Coconut Oil Shortbread Cookies

Is vegan butter available where you live? I never take my precious Earth Balance for granted and it would break my heart (or my belly) if I ever had to give it up. A few weeks ago, Yvonne left me a comment asking about the biscuits that I showed in my quince post. I gave Yvonne the recipe and told her that I made them with Earth Balance. Yvonne didn’t let the fact that Earth Balance is not available in the Netherlands deter her from making biscuits, and she went ahead and kicked some biscuit butt with coconut oil instead. Yeah!

So now I’m sharing a recipe for my favorite cookie, but made with coconut oil instead of Earth Balance: shortbread! This one’s for you, Yvonne!

Coconut Oil Shortbread
Coconut Oil Shortbread
Coconut Oil Shortbread 
(14-16 single cookies)

1/2 cup refined coconut oil at room temperature*
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
2 tbsp water
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1. Scoop the coconut oil into a medium sized mixing bowl. The coconut oil should be solid but not hard like a rock. If it’s very hard you can place it somewhere warm for a few minutes until it becomes softer. I had the oven on, so I just let the coconut oil sit on the stove top (with the stove top off!) until it softened a bit.

2. Using an electric mixer on high, cream the coconut oil until it looks smooth and there are no visible chunky bits of fat. This will take a minute.

3. Add the sugar, extracts, and water. Keep mixing on high until everything is well blended.

4. Use a large spoon to stir in the flour. You can use your hands to knead in the last of the flour if it becomes too hard to stir. You should end up with a dough that resembles Playdough: not soft and soggy but also not dry and crumbly. If it’s too dry and not coming together you can add a little bit more water.

5. Now we need to shape the dough into a log. To do this you will need a piece of wax paper cling wrap large enough to wrap the dough log in it. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the wax paper and place the dough right in the center. Use your hands to shape it into a log that is about 2 inches in circumference and then wrap the wax paper tightly around the log. Have you ever rolled a cigar? Me neither, but I’m guessing it’s a very similar process! Fold the ends/tips of paper over and refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

7. Check to see if your dough is firm enough to slice. Just unwrap the log and use a sharp knife to slice a bit of dough off. If it’s still too soft you can refrigerate it for a little longer. If it’s easy to slice, keep cutting the dough into about 1/3 in slices. You should end up with 14-16 slices.

8. Place the dough on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie, and bake on the highest or second highest oven rack for 18-20 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet half way through so the cookies will bake evenly. Baking time will vary depending on how reliable your oven is. My oven is a cretin, so I have to bake these on the highest rack or the bottoms will burn.

9. Transfer your cookies to a cooling rack and let them cool down completely. Enjoy!

*You can use unrefined coconut oil if you don’t mind your cookies tasting coconutty.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp non-dairy unflavored coffee creamer or your favorite non-dairy milk

1. Combine the chocolate and creamer in a microwaveable bowl.

2. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well and check to see if it’s smooth. If it’s still a bit chunky, nuke it for 15 more seconds, stir well, and check again. Repeat until your chocolate filling is completely smooth and silky. Let it cool down for a few minutes until the chocolate firms up slightly.

3. Spread a generous amount of chocolate over one cookie. Top it with another cookie – without pressing down! If your chocolate starts spilling out, it means that it’s still too warm and you should let it cool down for a few more minutes. Try again and if the chocolate stays put, keep going until all your cookies are done.

Full disclosure: I only tested this recipe once, which is two or three times short of my usual pre-blogging tests. It’s just that I am too excited to share with the world the fact that if I ever had to live somewhere where Earth Balance wasn’t available, I would still be able to enjoy my favorite cookie. Well, I suppose there was a bit of a trial before this official recipe, but it only involved baking one single cookie. I made this dough with 1 cup of flour, like my regular Earth Balance based shortbread, and I baked only a little piece of dough to see what happened. It melted five or six minutes into the baking time. It became a cookie puddle. That’s how I knew that I needed to work some extra flour into the dough, and an extra 1/4 cup was all it needed. Success!

Coconut Oil Shortbread
Oh look, I can’t just leave cookies alone. I have to add chocolate somehow. The coconut-oil-based shortbread is not quite as tender as the one I make with Earth Balance, but it’s still buttery and delicious. These cookies have a bit more crunch to them, and unlike the ones made with vegan butter, the sandwich cookies don’t become softer on the second day. They are not too sweet but sweet enough, which is why I love shortbread so much!
Coconut Oil Shortbread
Oh, I just don’t know when to stop, do I? A little chocolate drizzle on top and a good sprinkling of slivered almonds made these extra ridiculous! What’s wrong with ridiculous when it comes to chocolate?
Coconut Oil Shortbread

Now as if I hadn’t overloaded this post with photos, here’s a picture of a duck doing… something… weird…

Creepy? Funny? Just weird?


  1. says

    Hi River! I LOVE this recipe. Just want to give you a heads up that I’m posing it on my baking blog Project Pastry Love, and of course giving you full credit. Thank you so very much… Seriously, I’ve baked about 4 batches already.
    Have a great day :)

    • says

      Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Jess! I’ve been thinking about making these again recently for a special TV show themed post. I just need to stop procrastinating!

