Snowflake Shortbread: simple, yet stunning

Shortbread cookies are one of the easiest and most delicious desserts to make.

Don’t let the simple ingredient list fool you: shortbread are buttery, sweet, crunchy, and so hard to stop eating! And while they can easily be made in cake pans, baking them in molded shortbread pans turns these cookies into elegant little masterpieces.

Snowflake Shortbread via @kingarthurflour

My favorite? Our Snowflake Shortbread Pan. I love that just like the icy originals, each snowflake square has a different pattern. The sturdy, heavy cast aluminum pan bakes crisp cookies with ease.

I don’t have a lot of room in my kitchen, so this shortbread pan is actually the only one that lives on my shelves. Snowflakes look cute all year long, right?!

Snowflake Shortbread via @kingarthurflour

As holiday cookie baking is finally here, we want to share some tips for making perfect snowflake shortbreads – as well as some tricks from our food stylist on how to get the best patterns from your pan.

1) Use salted butter in your shortbread, if possible.

Although we usually use unsalted butter in our baking here at King Arthur Flour, in this case salted is preferred.

Why? Because, with no liquid in the recipe, it’s difficult for added salt to disperse itself fully through the shortbread dough, and you may end up with unpleasantly gritty bits of salt.

2) Grease – but don’t flour – your pan.
Snowflake Shortbread via @kingarthurflour

The flour will disguise your pattern. Grease well – even non-stick pans should be greased. Be sure all of the nooks and crannies receive some spray, otherwise your pattern may stick in the pan. Spray works better than buttering or using vegetable shortening to get all over your surface.

3) Flattening dough is an art in itself.

For the best imprint from your pan, place the shortbread dough in the center of the pan, working it out towards the edges with your fingers.

If you’re having trouble pressing the shortbread flat in the pan because it’s sticking to your fingers, cover it with a piece of plastic wrap, and push on the wrap. Just be sure to remove the wrap before baking!

Snowflake Shortbread via @kingarthurflour

Even better, using a mini rolling pin or the back of a measuring cup instead of fingers will ensure a smooth and even distribution of dough.

4) Be sure to dock (prick with a fork) your dough.

Snowflake Shortbread via @kingarthurflour

That ensures that steam releases evenly from the dough during baking and will prevent any bubbles and pockets from forming.

If any bubbles do happen to form while baking, use a spatula to pat them down before they bake and set as air pockets.

5) Cut while still warm

Cutting the baked cookies while they are still warm ensures a clean cut and no crumbling. Once you remove the baked cookies from the oven, let them set in the pan for a minute or two (just until they feel firm enough to move), loosen the edges of the pan, and then turn the shortbread out of the pan and slice immediately. A pizza cutter or long knife works well for this.

6) Cool the pan in between multiple batches.

If baking multiple batches of cookies, be sure that your pan cools fully before adding more dough. Otherwise, the butter in the dough will melt and turn your cookies greasy. Warm dough will bake up with more air pockets, turning this already delicate cookie into a crumbly mess.

To cool your shortbread pan quickly, put it in the refrigerator.

7) A little chocolate never hurt.

Snowflake Shortbread via @kingarthurflour

Snowflake shortbread cookies are perfect as is, though they can always be dressed up with the addition of chocolate. But that was a given, right?

Holiday cookie baking season is officially upon us. We hope some elegantly delicious snowflake shortbread make an appearance on your cookie platter.

Tell us – do you have any other tips and tricks for creating perfectly patterned shortbread? Please share in comments, below!

Gwen Adams

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Nora. Yes, this recipe makes enough dough for two pans, or two dozen shortbread cookies. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  1. Sandra Dobday

    I take the shortbread out of the oven just before they are done, sprinkle on chocolate bits, put it back into the oven for a minute or two and then take it out and spread the chocolate evenly. Some of the time I also sprinkle chopped nuts onto the chocolate when it has been spread. After a couple of minutes, I tip the pan upside down onto aluminum foil on the counter. I cut the squares apart at this time and let them cool completely.

  2. Lucy

    I made shortbread in this pan…almost perfect. The recipe is great. The cookies turned out to be larger than I thought they would be–a visual thing, I guess. I would prefer if they had been about the size of Lorna Doone cookies. Thanks for all of the tips.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If these cookies are just a bit too bit for your liking, you could try cutting them in half although the design would also be cut in half. You could also consider baking the second half of the dough (half of this recipe fits in the snowflake pan) on a cookie sheet as a square or round of dough. Then you can cut the shortbread cookies to the size you like. Happy shortbread baking! Kye@KAF

  3. ginger jenkins

    Where , oh where, did you get that darling pan with all the different snowflake designs in it??? I’d be SO grateful if you could tell me! Thanks!

  4. Linda K. Turner

    I have a copper (non-stick) “12 Days of Christmas” imprinted pan I’ve never used~ I can’t figure out whether to pour melted chocolate 1/4″ deep first, then put in refrig. or bake a short bread receipt FIRST, cool, then pour melted chocolate over cookies that have been removed from pan. Please help~! There is a commercial cookie that has the chocolate on top, then the 1/4″ short bread on the bottom. How do they do it? RSVP~ Thanks~ Linda

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      How this can be done is bake plain shortbread cookie (no impressions). Then use pretty mold for the tempered chocolate impressions. A couple test runs will be necessary. Attach the tempered chocolate onto the plain cookies with a dab of melted chocolate (as glue). Here is more on tempering! Good luck! Elisabeth@KAF

  5. Teri B

    I do have this pan and love it. If using your recipe, do you use 1/2 The recipe is in the pan at a time or the whole recipe ?

    1. Gwen Adams, post author

      I split the recipe in half and baked off 2 rounds of shortbread, Teri. Popped the pan in the fridge for a few minutes before the next batch. Easy peasy! –Gwen

  6. Denise Levenick

    Is it possible to make this recipe and use a springerle rolling pin to mark the cookie design? I have two beautiful Christmas springerle pins but we like shortbread cookies better 😉

  7. da'Mama

    My darlin’ hubby cut a 1 inch piece of PVC pipe the width of the snowflake pan. Equal, even, firm pressure is obtained; rolling it over the plastic wrap is also a clever tip. Throw the PVC pipe in the dishwasher when all the pans are baked. Oh by the way, He cut the pipe to be used in the stoneware molds as well.


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