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A nostalgic piece of my childhood, Aunt Violet’s Spiced Shortbread Cookies are a classic butter cookie with just the right touch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. They are holiday baking at its finest, and these Christmas cookies couldn’t be easier to make! 

Aunt Violet's Spiced Shortbread Cookies 1

First of all, let me just say that I have actually updated Aunt Violet’s classic Shortbread recipe, giving it a hint of seasonal spice that (in my opinion) makes it even better than the original! My family loves these treats just as much as I always have, which obviously makes me one very happy Mama!

[Tweet “Classic butter #cookies with a hint of holiday spice! Aunt Violet’s Spiced Shortbread Cookies #recipe #Christmas”]

Casey with Cookie Dough

So who is Aunt Violet? Well, she’s not technically my aunt.

When I was growing up, my family spent every single summer at Martha’s Vineyard with our best friends, who happened to have a daughter the same age as me. Even though we lived many hours apart (me in Virginia, Katie in Connecticut), we were “summer sisters” who packed matching outfits so that we could dress alike all summer, happily spent every second of every day together for months at a time, and ultimately ended up going to the same college together! Aunt Violet was Katie’s Dad’s Aunt. Got it? Don’t worry. It doesn’t really matter. Just know that Violet was Scottish, their last name is Stewart, and these shortbread cookies are the authentic, REAL DEAL!


Debbie and Katie (otherwise known as “Beach Mom” and “Beach Sister”)!

While Katie was my summer buddy, we also got to see each other every winter on the Vineyard as well. For a short week between Christmas and New Year’s, our families would once again rendezvous on the Vineyard for a cold but cozy getaway. And when you’re on an island in the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of New England in the middle of the winter, what else is there to do but bake cookies?! So Katie’s mom (Debbie) would gather all of the kids in the kitchen at least once or twice per trip to bake multiple batches of their Aunt Violet’s Shortbread Cookies. It’s an easy dough that comes together in just minutes with only a few ingredients — no specially stocked pantry or baking skills required — and the cookies always turn out beautifully. Our favorite part was decorating (and eating) the cookies, and my own kids now share the same love!

Aunt Violet's Spiced Shortbread Cookies 2

My preference is for the plain, unadorned Spiced Shortbread Cookies that you see above, but a vanilla glaze with some holiday garnishes make them incredibly festive and kid-friendly!

Aunt Violet's Spiced Shortbread Cookies 3

Katie’s mom, Debbie, still brings me these cookies whenever I see her during the holiday season. Every time I take a bite I am transported right back to our cozy little Vineyard kitchen where we shared so many fun memories. But don’t just take it from me — try these yourself and you will soon understand why our families have been making them every year for well over 30 years now! The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without them!

Aunt Violet's Spiced Shortbread Cookies

Aunt Violet's Spiced Shortbread Cookies

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 16 -20


For the Cookies:

  • 2 sticks butter softened
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups flour not sifted
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger

Frosting (Optional):


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  • Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until completely combined and dough forms.
  • Roll out dough on a floured surface.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes.
  • Place cut-out dough onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until just golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then remove to wire racks.
  • Once cookies are completely cool, decorate if desired.

If making the Frosting:

  • Combine all frosting ingredients in a large mixing bowl; blend on low speed for one minute. Increase speed to medium; blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Author: The Seasoned Mom

Spiced Shortbread Cookies

Looking for other delicious holiday treats? Try these favorites:

White Chocolate Rice Krispie Pops

Rice Krispie Pops

Peppermint Bark Fudge Chewies

Peppermint Bark Fudge Chewies

Pecan Pie Bars


Cinnamon, Date & Nut Mini Loaves

Cinnamon Date and Nut Mini Loaves

Frozen Frango Bars


Red Velvet Cake Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies


The Ultimate Ginger Cookie



Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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  1. These look so good! I love shortbread cookies, but always feel like they are missing something. The addition of these spices may be just the thing. Will have to try it! Love your blog, will be following!

    1. Thanks, Scarlett! You’re so sweet! I couldn’t agree more about the shortbread needing something special. The spices make it amazing! 🙂