Monday, November 7, 2011

Vanilla Bean Shortbread

I can say with almost 100% certainty that Panera Bread is one of my favorite places to eat.  I love their seasonal offerings, the simplicity of their meals, and of course the bread.  What else do I love there?  Their shortbread.  It’s the most buttery and sweet shortbread and my mouth is watering as I tell you this.  I’m not kidding. I think I especially crave shortbread this time of year.  What is it about cooler weather and craving tons of butter?

I’ve tried several recipes in the past but none have seemed to replicate it like this one.  I found the inspiration on (where else?) Pinterest.  Side note: that site is such a great place if you need some inspiration.  But you probably already know that.

Anyway, these cookies are so simple to throw together, they are perfectly sweet and buttery and crumbly, just like at Panera.  This recipe can be easily doubled too.  I played around with the mix-ins but in all truth, I liked the plain ol’ vanilla bean the best.  Feel free to add in your favorite extras!

I’m adding this to my holiday baking list.  I already have this recipe down and I made some white chocolate covered pretzels this weekend.

Have you started holiday baking yet?  What’s your favorite holiday treat?

PrintPrint Recipe

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Recipe


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (see note below)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt


Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.

In a small bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix until combined. Add the flour/salt mixture in slowly; I added it in a couple of batches, and mix until fully incorporated.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Turn the dough out onto the plastic and wrap the dough. Roll into a log, about 2 inches in diameter, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the log from the refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Place on the baking sheet with about 1/4-inch between each cookie. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies

Cassie’s Notes:
If you do not have vanilla beans, substitute with 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Before turning the dough out onto the plastic wrap, mix in:
*1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1 teaspoon almond extract (I tried this. It's a great combination!)
*1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1 teaspoon maple extract
*1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
*Or any other combination that your heart desires!

Adapted from Ina Garten


41 Responses to “Vanilla Bean Shortbread”

  1. #
    Liz — November 7, 2011 @ 7:25 am

    I have been disappointed with a lot of shortbread recipes…I know yours is a winner! Happy Monday~

  2. #
    Taylor — November 7, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    I haven’t done any holiday baking yet – starting this week for sure!! And I love Panera too – they have so many great things to choose from! I’ve never had their shortbread though…I’m not sure whether to try theirs or make yours now 🙂

  3. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — November 7, 2011 @ 8:32 am

    Shortbread is not something we make here. I think I have made it 2 times in my life. Might have to change that this year!

  4. #
    Curt — November 7, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    I love the flavor of vanilla! And I love shortbread cookies even more!

  5. #
    Jennifer @ Mother Thyme — November 7, 2011 @ 9:33 am

    I can’t wait to try this! I have a boat load of vanilla beans and love everything vanilla. These look fantastic!

  6. #
    Bev Weidner — November 7, 2011 @ 10:39 am


    Like in England.

    In my head.

  7. #
    Nami | Just One Cookbook — November 7, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

    Good part of not being a baker is that I don’t know quite well how much butter is in the shortbread… 😉 (I kind of peeked the recipe tho haha) I always prefer shortbread cookies over sweet cookies – the butter taste is so irresistible once I have a bite. This looks delicious!!

  8. #
    Lacy — November 7, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

    These sound amazing! I love panera but I’ve never tried their shortbread and seriously what is better than Pinterest. Awesome post! Yum!

  9. #
    Roxana GreenGirl — November 7, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    i love eating at Panera bread too. mmm, their breads are the best in town. oh, and the cookies, i wish i could live on shortbread, buttery, melt in your mouth.

  10. #
    janet@fromcupcakestocaviar — November 7, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    Oooo, I love Panera! I have never had their shortbread but I absolutely adore their bagels. I’ll have to look next time I’m there. Actually, heck with that. YOURS looks amazing! I’ll just try it 🙂

  11. #
    angela@spinachtiger — November 7, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

    Cassie, you’re right in time. I love shortbread, and I have a lot of vanilla beans on hand that were given to me, and I know your recipe would be wonderful, and I’m looking for some new Christmas recipes. This will be awesome, maybe even add a little nutmeg.

  12. #
    leslie — November 7, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

    Panera and I are GOOOOOD friends!!! Love these cookies!

  13. #
    Carolyn — November 7, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    I’ve never tried the shortbread at Panera, but yours looks fantastic!

  14. #
    Natalie@DeconstructingTheHome — November 7, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

    I would totally make a strawberry buttercream to sandwich between two of these cookies. They look delicious! And, I want to know…. Why is vanilla bean so dang expensive! Really! $10 for one. I always complain when I buy one but they totally redeem themselves whenever they are baked up. Real beans make such a yummy difference!

  15. #
    Mercedes@Satisfy My Sweet Tooth — November 7, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    These cookies look simple and delicious-just the way I like things!

  16. #
    Kelsey — November 7, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    Oooh, my boyfriend would love these! He would love me even more if I made them for him 🙂 Thanks for sharing Cassie!

  17. #
    kyleen — November 7, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

    Sometimes, I think us bakers have the strongest stomachs of all. We know how much butter goes into shortbread cookies but we devour them anyways 😀 Your cookies look delicious!

