Looking for more clever ways to incorporate your favorite festive peppermint treat into your life? These Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies have a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth base to showcase crunchy bits of peppermint bliss.
This recipe takes my go-to shortbread recipe and gives it a Christmas-time spin by incorporating the treat that is synonymous with Holiday cheer: the candy cane!
Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies Ingredients
Here’s everything else you’ll need:
- Unsalted Butter. Using unsalted butter allows you to control how much salt you add to your cookies. It’s important that your butter is softened (not too solid, and not melted) to get the perfect cookie texture.
- Powdered sugar. Aka confectioners sugar or icing sugar. This gives you fluffy melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies.
- All-purpose flour. The base of your dough.
- Salt. Just to amp up the natural flavors of the cookie.
- Egg yolk. Just the yolk! But don’t waste the egg white. Check out this Egg White French Toast.
- Vanilla extract. For flavor.
- Candy canes. The star! Crush up 2-3 candy canes (or 5-6 minis) until you get about 2 tablespoons of crushed candy cane.
Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies Tips and Tricks
Set Yourself Up for Christmas Cookie Baking Success!
First things first! Start your baking process by pre-heating the oven to 350°F and lining your cookie sheet. Personally, I also like to measure all of my ingredients ahead of time, so my baking process is easy and seamless.
I find that a hand mixer is the best tool to cream the sugar and butter together for the base of your cookies. It’s also the easiest way to combine the rest of the ingredients and whip up your glaze.
I use this Cuisinart Hand Mixer for almost all of my baking and love it!
Green tip: Consider using reusable baking mats for a more sustainable option!
The Secret is In the Softening
The butter you use should be unsalted, so you can control the amount of salt you are adding to your cookies. You will also want to make sure your butter is nice and soft.
If you take the butter out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before you get started, that should be plenty of time for it to soften. If you forget to take it out—don’t worry! Just microwave it in 15-second intervals until you get the right consistency.
For more simple and quick ways to soften butter without the microwave, check out this article on how to quickly and easily soften butter.
Remember, we are striving for softened, not melted. You’ll know your butter is softened when your finger leaves an imprint when you poke it.
Green tip: Look for organic and palm oil-free butter if you can. Buying organic means you are supporting farms that do not use damaging pesticides and fertilizers, and palm oil production is a huge driver behind deforestation.
Cream Your Butter and Sugar Together First
Use your hand mixer to combine your sugar and softened butter together first to form a base for your cookie dough.
This makes for a lighter, more buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie dough.
Use Powdered Sugar in this Cookie Dough
Powdered sugar, or confectioners sugar, is aerated. It’s already so light and fluffy and is the perfect hack to achieve a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie every time.
While you can substitute granulated sugar 1:1 for the cookies in this recipe, I highly recommend using powdered for a flawless consistency.
If you don’t have any on hand, you can easily turn your granulated sugar into powdered sugar by following this recipe.
Use Just The Yolk
Utilizing just the yolk of an egg gives us that super buttery texture. Using both the white and the yolk will give your candy cane shortbread cookies a more crumbly texture (I promised you melt-in-your-mouth, didn’t I?).
Green tip: Did you know that of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes? It’s always best to avoid food waste as much as you can!
Separating the egg white from the yolk is easily achieved by cracking your eggshell in half over a bowl and transferring the egg yolk back and forth between either half of the shell, allowing the egg white to fall into the bowl.
You are now left with the egg whites in the bowl and the egg yolks in the shell. And voila! Just like that, your eggs are separated.
Crush Those Candy Canes
This is for mixing right into your dough! You’ll crush 2-3 candy canes or 5-6 mini candy canes to yield 4 tablespoons of crushed candy cane.
I used a mortar and pestle, but you can also opt to put your candy cane in a storage bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.
Green tip: Reduce your plastic waste by using these Reusable Storage Bags!
I like to fold 2 tablespoons of the crushed candy cane into my dough and then leave the rest out to add on top.
Resting Your Dough
Once you make your dough, use a tablespoon to scoop out roughly even amounts of dough to form your cookies.
Then, set the shaped dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours . If you’re in a rush, I find that resting in the freezer for 30 minutes works in a pinch. Resting will just stop your cookies from spreading too much.
Storing Your Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies
If you store these delicious cookies in an airtight container, they will last about a week at room temperature, 10 days in the refrigerator, and up to 3 months in the freezer.
If you freeze them, allow them to thaw naturally before enjoying them.
You can also opt to freeze the dough for up to one month and bake them as you want to enjoy them. In this case, roll the dough into balls and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies Frequently Asked Questions
Do candy canes melt in the oven?
Yes, candy canes will start to melt when they reach 300°F. The candy cane bits that are inside the dough will be protected by the cookie dough, but the bits of candy cane on top will melt.
Allow your cookies to cool and the melted candy cane bits to re-solidify before digging into these cookies.
What is the difference between shortbread cookies and regular cookies?
Shortbread cookies are denser because of their high fat content. You can expect a thicker, crumblier cookie from a shortbread recipe as opposed to a crispy sugar cookie.
Why You Should Make these Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies
- They’re festive. The easiest way to a cute and cheery cookie!
- The texture. A flaky, buttery cookie base with crunchy bits of candy cane makes for the perfect mouthfeel.
- They’re foolproof. This go-to recipe tastes delicious every time.
If you’re loving these Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies and are in search of more Holiday treats, check out this Christmas Cookie Cake and these Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cookies.
Candy Cane Shortbread CookiesPIN Print RATE
- 4 tablespoons candy cane, finely crushed (4 tbsp usually is 4 to 6 candy canes)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (½ cup usually = 1 stick)
- ½ cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar, tightly packed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Crush 4 to 6 candy canes to yield 4 tablespoons of crushed candy cane bits and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on medium speed to combine softened butter and powdered sugar.
- Add the flour and salt and combine with your hand mixer on medium speed.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and combine with your hand mixer on low (see notes below for how to separate an egg).
- Fold in 2 tablespoons of crushed candy cane, reserving the other two tablespoons for on top.
- Use a large cookie scoop or wet hands to form your dough into 8 round cookies, dunking them in the remaining crushed candy cane to coat the top.
- Place your cookie dough balls on a lined baking sheet or reusable mat, leaving at least an inch of space in between each cookie.
- Place the cookie sheet with your cookie dough in the refrigerator to set for 2 hours and preheat your oven 325°F.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes and allow to cool before enjoying. Some of the candy cane bits will melt. If you have some melted candy cane oozing off the sides of the cookies, use a spoon to press them back into the cookies while they're still hot.
- * Separate your yolk from your egg by cracking your eggshell in half over a bowl and transferring the egg yolk back and forth between either half of the shell, allowing the egg white to fall into the bowl.
- Cookie monsters are always happy at my house with this delicious selection of my best cookie recipes to choose from! Nom nom nom!