Cookies Holidays

Homemade Chocolate Shortbread

chocolate shortbread cookies on cooling rack

This is my favorite chocolate shortbread recipe; easy to make, and stores well for packing into cookie boxes. I make these cookies every holiday – they are a family favorite, and my mom has been known to smuggle them out of my house in her purse, only to bring them home and freeze them, eating one every day until she runs out.

This cookie seems so simple at a glance, but has good chocolate flavor (use a cocoa powder you love!) and sugar-y edges that are both beautiful and delicious.

I’ve included a twist variation so you get the best of both worlds. The “twist” cookie is the Vanilla Shortbread and Chocolate Shortbread combined; I sliced each log in half and then mixed and match for a fun, but also tasty, cookie. My kids preferred this version, but I always pick straight chocolate or vanilla.

Tips for Making Great Shortbread

Butter is the major ingredient here, so make sure to use a brand of butter that you love. These cookies also use cocoa powder for their chocolate flavor, so use a cocoa powder that you know and love, also.

I prefer to use unsalted butter so I can control how much salt I put into the cookie, but if you have a salted butter you love, you can use that instead; taste the finished dough before adding more salt. Make sure that the dough is completely combined, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixer.

How to Know When They’re Done Baking

It can sometimes be hard to tell when chocolate cookies are done baking. A couple cues for these particular chocolate cookies: the cookies will spread out in size, and they will feel firm to the touch.

Best Way to Store Chocolate Shortbread

Shortbread can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Shortbread can also be frozen: make sure the cookies are wrapped airtight (a ziplock freezer bag works good for this) and freeze for up to 2 months.

vanilla and chocolate shortbread cookies on cooling rack
chocolate shortbread cookies on cooling rack

Homemade Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Servings: 50 small cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 2 hours
This is my favorite chocolate shortbread recipe; easy to make, and stores well for packing into cookie boxes. This cookie has great chocolate flavor (use a cocoa powder you love!) and sugar-y edges that are both beautiful and delicious.
Sarah Kieffer
4.67 from 3 votes
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  • 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup [35 g] Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 cups [284 g] all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sanding sugar, for sprinkling


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and salt, and beat again on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg yolk and vanilla, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated, then add the flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a workspace and pat the dough into a 4 by 6 in [10 by 15 cm] rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half vertically, so it is now 2 in by 6 in [5 by 15 cm]. Roll and form each half into a log about 2 in [5 cm] wide and 6 or 7 in [15 or 16 cm] long. Place the log on a large piece of plastic, a few inches longer than the log. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of sanding sugar over each side of the log, covering the outside of the dough. Gently press the sugar into the dough with your hands. Wrap the log in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Line three sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle some more sanding sugar over each side of the log, if desired. Slice the chilled log into ½ in [12 mm] thick rounds. Space the rounds about 2 in [5 cm] apart on the sheet pans. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake until the edges are light golden brown but the centers are still pale, 14 to 16 minutes. Move the pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Twist Variation: Use one recipe of Vanilla Shortbread and one of Chocolate Shortbread. After shaping in logs, cut each log in half horizontally. Match a vanilla half with a chocolate half, press together, and then roll until the halves bind together. Sprinkle, chill, and bake as directed above.  
vanilla and chocolate shortbread cookies on cooling rack
  • Reply
    Friday, December 8, 2023 at 9:56 am

    5 stars
    I turned your chocolate and vanilla shortbread cookies into black and white striped cookies for my Christmas cookie box this year. I’ve done a version of this in the past, but your recipe is by far the best tasting and texture. My husband, and taste tester ;-), gave them a huge thumbs up. It will be now be my standard every Christmas. Thanks so much for this delicious recipe!

  • Reply
    Saturday, December 24, 2022 at 2:28 am

    4 stars
    I tried it! It was delicious,a bit to sweet for prefence,but with tea its absolutely perfect.Recommended??

  • Reply
    Nicole Shugars
    Monday, November 14, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    What brand of cocoa powder do you love?

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 12:06 pm

    Hi! Loving your cookbook! Question for you, I have one of those short-bread pans-it’s like a pie pan with cute indentations that decorate/imprint your cookies, and then you can slice it up like a pie and you get pie shaped pieces of shortbread. I hope I’m explaining that okay 🙂 Can I use this recipe in that pan? I think those pans are made for what they call Scottish shortbread, but I don’t really know what the difference is between that and any old shortbread. Sorry for the long comment! Either way I’m definitely making these for my friend’s upcoming 80th birthday party because they look so so yummy. Thanks so much for all that you do and your generosity in sharing such fabulous recipes. Take good care and happy holidays! Valerie

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