These halloween shortbread cookies are festive, delicious and so easy to make! With a handful of simple ingredients, a sharp knife and a little food coloring, anyone can make these adorable bite-sized candy corn shaped cookies!
What makes this recipe one of my favorite halloween treats:
Anyone who knows me knows I love sharing easy recipes and halloween cookies couldn’t be any easier! There’s no rolling pin, cookie cutters and or decorating with royal icing necessary for these super simple halloween cookies! I promise the hardest part is being patient enough to let the dough chill in the fridge!
Ingredients you’ll need for simple shortbread cookies:
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Orange and yellow food coloring or gel
- Yellow sanding sugar (optional for topping)
Shortbread cookies vs sugar cookies:
While both are delicious, shortbread cookies are much more dense than sugar cookies. This halloween cookie recipe is more of a crumbly and melt in your mouth type cookie with a hint of vanilla flavor.
My top tips for these slice and bake cookies:
- Use softened butter. It’s important to let your butter come to room temperature before making the dough or else it won’t cream together with the sugar evenly.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will incorporate air into the mixture and make for a melt in your mouth cookie.
- Chill your dough. Chilling the dough not only makes it easier to slice and work with but it also helps the cookies keep their shape while they bake.
- Line the loaf pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. This step makes it much easier to remove the dough from the pan once it’s chilled.
- Leave an inch or two of space between the cookies on the baking sheet. They don’t spread a ton in the oven, but they will puff up and spread a little bit.
I like keeping these cookies simple by just adding some vanilla extract to the dough, but you can add almond extract, anise extract or even some orange extract for easy flavor boosters!
A sprinkling of sanding sugar is an easy way to add an eye-catching, sparkly effect on top of these halloween cookies! It’s completely optional but recommended for a little decoration!
Like most baking recipes, both will work but if you’re using unsalted butter be sure to add a little salt to the dough (only about 1/2 a tsp). On the other-hand, if you’re using salted butter, I’d skip adding any extra salt to avoid over-salting the cookies.
If you’re mixing the dough my hand, it can be tough to mix in the food coloring without over-mixing the dough. I recommend either using an electric mixer for this process or set the spatula aside and go straight in with clean hands to squish/mash the food coloring into the dough until evenly distributed throughout.
You can stack the cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 week!
Halloween Shortbread Cookies
- 1 medium bowl or stand mixer
- 1 9×5 loaf pan
- 1 sharp knife
- 2 cookie sheets
- 1 cup softened butter 2 sticks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- orange and yellow food coloring or gel
- yellow sanding sugar optional
- Set the butter out to soften in advance. If you forget, set it in the microwave for 15 seconds on low power.
- Line the bottom and sides of your loaf pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap, making sure to leave some overhang on the sides.
- In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat together until light and fluffy (2-5 minutes).
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until well mixed.
- Add the flour and baking soda. Continue mixing until a cookie dough forms.
- Divide the dough into 3 separate portions. Press one third of the dough into the bottom of the lined loaf pan.
- Add a few drops of orange food coloring to the next portion of the dough, mix to distribute, then evenly press the orange dough on top of the other layer of plain dough already in the loaf pan.
- Repeat this with the last portion of dough and yellow food coloring. Press the yellow layer on top of the orange layer in the loaf pan.
- Fold in the excess overhang of parchment paper to cover the surface of the cookie dough and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Pull up on the parchment paper overhang to remove the chilled rectangle of dough from the loaf pan.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the loaf crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.
- Then, cut each slice into 6 to 8 wedges.
- Place the cookies 1 inch apart on lined cookie sheets. Optionally sprinkle the tops with yellow sanding sugar.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of each cookie are firm and just barely starting to brown.