This small batch recipe for pistachio shortbread cookies with rose water is my go-to cookie recipe for any occasion. I make these flavorful cookies extra tender by adding an egg to the dough.

pistachio shortbread cookies with rose water

When I want a buttery, simple but exciting cookie, this is the recipe I reach for. It’s a no-fuss one bowl recipe that comes together in minutes and you only need a handful of ingredients. There’s no measuring or scooping of the batter. Once it’s done, you roll the dough into a log and chill it for up to 3 days. It’s there to make easy slice and dice cookies when you’re ready.

a stack of pistachio shortbread cookies

About the recipe

Traditionally, Scottish shortbread is made from one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts plain wheat flour. Sometimes rice flour is added to give it a crumbly texture. Or cornstarch to make it denser. Some newer recipes, like mine, also include eggs. 

The egg also helps hold these rose pistachio cookies together, as I am using a lot of nuts. I like to chop some pistachios as finely as possible, while still making sure I have bits of all sizes. You get this amazing, nutty flavor when you mix all the various crunchy chunks and pistachio dust into the batter. 

I use unsalted chopped pistachios, but you can use salted pistachios too if you wish. Both make great pistachio cookies, it just depends on your preference. However it’s best that you don’t use salted pistachios with salted butter and added salt, as that would be too much. 

By far my favorite addition is rose water. You could leave it out, but I’m begging you not to. It makes all the difference. It’s the ace up your sleeve in this cookie game. Rose water is like a perfume for cookies, it adds a subtle floral aroma and a delicate flavor. Plus, it pairs beautifully with pistachios and butter. 

While the flavors of this recipe feel very summery, this is also my favorite holiday cookie to make. It’s a nice, lighter change to the usual chocolate or peanut butter cookies but it doesn’t lack any flavor. 

There are easy flavor variations you can use: Skip the rose water and use some lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice instead. You’ll get a vibrant lemon pistachio cookie.

You can also skip rose water and use vanilla in its place. Followed by a mix of chocolate chips in place of some of the pistachios.

pistachio cookies baked placed on a sheet

Baking tips 

Like in all of my recipes, I’m using European butter (that is butter with at least 82% butterfat, in my instance Slovenian butter has 83% butterfat).

As this is a recipe with a lot of butter, chilling the dough is really important. You can chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To make baking after freezing easier, I suggest you first chill and slice the cookies and then freeze them already sliced.

Ideally you should slice the cookies right before you bake them. If you leave them out on the baking sheet for too long, the cookies won’t be as cold going into the oven which can make them spread. Some spreading as the cookie bakes is normal, but not a lot. 

One thing that you can do is chill the cookies again for about 15-30 minutes after you’ve sliced them. 15 minutes in the freezer will most definitely do the trick.

To keep perfectly round cookies after baking, you can reshape them while they are still hot and soft. You can use a round biscuit cutter or wide-enough glass and run it all around the sides making perfect round cookies. Alternatively, you can just nudge the cookie in shape with a spatula, but I find the cookie cutter method the easiest. Or you could just leave them be, perfect in their imperfection. 

pistachio cookie broken in two parts
rosewater shortbread cookies with pistachios
rose water pistachio shortbread cookies with dried roses

Recipe

Rose water pistachio shortbread cookies

Easy to make, buttery pistachio cookies! Packed with chopped pistachios for crunch and a touch of rose water to make them super special. 
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Chill 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings 10 cookies
Rating
5

Ingredients 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 scant cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 2/3 cup unsalted shelled pistachios finely chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl (or bowl of your stand mixer). Keep beating until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the egg, salt and rose water. Then toss in the pistachios and beat until incorporated. Lastly, stir in the flour and beat just until no spots of flour are left.
  • Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and roll it into a log. (It’ll be soft, so you can chill it in the fridge and roll it again 30 minutes later.) Wrap the log in aluminum foil (double it for extra support) and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  • When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven 350° F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the cookie log.
    Using a sharp knife, slice log into cookies, about 1/2 inch (1-cm) thick. Place cookies on the baking sheet, leaving about 1-inch (2.5-cm) space between them. 
  • Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, until they’re golden brown and set (their tops should be dry, not wet, but paler in color than the edges).Bigger thicker cookies need about 15 minutes, while smaller (or thinner) cookies need 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove cookies from the oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Notes

Cookie dough taken straight from the refrigerator is pretty hard. If you have trouble slicing your cookies, let the dough rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then try slicing again.
This recipe makes 10-12 large cookies or it can make about 16-20 smaller ones. All depends on how thick your log of dough is.
Both the unbaked cookie log (or sliced cookies) and baked cookies can be frozen (wrapped well) for up to 1 month.
For extra crunch, you can roll the log of dough in some granulated sugar before slicing.

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