Step aside, basic shortbread! These Pistachio Shortbread Cookies are an upgraded take on the classic cookie. They have ground pistachios right in the dough, so they’re sweet, nutty, and perfect for the pistachio lover. Dip them in chocolate to make them ultra-decadent!

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies - Three cookies displayed on a tray with pistachios. | From
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I used to think of myself as a chocolate chip cookie loyalist, but in browsing the SugarHero archives, it’s clear: I’m actually a shortbread groupie. I’ve topped it with caramel, sprinkled it with strawberry dust, and recreated everyone’s favorite Keebler Fudge-Striped Shortbread at home.  I’m convinced these buttery, crispy cookies can do no wrong, and I’m looking forward to testing out this theory with 213 more shortbread recipes. (Give or take 200.)

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies - 9 shortbread cookies displayed in rows of three. One of the cookies is broke into three pieces. | From

This particular shortbread recipe is made with ground pistachios in the dough, so it has a strong nutty flavor and a sandy texture with tiny bits of pistachios in every bite. On its own, it’s more of a tea cookie—something to enjoy alongside a beverage or as part of a larger dessert plate. It’s adequate, and enjoyable, but not the most exciting recipe.

But we’re not here to be just adequately tempted, so that, friends, is why we give these cookies a chocolate bath. Dunk ‘em in chocolate, sprinkle them with a big handful of your favorite toppers, and these cookies are elevated from “munchable” to “GIMMEGIMMEGIMME” status.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies - Three shortbread cookies displayed on a tray with pistachios. | From

I chose to finish my cookies with three different toppings: ground pistachios, minced candied orange peel, and crushed candied violet. I didn’t think about it too much, beyond a vague desire for variety and color, but I couldn’t have been happier with how well the contrasting colors, flavors, and textures worked out. Fair warning, though, if you top your cookies with a variety of different things, you will probably be compelled to taste each of them in turn, maybe several times, in the interest of comparison and quality control.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies - 15 cookies displayed in rows. The cookies are half covered in chocolate and topped with pistachios. | From

If you want to follow suit, you can make your own candied orange peel, or buy candied peel online. (Many grocery stores also carry it in the baking aisle, especially around holiday time.) Candied violet is an ingredient I discovered working at a restaurant a few years ago—it’s bright purple and intensely crunchy, with a subtle floral flavor that’s a perfect match for pistachios. (It’s also wonderful in truffles, and atop cakes or cupcakes.) Look for it in gourmet or specialty food shops, or buy candied violet online.

We ate an embarrassing number of these cookies at my house, and managed to give away about half of the batch before we devoured them all. They’re a great gift, or a cute shower dessert or edible favor, and, let’s be real, a totally appropriate afternoon snack. Happy shortbread-ing!

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies - Three cookies displayed on a tray with pistachios. | From

Don’t miss our collection of the 10 Best Valentine’s Day Cookiessee the whole web story here!

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Close up of 3 Pistachio Shortbread Cookies on a bed of pistachios.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

4.67 from 3 votes
These Pistachio Shortbread Cookies are an upgraded take on the classic cookie. They have ground pistachios right in the dough, so they're sweet, nutty, and perfect for the pistachio lover. Dip them in chocolate to make them ultra-decadent!
Prep10 minutes
Cook13 minutes
Total23 minutes


Optional Decorations

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  • Place the pistachios and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a food processor and process them until the pistachios are ground into a very fine powder. Add the remaining flour and the salt and pulse briefly to combine.
  • Combine the butter and powdered sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix them together on medium-low speed just until the sugar is incorporated and the butter is smooth. Add the pistachio-flour mixture, and mix on low speed until only a few flour streaks remain. Stop the mixer and finish stirring with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • Scrape the cookie dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate it until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  • Once firm, preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C), and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough out between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper or parchment paper, until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes—I used a 2 1/2-inch heart cutter and got about 30 cookies from the batch.
  • Arrange the cut-out cookies on the parchment. The cookies won’t spread much while baking, so you don’t need to leave much room between them. When you’ve cut out all the hearts you can, press the dough together, re-roll it, and return it to the refrigerator to chill while the first batch bakes.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 F for about 12-13 minutes, until they’ve lost the raw shine in the middle and the edges are very slightly colored. Remove the tray from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough until all of the cookies are baked.
  • When you’re ready to dip and decorate the cookies, make sure your toppings are nearby, then melt the chocolate candy coating in the microwave. Microwave it in 30-second increments, stirring frequently to prevent overheating. If it seems too thick to dip easily, add a spoonful of shortening and melt it with the coating.
  • Cover your work surface with waxed paper or parchment. Hold a cookie by one edge and submerge half of it in the coating. Let the excess drip back into the bowl and scrape the bottom on the lip of the bowl, then set it on the waxed paper. Repeat with 2-3 more cookies, then while the coating on the cookies is still wet, sprinkle the tops with chopped candied orange peel, candied violets, or a pinch of chopped pistachios.
  • Repeat the process, dipping 3-4 cookies at a time, until all of the cookies are dipped and decorated. Refrigerate the tray for about 10 minutes to set the coating. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Recipe Notes

