Pine Needle Shortbread Cookies

The ultimate Christmas cookie! Pine needle shortbread cookies have a super fine crumb, are perfect for cutting into festive shapes and have that buttery crisp flavor we all love in shortbread.

large rectangle cutting board with 6 light colored shortbread cookies shaped like pine christmas trees with an oblong copper bowl with pine needles and some pink berries scattered

What could be better than sitting enjoying your twinkling Christmas tree with a cup of tea and some pine needle shortbread? Pine has a beautiful herbal flavor, similar to rosemary with citrus hints.

The pine:

I’m surprised pine needle isn’t more popular in food. It’s absolutely delicious. And not only are they edible, they’re also medicinal and rich in vitamin C. Everyone has heard of eating pine nuts, but the bark, cones and resin are also edible! And pine pollen has become quite popular in holistic medicine.

The pine needles I used are from Eastern White Pine tree, foraged from upstate NY. Pine needles grow in long clusters known as fascicles, which resemble small bunches. They are usually found in groups of two to five needles. You can buy them here. If you want to go foraging for your own pine, here’s a guide to do so safely. There are many benefits of drinking pine needle tea daily, and the flavor is delicious.

close up shot of christmas pine tree shaped cookie on a light colored cutting board

Why you’ll love them:

  • Delicious shortbread, super fine crumb and super crispy if you like them that way!
  • Easy to roll out dough – perfect for cutting shapes for your Christmas cookie cutters
  • Delicious and adaptable flavors, pair it with peppercorns, juniper, anise or another fragrant flavor if you fancy.
overhead shot of bowls filled with pine needles, flour, sugar, powdered sugar, butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter softened (225 grams)
  • ½ cup icing | powdered sugar (60 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch (68 grams)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (260 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon dried pine needles
  • Optional: vanilla bean
rolled ou shortbread dough on a lightly floured surface on a light pine table

How to make them:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 176 C.
  • Start by making a vanilla pine needle sugar, where all of your flavor will come from. Do this by mixing up your powdered and granulated sugar, vanilla bean and pine needles. Use a mortar and pestle or food processor to do this. If you don’t have either, just finely chop the needles and mix in with the sugar.
  • Cream your butter with your sugar until fluffy and well incorporated.
  • Sift in the flour and corn starch and gradually mix. You will need to get your hands dirty and really mix well to incorporate all of the butter into the flour. Work it with your hands until the dough becomes a ball.
  • Cover in a chill for 30 – 45 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough out about 1 inch thick. 
  • Cut into desired shapes.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to chill.

Frequently asked questions:

Should you sift flour when making shortbread?

We recommend sifting flour for all baked goods to break up any clumps. It’s especially a good idea in this in a recipe like this that has such few ingredients. However, if you don’t have a sifter, you can skip this step.

Why is my shortbread too soft?

Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, make sure you’ve chilled your dough before baking. This will allow the butter to harden up a bit. It’s also always a good idea to measure ingredients by weight to ensure you have the correct amount of flour to butter ratio.

Do I need to poke holes in my shortbread with a fork?

Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling. This shortbread recipe does not require forking.

How should I store shortbread cookies?

Because shortbreads have a high fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers.

How long will shortbread last?

Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

large rectangle cutting board with 6 light colored shortbread cookies shaped like pine christmas trees with an oblong copper bowl with pine needles and some pink berries scattered

Pine Needle Shortbread

5 from 4 votes
The ultimate Christmas cookie! Pine needle shortbread cookies have a super fine crumb, are perfect for cutting into festive shapes and have that buttery crisp flavor we all love in shortbread.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Additional Time:10 minutes
Total Time:30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened 225 grams
  • ½ cup icing | powdered sugar 60 grams
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch 68 grams
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 260 grams
  • 1 tablespoon dried pine needles
  • Optional: vanilla bean

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 176 C.
  • Start by making a vanilla pine needle sugar, where all of your flavor will come from. Do this by mixing up your powdered and granulated sugar, vanilla bean and pine needles. Use a mortar and pestle or food processor to do this. If you don't have either, just finely chop the needles and mix in with the sugar.
  • Cream your butter with your sugar until fluffy and well incorporated.
  • Sift in the flour and corn starch with your butter and gradually mix. You will need to get your hands dirty and really mix well to incorporate all of the butter into the flour. Work it with your hands until the dough becomes a ball.
  • Cover in a chill for 30 - 45 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough out about 1 inch thick.
  • Cut into desired shapes and bake for 10 - 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden at the edges.
  • Place on a baking sheet 1 " apart, though this dough willl not spread much. Poke holes with a fork if desired.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes before handling, shortbread has a fine crumb and crumbles easy. When ready to hadle, cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

Frequently asked questions:
Should you sift flour when making shortbread?
We recommend sifting flour for all baked goods to break up any clumps. It’s especially a good idea in this in a recipe like this that has such few ingredients. However, if you don’t have a sifter, you can skip this step.
Why is my shortbread too soft?
Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, make sure you've chilled your dough before baking. This will allow the butter to harden up a bit.
Do I need to poke holes in my shortbread with a fork?
Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling.
How should I store shortbread cookies?
Because shortbreads have a high fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers.
How long will shortbread last?
Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 119mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g
Course: Cookies
Keyword: pine needle shortbread, pine shortbread
Servings: 16
Calories: 250kcal
Author: All recipes by Sarah Buckley

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