German Walnut Shortbread Cookies

36 servings
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 12 minutes

German Walnut Shortbread Cookies made in a traditional shortbread style with coarsely chopped chunks of walnuts, these are the perfect Christmas cookies.

Cookies are a popular dessert option on the site including Mexican Wedding CookiesChocolate Chip Cookies and the classic Rolled Sugar Cookies that look similar to these shortbread cookies and hold their shape perfectly!

Walnut Shortbread Cookies German Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies are the pie crust of cookies, an easy recipe with no leaving ingredients (think baking soda and baking powder here) that comes together in just a few minutes. Because there isn’t anything to make these cookies rise your cookies go in and come out of the oven the same size, so they’re perfect for shapes and cutting into slices like my Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies and Linzer Cookies.

I keep it simple here with perfect circles but remember when slicing cookies into circles the most important thing is to keep the cookie dough very cold. If you let it get too warm the cookie dough will smash down on one edge creating a flat side. If you’d like, you can even freeze the dough for and hour.

And easy trick for cutting these cookies perfectly is to actually use thread to cut the dough so the weight of the knife’s blade doesn’t smash the shape of the cookie.

German Christmas Cookies

German Christmas Cookies are typically made using butter and powdered sugar, ground nuts and shapes. Crescent cookies are traditional as well, and other traditional options like lebkuchen and pfeffernusse cookies and the use of peppernuts are traditional german options too.

These cookies will satisfy your German friends and be the perfect traditional German Christmas gift to give them and even their German grandmothers without breaking out a German-English dictionary. If you’d like to add a bit of spice to these cookies you can warm them up with the addition of a bit of cinnamon and cut them into cinnamon stars for a traditional german option too.

Vanilla Crescents are another classic cookie, called Vanillekipferl, they’re made the exact same way as these Walnut shortbreads but with using almonds instead walnuts and shaped into crescent shapes. Once you bake them, gently coat them in powdered sugar.

The base of this recipe, the shaped nut based shortbread cookie, is the classic german Christmas cookie. The fun you choose to have with the shapes and the coating is up to you.

You can even make a vanilla sugar to coat your cookies with, there are many stores who sell pre-made vanilla sugar or you can use a small food processor to add a small section of a vanilla bean to 2 cups of sugar and mix until it is a fully cohesive mixture and keep it in an airtight container (you will use this in everything).

You can also choose how large to keep the nuts. I like to keep them fairly large and chunky, others put them in a food processor and make them very small. The first time you make the recipe try them larger, the next time make them small and taste test.

Walnut German Shortbreads


To keep these cookies fresh and chewy keep them stored in a tightly closed container for up to one week. If you find your cookies are going stale faster than that, try including a slice of bread in the container with them to absorb any excess moisture that is making it’s way into the container.

Can you freeze Shortbread Cookies? Yes, you absolutely can, just freeze them with parchment paper between layers, in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn.

If you want to freeze this cookie dough, you can freeze it in slices, then defrost the slices in the refrigerator for 2 hours before baking on a baking sheet. Using a paper towel dot any remaining moisture off the top of the slices before baking.


  • Use a good silicone mat. This prevents excess browning on the bottom of your cookies, but with these shortbread cookies a bit of browning on the bottom is great for flavor, this is a browned butter flavor.
  • Preheat your oven well ahead of time and check the temperature with an oven thermometer.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar well until very light and fluffy before adding in the flour.
  • Let your cookies cool completely on a wire rack instead of on the baking sheet. I only let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple minutes to firm up before removing them.
  • Make sure your dough is completely chilled or slicing will deform the cookies and the butter being too warm will result in the cookies losing their shape in the oven.
  • Instead of using a stand mixer you can use a large bowl and hand mixer since you only need to beat butter with sugar and the rest of the ingredients only need to be barely combined.

More Cookie Recipes:

German Cookies

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German Walnut Shortbread Cookies

German Walnut Shortbread Cookies made in a traditional shortbread style with coarsely chopped chunks of walnuts, these are the perfect Christmas cookies.
Yield 36 servings
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 12 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 cup unsalted butter , cold
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts , coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar


  • Add the butter and powdered sugar and vanilla to a stand mixer on low speed for 20 seconds then move to high speed for 1 minute until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the flour and salt on low speed until just combined, then add in the sugar and walnuts until just combined.
  • Remove the dough, placing onto 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and wrap into 2 large logs and refrigerate them until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and unroll the cookie dough, slicing into 1/2" thick cookie dough slices then dip into sugar and bake on baking sheet for 10-12 minutes.


Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 23mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 160IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.4mg

German Walnut Shortbread

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Thank you! I had some black walnuts calling to me and this was the perfect landing spot. I did mix mine in a food processor and they came together very fast and easy. I did not add the 1 c of granulated sugar as I thought they were sweet enough…it is a shortbread after all. I did roll my logs in the sugar after chilling 2 hrs and just before slicing and baking. Mine needed more like 15 minutes, but a great shortbread. I think this recipe will support many variations with added flavors. But that simple buttery goodness can’t be beat! A keeper. Thanks, again!

  2. I made this recipe but I left ou the cup of sugar at the end because it seemed like too much sugar. They turned out great.

  3. The recipe is confusing. First it says to add the powdered sugar with the butter and vanilla. Later it says to add the sugar and the nuts. So, am I adding both the powdered and the regular sugar to the batter, or am I rolling the cookies in the refined sugar? I wish it was clearer.

    1. Powdered sugar first
      Granulated sugar second
      Both sugars will be part of the batter.
      If you haven’t had time, it might be helpful to read the blog’s Cookie baking tips as well 🙂

    2. Well I guess you figured it out. powdered sugar and sugar would be too different things. This recipe seems pretty clear to me. Just relax and breathe through baking it makes it a lot better.

    1. I had to add 1/2 tsp baking soda because my first batch came out hard as a rock. Not sure if it’s because we live at a high elevation. With this addition, they’re delicious. A friend said they’re the best cookies he ever had in his life!

  4. Excellent shortbread cookie! I was a little worried about the recipe calling for the butter to be “cold”, so I did soften it just a bit to be able to “cream” it with the sugar and vanilla. Perfect. I chilled, sliced and rolled mine in Cinnamon Sugar! They were great! Buttery and crisp, just like shortbread should be. I made half a batch to begin with. I got 22 cookies. Next time, I’ll make the full batch of dough and keep one rolled, chilled, and on hand in the fridge, as there are only 2 of us. This way I can always bake them up on a moment’s notice!

    1. I noticed on your recipe after adding the walnuts you had one cup of sugar, but I do not see where the one cup of sugar was added into the recipe. I only see the powdered sugar added in Is that correct or not?
      Thank you

      1. Hi Floreein and Amy, Sorry for the confusion. The recipe instructions have been edited to make it more clear. The sugar is added with the walnuts. Enjoy!

  5. Been on a shortbread cookie frenzy and this is one of the best recipes I have tried! I used 1 1/2 vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract. Superb. Especially the texture.

  6. The cookies were absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly (minus the walnuts, which I only used as garnish on top — the way my mother made them) but I had a couple of problems I like your input on:
    • I had to add a few tablespoons of water to the batter because it was too dry and crumbly to roll into a log.
    • It only made about 12 cookies (about 1.5 inches in diameter, and baked about 3/8 in thick) not 36.
    Any suggestions?

  7. These cookies were easy to make and delicious! I’m part German so I will keep this in my recipe files for sure!!

  8. Looking forward to trying this recipe, but one item above really caught my attention. Chewy cookies? Chewy shortbread cookies? Shortbread should have a soft snap. Not quite crisp, but also most definitely not chewy. Chewy shortbread is either under baked and/or not stored properly.

    Will have to a try a batch soon.

    1. Just made a batch. Creamed sugar and butter in a food processor, then kneaded the flour and walnuts in by hand, (I don’t have a stand mixer). After 12min baking at 350 the cookies still seemed a little under done to me, so I left them in for an additional 4min. The result is a very light browning on the bottom and a very satisfying soft snap shortbread, (not chewy :). Wonderful flavor and quite satisfying.

  9. Beautifully buttery and the walnuts provide great balance! Super easy and sophisticated. I will definitely be experimenting with adding another flavor next time I make this recipe, such as orange zest and/or cardamom.

    I only used 1/2 cup of sugar to coat the cookies and that was more than enough.

  10. This recipe was good. Easy and quick to make. Next time I’ll toast the black walnuts. I used maple sugar to coat them in. It was a delicious addition. Not necessarily for flavor, but exclusively for texture. I can imagine that toasted, crunchy walnuts would be a good match for a shortbread type cookie.

  11. I’m getting ready to make these. For clarification the powdered sugar goes into the batter and the white granulated sugar is only for dipping cookies in before baking?

  12. I veganized this recipe, used a plant based butter. They turned out really good. Love the recipe; so easy. thank you.

  13. This recipe is definitely a keeper. These shortbread cookies are now my favorites. I’m going to give some to my neighbors so that I won’t eat them all-they’re that good!

