Cardamom and Cashew Cookies

Padma Lakshmi’s cardamom and cashew cookies are like delicate, yet exotic, Mexican wedding cookies. A lovely way to celebrate any occasion, even just a Tuesday afternoon coffee.

A bowl of cardamom and cashew cookies with one broken cookie beside the bowl.

I have to confess something. The original title of this cardamom and cashew cookies recipe is the wafty and wonderful “Clouds of Cardamom and Cashew Cookies,” which refers to how the unbaked blobs of dough appear after being carefully smashed on the baking sheet but before being baked. While it was the whimsical title that initially wooed me, it was the ethereal and delicate texture and sweet-but-not-too-sweet taste that truly captured my heart.–Padma Lakshmi

LC Disappearing Act Note

These magically delicate and nuanced cookies satisfy the little kid cookie craving in an adult sort of way. A word of caution: You may have already noticed that when you dust warm-from-the-oven cookies with confectioners’ sugar, the powdery stuff tends to be absorbed by the cookie, making your white dusting magically disappear. If this happens, just wait a little while for the cardamom and cashew cookies to cool and then try, try again—this time with a slightly thicker coating of sugar. (That probably won’t be the only trickiness you experience in terms of these cookies disappearing, though.)

Cardamom and Cashew Cookies

A bowl of cardamom and cashew cookies with one broken cookie beside the bowl.
Light and fluffy, like clouds, these cardamom and cashew cookies have a subtly nuanced flavor and a lovely rustic texture.

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Resting Time 20 minutes
Total 1 hour
24 to 30 cookies
126 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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  • 1/2 cup raw crushed cashews
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter chilled and cut into large pieces
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus plenty more for dusting
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  • Pulse the cashews in a food processor along with 1 to 2 tablespoons flour until the pieces are uniformly fine and the size of graham cracker crumbs destined for a pie crust. Be careful not to process the cashews so long that they clump and turn into cashew butter.
  • Using either a stand mixer or a wooden spoon and your biceps, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl to form a stiff mixture. Add the remaining flour, cashews, vanilla, cardamom, and salt, and mix well to form a dough. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Shape small balls of dough, about 1 inch in diameter, and place them on the baking sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart. Smash the balls with the bottom of a small glass lightly dipped in flour to prevent sticking. (You may need to dip the glass in flour for each cookie to prevent sticking. If the glass still sticks to the cookie dough, twist it as you pull up on the glass.) Make sure the cookies don’t touch one another.
  • Bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes or so. They're done when the edges are a pale golden color and the bottoms, if you peek, are uniformly pale golden brown. Dust the cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. If the sugar is instantly absorbed by the warm cookies, wait a few moments to let them cool and then dust them again with a slightly thicker layer of sugar. Let the cookies cool on wire racks. (The cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container. Find information on storing cookies here.)
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 126kcal (6%)Carbohydrates: 10g (3%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 9g (14%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 20mg (7%)Sodium: 14mg (1%)Potassium: 33mg (1%)Fiber: 0.4g (2%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 235IU (5%)Vitamin C: 0.03mgCalcium: 5mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Everyone loved this cardamom and cashew cookies recipe. They came out light, airy, and delicate. The flavor was nutty, not overly sweet, and buttery. They were reminiscent of a Russian tea cake, only thin and crisp. I combined the ingredients in my stand mixture and everything came together effortlessly. I was wondering how thin to smoosh the dough and decided on about 1/8 inch. This worked very well. The cookies smelled wonderful while they baked. It took about 20 minutes or so for the edges to become lightly brown and crisp. They disappeared pretty quickly.

As I started to read over this cardamom and cashew cookies recipe, I was surprised to not see ingredients I expect in a cookie recipe, like eggs, sugar, and baking soda or powder. But the recipe was very easy and took so little time to put together. These reminded us of cookies we had in Europe and Africa—not too sweet and perfectly buttery and melt-in-your-mouth. The dough was very sticky but easy to work. I dusted my glass with flour after flattening each cookie. When I took the cookies out of the oven, they were golden on the edges. I covered each with a light dusting of confectioners sugar that quickly disappeared, so I repeated this process with a thicker layer. They were amazing! Kind of a mix between a shortbread cookie and a wedding cookie without the larger nut pieces (I ground my cashews to graham cracker crumb size so you could not tell they were there). Definitely a recipe to keep!

