be quite appropriate for Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or springtime in general.

I made a huge mistake with this pistachio shortbread cookie recipe—having my toddler help me shell the pistachios. It took much longer than expected, as half of them went straight into that little mouth of hers. Apart from that, wow, what an easy recipe to follow! I love it! And the final product is a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread with a nice, subtle pistachio taste. As usual, I did 2 batches, 1 with normal flour and another with a gluten-free all-purpose flour. Each batch made exactly 24 cookies. Will I make it again? Definitely!

I love this kind of slice-and-bake cookie, and this is a great pistachio shortbread recipe. The cookies are tender and just melt in your mouth. I wasn’t sure I really needed to brush the cookies with water, but it gave them a crackly, crisp crust of sugar on the top that I really liked. (I tried a few without water and they were fine, but the sugar kind of rolled off after they baked.) Next time I might cut them just a little bit thinner, but I wouldn’t change anything else.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This is probably a stupid question, but are you all using salted pistachios? I’d like to make these for our Christmas Eve party and have a pound of fresh salted pistachios on hand. Many thanks!

    1. Helen, that’s actually a very good question! Either salted or unsalted pistachios will work just fine. It’s really a personal preference sorta thing. I’d be partial to using the salted pistachios you have on hand simply because I personally quite like the hit of a little salt to play against the sweetness of shortbread. So if you’re like me, go right ahead and use the pistachios you already have.

      1. Thank you! That was my notion–use what you have. I love salt, so they’ll be delicious, I’m sure!

        1. You’re welcome! And yes, if you love salt, it will be perfect. Merry merry and happy happy!

  2. Aloha. I made the dough for this this morning. It’s the first time ever I’ve tried shortbread cookie dough. I don’t know if I prepped it right, maybe not pulsing it long enough as the dough I had turned out was more crumbly and came together just okay? So it’s in the fridge right now and I hope I can slice the log okay.

    1. Aloha, Stefanie. Yes, shortbread cookie dough tends to be drier and crumblier than most cookie dough. As long as it comes together and sticks together when you press it, everything should be perfectly fine. Would love to hear how it goes and what you think of the finished product. We’re crazy for these nutty, not-too-sweet little lovelies!

  3. 5 stars
    Hi. First of all, thank you for this simple recipe. I have made thee cookies countless times (maybe 10 times?), and they are the kids’ favorite. I would like to check though if you have any tips on why my cookies don’t look so sharp edged as what you have in the picture? My cookies always seem to have a larger diameter at the bottom of the cookie. I’m trying to perfect the look of the cookie. Thank you in advance!


    1. Hi Joy, have you tried freezing the dough? It might require a few extra minutes in the oven but helps with the spreading issue. You might also check the type of flour that you use. Some AP flours are higher in protein and gluten than others and produce a firmer cookie.

      1. Thanks! I’ll take note, I used bleached white flour because in Singapore, the unbleached flours are much more expensive. I’ll check out the effect of using diff flours:)