It's cookie season, my people! And these peppermint shortbread cookies are perfect for the holiday season (or any time of year if you ask me). They are buttery, perfectly peppermint-y, and so much fun to decorate! You can top these with royal icing and cute little piped Christmas trees, or crushed up candy canes for an extra crunch. I promise, these will be on repeat in your kitchen this Christmas!
Why you will love these peppermint shortbread cookies
- They're perfectly peppermint-y. Some people love peppermint, others can live without it. I actually am not peppermint's biggest fan, but I still love these cookies. They are not overwhelmingly pepperminty, but you can absolutely taste the peppermint flavor.
- They are so fun to decorate. Decorating these cookies is my favorite part of this recipe! They are incredibly festive and perfect for the holidays. You can top them with royal icing and pipe cute little Christmas trees on them, or you can top them with crushed up candy canes for an extra crunch.
- They are easy to make. This recipe has simple ingredients - most of which you probably already have in your kitchen! The dough comes together so quickly and the cookies only need 10 minutes in the oven.
- Butter: unsalted butter is the butter of choice so we can control exactly how much salt goes into this recipe.
- Sugar: granulated sugar is the sweetener in this recipe. We also use powdered sugar for the royal icing if you choose to decorate the cookies.
- Egg yolks: egg yolks bind the ingredients and give the cookies a chewy and dense texture.
- Peppermint extract: the star ingredient! A little peppermint extract goes a long way in these cookies.
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice in this recipe - it provides the best texture and crumb in these cookies.
- Meringue powder: meringue powder is added to the icing mixture - this helps stiffen it up and allows the icing to harden once it is on the cookies. You can also sub the meringue powder for pasteurized egg whites!
- Make the cookie dough. Beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract and mix until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined.
- Chill the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
- Roll out the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is ¼ inch in thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place them on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.
- Bake. Bake the cookies at 350F for 10-11 minutes until the edges are set and golden brown.
- Make the royal icing. Add the powdered sugar, meringue powder, water, and vanilla extract to a bowl and mix until combined and smooth. Dip the tops of the cookies in the icing and let sit at room temperature until it hardens.
- Decorate and enjoy! Using a piping bag, decorate the cookies with the remaining royal icing or top with crushed candy canes. Enjoy!
Peppermint shortbread cookie baking tips
Don't over mix the cookie dough.
Over mixing the dough can lead to tough cookies that are hard to roll out. Make sure to only mix the dough until the dry ingredients are JUST incorporated.
Chill the dough.
The dough needs little chill time, so don't skip this step! Chilling the dough for one hour gives it the perfect consistency and temperature for success in rolling out the cookie dough.
Don't over bake.
These cookies only need 10-11 minutes in the oven, so make sure to watch them carefully! Any longer and you will be left with a tough cookie. The cookies are done when they are JUST starting to brown.
Baking in grams
While I provide volume measurements for the recipes on my blog, I highly suggest baking these recipes using weight. It is the most standardized and accurate way to bake. I carefully recipe test all of my recipes using a kitchen scale, not by using cups, and therefore I cannot guarantee the success of my recipes when using volume measurements.
Other recipes you may like
- Chewy Cut Out Gingerbread Cookies
- Brown Butter Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
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Peppermint Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 ¼ cups (281 grams) all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
Royal Icing (Optional)
- 2 ⅔ cups (320 grams) powdered sugar plus more for thickening the icing
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder or 6 egg whites from pasteurized eggs
- 4-6 tablespoons water room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- food coloring optional
- crushed candy canes optional
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium-sized bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract, and beat on medium speed until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Add the flour and salt and beat on low-medium speed until a dough forms. The dough will be thick. Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in cling wrap and refrigerate the dough for one hour.
- Once the dough has chilled for an hour, preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out until it is about ¼ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, placing them on the baking sheet about an inch apart. I like to use a 2-inch circular cookie cutter, but any size will work. They will not spread much. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.
- To ensure the cookies really keep their shape while baking, pop the cookie sheet with the cookies on it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes prior to baking.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Royal Icing (Optional)
- To make royal icing using meringue powder: add the powdered sugar, meringue powder, water, and vanilla extract in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then turn the mixer up to high speed and mix until combined and smooth. You might need to add more water (to thin) or more powdered sugar (to thicken) depending on desired consistency.
- To make royal icing using pasteurized egg whites: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until frothy. Add the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla extract and mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then turn the mixer up to high speed and mix until combined and smooth. You might need to add more water (to thin) or more powdered sugar (to thicken) depending on desired consistency.
- Dip the tops of the cookies into the icing and let the excess drip off. Place the cookie on a baking sheet and let it sit at room temperature until the icing hardens.
- To pipe mini Christmas trees, we need to make the royal icing thicker. First, add your choice of food coloring. Then add more powdered sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, until thick. Fill a piping bag with the icing and pipe the Christmas trees on the cookies. If you do not have a piping bag, you can also do this with a ziplock bag with the tip cut off.
- If you don’t want to pipe Christmas trees on the cookies, you can also top with crushed candy canes after dipping the tops of the cookies in royal icing. Enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!