Nana’s Shortbread Christmas Cookies

I posted this recipe on my blog about four years ago, but it was kind of buried with other things that were happening in that time of my life, so I have decided to redo it.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that my beautiful Nana is 101 years old and still going strong!


You may also know that my Nana is famous in our family for her cooking and baking, most notably her shortbread Christmas cookies.

She made these every year when I was growing up, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I still can’t get enough of them. These cookies taste like childhood to me.  I use her exact recipe, use the same cookie cutters she used to — well, the stockings and the gingerbread men are new, she used this weird Santa cutter and no one could ever tell what it was — and I try to ice them exactly how she used to.

I have also made them for Easter, so they are quite versatile.

They are seriously the best cookies I have ever tasted. Everyone who eats them also says they are the best cookies they have ever tasted. They just melt in your mouth.

They are a bit of work, but so, so worth it. I hope to make them every Christmas for the rest of my life, and hopefully one day my grandchildren will rave on about my Christmas cookies (or my cats, if I don’t have grandchildren, because there is so much butter in them that my 22-year-old cat likes them too. Yeah, my Nana and my cat are basically the same).


Here we go!



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (secret weapon)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla (Nana says this is very important for flavour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1  Whip butter with an electric mixer.

2  Slowly stir in icing sugar, cornstarch, (sifted) flour and vanilla.

3  Mix until dough “sqeaks” (Nana is very adamant that the dough must squeak!) Once I get to this point I usually use my hands to get the dough squeaking.

4  Roll out dough in 1 cup (ish) increments. This is very important: roll out your dough between two sheets of parchment paper. If you do not do this, your dough will stick to EVERYTHING. It will just be a big annoying mess. I was so frustrated the first time I made these, and then I found the beauty that is parchment paper, and all is well.

5  Once your dough is rolled flat (not too thin), put it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. I always find it’s easier to work with chilled dough than warm dough, because warm dough, again, sticks to everything. It’s hard to get it out of the cookie-cutters when it’s too warm.

6  Bring a slab of dough out from the freezer and go to town with the cookie cutters!

(I usually put the scraps in a bowl and repeat the process so it doesn’t go to waste.)

7  Place each cookie on a baking sheet. I like to prick my cookies a few times with a fork, because my Nana used to, but I don’t know if that actually does anything. Bake for about 9 minutes, but you should watch them after 7 minutes or so because they will brown really quickly and you do not want brown cookies.

8  Remove cookies from oven. Allow to cool.

While your cookies are cooling, you can make your icing! It is a very important part of the cookie.

I use my Nana’s recipe for this also:



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (do not melt your butter, the icing will be too runny)
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • splash of milk. I do not measure this, but I would estimate maybe 1/4 cup. You don’t want to use a lot [I used too much in my above Easter cookies pic, and notice the icing looks a little runny), so I typically just use enough to get things moving).


  1. Just mix until you have beautiful looking, delicious tasting icing.

Yes oh yes.

Once your cookies are cooled, ice them!


I usually keep one white icing and then use food colouring to do red, yellow and green.


And then you eat them.


I’ll be taking these cookies to my Nana on Sunday. She better appreciate (just kidding).

If you’re looking to make a holiday cookie, these are IT! Enjoy! And let me know if you try them!


8 responses to “Nana’s Shortbread Christmas Cookies

  1. MMM I love cookies. I wouldnt mind if one of these bad boys showed up to dinner tonight :).

    Im sure your Nana will love them! My family’s special christmas dessert is something called Christmas Swirls, which are basically a mixture of straight up icing sugar, vanilla pudding mix, evaporated milk and peppermint. The secret ingredient is more sugar.

  2. Nancy McCartney

    The infamous shortbread cookies make my mouth water! Such fond Christmas memories. Way to go Lindsey. Nanny will enjoy yours on Sunday. I am seeing her tomorrow. xo

  3. I’m going to make these next week and the perogies. Merry Christmas!!

  4. These sound perfect, anything nana approved is a win in my book 🙂

  5. Oh wow…I am definitely trying these! I just made cookies with the kids on Saturday and wish I had seen this first! Hope your Nana loved them yesterday!

  6. Hey Lindsey, I tried the recipe this year after reading about it for a few years and I ran into a bit of a snag! When I took them out of the oven, the cookies totally disintegrated, like you can’t even hold one before it crumbles. Is this a common problem?? Any help for the future would be awesome!

    • Oh no! That sucks! No, that has never happened to me, however it ALMOST happened to me this year because I accidentally doubled the butter without doubling the rest of the recipe, but I noticed the dough wasn’t right before I put it in the oven – way too sticky and thin. Did you possibly put a pound of butter (or one full stick) instead of a cup (half stick?) I feel like that could be the problem. Otherwise I don’t know but I am so sorry they didn’t turn out!