      Please feel free to link back to this recipe, but I do ask that my recipes are not re-posted in full elsewhere mainly for SEO purposes. Thanks!

    • says

      I’m so glad these have worked out for you, Keela! You’ve made delicious variations! I think I may have to “steal” your rosemary orange idea and blog about it soon – I’ll give you proper credit for the idea, of course. Raspberry lime sounds wonderful too though. Are you using fresh raspberries? I’d love to know how they turn out!

      Thank you so much for stopping by to let me know that you’ve enjoyed these and for sharing all the creative variations that you’ve made! Happy spring!! :)

  2. Keela says

    I have baked dozens of these now and they keep getting better! I’ve made plain “butter” , rosemary orange, finger lime and today i’ll make 1 doz raspberry lime and 1 doz “butter” dusted in coconut and powdered sugar. I know they’ll be perfect for welcoming spring tomorrow!

  3. Anonymous says

    These look delicious and I am so making them when I get the chance. Maybe with coconut sugar because I’m in love with coconuts.

    I don’t know if you already tried the olive oil ones (you probably have since it’s been a whole year) but I’ve done it once before and the cookies were lovely. They were chamomile and honey flavoured. Subtle but pleasing and a very good way to get rid of some tea bags I had lying around.

    • says

      I bet these would be so good with coconut sugar! Let me know how they work out! Maybe we should add some coconut extract as well, considering that we’re both cuckoo for coconuts :)

      I actually haven’t tried olive oil shortbread yet, but I really should. That was very crafty of you to use up your tea bags like that! Great idea! I have some orange spice tea bags that I bought and didn’t like at all, maybe I should try something similar. Wish me luck!

  4. Anonymous says

    Damn! I should not have looked at this while my lunch is cooking – I am very hungry and craving these cookies right now!

  5. says

    Sorry I’ve missed a few comments during my hiatus!

    Lighty: I don’t see why this wouldn’t work as a base for lemon bars (famous last words). Maybe you could replace some of the sugar with powdered sugar, as Mihl suggested, so your bars aren’t too hard? Let me know how it goes if you try it! Good luck!

  6. says

    The interesting things is, that when mixing with butter, the ‘last’ thing you should do is cream it all together. it’s the fat melting/evaporating at temperature that creates the airy texture in good shortbread…which is why the baking soda is useful (or cream of tartare).

  7. says

    Thanks for this recipe! I never have Earth Balance, but I always have coconut oil. The taste, texture…everything turned out perfectly. I used unrefined coconut oil because that’s what I have, and the cookies did have a delicate coconut flavor, but certainly not overpowering. I creamed the oil, sugar, vanilla and water in my food processor and tossed in a few dried figs (because dried figs are my candy). Butter-less figgy shortbread cookies? I’m going to be making these far too often. Thanks again!

  8. Anonymous says

    Awesome idea. I love your cookies. But can i replace the coconut oil with other oil. And, if i cant, can i use coconut oil base, instead of solid base? Tq

    • says

      Isn’t baking with new ingredients fun? I always get all excited and dorky whenever I’m trying something different. Unfortunately, Mr. Wing-It has come to the conclusion that too much coconut oil doesn’t agree with him so I have to pace myself with my experiments. Otherwise he would never get to eat any of the treats that I bake. On the other hand… more food for me! :P

  9. says

    Oh, those are gorgeous! I stopped using margarine quite a while ago and once I had figured out how to use coconut oil, I had much more success with shortbread. I never had luck with recipes that called for earth balance – it seems to be quite different to the maragrine we have available here.
    Btw, you could try using powdered sugar instead of regular sugar for this kind of recipe. In my experience it makes for some really tender shortbread.

    • says

      Ooh, thanks for the tip, Mihl! I will try powdered sugar next time to get a more tender crumb. I am trying to use more coconut oil and less Earth Balance so I will probably be lurking around your blog looking for more tips and recipes :)

  10. says

    Oh River! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the first sentences of this post: you thought of me when you made these cookies – I’m blushing, I’m so flattered!
    Thank you so much for this; I’m going to make these cookies as soon as possible because I already know for sure that they will be my favorite cookies!

    • says

      I hope you like them, Yvonne! I promise to incorporate more coconut oil into my recipes in the future. I realized how spoiled I am for having most of my favorite vegan convenience foods and ingredients right here in town. Hey – I just realized I should have called these “Yvonne Cookies!” :D

  11. says

    Classic shortbread with coconut oil… can it get any better? Why yes, it can. River, you proved that by adding CHOCOLATE!!! Holy yum :D

    And that duck has quite the neck range…

    • says

      Chocolate makes everything better! Next I’ll be trying it on pasta or a potato salad :P

      Maybe that’s why I find the duck a little creepy – it’s the super long neck! If my neck was that long I would probably injure it even more often. Good thing I’m not a duck!

  12. says

    If the cookies taste half as good as they look, they must be perfection. I do love the way they look! You have a way with chocolate and almonds!

    So, how else is a duck supposed to preen her chest feathers? She probably just want to look her best when you come calling with your camera. :)

    • says

      And then I come and take their pictures right in the middle of all that grooming instead of waiting until they’re presentable. I took a picture of Curly grooming his butt feathers once. How very rude of me! :)


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