How to Make Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies

colorful pansy shortbread cookies

How to Make Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies ~ these are my favorite buttery shortbread cookies topped with colorful and delicate edible flowers. This pretty tea time treat is surprisingly easy to pull off!

pansy shortbread cookies on a cooling rack

pansy topped cookies for spring!

Maybe you’re planning a wedding shower, or afternoon tea party, or maybe you just love a good kitchen craft, but these edible flower cookies are adorable and SO easy to pull off. Your Martha Stewart cred is about to go through the roof!

I had a lot of fun with these cookies, and came up with a new technique for making them that I think is a game changer. If you know this blog you know that I love edible flowers, and I’ve got lots of recipes that feature them, from drinks and salads to decadent desserts. Pansies are some of my favorite edible flowers because they’re so readily available, and so varied in their colors. These cookies will wow everybody!

colorful pansy laminated shortbread cookies

a new technique for adding edible flowers to cookies

For these pansy topped cookies I’ve come up with a new technique that’s easier than the standard method, and results in a fresher, brighter, prettier cookie.

You might have seen my herb embossed savory shortbread which has been super popular. I developed a technique for that recipe that involves rolling or ‘laminating’ fresh herbs onto the shortbread dough before cutting out the cookies. Most recipes for edible flower topped cookies involve pasting the flowers down with a goopy egg wash, and then baking. This method results in an unappealing bubbly white  layer over the flowers. And honestly, baked pansies aren’t very attractive! So I came up with a solution…

a shortbread cookie topped with an edible flower

a better way to make pansy topped shortbread cookies

My method avoids baking the pansies, which keeps them fresher and more colorful.  This method is different from any other I’ve seen, and I know you’re going to love the results!

  • Remove the stems from fresh pansies.
  • Press the flowers between sheets of parchment or waxed paper, using heavy books to weigh them down. Let them sit for at least 30 minute or up to several hours.
  • Bake shortbread cookies and while they’re hot from the oven, gently place the pressed pansies on top, lightly patting them down so they adhere. The heat of the cookies will bond the delicate petals to the surface, so don’t press too hard.
  • Sprinkle with granulated sugar if you like.
  • Let the cookies cool completely to firm up. After they’ve cooled they can be stacked on a platter.
  • Note: brightly colored pansies seems to work best. I did use paler colors because I had them in my garden, but I noticed that the more vibrant colors made the most impact on the cookies.
making edible flower cookies with fresh pansies

how to make pressed flowers for baking and crafts ~

  • Pick flowers in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, but before the afternoon heat and sun.
  • Carefully snip or pinch off the stems and any thick parts just behind the blossom, taking care to keep the flower intact.
  • Lay the dry flowers, face side down, on a sheet of  parchment paper. Fill the sheet with flowers.
  • Lay another sheet over the flowers.
  • Carefully, without disturbing the blossoms, lower a large heavy book or baking sheet over the paper.
  • Top with several large heavy books or other objects on top to evenly weigh the whole thing down.
  • Leave for at least 30 minutes (for cookies) or up to 2 weeks, depending on your project.
  • Remove the weights and carefully peel off the top layer of paper to reveal the pressed flowers. Be careful moving them, they’re delicate!

TIP: press more flowers than you think you need because some will not come out as well.

pressing pansies for pansy topped shortbread cookies

flower cookie FAQS

Can these cookies be frozen?

I did have luck freezing the baked cookies, but if you’re planning to use them for a special occasion like a wedding I would do a test first. Another idea would be to freeze the dough.

Can I flavor the shortbread cookies?

Yes, you can lemon or orange zest and extract for a citrus cookie, or almond extract. Check out my archive of shortbread recipes for ideas. Below see my strawberry shortbread topped with a pansy.

strawberry shortbread cookie with pansy

Where can I find edible flowers like these?

Pansies and other edible flowers are easy to grow, so I like to take them from my garden. You want to be sure to use pesticide free flowers, so check with your local nursery. You can sometimes find them at larger grocery stores, too. Melissa’s Produce sells them and will ship. Williams Sonoma and other online retailers sell them too.

What do the flowers taste like?

On the cookies they really don’t have much taste ~ a fresh pansy has a subtle spicy flavor, but once pressed it’s really mostly for decoration. To experience the real flavor make my Spring Salad with Edible Flowers!

edible flower topped shortbread cookies, cooling

edible flower varieties you can use to decorate shortbread cookies

You’ll want to use delicate flowers for this project. Heavy or thick flowers won’t adhere to the hot cookies. You can also consider removing the petals from larger flowers and using them. This is ideal for roses, geraniums, or marigolds. For a list of edible flowers see my Spring Salad with Edible Flowers.

