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 Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies and the classic Rolled Sugar Cookies that look similar to these shortbread cookies and hold their shape perfectly!
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.
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HOW TO STORE YOUR COOKIES:
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.
COOKIE BAKING TIPS:
- 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:
- 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 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.
No egg, why?
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!
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!
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.
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.
These cookies were easy to make and delicious! I’m part German so I will keep this in my recipe files for sure!!
What did I do wrong, my dough is like powder? I followed the recipe.
It’s hard for me to say, without me being there, I am sorry it didn’t turn out the way it should!
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.
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.
So glad you enjoyed them!
I noticed no egg. Not even a yolk. Why?
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.
Thanks for the feedback, Lauren. I’m glad you enjoyed them.
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.
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?
That’s correct 🙂
Super good. I struggled with the length of the log. How long is the log ????
Could you give me a bit more detail about what was going wrong?
Great cookies e.
I veganized this recipe, used a plant based butter. They turned out really good. Love the recipe; so easy. thank you.
I’m so glad it worked out for you, Cheryl.
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!
Sharing is caring! Thanks for the 5 stars, Lynn.
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?
These are the dunking type. They will be a harder cookies. Enjoy!
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.
There is a link you can click in each recipe card that allows you to change the measurements to metric.
where is the link?
It’s under the ingredient list in the recipe card. It says ‘metric’. Click on that and it’ll adjust the measurements.
I think you mean leavening ingredients .
Which flour do you use for the shortbread cookies self rising or all purpose
I used all purpose for this recipe. Enjoy!
Super easy to make and so very good. Love the texture and. Flavor. Better than pecan ones baked. By little elves
Haha, glad you love them so much.
If I’m out of powder sugar can I use granulated sugar for the recipe?
You really need it for this recipe, sorry.
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.
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.
Thanks for catching that. I’m so sorry it wasn’t clearer and I’ve edited it to read correctly now.
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!
Thank you for catching that. It should read “cold butter”. I’ve edited it to ready correctly now.
These turned out very good for me! So delicious I need to make more!
Thanks for coming back to let me know, Stacey.
Do I use confectioner and granulated sugar in the dough?
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?
Yes, powdered sugar goes into the dough and the granulated sugar is for dipping the cookies into. Hope yo enjoy them!
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?
Of course 🙂
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!
It should state powdered sugar for the dough and then the other sugar is for rolling the cookies. So sorry for the confusion.
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!
You’ll just use the powdered sugar to mix with the butter. I’ve edited the recipe card to be clearer. Enjoy!
This is my first time make them. Turns out so well and I am proud of myself. Thank you!
I’m so glad you decided to give it a try. Thanks for the 5 stars.
I do not see the temperature for the oven to be set.
350 degrees F
can I roll these cookies and cut with cookie cutters ? If so will I form dough into disc before putting in freezer?
Certainly! They don’t have a rising agent so these are perfect cookies for cookie cutters – they will keep their shape when baking.
how long ahead can I make theses and store in the icebox before baking
They’ll be good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Enjoy!
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
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!
Thank you so much for the tips on baking these cookies. The flavor and texture was perfect!
You’re welcome, Jocelyn! Thanks for the 5 stars.
Love the added walnut chunks! Great flavor and absolutely delicious!
So glad you enjoyed them, Taylor!
mmm..I can’t wait to try these cookies!! They sound amazing!! YUM!!
I hope you enjoy them!
The walnuts give these such a great added flavor and texture – so good!
So glad you love them!
I love adding walnuts to my cookies too; it gives the perfect crunch! These look delicious!