I’ve called for candy coating to make this recipe fast and easy. If you want to use real chocolate instead, I recommend tempering it so that it’s shiny, hard, and stable at room temperature. Here’s my guide to tempering chocolate. If you don’t temper the chocolate, consider keeping your cookies in the refrigerator so the chocolate doesn’t melt or get soft.

Measuring Tips

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Want to learn more about baking measurements and conversion?


Serving: 30g | Calories: 223kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.6mg
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Hi, I’m Elizabeth — a trained pastry chef, cookbook author, video instructor, and your new Baking BFF! I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to be a sugar hero. ❤️

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  1. These pistachio cookies would be so perfect with coffee or tea.. they look addictive and so good! pistachios are one of my favorite nuts.

    1. Yes, they’re totally a tea cookie! I’m with you on the pistachio love train too–although I also think they’d be great with hazelnuts. 🙂

  2. I love nuts in shortbread and pistachios is an inspired choice. I make panna cotta quite often and I think one of these cookies on the plate would be a great textural contrast as well as looking amazing.

    1. Yes, agreed! This is the perfect cookie to go along with panna cotta, or any sort of custard/mousse/soft dessert. Great idea!

  3. Loooooove the various fancy sprinkles on top! It’s so you. Simple, honest cookie, with some pastry-school ninja magic.

    1. Hi Liz, The cookies are a little fragile, so while I think they will stay fresh for a mailing, you’ll need to package them carefully so they don’t break during transit. I’d say that if they’re well-wrapped, they will be tasty for up to a week in transit, though.

  4. Hehe, your posts always make me giggle 🙂 Heart cut-outs are totally appropriate all the year long (in my opinion)! Who couldn’t use a little extra love? The half chocolate dipped with colorful, yummy sprinkle toppings are really pretty. So simple and classic but so sophisticated.

    1. Thanks Amy! And isn’t it true that what the world needs now is love, sweet love? And heart-shaped cookies, sweet heart-shaped cookies?

  5. I just bought your book: The Sweet Book of Candy Making. I am so excited about my new adventure in Candy making. I am planning to do candy baskets for sale for Valentine’s day.

    I was wondering if you have any DVD’s or Video’s so that I can just WATCH first. This is how I teach myself the art of baking. I read then I watch a video. After all that I practice.

    I love your book. I just wanted to lick the page. LOL

    Cheryl Nelson

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you so much for the sweet comment, and I so appreciate your buying my book! Unfortunately I don’t have videos at this time. Starting a YouTube channel is something I’m exploring this year, but I haven’t launched anything yet. I’m happy to answer any questions you have through email (, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!

  6. I love the idea of these cookies so I made them. They came out pretty good despite a few errors. First, I was measuring the pistachios by weight, and I used way more than a cup but it was way under the recommended weight. I don’t know if that was me and my scale or what. Second, I’m new to shortbread so in hindsight, I don’t think I mixed the sugar and butter long enough because my dough stayed dry and crumbly. I fixed it with water, and I was impressed that the cookies stayed together with no further issue. I only dipped them–no further toppings. I’d make them again. Very good. I like.cookies where I can spread out the I did these over 1.5 days.

    1. Hi Mollie! Sorry you had some troubles with the recipe. Since your dough stayed dry, I’m wondering if you measured out 1 cup of ground pistachios instead of 1 cup of whole shelled pistachios? That would definitely explain why the weight measurement didn’t match up and why the dough would have been crumbly. Let me know if you think that was the issue or if there might be something else. I’m happy to help you problem solve. And, good job thinking to add water. I’m so glad that made the dough salvageable and you still got to eat cookies!