  18. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — November 7, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

    I love shortbread and I love vanilla bean…perfect combination!

  19. #
    Ann — November 7, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

    This is a delicious recipe! Have you ever thought of using Vanilla Bean Paste? It measures out like vanilla extract, except it’s THICK with beans. My daughter-in-law (who is a Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef) turned me on to it!

    Shoot me an email if you want the webpage for the source (you’ll love it!)

  20. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — November 7, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

    I love Panera too, but I usually try to stay away from the baked goods! I’ve never had this there, but now you have me really wanting to try it!

  21. #
    Anna — November 8, 2011 @ 1:31 am

    Mmm, I love shortbread so much. This looks perfect!

  22. #
    galit — November 8, 2011 @ 3:23 am

    These sound perfect for holiday (and non holiday) baking – love that they are so quick and versatile. Thanks for sharing this recipe! (I will have to try the ones at Panera should I ever be in the US at the right time for them!)

  23. #
    Kelli Worley — November 8, 2011 @ 3:33 am

    Can’t wait to try these! They remind me of my grandmother’s Dutch Refrigerator Cookies. Thank you for sharing!

  24. #
    Baker Street — November 8, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    I love shortbread! Its buttery goodness! These sound absolutely perfect C!

  25. #
    Kita — November 8, 2011 @ 8:41 am

    Im a kid at heart and will always pick a chocolate chip cookie over shortbread, but when I have shortbread – I love it! This vanilla bean shortbread sounds delicious. I haven’t started my holiday baking yet. I am too busy planning my sis’s bridal shower but once that’s over – its all in! Woot!

  26. #
    Jennifer Eloff — November 8, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    I can’t remember when last I had shortbread. Have a wonderful day, Cassie.

  27. #
    Michelle @A Recipe Junkie — November 8, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    OH MY GOSH!!!! My sister LOVES this cookie! Thanks for posting it, I can’t wait to make it for Christmas.

  28. #
    Megan @CountryCleaver — November 8, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    I adore a good shortbread, but sometimes they miss the mark. It’s terrible when that happens. But these? These look like heaven and butter rolled into one! Panera Bread’s are delightful!

  29. #
    Paula B. — November 8, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    Shortbread has long been one of my faves and I am a devotee of the Panera cookie, just had one over the weekend. Love your recipe and the combinations sound delish, off to bake!

  30. #
    Angie@Angiesrecipes — November 8, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    Who could ever resist those buttery vanilla shortbread?!

  31. #
    Katie @ Dip It In Chocolate — November 8, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    I have been disappointed by a lot of shortbread recipes too. I am super excited to try this! We don’t have a Panera, but my hometown did, and every time I go home for the holidays it’s my first stop. Love that place!

  32. #
    Lauren — November 8, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

    I’ve just been using my vanilla beans up too! Except in cupcakes, not in cookies!

  33. #
    Elyse @The Cultural Dish — November 8, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

    Ooo these sound really interesting and delicious!

  34. #
    Baking Serendipity — November 8, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    I love Panera too 🙂 I swear, they are everywhere but Phoenix! I’ve never tried their shortbread, but an at-home version sounds best to me anyhow. PS: I have a holiday giveaway going on right now!

  35. #
    Jen at The Three Little Piglets — November 8, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

    I love Panera too! And it it such a good hing that I don’t live anywhere near one!

  36. #
    Biana | Simple and Tasty Recipes — November 9, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    Shortbread looks fabulous, thank you for sharing the recipe!

  37. #
    Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels — November 9, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

    I’m super obsessed with Panera (obviously…gingerbread bagels 🙂 ). I LOVE their shortbread too, it’s soooo good. But yours looks even more amazing. 🙂

  38. #
    Anne@frommysweetheart — November 10, 2011 @ 12:01 am

    Cassie…your shortbread cookies are beautiful! They are so perfectly shaped! I am with you in your love of Panera and of an exquisitely simple, crumbly, vanilla shortbread cookie. My favorite holiday treat is a pumpkin pie that one of my sons makes every year. He uses a pillsbury crust and the recipe off of the can of pumpkin. But maybe it’s because I don’t have to make it….it just tastes so good!

  39. #
    Jill | Dulce Dough — November 10, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    Oh Panera Bread! We had one near were we used to live, and it has been so long since I have been to one! Your shortbread cookies look perfect!

  40. #
    Ryan — November 10, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

    I’ve never had the shortbread from Panera– and I love Panera so I don’t know how I’ve missed this! Your version looks so perfect and buttery and sounds so good made using vanilla bean. I am so excited about holiday baking! I know I won’t get to nearly everything I want to do this year– and I’ve pinned way too many things. 🙂

  41. #
    Kim Bee — November 15, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    We don’t have Panera Bread here so I am clueless as to it’s wonderfulness. I must say your shortbread looks incredible. It’s one of my faves yet I’ve never made it myself. We already had our Canadian Thanksgiving but I swear I may just give in and do it again with all my American friends.

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