Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies

Buttery and crisp, these festive Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies will leave a lasting impression.  Little ones will love their fun shape and everyone will love their sugary, buttery flavor.  A great project to get the kids to help with!

Candy Cane cookies on green doilies on a white background.



Bringing back a bit of nostalgia this year with a fun cookie recipe from my past. Easy Candy Cane Cookies are made with a buttery shortbread dough before being shaped into a festive candy cane. They’re really easy to make and so much fun for the kids to get involved in making.

And if you’re a freak about messes in the kitchen….I’m sorry but you’re just going to have to let it go this one time.  Because this cookie needs little hands.  It’s just so much fun for the little ones and if you don’t have any little hands around….it’s fun for you, too.  A glass of wine would be nice as well, but someone will have to pour it in your mouth…unless you have an extra arm.  This is a two handed cookie making task.  Wine can wait….until they’re baked



My mom made these every year (I remember every year but it may have only been once….however, they are forever etched in my brain.)  They weren’t called shortbread cookies but I felt that needed to be added to the description for you all….just so you know what you’re in for, taste-wise.  They’re not a traditional shortbread recipe but the flavor and texture is all there.    You can call them whatever you like…I will never know.

These easy Candy Cane Cookies are made with the same dough I use for my Witch Fingers with the same almond flavor and buttery texture. You can substitute the almond extract with Peppermint Extract if you want your cookies to taste minty like a candy cane.

Candy cane cookies being packaged in a box.


Most of the ingredients for these Candy Cane Cookies you already have in your kitchen so they’re a breeze to whip up!

Here’s what you’ll be using:


Baking Powder

All Purpose Flour – You can make a gluten-free cookie by substituting the AP Flour with your favorite Gluten Free Flour. 

Butter – We like to use salted butter here. If you use unsalted butter, be sure to add a pinch of salt to your dough so the flavor isn’t flat. Also, room temperature butter works best here.

Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is used for testing purposes but I’ve played around with other sugar like coconut sugar with excellent results.

Egg – One large egg, room temperature. White or brown….it doesn’t matter.

Almond Extract – We love the almond flavor in these cookies but you can substitute with peppermint extract to make your cookies taste more like a legit candy cane.

Vanilla Extract – Don’t skip this ingredients, it’s the base for the buttery cookie flavor. 

Candy cane shortbread cookies on a white background with a box of cookies in the background.



You can make the dough in advance if you’re planning a cookie baking party. Simply follow the instructions up to and including the coloring of the dough. Store the dough in separate containers to prevent bleeding and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When you’re ready to shape your candy cane shortbread cookies, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.

To freeze your dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to a freezer safe container or zip top bag. Freeze the dough for up to 3 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before rolling out the dough.


You can store your Candy Cane Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days. We’ve enjoyed them long after that, too, but 10 days is for maximum cookie freshness.


We love, love, love these Candy Cane Cookies but we also really like making these NO BAKE Peppermint Bark Cookies. Super simple, you won’t believe how fast they disappear, too!

No Bake Peppermint Bark Cookies Recipe |

And definitely give these easy Pizzelles a try…..they’re super simple to make and you can flavor them anyway you like. We also like making these easy Spritz cookies with the kiddos.  They’re super fun and so festive!



Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies

A Christmas tradition, these Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies are a must from my childhood.
4.25 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course cookie
Cuisine American
Servings 32
Calories 119 kcal


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Christmas red food color I use Wilton's the best in my opinion
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking powder, salt and flour. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, almond extract, vanilla, and salt. Slowly add the flour into mixture in small amounts, beating until just combined.
  • Remove half the dough from the bowl and blend red food coloring into the half remaining in the bowl until the coloring is even and bright red. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out as you work. Using a floured teaspoon to measure 1 teaspoon each of white and red dough for each cookie and roll into 4-inch ropes on a lightly floured surface. Place a red and white rope side-by-side, press together lightly and twist to form a spiral. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and curve the top down to form the handle of the candy cane. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies, carefully, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.


Serving: 1gCalories: 119kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 89mgPotassium: 20mgFiber: 0gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 185IUCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.5mg
Keyword christmascookies, holiday
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

28 comments on “Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies”

  1. These are so pretty! What a wonderful gift these would make for our neighbors, and I’ll bet my kids would have a ball helping me make them.

  2. Oh, these are just too much fun. You could even get away with blue, instead of red, for Hanukkah. Love them!

  3. Holy cow. Some of y’all went all out with your packaging! SO nice looking. 🙂 And what fun candy cane cookies!

  4. These are so cute! And the packaging! 🙂

  5. Such a gorgeous cookie package! I’ve got to make these this year with my kiddos! SO much fun!

  6. Such a perfect cookie for the Cookie Swap…love these1

  7. So adorable and love the packaging!

  8. Your cookies are adorable!! You can tell how much love went into making these 🙂 Lovely packaging, too!!

  9. Oh my, look at those cookies and the boxes!! I just love the The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.! I would have been so happy to have gotten these in the mail! I participated in the The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap for two years and had to put it on the back burner. I may have to join again next year!

  10. These are some of my absolute favorite Christmas cookies…have been as long as I can remember. Beautiful packaging!

  11. These are so cute! Totally perfect for the holidays.

  12. How super fund and cute are those cookies. Love them and love the cookie swap!

  13. Those are so cute! I’d have a hard time eating them all… NOT! 🙂

  14. These are perfect for home and gifts! First, I love shortbread cookies and second, you made darling candy canes. Thanks!

  15. So sweet and festive. I just love this recipe! Perfect for a cookie swap.

  16. These are so adorable! And I love your packaging!

  17. How cute are these candy cane cookies! I definitely would LOVE to receive these wrapped up in cute packaging as a gift.

  18. How cute are these cookies! Perfect for gifting!

  19. I made these this morning and they’re so cute! I just have one question regarding the 1/4 cup of sugar at the bottom of the ingredients. What are you supposed to do with it?

    • Thank you so much, Ruthie! My goodness….I’ll update the recipe, but you’re supposed to sprinkle it over the candy canes prior to baking to give them a little sparkle. (if desired) Thank you again and have a very Merry Christmas!

  20. I was so excited about this recipe and to make them but for some reason my candy canes kind of melted and flattened out. Do you have any idea why this might have happened?

    • You may have needed to add more flour to the dough. Please read the response to your previous comment. I’m sorry they didn’t work as you expected, this is a recipe I make every year without fail and never have a problem.

  21. Sorry to say but this is a horrible recipe and the directions are horrible. First of all you failed to mention that the door should be refrigerated and chilled before you work with it as I did not do that and my cookies just spread out when I bake them and had very little flavor.the fact that the door should be chilled prior to working with it is key to successfully making these. Very important!

    • I think you mean to say the “dough” should be refrigerated…..which it does not. I make these without chilling the dough ever and have never had an issue. If your dough was too sticky or falling apart then I mention to add more flour in the notes. Chilling the dough would help a bit but it could also dry out the dough and lead to cracking. Also, because hands are warm, the dough can warm while you’re rolling it out. Perhaps a 10 minute chill in the fridge AFTER they’ve been assembled would help with your issue in the future.

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