  • pansies are ideal because they’re thin enough to press the whole flower flat, and they come in endless color combinations.
  • violets and violas
  • roses (use the petals)
  • geraniums (use the petals)
  • marigolds (use the petals)
  • you can actually purchase a collection of edible flowers by mail, from Melissa’s. Click here for info. And edible flowers can be made into everything from edible flower ice cubes, to ice cream, to cocktails.
pansy topped shortbread cookies in a teacup
colorful pansy shortbread cookies
4.66 from 63 votes

How to Make Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies

How to Make Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies ~ these are my favorite buttery rich shortbread cookies topped with colorful and delicate pressed flowers.  This pretty tea time treat is surprisingly easy to pull off!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 24 cookies
Calories 123kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • food processor (optional)
  • parchment paper or waxed paper


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • assorted fresh pansies you’ll need about 30, give or take


  • Put the sugar and soft butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine completely.
  • Add the flour and extract, and pulse about 10 times, then run the machine briefly, just until the dough comes together into a lump or lumps.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and bring together into a smooth flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 2 hours.
  • While the dough is chilling, remove the stems from the pansies, and place them on a large sheet of waxed paper, or parchment paper. Place another sheet on top, and then weigh it down with a baking tray or other large flat surface, topped with several heavy books. Let the pansies press for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you like.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325F
  • Roll out the dough to a 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with a cookie cutter. I used both a 2 inch and a 2 1/2 inch cutter.
  • Bake the cookies in batches, 1 tray at a time. Bake the smaller cookies for 7-8 minutes, and the larger ones for 9-11 minutes, depending on thickness. Your cookies will not brown, they will be pale and soft when done.
  • Remove the tray from the oven and gently press the flat pansies onto the hot cookies, pressing slightly to adhere the flowers to the cookies. Don’t press too hard, the heat of the cookies will do the job. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Let the cookies cool completely on a rack.
  • Note: the cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool.

Cook’s notes

If you’d like to make these cookies lemony, substitute the sugar for my special citrusy lemon sugar, directions here: How to Make Lemon Sugar.  In place of vanilla I use Lemon Paste, or you might use lemon extract.


Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 236IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
e book

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    April 27, 2022 at 11:10 am

    I see it says to put in the fridge for 2 hours…can we make the dough the night before and then do it?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 27, 2022 at 2:26 pm

      Yes, for sure. You may need to let it sit out a bit before rolling because it will be quite firm.

  • Reply
    April 27, 2022 at 11:08 am

    these are amazing and I definitely want to try them but does it work the same with sugar cookies?

  • Reply
    March 21, 2022 at 9:02 am

    Hi There! These are stunningly beautiful!! I have never used edible flowers before – do they impart any flavor? (I know they are “edible” but are they meant to be peeled off before eating)? Your shortbread recipes are breathtaking and I wouldn’t want to change the flavor… I will be shipping to my 90 year old grandma who taught me how to bake my first cookie – I think she will be tickled with the flower cookies!! I have shipped her many of your shortbread recipes and she has LOVED them ALL!!! Thank you for your wonderful posts and delicious recipes.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 4, 2022 at 5:58 am

      Hey Jenn, they really don’t taste like anything once they’re pressed, and you don’t peel them off, just eat them. They are extremely thin and become part of the cookie after you press them on.

  • Reply
    Ansie Harteveld
    August 18, 2021 at 11:59 am

    Hi. This looks so nice. Can you put a glaze over it?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      August 18, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Good question, I don’t see why not, but it would have to be pretty thin and translucent for the pansies to show through.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Hello! Do you know whether this would work using pansies that are already dried and pressed, or do they need to be fresh to adhere?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 3, 2021 at 5:49 am

      Great question Meghan, and I’m not sure because I haven’t tried. I think it might work, if the pansies are not treated with anything to preserve or stiffen them. If you try let me know!

  • Reply
    Patrick Loroff
    June 29, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Do you need to use a food processor? Or can you just mix up the dough in a bowl?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 29, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      Yes, you can do it in a bowl, just be sure to get that butter really well incorporated.

  • Reply
    May 10, 2021 at 10:34 am

    The print function is not working. All it does it send me back to the top of the page. 🙁

  • Reply
    Peg parlapiano
    April 17, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Hi, I love all your ideas, Can I use a regular pansy plant from a florist or Lowes type place? Are the safe to eat? The link you provided, is out, and they don’t know when it will be available.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 17, 2021 at 8:24 am

      You’ll need to make sure the plants haven’t been treated with chemicals or pesticides. My local nursery has a section for edible organic plants. You can grow them yourself from seed, look for them at a farmers market or order them online if they’re available. Most nurseries and big lot stores do treat their plants with pesticides, unfortunately. Some larger grocery stores sell edible flowers as well, look for them near the fresh herbs.

  • Reply
    Ellen Easton
    April 17, 2021 at 7:07 am

    5 stars
    Great tip to add the fresh flowers after baking. I too have used edible, pesticide free, flowers in my various recipes. Always good to learn something new. Thanks, Sue, you are very talented.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 17, 2021 at 7:21 am

      It was a game changer when I figured that out Ellen!

  • Reply
    August 18, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    I see this post was two years ago. Sorry.
    Do you know where I could order/purchase edible flowers?

    • Reply
      August 18, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Dee, yes, you can purchase them in some fancy grocery stores, they’re near the fresh herbs, and you can also purchase them from lots of places online. Melissa’s has a collection of edible flowers sold by mail, but it’s a seasonal offering, and not available now. You can also find them on Etsy, here, for example.

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