Cardamom Shortbread Cookies with Orange Glaze Recipe

Square cardamom shortbread cookies with a citrus glaze, on a cooling rack with a mini spatula under one cookie.

Cardamom shortbread cookies boast an exotic warm flavor, balanced with a sweet, citrusy orange glaze. The cookies are buttery, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

A round plate with 3 cardamom shortbread cookies, a cup of coffee top right, and top left is a plate of cookies and a cut orange.

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Cardamom shortbread cookies are excellent when you want something a little extra special. They make a delicious addition to an assorted cookie tray, and are perfect for a wedding or baby shower!

My family was a little suspicious of these cookies at first, but after one bite, my husband exclaimed, “These cookies are crave-worthy!” Once you taste them, I am sure you will agree! My kids would eat a whole tray of these cookies if I would let them!

What is Cardamom?

Cardamom is a warm spice, with a strong, sweet flavor. It has a hint of citrus and herbs. The seed pods come from a plant closely related to the ginger and turmeric families. This spice is the main ingredient in chai, so if you like chai tea, you will love these cookies!

Cardamom can be found already ground, but I like to use freshly ground cardamom for the best flavor. Once it is ground, the oils start to dissipate, which weakens the flavor of the cardamom. I found cardamom pods in the spice section of my local grocery store, but if you have trouble locating them they can also be ordered through Amazon.

There are tiny seeds inside each cardamom pod, and some recipes direct you to use only the seeds. However, there isn’t a flavor difference in using just the seeds versus the whole pod, so for simplicity, I grind the whole pod.

Spice grainder with finely ground cardamom.

What Makes these Cookies Special?

This recipe follows very closely with the formula for traditional shortbread cookies, which crumble as you bite into them, and then almost melt in your mouth. The addition of the cardamom brings an unexpected warmth, and the orange glaze balances the cookie with a bright sweetness. Plus, it looks gorgeous!

  • Confectioner’s Sugar: We use confectioner’s sugar (also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar) versus granulated sugar in this recipe because it has cornstarch in it. This makes the cookies less crisp and more tender.
  • Butter: There is a lot of butter in this recipe! It is part of what makes it so good! I use salted butter, but if you prefer to use unsalted then just add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your recipe.
  • All-Purpose Flour: The standard ratio for traditional shortbread is 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour. This works beautifully for simple cookies, but the dough will spread as you cook it. I have added a little more flour to this recipe so that the dough will hold its shape as it bakes, but not too much, so it still feels like a shortbread cookie when you take a bite.
Cardamom shortbread cookie ingredients: butter, confectioner's sugar, flour, and cardamom.

Simple Steps to Make Shortbread

Cream Butter and Sugar

  • Use butter that is softened, but not melted. Using softened butter allows it to cream with the sugar, without overmixing. To get the dense texture that is classic for sugar cookies, we cream the sugar, and then the rest of the ingredients are mixed in very gently. You do not want to add too much air to the batter.
Bowl of butter and sugar creamed together.

Stir in Flour and Cardamom

  • Once the flour and cardamom are added in, mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. The mixture will still be crumbly, but it will be in large chunks instead of small crumbs.
Bowl of crumbly dough.

Keep Shortbread Cold

  • Think about your dough like butter (after all, that is a large part of what this dough is made of). If you touch soft butter then it will stick all over your hands. But you cannot roll out a stick of hard butter. The same is true for this dough. You want it to be cold enough that it isn’t sticky, but not too cold.
  • We achieve this balance by forming the dough into a disk and refrigerating it for 30 minutes before it is rolled out. If it gets too soft while you are rolling it out, just stick it back in the refrigerator for a little bit.
  • Once the dough is cut, put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the butter to harden so that the sugar and flour begin to bake before the butter melts, which keeps the dough from spreading too much.
Disc of dough on plastic wrap.

Roll and Cut

  • Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick, then cut using your favorite dough cutter.
  • Gather remaining dough and roll out again, until all of the dough has been used. Remember, you can refrigerate your dough again if it gets too warm.
  • Use a small spatula to transfer the dough cutouts onto a parchment-lined plate and freeze them for 15 minutes before baking.
Cut outs of dough using scalloped square cutter.

