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Shortbread Cut-Outs with Edible Flowers

A platter of Square shaped shortbread cut-out cookies with edible flowers including roses, cornflower, and marigolds.

An elevated shortbread cookie as we spring into summer! Small edible flowers top this crispy, buttery shortbread. The combination of rosewater and vanilla brings a mild but memorable flavor to these cookies.

A close up of square shaped cut-out shortbread edible floral cookies that are sprinkled with demerara sugar and edible flowers including rose, cornflower and marigolds.

If there’s one cookie I consistently enjoy, it’s shortbread. It’s simple and straightforward to make. The ingredients are simple and the possibilities endless. For this shortbread recipe, I’ve stuck to the basics but wanted to celebrate spring with some florals. These are probably one of the most surprising bakes to take place in my kitchen lately! These taste incredibly delicious to the point where my husband, the chocolate-loving, “bacon goes on everything” and “a shot of bourbon makes it better” man said he could eat the whole plate they were so buttery good! If edible flowers and floral bakes aren’t your thing, I totally get it, but these are worth taking a chance on! They are so beautiful and are sure to impress. Let’s discuss what’s in these cookies before we get to baking. Here’s what’s involved in making these:

Sugar. These shortbread cookies involve light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar and just a little bit of each. The brown sugar is going to complement the butter in this recipe and the powdered sugar works to create a soft chew to each cookie. I include powdered sugar as it makes the shortbread a bit softer and chewier on the inside but feel free to omit it or supplement with granulated sugar if you prefer a firmer and more crisp shortbread.

Salt. I use a fine sea salt, but fine pink Himalayan salt is also a great option. We want to avoid coarse salt as the finely ground salt incorporates into the dough better.

Extracts and flavoring. I use vanilla bean paste or you can scrape the seed from one bean of vanilla to add to the shortbread. The specks of vanilla always add something and if you’re using rosewater or a rosewater extract, the vanilla bean will soften the rose flavor and will work to bring the best flavor to your cookies. Adding rosewater or rosewater extract is optional but strongly recommended. You do not need much; I use half of a teaspoon and it adds so much to the shortbread and really makes an impact on this floral cookie.

Flour. I prefer to use an unbleached, all-purpose flour for shortbread. If you find the dough to be too soft or too wet, slowly add more flour to the dough mixture until it firms up a bit. You’ll know if there is too much flour added if the dough becomes too crumbly.

Edible Flowers. I used a spring flower blend comprised of rose, cornflower and marigold which were easily accessible and purchased from Amazon (find link in recipe below). Small edible flowers that may be used include violas, lilacs, pansy, cherry blossoms, chamomile, and other herbs to incorporate would be mint, sage, thyme, and rosemary. You can find edible flowers at your local florist or your nearby grocery store and it’s always great to check in with local farms and small floral businesses. Prior to using edible flowers, absolutely make sure they are indeed edible!

Square shaped Shortbread cut-out cookies with edible flowers on baking sheets with parchment paper and a bowl of edible flowers including rose, cornflower, and marigold.
Here are some other helpful tips to make these the best shortbread cookies:

- To prevent spreading, place baking sheets in the refrigerator for up to 20 minutes prior to baking. Even just 10 minutes can be helpful, but this is not necessary.

- If the dough is too wet prior to rolling out, wrap dough and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up a bit.

- To help the flowers stick to the cookies before baking, brush a tiny bit of sugar water on each cookie before placing flowers on top.

- For a fresher look, flowers can be placed on top of each cookie immediately after removing them from the oven.

- Store cookies in an airtight container to maintain freshness for up to one week.

Shortbread Cut-Outs with Edible Flowers Recipe

A bowl of shortbread cookie dough next to an aqua colored kitchenaid stand mixer and nielsen massey rosewater extract with edible wild flowers including rose, cornflower, and marigold.


1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup light brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon rosewater or rosewater extract

1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste (or vanilla scraped from 1 vanilla bean)

2 ⅓ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

Demerara sugar, to garnish

Assortment of edible flowers and herbs, to garnish

A plate of vanilla shortbread cut-out cookies made with rosewater and vanilla bean and an assortment of wild flowers including rose, cornflower and marigold.


Preheat oven to 325° and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, sugars, salt, and extracts together on medium speed, mixing well until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Slowly add flour to butter mixture, mixing on medium speed until fully incorporated.

Remove dough from bowl and form dough into a flattened, round shape. Dust the surface with powdered sugar. Roll dough until it’s about ¼” -thick. Using a cookie cutter between 2 ½ to 3 inches, cut out cookies. Repeat the process of rolling the dough and using the cookie cutter until no more dough is left. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets.

In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar with ¼ cup water. Lightly brush the tops of cookies with sugar water. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and gently press flowers onto the tops of each cookie. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. Allow cookies to rest for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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