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iced vanilla shortbread collage

Iced Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Iced Vanilla Shortbread Cookies are egg free, nut cookies with an easy glaze that can be colored or painted to fit any occasion. A quick egg free icing that is so much easier and faster than royal icing but can be decorated in so many ways. These mini cookies are perfect for tea parties!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 7 dozen (or more) mini cookies


  • two 1/4-inch wooden dowel rods or rolling pin guides
  • small cookie cutters
  • toothpicks


For the Cookies:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, or almond extract

For the Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, or almond extract
  • food coloring liquid or gel (optional)


Make the Cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until well blended.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste or extract of choice and mix until well combined.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  • Roll dough out on well-floured surface to a thickness of 1/4-inch. You may use wooden dowel rods set up as guides for the rolling pin or rolling pin guides that slip onto the ends of the rolling pin to achieve even rolling thickness.
  • Use small cookie cutters to cut out the dough and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, until baked through but not brown.
  • Remove cookie sheet from the oven and allow cookies to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack. Allow cookies to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the icing.

Make the Icing:

  • Mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste or extract of choice. If necessary, add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve a dippable consistency.
  • Add food coloring liquid or gel if desired.
  • Store in an airtight container until ready to ice the cookies.

Ice the Cookies:

  • Place a wire rack over a parchment or waxed paper lined cookie sheet or work surface.
  • Gently stir the icing to make sure it's fully mixed.
  • Dip the top surface of each cookie into the icing and place the cookies on the wire rack to allow excess icing to drip off. Alternatively, use a silicone pastry brush to apply the icing to the surface of each cookie.
  • Use a toothpick to pop any bubbles on the surface of the icing immediately after dipping.
  • Allow icing to fully set up. Store the cookies in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Once the icing has set, it should be smooth. It can be painted with luster dust or food coloring gel diluted with everclear or vodka, see note.


For painting icing with luster dust or color:  Dissolve dust or food coloring gel in drop-wise amounts of a high proof alcohol such as everclear or vodka. Mix well with a food grade paint brush. Touch brush to the side of the mixing container to allow excess liquid to run off.  Carefully paint the surface of the icing.  Allow to dry completely.  Do not stack cookies.  
FULL DETAILS for painting cookies under Painted Watercolor Cookies
Source: Adapted from a recipe by my friend Molly P.
You're Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword cookies, dessert, egg free, gluten free, holiday