Bake on a Low Temperature

  • Shortbread is cooked at 325 degrees, which is a lower temperature than most other cookies. This low temperature helps the cookies to cook all of the way through without browning too much. You want the cookies to just begin to turn golden.
  • This lower temperature also helps contribute to the wonderful shortbread texture, as it controls how the butter melts into the starch.
3 rows of round shortbread cookies.

Make the Orange Glaze

  • Once the cookies have cooled completely, whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice, and milk. This can be drizzled over the top of the cookies, but I like to cover the entire top surface of the cookie by dipping them.
  • Gently place a cookie top-down into the glaze, then remove the cookie and let it drip. Turn the cookie over and set on a plate or cooling rack.
  • Wait to stack the cookies until the glaze has completely dried. Otherwise, they will stick together.
Dipping shortbread cookie into glaze.

Slice and Bake Shortbread

  • If you want a simpler shortbread you can also slice the dough instead of rolling and cutting! Simply roll the dough into a log. Refrigerate the log for at least an hour. When you are ready to bake, slice the dough into 1/2-inch disks.
Cookie dough rolled into a tube and sliced into round cookies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a shortbread cookie and a butter cookie?

Shortbread usually has flour than a butter cookie, making them more delicate and tender. Butter cookies are also baked at a higher temperature than shortbread cookies.

What about sugar cookies? What’s the difference?

Sugar cookies have more sugar and flour than shortbread and butter cookies, and less butter making them a sturdier cookie. They are ideal when you want to cut out fancy designs.

How do you store Cardamom Shortbread cookies?

Shortbread cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 7 days, in the refrigerator for 10 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Can I use already ground cardamom?

Freshly ground cardamom is much more potent than cardamom that is already ground. I have not tested this recipe with pre-ground cardamom, and recommend that you use freshly ground, if possible.

Try These Other Delicious Recipes

A row of 3 cardamom cookies, with orange zest and cardamom sprinkled around, and an orange poking into the top left corner.
Stack of cardamom shortbread cookies with orange glaze.

Cardamom Shortbread Cookies with Orange Glaze

Tender, buttery cookies are accented with the exotic spice of cardamom. An orange glaze balances these cookies with bright citrus.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Refrigeration Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, International
Servings 15
Calories 179 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Cardamom Shortbread

  • 1 cup (219g) salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (60g) confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups (252g) all-purpose flour

Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • orange zest to decorate (optional)

Instructions
 

Making the Shortbread

  • If using fresh cardamom, grind pods into a fine powder.
  • Beat butter, sugar, on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, and then increase to medium speed and continue to beat until creamed, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides.
  • Add the flour and cardamom and mix on low speed until the dough comes together in medium-sized chunks and you do not see any flour streaks in the bowl. Do not overmix.
  • Press the dough together using a spatula or your hands, then turn onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to help shape the dough into a disk. Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap the dough and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll 1/2-inch thick, then cut out with cookie cutters. Place the cookies onto a parchment-lined plate and put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough onto your baking sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until very lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Making the Glaze

  • Once the cookies have cooled, mix together 1 cup of powdered confectioner's sugar along with the orange juice and milk, until smooth.
  • Dip the cookies, top side-down, into the glaze. Then remove and turn top-side up. Sprinkle with zest, if desired. Set on a plate or cooling rack until the glaze has set.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Cardamom Shortbread Cookies with Orange Glaze
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
179
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
8
g
50
%
Cholesterol
 
33
mg
11
%
Sodium
 
109
mg
5
%
Potassium
 
23
mg
1
%
Carbohydrates
 
24
g
8
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
2
g
4
%
Vitamin A
 
378
IU
8
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
8
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword cardamom, citrus, cookie, shortbread
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2 thoughts on “Cardamom Shortbread Cookies with Orange Glaze Recipe

  1. 5 stars
    When I saw Erin making these, I knew I HAD to make them for a cardamom-loving friend. So glad I did! We both agree they’re addictive, and I’m not usually a shortbread OR cardamom fan, but YUM!! Your step-by-step tips were GOLD when I was making them. I felt like you were there teaching me 😉 and it helped me side-step any mistakes I could have made. Will definitely make them again, both as written and at my friend’s request, with lemon glaze next. 🙂

    1. This is amazing! I am so glad that the tips were helpful to you, and that your friend loved the cookies! An even bigger compliment that you liked them as well! Lemon glaze would be an incredible substitution!

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