Buttery Whipped Shortbread Cookies – 4 Ingredients!

Recipe Video Pin
35 minutes
36 cookies

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These 4-ingredient Buttery Whipped Shortbread Cookies are the ticket for EASY melt-in-your-mouth cookies to round out those holiday gift tins!

a red plate, with Christmas cookies
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

Buttery Whipped Shortbread Cookies

If you’re holiday baking is underway or about to begin, you’ll want to include these perfectly little imperfectly shaped Whipped Shortbread Cookies to your short list.
With only four ingredients, they require little focus, but pay out BIG TIME in terms of tasty!

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Crudely assembled and adorned with only candy sprinkles, this is a sweet and crumbly-textured all butter shortbread. Use a small cookie scoop to ensure the dough balls you will roll between your palms are of similar size.

By ‘whipping’ butter and sugar, we are whipping air into the cookies to make them lighter and more texturally pleasing. If you own a stand mixer, be sure to use it for this method.

Not only does this recipe go MUCH FASTER employing the energy of a stand mixer, but also because the stand mixer is easier able to cut through the dough mixture once the flour has been added.

  • Salted butter
  • Vanilla extract (optional, but not crucial)
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • All-Purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Candy sprinkles, Sugar sand, or Glacé cherries for decorating

How This Recipe Came About…

There are many recipes and methods for shortbread out there. And out of all of the recipes and methods for shortbread, I like this one the best for its simplicity.

It’s four ingredients with an optional fifth if vanilla extract is desired…

I started fooling with this method in December or January of last year. It was too late to share it with you as a holiday cookie, but I am making a point of posting it this year.

These crudely assembled and quite plain soft shortbread cookies are tender, buttery, and melt in your mouth.

The texture is lightly crumbly and pleasingly sweet without being overly sweet. They can be as fancy or as plain as you would like them to be.

Whipped Shortbread Cookies with cornstarch are entirely different than piped shortbread cookies or the baked thick shortbread recipe your grandmother scored with a knife prior to the oven.

These are perfectly imperfect melt in your mouth shortbread cookies.

a bowl of candy sprinkles

Yes, and they may be assembled, rolled, and decorated before being frozen so they are ready to bake straight out of the freezer. Simply follow the recipe card all the way up to baking.

Once frozen, remove each cookie one by one from the tray and place into a zippered freezer bag. No thaw required, however I do add an additional minute to the overall bake time if baking from frozen.

And if you need to freeze fully baked cookies, place them into an airtight container or zippered freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

a red plate, with Christmas cookies

Pro Tips…

With only four ingredients, five if you desire vanilla extract, in this shortbread cookie recipe, there are some key tips I don’t want you to miss…

  • Use a stand mixer if you own one; a handheld electric mixer will get the job done as well, but a stand mixer has a lot of power behind it
  • Line your baking sheets with parchment paper; do not use baking spray or cooking spray to grease your cookie sheets, as the bottoms will most certainly burn
  • Don’t stress if your cookie “cracks” when pressed with a fork; remember that this is a crudely assembled, plain cookie whose appeal is how simple its ingredients are, and how simple its assembly is
  • Preheat oven; popping food into a cold or lukewarm oven should never be done unless a recipe specifies for you to do so
  • Use a high-quality butter, no exceptions; no margarine or shortening as substitutions here
  • Beat butter for 5 minutes BEFORE adding the Confectioner’s sugar; adding air to the butter compounds the point of this method
  • Sift the powdered sugar before adding to the butter; sifting ensures the sugar is added free of lumps and ensures an ethereal butter mixture
  • Sift the flour and cornstarch together before adding to the butter mixture; again, this goes back to ensuring a smooth cookie dough
  • If you find you require additional flavor, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the mixture at the sugar stage, or a drizzle of melted chocolate over the fully baked cookies; these cookies are subtle and not overly sweet by any means which is the intention
a red plate, with Christmas cookies

Modifying The Norm to Make It Not Entirely Average…

I played with these to find complimentary ingredients to make these delicious shortbreads not entirely average. Have a favorite jam or preserve on hand? Here is a fun alternate method for jazzing things up…

First, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke a shallow hole in each cookie. Spoon some jam into each hole, filling it without over-filling it. Bake.