  14. Hi Sabrina,
    Question about your German Shortbread Cookies. I was hoping they would be a crisp shortbread, but as I read through the recipe and hints you stated “ to keep them soft put a slice of bread in with them”. I don’t want a soft cookie, was hoping they were hard, milk dunking type. Are they soft & chewy?

  15. I wish you would put the weight of the ingredients – cups come in different sizes and butter does not come in sticks (at least not in the UK)
    I often want to make your recipes, but the cups and sticks put me off.
    Yours sincerely,

        1. It’s under the ingredient list in the recipe card. It says ‘metric’. Click on that and it’ll adjust the measurements.

    1. I think I may have over mixed my dough and it became crumbly and didn’t survive the freezing/cutting into shape phase. I will say the flavor was still intact and I figured it just needed a bit of moisture, so I buttered a cookie sheet and pressed the dough down flat like a traditional shortbread. Turned out pretty delicious! Doesn’t look super pretty but sometimes that isn’t what it’s about. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Super easy to make and so very good. Love the texture and. Flavor. Better than pecan ones baked. By little elves

    1. Put granulated sugar in your blender on high for a few minutes to make light fine castor sugar if you don’t have powdered sugar.

  17. I am baking mine right now, but I just read in the comments that you are to use both sugars in the mixing of the dough, I will have to start over, because the recipe does not state both sugars in dough & because it says to roll cookie in sugar I assumed the powered would be the one to roll the cookie in. Should clarify this in recipe, it might help others.

  18. Most traditional German ground nut and shortbread style cookie recipes I’ve come across call for cold butter either grated or “cut-in” with a pastry cutter. Have you tried both butter methods (cold & room temp/softened) for shortbread cookies, and what (if any) difference have you noticed in the texture? Thanks for your help!

    1. Thank you for catching that. It should read “cold butter”. I’ve edited it to ready correctly now.

      1. I’m making these tomorrow and just want to be sure of the sugars. I thought just the powdered sugar went into the dough and the granulated sugar was for dipping the cookies in? But both sugars to into dough?

        1. Yes, powdered sugar goes into the dough and the granulated sugar is for dipping the cookies into. Hope yo enjoy them!

    1. Could I use salted butter for these cookies and cut down on the salt? I seldom have unsalted butter……it seems that a lot of recipes today call for it, and my older recipes don’t….do things really taste that much better/different because unsalted butter is used?

  19. Do I add both the powdered sugar and the regular sugar into the dough? Or in step one, is that just butter and one of the sugars (I’m guessing regular sugar)? Thanks!

    1. It should state powdered sugar for the dough and then the other sugar is for rolling the cookies. So sorry for the confusion.

  20. Hi! I’m about to make these cookies, should I mix the 2 cups of sugar (powdered and regular) with the butter at the beginning?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. You’ll just use the powdered sugar to mix with the butter. I’ve edited the recipe card to be clearer. Enjoy!

      1. One time you’ve said to add the powdered sugar and butter and vanilla mix together, then add granulated sugar and walnuts ,,,,then another time you said just the powdered sugar and butter and vanilla mix together then add walnuts ,, roll in 1 cup sugar ,, which is it please?

        1. Sorry for the confusion. If you make Vanilla Walnut Shortbread Cookies as outlined in the blog it’s one way. If you make German Walnut Shortbread Cookies using the Recipe card instructions.
          Add the butter and powdered sugar and vanilla to a stand mixer on low speed for 20 seconds then move to high speed for 1 minute until light and fluffy.
          Add in the flour and salt on low speed until just combined, then add in the sugar and walnuts until just combined.
          Remove the dough, placing onto 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and wrap into 2 large logs and refrigerate them until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.
          Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and unroll the cookie dough, slicing into 1/2″ thick cookie dough slices then dip into sugar and bake on baking sheet for 10-12 minutes.

  21. can I roll these cookies and cut with cookie cutters ? If so will I form dough into disc before putting in freezer?

    1. Certainly! They don’t have a rising agent so these are perfect cookies for cookie cutters – they will keep their shape when baking.

  22. Hi! I discovered your blog looking for cheese popcorn recipes. Anyways, these cookies look amazing. How did you get them to look so perfect and uniform…was rolling in a log slicing enough? It looks like you rolled these out and cut out with a cookie cutter they look so precise. Thanks, Jeanne

    1. Thanks so much! I rolled the dough into a log and placed it in the freezer for an hour and a half. Once removed, I use a thread to slice it perfectly. Hope this helps!