Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies ~ maple infused and packed with nuts, this takes my classic slice and bake shortbread cookie recipe to a whole new level. Add these cookies to your holiday assortment, or keep them all to yourself as a reward for being so good this year 😉

This maple walnut shortbread cookie is simple yet sophisticated…definitely not something you’re going to find in the supermarket cookie aisle. 

Both maple and walnuts have a complex, lingering flavor that makes these cookies special. I love love LOVE cooking with maple, I even have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it, and this flavor combination is a classic. In this recipe I use maple sugar, maple extract, and maple syrup for a triple maple threat. Maple sugar is sugar made from maple tree sap in the same way white sugar is made from sugar cane. Find it in natural food stores, and you can always buy it from Amazon, here. You can substitute brown sugar if you need to.


But it’s not all about the flavor  ~ my basic slice and bake shortbread cookies have such a great melt in your mouth texture, whether you eat them warm from the oven, or let them cool.

Why does shortbread have that melt in your mouth texture?

  • It’s a really interesting question, and it has to do with chemistry! Shortbread cookie dough doesn’t contain any liquid ingredients like you normally find in cookie recipes, so they don’t rise, and the formation of gluten is retarded.
  • The addition of cornstarch (which is gluten free) reduces the total amount of gluten in the recipe which further tenderizes the shortbread.
  • Shortbread cookies can be soft or crisp, depending on how thick they are and how long you cook them, but they will never be chewy.
  • Note: these cookies are not gluten free, although you can make them with a good gluten free baking mix.


I love an easy cookie recipe and it doesn’t get much easier than this. 

Mix up the dough and roll it into a log. Chill until firm and then slice it up and bake. The log of dough can sit for up to a week in your refrigerator. Up to a year in the freezer.

3 tips for perfect maple walnut shortbread cookies~

  1.  Use good quality butter (stock up when it goes on sale and freeze it) don’t go for the cheapo brand, it contains more water, for one thing, and will affect the texture of your cookies.
  2.  I use a heavy duty USA baking sheet for all my cookie recipes, the pan bakes evenly and never warps.
  3.  I keep an inexpensive oven thermometer in my oven at all times so I know exactly what the temperature is. It has a convenient hook on the top so you can hang it from the oven rack ~ mine just lives there.

These three tips go a long way toward eliminating baking fails during the busy holiday season.

maple walnut cookies with glaze

Make these maple walnut cookies your own ~

  • You can use another nut, like pecans, if you don’t love walnuts.
  • These shortbread cookies are nice without the frosting too. Have them with a cup of tea.
  • If you have a leaf cookie cutter you can roll out the dough (form it into a disk, wrap, and chill first) and make cute maple leaf cookies.
  • Did you know you can actually make your own maple sugar? There’s a recipe here, and all you need is maple syrup.
3.76 from 99 votes

Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Course cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
chilling 3 hours
Yield 21 cookies
Calories 184kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar packed (substitute light brown or granulated if you like)
  • 1/2 tsp pure maple extract if you can't find, use almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts plus more for topping


  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar sifted
  • about 5 Tbsp pure maple syrup not imitation


  • Cream the butter and the sugar together.
  • Beat in the extract.
  • Whisk together the flour and cornstarch. Blend them into the butter and sugar, until it forms a dough.
  • Stir in the walnuts and make sure you get them well distributed in the dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper and form it into a log, about 9 or 10 inches long. Wrap it in the plastic and smooth it into a uniform smooth shape, twisting the ends to secure.
  • Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours.
  • Set oven to 350F
  • Slice the dough into 1/4 - 1/3 inch slices and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Thinner slices will bake up crispier, and thicker ones will be more buttery and soft.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes. The cookies will still be pale and soft, but will firm up as they cool.
  • Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then cool completely on a rack.
  • Make the frosting by whisking the sugar with enough maple syrup to form a spreadable frosting. If it is too thick, add a bit more syrup, and if it becomes too think add more sugar. Spread a layer on each cooled cookie and dust with crushed walnuts. The frosting will harden as it dries.


Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 184kcal
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.

More maple treats on the blog ~


maple walnut cookie pin


Other maple walnut recipes to try ~

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I don’t much like nuts, so usually substitute seeds (okay, or chocolate chips!) for nuts. However, someone suggested using rolled oats, instead of the walnuts. Really good!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Hi! May I know what cornstarch is for? If I omit, do I need to make any adjustments to the recipe? Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 15, 2018 at 6:53 am

      The cornstarch makes the dough a little more tender, Emma, but you can substitute the same amount of flour.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Wow! I cannot wait to try these, only with gluten free flour though. Maple walnut was always my mother’s favorite ice cream flavor, having been a serious New Englander. So, of course, it’s mine too. In the 50’s when I was little, that flavor ice cream was offered in all the roadside ice cream stands in Connecticut. Sighhh. Clearly not a flavor in Florida, where I live now. Thank you!!

    • Reply
      January 1, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Let us know how it works with gluten free flour Alene 🙂

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    November 27, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Absolutely love these cookies! And I always have lots of maple around, so I’m all set 🙂

  • Reply
    Carrie Lee
    November 26, 2017 at 9:07 am

    These look delicious! Our family is gluten and cane sugar free and these cookies could really fit the bill! Any chance these could be modified to be gluten free? Given the walnuts it might be conceivable to use a nut flour in substitute? Thank you!

    • Reply
      November 26, 2017 at 10:01 am

      I have made shortbread with Bob’s Red Mill gf baking mix, and it came out fine, but of course the texture is compromised a bit. I would love to try ground walnuts, but I’m not sure it would hold together, please let me know if you experiment!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    These look divine! So packed with walnuts! Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply
    nancy nelson
    November 25, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    When these are made with brown sugar are they as good? Thank you for all the yummy maple recipes!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Well, I think they lose a little in the maple flavor, but brown sugar gives them a nice depth because of the molasses, so it’s a wash! You can adjust the amount of maple extract to taste.

  • Reply
    2 Sisters Recipes
    November 25, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    I Love a good shortbread cookie and the maple flavor sound so good, I can’t wait to try them! Thanks for the tips too!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2017 at 1:53 am

    My cup of tea it is. Thank you so much !

  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I want to get started with my Christmas cookies, so will need to be able to freeze them. Are they freezable, with or without the icing? Thanks, Sue.

    • Reply
      November 24, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      I like to freeze frosted cookies without the frosting, Gill. But you can do it either way. You can also freeze the log of dough for later.

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