Coconut Shortbread

Coconut Shortbread: A delicious, melt-in-your mouth cookie made with healthy fats.
vegan coconut shortbread

Indian sweets often combine the classic medley of coconut, cardamom and sugar. In my Coconut Shortbread, I use these Indian ingredients to put a delicious spin on a Scottish favorite.

Desi loves shortbread and so do I. What’s not to love about a cookie that’s utterly simple and yet stunningly exquisite?  I make my vegan shortbread for him often enough, but this time I wanted to try something different and something possibly healthier. Therefore, Coconut Shortbread.

For my Coconut Shortbread I chose not use coconut flakes– I don’t like the idea of anything, even delicious flakes, interrupting the perfect texture of shortbread. Instead, I substitute the butter with coconut oil. And then add a smidgen of coconut milk to intensify the flavor.Vegan coconut shortbread

Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter in shortbread and other recipes that require flaky crusts, like pies, and even in cake frosting. That’s because it remains solid at room temperature in all but the most tropical climates, like shortening would. Be sure to use an organic variety to make sure you get the purest flavor and texture.

One thing to keep in mind when baking with coconut oil is that it has a strong, coconutty flavor, so don’t use it in a recipe where you want a neutral flavor. It works perfectly in this shortbread, though, because we want it to be as coconutty as possible. The reason I said that this shortbread is possibly healthier than regular shortbread is because some research shows coconut fat is actually heart-healthy (although any fat is still fat, so moderation is key).

Cardamom makes this shortbread extra-special and reminds me a little of Naralachi Barfi, an Indian coconut fudge that is a sweet childhood memory. My mom would often make these soft and diamond-shaped barfis for my brother and me when we were kids and they would be pink or blue, exactly as a child would love them. They filled the house with the heady fragrance of sugar, coconut and cardamom, much like this shortbread does.

Enjoy, all!

Vegan coconut shortbread


5.0 from 1 reviews
Coconut Shortbread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup coconut milk, cold
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp powdered green cardamom
  • 1 tbsp sugar for dusting shortbread (optional)
  1. Mix together the flour, cardamom powder, and salt.
  2. Cream together the coconut oil and the powdered sugar with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until it's soft and fluffy, about two minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add the flour in three batches, mixing well with a spatula after each addition.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 15-30 minutes.
  6. Grease an 8 by 8 inch glass baking pan.
  7. Place the shortbread dough in the pan. Press with your fingers into an even layer all the way to the corners of the pan.
  8. Bake the shortbread in a preheated 300-degree oven for 50 minutes or until it is slightly darker at the edges.
  9. Remove to a rack, cool for 10 minutes, and then, using a sharp knife, cut into diamond shapes without going all the way through the shortbread.
  10. Cool thoroughly and then separate into diamond shapes.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Oh wow! I like delicate coconut flavor and this reminded me of naral wadi, of course different but Oh so yum!
    Vaishali, what brand of coconut oil do you use?

  2. says

    The moment I saw these , I thought it was Badam burfi…

    Coconut-shortbread looks so good. I love coconut biscuits from Bangalore bakeries.

    I just love visiting your blog, I like recipes, divine food pictures and your writing…

    Thank you so much for inspiring people to try plant-based diet – good for our health and our beautiful Earth.

  3. says

    That is one delicious shortbread variation. Love the use of coconut oil. I have a bottle that needs to be used, will try your shortbread soon. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. says

    Surprisingly enough, I have everything for this recipe, I guess I have to make it :)

    How about adding some dry coconut to it? May be I will try in small batch.

  5. says

    How did I miss this? Yum. Anything coconutty is good by me. When you say coconut milk do you mean the kind in the cans in the Thai food section, or the the coconut milk in the milk aisle along with non dairy milks? Thanks V.

  6. Cookie Monster says

    I just made these and the taste is fabulous, however during baking the oil was bubbling through the cookie dough (I poured off the excess after baking), and 50 Minutes was WAY too long! I cut off an inch of hard cookie all around. The the hard parts are wonderful for dunking in tea, and the soft part delicious, but not not melt in your mouth ‘shortbready’. Since I’m baking at altitude do you think baking for a shorter bake time and/or lowering the oven temperature might yield a better result? The taste is worth it. Suggestions?

    • says

      Hi Cookie Monster, I don’t have personal experience baking at higher altitudes, but I believe that you need to increase oven temperature by 15 to 25 degrees when you do, and reduce baking time correspondingly. According to this guide at King Arthur Flour, you also need to reduce sugar when baking at higher altitudes, since sugar can weaken the structure of the baked good. This might be helpful:
      Perhaps you could try increasing the oven temperature to 320 degrees and reduce baking time to 45 minutes, for a start?

      • Cookie Monster says

        Thanks Vaishali, I’m going to play around a bit to see what works best. I’ve never had problems with vegan shortbread before but don’t bake it as long, and usually only use about 1/4 cup of sugar – so I think I’ll start there. Upping the temperature has resulted in a lot of burned goodies going into the garbage. Will let you know how it works. Thank you for the inspiration :)

  7. Sasha says

    Just made these and they are delicious! Next batch I think I’ll add some pistachio nuts too. Total success. One question: have you tried freezing these & if so were they ok after?

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