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Dairy Free Shortbread Cookies

dairy free Shortbread Cookies

It’s the season for shortbread cookies! Yes, I’m aware these may not be healthy per se…But you only live once, and there is no better excuse than the approaching holidays to indulge in these delicious, scrumptious, shortbread cookies. Am I right? 🙂 Plus my almost 3 year old toddler very eagerly helped with this recipe. Oh the excitement of sprinkles! His eyes were practically twinkling as he sprinkled each cookies with candies.

Shortbread Cookies on cooling rack

So, to make this one dairy free.

I sub margarine instead of butter. Traditional shortbread cookies contain the holy grail of butter, sugar and flour. I wasn’t 100% sure that the margarine would work. But it does! And beautifully! The dough is a little softer, which is why I stick it in the freezer before cutting out my cookies. This helps a lot! But the flavour is spot on!

I beat the margarine in a large bowl with my hand mixer until fluffy, as shown below.

whipped margarine

Then add the sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated. For the flour, do not add all at once. Instead, add about half at a time and mix well using your hand mixer. The dough will be clumpy, but just use your hands to form a flattened disk shape at the bottom of your bowl. Stick in the freezer for 15 minutes before trying to roll it out.

Pro Tip!

Grease your hands or rolling pin with more margarine. This will help prevent sticking, and will give you a smoother dough, and smoother cookies. Don’t worry about the dough being perfectly smooth, especially if you are glazing them. The glaze and sprinkles will cover any imperfections.

cutting out shortbread cookies

Use extreme care when transferring your cookies to your baking sheet. Remember the dough is quite soft, and breaks easily. I use a large fork to scrape under the cookie first, and make sure there are no pieces stuck to the parchment paper. Then slowly lift and transfer. IF your cookie breaks, don’t worry! You can gently press the piece back together with greased fingers. If it’s not salvageable, just add it to your discard pile for re-rolling for the next round.

Shortbread Cookies Prep

To make this easier, and faster…

…you may use cookie cutters that have less detail and less vulnerability. For example, my snowflakes were harder to manipulate than the snowmen and stockings. Or just keep it really simple, and cut out circles. I chose to make different special shapes in the interest of keeping my toddler entertained. Again, the choice is yours, and either way, the taste is INCREDIBLE.

Shortbread Cookies on baking sheet

Once your cookies are baked, let them cool completely before glazing. If the cookies are too hot, the glaze will drip and run and the candies will melt. I let mine cool on wire rack for about 20 minutes and they were ready to glaze!

Shortbread Cookies on wire rack

While you’re waiting for your cookies to cool, you may prepare your glaze. Just mix the icing sugar and water together in a small bowl and add the drop of food colouring. I use blue to make these “wintery” looking, but you may use any colour you wish. Or you can skip the colour completely and leave the glaze white. As you glaze each one, make sure to add the candy sprinkles immediately before the glaze starts to set, otherwise they will not stick.

Shortbread Cookies glazed with sprinkles

And there you have it!

Absolutely scrumptious, dairy free shortbread cookies!

Perfectly appropriate for a plant based Christmas. Or, I mean, just make these any time of year? I won’t judge you!

Shortbread Cookies ribboned

These cookies freeze very well, so if you’re considering a double batch, go for it! To freeze, separate each layer with parchment paper in an airtight container to prevent them from sticking to one another.

Did you enjoy these dairy free cookies? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Are you looking for more holiday baking ideas? Try my refined sugar free Brownie Peppermint Cookies or these absolutely amazing Lemon Cranberry Muffins.

shortbread cookies pin

dairy free Shortbread Cookies

Dairy Free Shortbread Cookies

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: nut free, vegan
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 24 Cookies
Shortbread cookies are a family favourite, especially during the holiday season. This dairy free version is just as scrumptious as the original!
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  • 1 cup vegan margarine I used Becel
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

Glaze (Optional)

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 drop blue food colouring
  • candy sprinkles of choice I used a blue/silver/white combo


  • In a large bowl, beat the margarine with a hand mixer for at least 2 minutes, until fluffy. Then add the sugar and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  • Slowly add the flour about half at a time and mix until combined. You will have a crumbly dough mixture. Using your hands, form the dough into a flattened ball at the bottom of your bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, line a large baking tray with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on your counter top and the cold dough over top. Flatten and stretch with greased hands or a greased rolling pin to approx 1/4" thick. Then using cookie cutters of your choice, make your cookies. Carefully transfer cookies to your baking sheet. Then re-roll the leftover dough, flatten again, and continue making cookies with your cookie cutters. Repeat until all the dough is consumed.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
  • Optional: Combine the glaze ingredients (except sprinkles) in a small bowl and mix well until a glaze is formed. Using a silicone brush, glaze each cookie and sprinkle with your candy of choice. Sprinkle your candies immediately after glazing while still wet so they stick well.


The thickness of your dough will determine the cooking time. If you roll your dough out thinner, the cookies will bake faster, whereas if you roll the dough thicker, they will need a little longer in the oven. Start checking your cookies around the 10 minute mark to ensure they don't burn.
Serving: 1Cookie | Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 13mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 340IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.4mg
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?Mention on IG and tag #thishealthykitchen!
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.

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  1. Erika

    5 stars
    I’m of the mindset that shortbread is great all year round and these cookies were phenomenal!! I will definitely be making them again and again. Thank you!!!

  2. Jess

    5 stars
    My daughter is lactose intolerant and we made these together today for her birthday this weekend. We used pink and purple candies and cut them into circles. Of course we sampled a few and these are so tasty! Thanks so much for this amazing recipe. I might have to make another batch because these won’t last till the weekend!

  3. Chrissy

    5 stars
    Just made these today and I’m so happy I found this recipe. My son can’t have dairy and he loved these! I made them all circles but will be making these again with fun Christmas shapes like in your photos once the holidays come around again.

    • rosa

      Thanks so much for the feedback Chrissy. Glad he enjoyed. Shortbread cookies are great all year round. 🙂

  4. Caroline

    5 stars
    We’re big shortbread fans but since we have no need to be dairy-free, always go for traditional. This gives an option if we need dairy free for someone.

  5. Katie

    5 stars
    This recipe will come in handy with so many people I know! It’s hard to make dairy free things and truly do the recipe justice, but this one does!

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