Next, drizzle a basic Confectioner’s sugar glaze over the cookies once they’ve been removed to a cooling rack. Sprinkle lightly with toasted coconut flakes or finely chopped pistachios.

a red plate, with Christmas cookies

How Long Do Whipped Shortbread Cookies Take to Make?

All in all, set aside 1 hour for a batch of cookies. I know, I know…it’s the holidays and time is precious.

But consider that this cookie dough is able to be made ahead, cookies rolled and decorated, and then either refrigerated or frozen until ready to bake if necessary. The prep and assembly here is about 15 minutes.

Honestly, it will take longer to roll the cookies out than it will to do anything else. Bake anywhere from 19 to 21 minutes or until the bottom edges begin to turn gold.

It’s little effort really for the best whipped shortbread cookies ever. I may be biased.

Seems to me though, that an easy whipped shortbread recipe at the culmination of ALL of your holiday baking, will be a welcome break. Additionally, you can alter the yield right in my recipe card by hovering over the number of servings.

Use the ruler to increase or decrease ingredients and their precise measurements.

Why Is Cornstarch Specified in So Many Baking Recipes?

When added to cake, cookie, and many shortbread recipes, cornstarch helps create a crumbly and tender texture. When used in conjunction with flour, cornstarch relaxes the tough proteins in standard all-purpose flour, yielding a more tender end result.

featured image for Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Jenny DeRemer
This 4-ingredient Whipped Shortbread Cookie recipe is the ticket for EASY, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies to round out those holiday gift tins!
4.64 from 19 votes
Servings: 36 cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 67 kcal


  • stand mixer or electric handheld mixer
  • cookie sheets


  • 2 sticks salted butter softened to room temperature *SEE NOTE
  • ½ cup Confectioner's sugar sifted
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour sifted
  • ¼ cup cornstarch sifted


  • vanilla extract, about 1 teaspoon
  • candy sprinkles, sugar sand, or glacé cherries for decorating


The Method

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie trays with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter for 5 minutes. Time it if necessary – you must not skip the amount of time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sifted Confectioner's sugar. If using vanilla, add now. Beat the mixture for 3 more minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and cornstarch together. Be sure to press all lumps through the sifter to eliminate them.
  • Add the flour and cornstarch mixture into the butter. Whip until combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
  • Use a small scoop to scoop up some dough. Put the dough in your hand and use both hands to roll between your palms into a ball. The dough balls should be the same size or slightly smaller than a grape for bite-sized cookies. Repeat with remaining dough spacing cookies about 1/2-inch apart on the cookie sheet(s). There is very little 'spread' with these cookies.
  • Dip a fork in some cornstarch. Press the tines of the fork into the tops of the cookies, re-coating the fork as necessary. Do not stress if the cookies appear to 'crack,' as it only adds to the character. Sprinkle the cookies with candy sprinkles, sugar sand, or top with a single glacé cherry.
  • Bake cookies for 19 to 21 minutes. There will be little to no 'spreading.' Cookies are done when they begin to ever so slightly turn gold around their bottom edge.
  • Allow cookies to cool directly on baking sheet.



