Vanilla Bean Shortbread Tea Cookies are a simple, buttery, and utterly delicious cookie perfect for any occasion.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies

If you’re looking for a soft spoken, elegant cookie to pair with coffee or tea, look no further. These demure cookies speak in the hushed tones of floral vanilla bean, they quietly crunch and then melt away in your mouth.

After you eat one or two, you’ll wonder why you’d ever need anything else in a cookie.

I made them for the book group ladies, to balance out the decadent chocolate truffles and Belgian Chocolate Cake.  I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone going into shock from chocolate overload.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Tea Cookies

Yield: makes approximately 2 dozen

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Tea Cookies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)


  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Cream the sugar and butter together with the vanilla bean seeds. Blend in the flour and vanilla extract. Keep stirring until the dough comes together.
  3. Turn the soft dough out onto a floured surface and for into two disks, like for pie dough. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.
  4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out the cookies. Place them on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
  5. Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator while you clean up.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes until firm.
  7. Cool on a rack


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33 Responses to Vanilla Bean Shortbread Tea Cookies

  1. Christine says:

    Do you think the dough would hold up if I refrigerated over night? I have a massive baking day coming up with a girlfriend and like to make my doughs the night before to keep things moving when it comes to the oven. Thanks in advance.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I made these but I didn’t follow the order of ingredients. I am blaming the cute 7 month old baby at my feet. Instead I mixed everything all at once, mixed with my mixer and hoped for the best. They came out pretty good but a bit dry. Which, I know is the nature of shortbread but they just were not giving me the va-va-voom I was looking for. So I melted down semi-sweet chocolates and dipped the face of them and they are one of the most amazing cookies, ever! Also, I didn’t use a fancy cutter, I used Halloween cookie cutters instead and they have morphed into divine Autumn treats.

  3. Amy says:

    These are the best cookies I’ve ever made! I love how light and airy the dough is. My kitchen smells amazing now! And the cookies came out perfectly and stayed delicious for the week that we were able to not eat them all. :-) Perfection!

  4. MegD says:

    I so wanted these to work. They so did not. I double-checked the ingredients and measurements. Everything was in order, but I ended up with a buttery flat mess on the baking sheet. We’re crumbling it up to go over ice cream, so we’re calling it a ‘reinterpretation’ but something went very wrong somewhere.

    • Kate says:

      Hi.. after baking a few years, I realized that the brand of butter matters. If at room temperature it is hard to get off the paper, it has too much liquid. I use Land of Lakes every time. Also if your butter is too cold it won’t work properly either..

  5. Katie says:

    Do you recommend using both vanilla bean and vanilla bean paste? I’ve never used the paste and am worried I would overload them with using scraped seeds as well.

    • Sue says:

      A lot of people will skip the vanilla bean, so the suggestion is there for that reason. I agree that the bean and the paste together might be overkill…but you never know…;)

  6. Trish Kane says:

    Where do you buy vanilla beans for this recipe?

    • Sue says:

      I usually just buy my beans at the grocery store, Trish. But I recommend Olive Nation or Beanilla, which are online suppliers,

  7. Margaret says:

    I made the Vanilla Bean short bread today and they are delicious,I added some grated NUTMEG,the short bread cookies are buttery crisp the will go great with Tea,Coffee or cold glass f milk, I will triple the recipe for the Holidays.

  8. Ruth Bethune says:

    Where is the print icon please? Ruth Bethune

    • Sue says:

      Sorry Ruth, my older recipes don’t have the printable recipe plugin, I’m trying to convert them all over to it, slowly!

  9. grace says:

    i’ve never heard a cookie described as demure–i like it. :)

  10. Donna Elick says:

    I love shortbread. Vanilla bean sounds perfectly fabulous. They are simple and fantastic all in one bite, arent they? Even sitting next to the truffles, I would go for the shortbread… However, I can’t say the same for the cake. I have a bit of a ‘thing’ with cake. haha

  11. and i am so glad i finally switched over to using vanilla bean paste instead of pods–far cheaper!!! and just a tasty!

  12. Yasmeen says:

    I’m always happy to have a delicate shortbread recipe on file – it’s something everyone loves and such a handy thing to whip up if people are coming over. Love the flecks of vanilla bean, too… we brought back heaps of vanilla beans from our honeymoon in Bali that are waiting to be mixed into these!

  13. As I sit here drinking my cup of Jasmine tea and cookie-less, I’m salivating over these cookies. Can’t wait to try them!

  14. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    These look super amazing! I can’t ever, ever, ever have too many shortbread recipes! This one will most definitely go into my collection! Would it be okay if took the blue tea cups too? I love those, so pretty!

  15. Leslie says:

    Such a lovely cookie and I like your blue and white accessories!


  16. I actually make a variety of vanilla bean shortbread that is my favorite! But yours are different than mine…and they do look so demure and dainty sitting there. I’ll be trying yours next time!

  17. Mynda says:

    Aloha! I love all types of shortbread but have never made a recipe with confectioner’s sugar — can’t wait to try this one!

    Can you confirm if it’s 1 pound or 2 sticks of butter, please? I thought there were 4 sticks in pound.


  18. How beautiful are these? I love all the vanilla bean specks. I’ll be that the confectioners sugar makes these super tender. Drool.

  19. I never make shortbread in favor of the more ooey and gooey type cookies. I need to change that up. The flavor in these is right up my alley.

  20. My favorite kind of cookies..So pretty w/ blue and white:)

  21. OMG, I posted a photo in the sidebar of my blog of the most wonderful little bird cookie pictures….I do believe your cookies would be the perfect base, and I KNOw I can easily convert to gluten free!

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