Meatless Monday Challenge

Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies

on December 3, 2021
last updated May 7, 2024
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These Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies were the very first Marley's Menu recipe to go viral on Instagram! They are comprised of a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie base with real crushed candy cane. With a quick and easy dough, this foolproof recipe is sure to bring festive cheer to your Holiday season.
green and red plaid plate with 7 candy cane shortbread cookies and surrounded by candy canes and eucalyptus

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!

overhead shot of candy cane shortbread cookies on a christmas themed plate

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.
powdered sugar, egg, vanilla extract, crushed candy cane, salt, butter, and all-purpose flour

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.

softened butter creamed with powdered sugar

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?).

But don’t waste the egg white! Whip up an egg-white omelet or use it to make this Egg White French Toast or these Candied Nuts.

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.

adding an egg yolk to shortbread cookie dough

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.

adding crushed candy cane to shortbread cookie dough

Resting Your Dough

Once you make your dough, use a tablespoon to scoop out roughly even amounts of dough to form your cookies.

Use clean hands to roll the cookie dough into balls and place them on a lined baking sheet. You can use parchment paper, or for a less wasteful option, check out these reusable baking mats!

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.

8 candy cane shortbread cookie dough balls lined up on a reusable baking sheet

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.

one shortbread cookie topped with crushed candy cane on a stack of wrapped presents

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.

green and red plaid plate with 7 candy cane shortbread cookies and surrounded by candy canes and eucalyptus

Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies

5 from 15 votes
Marley Goldin
These Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies are comprised of a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie base with real crushed candy cane inside and on top for just the right amount of peppermint flavor and crunch.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 8 cookies



  • 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.

Pro Tips

  • * 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.
Course Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine American
Diet Vegetarian
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, Easy, Holidays, One-Bowl, Recipes with Candy Cane, Shortbread Cookies, Winter
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If you did, please give it a star rating, which will help other people just like you find and enjoy the recipe too 😊

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11 thoughts on “Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies”

  1. 5 stars
    Loved the recipe, very easy to follow (this was my first time!) I just reduced the amount of sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/3, more to my taste. The only issue I had was that the recipe calls for 1 large egg yolk, but I could not find large so made the recipe with 2 and my friends said they liked them 🙂

  2. Hi there!

    I’m so sorry the cookies did not turn out how you expected. The typo was actually in the post, not the recipe card (now fixed-thank you!). You are indeed meant to freeze the cookies before baking them. The source of the thinness is most likely from overmixing. Did you happen to use a stand mixer instead of a hand mixer? I’d be more than happy to troubleshoot with you!

    1. I hit “jump to the recipe” and that’s what I followed. I used a hand mixer according to the instructions. So I was supposed to freeze? I see the discrepancy has been fixed. I might try again as I still have left over candy canes.

      1. Yes, it’s been fixed. Thank you so much for pointing that out! I hope you do try again!! One of the first times I tested these my butter was a little more melted than softened, and I had some extra thinning, but otherwise with a hand mixer and freezing for 30 minutes, I’ve had great success! You can always use a round cookie cutter or even a large glass to “shuffle” the cookies once they are out of the oven to get them perfectly circular, too! Let me know if you try again 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    My family and I made these for our annual cookie making day. I cannot say enough good things about them!! They were so easy to make and were incredibly delicious! I’m not always a huge fan of peppermint, but the candy canes inside and on top were perfect. The cookie itself is buttery and amazing, and they came out perfectly gooey inside with crisp edges – exactly how I like my cookies. One of the best cookies we’ve made – will definitely be making again!

    1. First — I love that your family has an annual cookie making day, that’s so cute! I’m honored you chose my recipe for such an occasion and I’m so happy it stepped up to the plate!!

5 from 15 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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