Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies

Decadent shortbread is studded with vanilla bean caviar and topped with a vanilla bean glaze as a Christmastime treat. These Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies with a Vanilla Bean Glaze cookies taste like the holidays in a single bite!

Stack of shortbread cookies with glass of milk


I can’t get enough of vanilla beans, and I am slowly whittling down my supply of the exotic seasoning. (Because OF COURSE I purchased the 30-pack of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans when I initially set out to start making all the recipes with fresh vanilla beans.)

There. Whew. I finally admitted it out loud.


Today, I think you should join in on this love of vanilla beans because this cookie recipe, which happens to be the cookie recipe I am kicking off Christmas Cookie Week 2013 with, is solid.

And by solid, I mean absolutely delicious and something that you will crave when you bake several dozen of these and proceed to give all but a few away to your neighbors because you absolutely do NOT need any cookies in the house while you’re iced/snowed in one weekend.

True story.

Christmas Cookie Week 2013: Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies with a Vanilla Bean Glaze // The Speckled Palate

So. Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies topped with a Vanilla Bean Glaze.

It sounds decadent… because it is. But there is something so comforting and home-y in just one of these cookies that really sings of the holidays and years past to me… and everyone we shared them with was a fan, too.

Collage of images of vanilla bean shortbread on cookie sheet

In fact, even Lucy Belle was a fan.

She clearly thought I baked these cookies for her… then she attempted to snatch the top cookie off the pile before I photographed them because OBVIOUSLY I were setting up the cookies and milk for her pleasure. (In her defense, I was capturing them from the floor because that’s where the best light in our house was at the time the cookies were cooled enough to glaze and photograph, but still.)

When she learned they were not hers, she was a grump and laid down about five feet away from where I was making the images, watching every move I made like a hawk just in case I changed my mind.

Cookies and milk sitting on tray in front of dog

Here’s how you can make your own:

Stack of shortbread cookies with glass of milk
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Decadent shortbread is studded with vanilla bean caviar and topped with a vanilla bean glaze as a Christmastime treat. These Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies with a Vanilla Bean Glaze cookies taste like the holidays in a single bite!


Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, , split (use about 3/4 the caviar, leaving some for the glaze)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk, (skim or non-dairy OK)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Vanilla Bean Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 caviar from split vanilla bean, (from above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk, (skim or non-dairy OK)


  1. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a hand (or stand) mixer.
  2. Add the caviar from the split vanilla bean, vanilla extract and milk. Combine with the butter and sugar mixture until smooth and well incorporated.
  3. Sift together the flour and salt, then add to the wet ingredients, mixing until the batter just comes together. (Mine was a little bit crumbly, and that's OK. To check and make sure that yours will form into balls for the next step, just grab a little piece of the dough and press it together in your hand. If it forms a ball without falling apart, you're good to go. If it doesn't, add an additional tablespoon of milk until it does this.)
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  5. While the dough is chilling, make the Glaze.
  6. Combine the powdered sugar, the rest of the caviar from the vanilla bean, the vanilla extract and milk in a smaller bowl, whisking until smooth. Set aside.
  7. Once your dough has finished chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  8. On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, scoop out 1" rounds of the dough, placing evenly on the baking sheet. Using a fork, flatten the tops of the cookies using criss-cross marks.
  9. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes (or until slightly browned and crisp).
  10. Let cool on a wire rack, then drizzle with the glaze and enjoy!

How much did you love this recipe?

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Vanilla bean shortbread cookies and glass of milk on wood board

Are you a shortbread fan this time of year? Are you currently obsessing over a certain ingredient?


The Speckled Palate Christmas Cookie Week 2013

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  1. Your pictures are amazing. I have never had vanilla bean but your pictures make me want to try it. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Aww. Thank you so much, Pamela. You’re too sweet… and I hope you get to try vanilla bean sometime soon because it just adds SO much flavor to baked goods.

    1. Thanks so much! And pssh. Girl, everything I know in the kitchen and with cooking has been self-taught (or guided along by friends/family members and cookbooks.) You can do it, too! And these cookies are divine, so I hope you give them a go!

  2. Is it just me, or do vanilla beans make something sweet seem that much more special and a bit fancy, even? Love this recipe, as well as the glaze. I’m a huge fan of Christmas cookies that are taken to the next level taste-wise but are still elegant and simple in their construction. These look wintry, warm, and comforting, like a perfect holiday cookie should.

    1. Katherine, You’ve just hit the nail on the head about vanilla beans, girl. They really do make something sweet seem just a little more fancy and decadent. And like you, I’m a fan of cookies that are elegant, simple but a little elevated, taste-wise. Glad we’re in the same boat… and thanks! Here’s to consuming several perfect holiday cookies this season!

  3. These look amazing Erin! I can’t wait to try them. I love reading your posts too, you have such a cute personality. =)

  4. Erin! These are gorgeous! I love fresh vanilla beans too. The floral smoky accents can’t be replicated by extracts. And I love how your cookies are so white, making those little flecks of vanilla caviar so prominent. Pretty. I have a small stash of beans left from an impulse bulk purchase a few years ago. I’ll dunk some into this for sure. 😉

    1. Jayne! Thank you, ma’am! You’re right about the accents of fresh vanilla beans not being able to be replicated in extracts… though I’ve currently got a homemade extract brewing using some of those fresh beans because I was all, “Why not?”

      Glad that I’m not alone in my love of fresh vanilla beans and that you also hoard some of these delightful floral and smoky beans for special baking, too. When you make these, let me know what you think about ’em!

    1. Thanks so much, Aleshea! I don’t normally make shortbread because I’m SUCH a cookie monster, but these were too good to NOT make, ya know?

    1. Hahaha. Love it, Alli! And I bet they really WOULD ship well… though there are none left here for me to send you. Wamp wamp.

      Clearly, I need to work this out better for next time.

  5. I love it best thing ever since K lllllloooovvvveeee vanilla and that vanilla glaze whoo who ee man that was good and thick and ozzing when you bite it mmm good.

    1. Hi Kristee! I’m not sure if freezing the dough and baking from frozen would work with these since I dropped them onto the baking mat. However, if you form it into a log and freeze it that way, it might be do-able! I haven’t tried it, though, so I don’t know how that would change the baking time.

      Let me know if you give it a try and how they turned out! Happy baking!

  6. I really need to get myself some vanilla beans so I can make this! I love the flavour they give, and can just imagine how delicious these cookies would be to bite into!

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