These shortbread cookies are crispy, buttery and melt in your mouth as you eat them. This is a homemade version of the popular Hawaiian shortbread cookies and you only need four ingredients. The cookies are easy to customize and decorate. They also store well and are good for gifting or making for an event.
Every year around this time I look forward to being gifted with Hawaiian shortbread cookies. This year, I also decided to make my own. My homemade version is pretty easy to make and you can customize and decorate them however you like.
- All purpose flour
- Macadamia nuts
- Powdered sugar
All purpose flour: This recipe uses all purpose flour. Do not use self-rising flour or cake flour.
Macadamia nuts: You want to use plain roasted macadamia nuts (not flavored). It’s okay if they are salted though ideally you want to use unsalted. The nuts will be processed until they resemble small crumbs.
Butter: This recipe uses unsalted butter. Make sure to use unsalted and not salted.
Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is what helps create the melt-in-your-mouth sensation as you eat these cookies and it also provides sweetness for the cookies. Make sure your powdered sugar contains cornstarch.
You only need four ingredients to make the shortbread cookies. You can serve them plain but you can also dip them in chocolate. I actually prefer just eating them plain but when I am making them for others I will usually dip some of them in chocolate for presentation.
What is Hawaiian Shortbread
Hawaiian shortbread is a macadamia nut shortbread cookie that Hawaii is known for. Visitors will often buy it as a souvenir and they are also a popular cookie gift this time of year.
They are sometimes cut to look like cute little pineapple but are also sometimes just cut into rectangles or squares. The cookies are usually sold plain, dipped in chocolate, or flavored with dried fruit.
How to Make Hawaiian Shortbread
The butter and sugar are first creamed together until light and fluffy. The flour and macadamia nuts are then added in just until a dough forms. Before adding the macadamia nuts, they need to be pulsed in a food processor until they resemble small crumbs.
The dough is rolled out and placed into the fridge until set. You then cut the dough into whatever shape you desire.
The cookies are then placed on your prepared baking sheet and baked. After the cookies are cooled, they can be enjoyed as they are or you can dip them in melted chocolate.
My version of Hawaiian shortbread is lighter and crispier than the original. I actually prefer this texture so I didn’t try to alter it to make it exactly like the Hawaiian shortbread I usually buy.
More Unique Cookie Recipes
4 Ingredient Hawaiian Shortbread Cookies
- 8 oz (226 g) unsalted butter brought to room temperature
- 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
- 2 cups (256 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (90 g) finely crushed macadamia nuts see note
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is very creamy and light. This works best with the flat paddle attachment if you are using a stand mixer. Scrape sides of bowl as needed so that all the butter gets beaten.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour and macadamia, mixing until a dough forms. The dough will be almost like a thick paste and too sticky to work with your hands.
- Put the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out into a large rectangle that is ¼ inch thick. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or until dough is set. You know the dough is ready when you can peel off the top layer of parchment paper without the dough sticking to it and the dough should feel firm.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Working quickly, cut dough into 1.5 inch by 2 inch rectangles. Use a cookie spatula to lift the cookie dough off the parchment paper and place onto your prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Re-roll remaining dough and cut into more rectangles until all the dough is used up. You do want to do this quickly because you don't want the dough to get soft. You want the dough to stay pretty firm otherwise the cookies will spread too much during baking.
- Bake cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown. Let cookies cool.
- Crushed macadamia nuts: If you are using salted macadamia nuts, add them to a bowl and briefly rinse off the salt under water and then thoroughly pat dry the macadamia nuts with a paper towel. Then run them through a food processor until they resemble small crumbs. You want to stop pulsing them right before they start sticking together. See photo in post for reference. Measure out 1 cup or 90 grams for the recipe. If your macadamia nuts are not salted, you can skip the rinsing and go straight to processing them in a food processor.
- Make sure your macadamia nuts are only flavored with salt or nothing at all. The macadamia nuts should not have any skin on them.
- Optional salt: These cookies do not have salt. If you like salt flavor in your shortbread you can add 1/4 tsp salt to the dough or if you plan on decorating the cookies with chocolate and crushed macadamia nuts, you can leave the salt on the crushed macadamia nuts to add a little salt. I tested them with and without salt and I found it really just came down to personal preference. More of my taste testers enjoyed the no salt version but I can also see the appeal of adding a little salt as some of my favorite shortbread cookie companies do have salt in their cookies.
- Flour: This recipe is made with US all purpose flour. In some countries the all purpose flour may have a different amount of protein. For best results, look for a flour with 3 grams of protein per 30 grams serving.
- Butter: I recommend using American butter rather than European brands of butter which sometimes have more fat which can cause the cookies to spread too much.
- Powdered sugar: This recipe uses packaged powdered sugar that contains cornstarch. You want to use a powdered sugar with cornstarch. There are some countries that offer a powdered sugar that is just pure sugar which is not what you want for this recipe.
- I cut the cookies into rectangles. I dipped some of them in melted chocolate and also added some lightly crushed macadamia nuts onto some of the chocolate dipped ones.
- Dipping in Chocolate: To dip the cookies in chocolate, first wait for them to fully cool. Melt about 1 cup of chocolate until smooth. Whisk in 1-2 tbsp of oil (you can used melted coconut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil) or until the chocolate has a thin consistency that is good for dipping. Dip half of each shortbread into the chocolate and set onto a wire cooling rack to set. If adding crushed macadamia nuts on top of the chocolate, add them before the chocolate sets.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.