NOTE: I specify the butter needing to be softened to room temperature. I cannot emphasize how important this is, otherwise your dough will be compromised. I let my butter sit on my countertop, overnight, and begin my recipes with it the very next morning. Salted butter has less of a chance of spoiling on the counter as compared to unsalted butter. This recipe as luck has it, specifies salted butter.
For Storage Before Baking place cookie dough on a sheet of waxed paper and roll into a log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days until ready to bake. NOTE cookie dough refrigerated tends to result in crazed or cracked surfaces on the cookies. This isn’t a big deal unless of course you are gifting your bakes. If smooth cookies like the ones shown here in my photos are desired, roll the dough balls and either add glacé cherries or imprint with the tines of a fork and gently place into a zippered plastic bag. Rolling the dough while at room temperature will yield very pretty, very smooth cookies. The dough balls should be as well spaced as possible – in other words, don’t ‘stuff’ the bag full. Store flat on the bottom of a drawer in your refrigerator until ready to bake (up to 3 days). Sprinkles should only be added just before the bake.
For Storage After Baking remove cookies to an airtight container with a fitted lid. Store safely on countertop at room temperature for 1 week.  Storing under refrigeration in same container, the cookies store safely for 2 weeks. 
To Freeze Unbaked Cookie Dough, assemble, roll, and decorate before freezing. Do so first on trays where cookies will not touch, about 30 to 45 minutes. Then remove to a zippered freezer bag and label. Unbaked, the cookies will freeze safely up to 3 months. 
To Bake from Frozen cookies are ready to bake straight out of the freezer. Follow the recipe card adding an additional minute to the bake time. Cool on baking sheets.
To Freeze Fully Baked Cookies, add to a zippered freezer bag and label. Cookies will freeze fully baked for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in refrigerator or on countertop before serving. 

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.


Serving: 1cookieCalories: 67kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 45mgPotassium: 7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 157IUCalcium: 2mgIron: 1mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!

4.64 from 19 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve made these delicious (& easy) cookies, three times in the past 6 weeks. Two of the batches were included in my holiday cookie boxes and one batch was made with my teenage granddaughter. I used both sprinkles and glace cherries. I make my own glace cherries using maraschino cherries and the recipe from King Arthur Baking. Thanks for an awesome recipe!5 stars

    1. Kristy, this comment makes me SO, SO HAPPY! People do not believe me when I tell them that I ‘switch up the sprinkles’ based on the holiday/season rendering these buttery cookies good YEAR-ROUND. I am entirely intrigued that you make your own glacé cherries! I have difficulty finding the golden glacés and wonder now if I should try my hand at making my own. If you are making them from maraschinos though, I’ve only ever seen them in red, so I’m back to square one again. If you have any thoughts/tips I’d love to chat! x – Jenny

    1. Hi Annette, glace’ cherries or glace’ fruit are anything that’s been candied – you’d use these same cherries and fruits in fruitcake. You’ll see me use ALMOST all glace’/candied fruits with the exception of citron. Citron is the reason people hate fruitcake! Leave it out and the glace’ fruits are different tasting and mighty yummy! 😊 Jenny

  2. Hi. These look delicious cannot wait to try them. Could you please tell me how many grams 2 sticks of butter are? We don’t have butter sticks here – it is just a 500g tub or block. Thanks

    1. Jane, I am going to do two things; first, answer you here, but also, send you an email with a photo of a butter stick 🙂 US butter is measured/sold as these handy sticks. One stick is equal to 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons or 113 grams. So, you will weigh 226 grams per batch for these shortbreads. Remember to use salted butter. Unusual I know, but the taste is hinged on the use of salted butter. Look for my email and let me know what you think of these. They’re super cute and they taste AMAZING! x – Jenny

      1. Thank you so much for your replies Jenny! Yes I do like using salted butter too😊
        Hopefully will try them out soon xx

  3. Amazing, love these low ingredient, super delicious, and yummy cookies.
    I visited you via Funtastic Friday Link Party 461
    I linked up this week with = 103+104+105. Come and join us Mon – Saturday at SeniorSalonPitStop as well as #WordlessWednesday #Photography Wednesday – Saturday. You will find the info under BLOGGING5 stars

    1. Tarah! THANK YOU! I just checked out your site – how have we not connected before now??? LOVE! Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesdays, Lady 🙂 x – Jenny

    1. Lindsey, great question and thank you for asking it! A couple of things are playing at odds here; first, you’re talking about a 20-minute bake time for the cookies. Twenty minutes is a LONG TIME for an exposed nut to roast/bake. BUT…you’re still only talking a 300°F oven temperature, so maybe it’d be okay.

