Local Alabama baker, Molly Bolton of The Nostalgic Crumb, has created a holiday cookie recipe that is sure to impress at your next celebration! These cookies are perfect for the holidays. Flavored with vanilla, orange, and warm spices, they are as delicious as they are beautiful. Whether an extravagant party or a small gathering, Molly’s Christmas Wreath Shortbread Cookies will leave guests asking for seconds!


Christmas Wreath Shortbread Cookie Recipe


For the shortbread cookies:

  • 226 gm (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 60 gm (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
  • 50 gm (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest 
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 281 gm (2 1/4 cups, spoon and leveled) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom


For the decorations and glaze:

  • Several sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • 300 gm (2 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Assorted sprinkles for decoration




  • (Molly Bolton/Contributed)

    Make the dough. Add the butter, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and orange zest to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (alternatively you can use an electric hand mixer). Mix on high speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through and again at the end. Add the orange juice and vanilla and mix to combine. 

  • In a large bowl, combine the sifted flour, kosher salt and ground spices. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in 2 separate additions, mixing on low speed after each addition until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. 
  • Turn half of the cookie dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a disc, about 1/2″ thick, then wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.  
  • Chill the dough. Place the discs in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours, up to 3 days (NOTE: for chill times longer than 3 hours, place the wrapped discs in a zip-top bag to keep them from drying out). For freezing instructions, refer to my recipe notes below*.
  • When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. If the dough has been chilling for longer than 3 hours, let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften a bit before rolling out.
  • Roll and cut the dough into shapes.  Working with one disc at a time, place one portion of chilled dough on a clean, floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin. Roll the dough into a 1/4″ thickness, re-flouring the surface and/or dough as needed to prevent sticking. Use a cookie cutter** to cut the dough into shapes, gathering and re-rolling the scraps until you’ve used up all of the dough (TIP: if the dough begins to get too sticky, press it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up)
  • Chill the cutouts. Place the cutouts on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 to 2-inches apart. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. (If you can’t fit baking sheets in the fridge, place the cutouts on a plate and return them to the baking sheet once they’ve chilled!)
  • Bake. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are just beginning to lightly brown, rotating the pan halfway through bake time. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Glaze/ decorations:

  • Make the sugared rosemary. Brush the sprigs of rosemary with the egg white, then sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Allow to set for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dry. 
  • Make the glaze. Add the powdered sugar, orange juice and milk to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add more liquid (orange juice or milk) as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze reaches a thick drizzling consistency. 
  • Decorate. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Dip the top side of each cookie into the icing, holding the cookie over the bowl to let excess drip off. Use a toothpick to pop any bubbles that appear. Place the iced cookie on the prepared baking sheet and top with rosemary leaves and sprinkles. Repeat this process with each cookie. 
  • Set. Allow the glaze to dry, about 1 hour. 



*Make ahead/ freezing instructions: Cookie dough may be stored wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a zip-top bag for up to 3 days. To freeze discs of dough, wrap the dough in a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil, and store in a freezer-safe zip-top bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, remove foil and leave in fridge overnight. To freeze dough cutouts, place the cutouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer until the dough is frozen solid. Place frozen cutouts in a freezer-safe zip-top bag for up to 3 months and bake from frozen, adding 1 to 2 minutes to your bake time.   

**Cookie cutters: Feel free to use any size or shape cookie cutters for your shortbread cookies! To create wreaths, I used a 3-inch and 1 1/2- inch round cutters with a scalloped edge. For the snowflakes, I used a 3-inch cookie cutter. 

Storage: Make sure the glaze has set completely before storing cookies. Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container, placing sheets of wax or parchment paper between layers of cookies.

Click here for more from Molly Bolton at The Nostalgic Crumb!