I love cardamom, so I was really interested in this cardamom and cashew cookies recipe. The technique for making these cookies was super simple and would work for any type of shortbread cookie. I used a stand mixer and mixed the dough until it was crumbly, yet bits of butter were still visible. I don’t know why the dough needed to rest, but I waited the 30 minutes and used a scoop to minimize the amount that I had to work the dough. I baked the cookies until the edges were just beginning to get golden and the bottoms were light golden. The texture was light as a feather, and the flavor was unique in a grown-up way. The dusting of sugar was the perfect touch of sweetness. I ground the cardamom fresh so the flavor really came through.

This cardamom and cashew cookies recipe is very easy to prepare, and the results are wonderful. It’s a light, melt-in-your-mouth type of cookie. My tasters loved the combination of cardamom and cashews. The flavors weren’t strongly present, but they worked in a subtle way to impart flavor and a delicate texture. The cashews were crushed to a relatively fine texture in the food processor. I used a 1-inch ice cream scoop to portion the cookies onto the baking sheet. Smashing the balls with a glass dipped in flour was a little difficult because the cookies kept sticking to the glass. To make this easier, my mother suggested “twirling” the glass, and it worked very well. When the cookies were done, they were golden on the edges and a pale golden on top.

These cardamom and cashew cookies are a delicious little bite for tea time—not too sweet, just right. It resembles a shortbread cookie but is lighter in texture and doesn’t seem quite as rich (although it probably is).The cookies aren’t very sweet, so don’t be afraid to give them a generous dusting of confectioners sugar. A couple of things to make the recipe easier: Use a food processor to crush the cashews if you have one—they need to be fairly fine and very uniform to easily roll the cookies into balls and flatten them. It should be the texture of graham cracker crust—if you add a tablespoon of the sugar to the cashews, they won’t get sticky when you process them. Since the butter is chilled, the step of combining the butter and sugar really can’t be done by hand to get a good result. All of the butter needs to be smooth and creamy—if there are butter lumps, again it will be hard to roll and flatten the cookies.

This cardamom and cashew cookies recipe is easy to make and incredibly buttery. I love cashews and there’s definitely a hint of that. (I’d like an even greater cashew flavor, if possible, but these are definitely good as is.) I baked the cookies until they were lightly golden on the edges and, if you peek underneath, they looked uniformly golden. I actually used the food processor for the cashews. I put in a little bit of flour from the recipe to prevent the cashews from becoming cashew butter (adding some of the sugar would also work). These cookies were so popular that I couldn’t keep them from walking out of the house.

Originally published August 22, 2014


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  1. 5 stars
    HIT… Christmas party glossed over the flan, cheesecakes, and Christmas cookies and finished all of these! (Closely followed by the Lemon Biscotti from your site). David, you, and your friends (Padma Lakshmi) make cookies look easy…I gladly share your site with my friends. Thank you.

  2. They sound good. HOWEVER… I am leaving all animal fat at the grocery store these days and wondered if you have any thoughts on how to make them with Bertolli extra lite olive oil, my goto substitute? This works great in bread and oatmeal cookies but your recipe is more elevated and subtle.
    Perhaps make some of the cashews into butter? I have a Vitamix and make lots of butters. Maybe add some skim milk?

    1. Hi Robin, I posed your question to our testers and the general consensus is that Earth Balance sticks work perfectly in cookie recipes. Let us know what you think.

  3. I love cardamom and cashews, so this recipe is going to the top of my list! Do you recommend green vs black cardamom, or either?

    1. Terrific to hear, Quinn! Our testers made the recipe with green cardamom. We’re big fans of savory and sweet, but we weren’t quite certain how the slight smokiness of the black cardamom would work in tandem with the sweet confectioners’ sugar. Whichever you choose, kindly let us know your thoughts…

  4. David, these sound positively delicious and I’ll try them very soon. One question, though. The list of ingredients says 2 cups all- purpose flour plus more for dusting. Do you mix the extra flour with the extra XXX sugar or is that for dusting the parchment paper? I love Indian food and cardamom and cashews are staples in South Indian cooking. But I don’t think my waistline would ever let me live in India. The first time I went I gained 21 pounds in 21 days. How is that possible you ask? I spent three weeks eating in private homes and wonderful restaurants with a knife and fork in my hand. The food was so good but I had to resist the temptation to use my FIRST utensil choice: a shovel.

    1. Michael K., I know you addressed your query to David, and hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to respond. The flour referred to in “plus more for dusting” is for the bottom of the glass that you use to smash the cookie dough. The extra confectioners’ sugar, or XXX sugar, is for dusting the cookies after they come out of the oven. I hope this helps. And I think a preference for a shovel is completely understandable!

    1. Yes, Stu, they’re similar to those. They’re also similar in ways to Mexican wedding cookies. And yet they’re uniquely their own. Give ’em a try, let us know what you think!

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