Shortbread cookies are some of my all-time favorite cookies. I know, I know. I say that about a lot of cookies—but I mean it every time! Shortbread is easy to make, delicious, and uses just four ingredients. What’s not to love about these buttery delights?

These cookies can be made shamrock-shaped, although you might be more familiar with making shortbread in a round or square mold and scoring the dough into shapes. I actually favor rolling the dough out and cutting it into shapes. That way, you don’t have to break the scored cookies apart after baking, resulting in more durable cookies with less breakage. Added bonus: You can DECORATE THEM! Royal icing, here I come. For these, I kept things traditional and used a circle cookie cutter with little shamrocks in the icing.

Adding Shamrock Decorations with Royal Icing

Here’s my technique: Use white icing to coat the top of the cookie. While the icing is still wet, add three or four dots of green icing and use a toothpick to gently pull from each dot to make the final design—don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to create the perfect three or four leaf clover. How lucky you are!

Tips and Tricks: How to Work with Shortbread Dough

Use a Good Quality, Unsalted Butter for Shortbread Cookies

Some tips for working with this delicate dough: Unsalted butter is the key ingredient, so use the very best you can buy. Make sure it’s room temperature before you start cooking. If it’s in your budget, try real Irish butter—I love Kerrygold Unsalted Butter for this recipe.

Make your Shortbread Cookies Irish with Irish Whiskey

For extra flavor and a fun “Irish” flair, I like to swap out my Cognac Barrel-aged vanilla extract for some Irish whiskey. Shhh—I might put a little in the icing, too!

Don’t Overwork the Shortbread Dough

Here’s another tip: don’t overwork that dough. To keep these cookies at their buttery best, try not to handle the dough too much. That means you should try to get as many cookies cut from that first roll of dough as possible. After you’ve gotten all you can get from that first round, gently gather the scraps and roll out once more. After the second roll, stop! Any remaining scraps can be formed into little odd-shaped cookies for the chef to enjoy!

Yield: 2 dozen
Irish Whiskey Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Irish Whiskey Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Shortbread cookies are classic cookies made from pantry staples. What’s not to love about that? Add a little festive flair to your shortbread this St. Patrick’s Day by replacing the vanilla extract with Irish whiskey!


Cookie Dough:
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
Icing and Decorating:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar for approximately 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the Irish whiskey.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour to the butter mixture. The dough will resemble small pebbles. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough comes together—but be careful not to over-mix. Using your hands, form the dough into a flattened ball. Wrap with plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to about ½-inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut the cookies into shamrocks, circles or squares and transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheet pans. Re-roll the scraps of dough and continue cutting cookies until only scraps remain. Form any remaining scraps into little cookies and transfer them to the pans with the other cookies
  5. Place the cookies in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, then bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the cookies are golden around the edges, but still pale in color. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Once the cookies are completely cooled, it’ll be time to decorate!
  6. Meanwhile, make a small batch of royal icing recipe. Divide the icing into 2 bowls. Leave one bowl white. Add a few drops of green food coloring to the other bowl and mix. Add more food coloring, if necessary, until it’s as green as you like!
  7. Transfer the green and white icings into two piping bags fitted with small round tips. Pipe a “dam” of white icing around the edges of the cookies, then fill them in with thinner royal icing. If you’ve never decorated with royal icing before (or if that last instruction didn’t make sense), take a look at my YouTube video on cookie decorating!
  8. To make the shamrock design, add small “dots” of green icing (three dots like a clover). Use a toothpick to pull the green icing—pull a bit from each dot into the same line to form a “stem”. Make one clover or a whole bunch! Remember to let the cookies dry completely before storing at room temperature in an airtight container.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @blameitonbiscotti on instagram and hashtag it # IrishWhiskeyShortbreadCookie
February 23, 2022 — Mary DiSomma