      Since I am not sure what your end goal is here (do you just not care for glace fruits or are you trying to omit sugar?), IF you were to try it, and you are not limited to ‘just walnuts’ or ‘just pistachios’ I would consider opting for an oilier nut like a macadamia or a pecan. There are also maple-soaked nuts that we referred to as wet nuts when I was growing up and they went hand in hand with ice cream. In fact, you can find them where you find the ice cream topping such as hot fudge and caramel sauce. Look for the jar labeled “Walnuts in Syrup.” Draining the nuts to then add to the tops may work marvelously BECAUSE we are talking a 300°F oven.

      Keep in mind that these are not a sweet cookie. The fruit is what “makes the cookie the cookie.” Whatever goes on top needs to have both some moisture and sugar to complete the flavor profile it’s there to support.

      If you experiment, please let me know how you enjoyed them! I’d love to know, and your feedback will only help other readers, as you’re probably not the only person who may be interested in pairing nuts with these 🙂 Jenny

  4. Hi, I made the cookies and the flavor is amazing BUT the cookies are almost like powder in your mouth. They do melt once you put them on your mouth. It’s a super weird but addicting texture lol. When I made the dough, it was more of mix between a butter cream and a meringue, and I wasn’t able to roll it in my palms because it smeared . Any idea where I might have gone wrong? I did whip the butter longer than called for. 10min just the butter, 10min butter and confectioners sugar and 10min with all ingredients. Do you think that may have caused it?5 stars

    1. Vannesa, I sent you an email on Christmas Day hoping to chat with you so we could troubleshoot. I would love to share our discussion with other readers. Maybe my email went straight to your spam, but hopefully you will see the reply here and we can debunk your cookie dilemma!

      Yes, it could have been the over-whip that caused the textural issue, but I am also inclined to think maybe there was another ‘thing’ that led to them turning out almost powdery.

      First, are you able to tell me all about your butter? Was it real stick dairy butter? Also, had it had a couple of hours to soften? Lastly, please confirm that the butter was not melted.

      I am so sad that they were a disappointment for you, because really, they are the best darn little cookie…!

      Let’s start with this much and see where the answers take us. I look forward to hearing back from you Vanessa 🙂 Jenny

  5. The recipe mentions scooping “chilled” dough with cookie scoop. But the recipe doesn’t mention chilling the dough. Do I need to chill dough before rolling into balls and baking? These sound fabulous and can’t wait to try them.

    1. Susan, thanks for your comment – I should have been clearer about chilled versus a room temperature roll. So many folks like to make their dough and refrigerate it until they’re ready to use it. I baked these cookies off WITHOUT CHILLING my dough which is why they look smooth and uncrazed. This dough may absolutely be assembled and chilled until ready to use (within two to three days). I cannot however guarantee the smoothness of the look of the cookie. The taste is unaffected. Since I gift my bakes, I always want them to look as pretty as possible. I will rework that particular instruction to read and reflect as I have explained here to you. Please let me know how you enjoy them! x – Jenny

      1. Thank you, will be making for our church Christmas Eve service fellowship. I’m wondering if I let it come back to room temp before baking if they would be as smooth? I want them to be really pretty for the cookie tray. Will let you know.

        1. Susan, if they need to be pretty, consider rolling the dough as soon as you’ve assembled it. Remember to make them small enough to yield the full recipe. Size counts with these. Make the impressions with the fork, add the cherries if using. Wait with any sprinkles. Place on a cookie tray and chill fully rolled and assembled. After they’ve chilled, you can either freeze or keep refrigerated until ready to bake. I would ABSOLUTELY let them sit for 1 hour at room temperature before baking them off. Let me know how they turn out. If you are keen to take a photo, I would love to share it with other readers so they can see your method and learn from you. Merry Christmas Susan! x – Jenny

  6. Thanks for sharing at the Lazy Gastronome’s What’s for Dinner party. Have a wonderful week – Happy Holidays!