These melt-in-your-mouth Leprechaun Shortbread Bites, inspired by the magical Emerald Isle, are delicious, easy and so fun to gift to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. with an adorable, free printable label!
The minute the calendar flips from February to March, my mind always starts roaming to the land of leprechauns. In a culinary sense, that is. The calendar turnover reminds me that the Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is on the near horizon. Am I Irish? Nope, but I guess you could call me a wanna-be Irish gal. Because I love the idea of celebrating the Emerald Isle’s patron saint and really enjoy coming up with new recipes to make March 17th fun and festive. These delicious Leprechaun Shortbread Bites are my ode to St. Patrick’s 2021!
This is not an original Café recipe but rather one I found on one of my favorite recipe websites, Land O Lakes. Their recipe for their Christmas Shortbread Tidbits had such great reviews I decided to wave it with an Irish magic wand and transform it into these whimsical, can’t-eat-just-one Leprechaun Shortbread Bites.
The recipe couldn’t be easier; just combine softened butter with sugar and blend well. Add a splash of almond and vanilla extracts and enough green food coloring to yield your desired hue. Then add flour and stir until the mixture is crumbly and the flour is well incorporated. Pour it into a foil-lined pan and press the dough firmly into the pan. Refrigerate to firm up the butter for 10 minutes then remove the dough from the pan and cut it into squares. Refrigerate again for at least 30 minutes. Bake, then try to hold off snitching one or two until they’re cooled. So delicious, so fun!
A wonderful gift from the kitchen!
Because these Leprechaun Shortbread Bites make such a great gift to surprise a neighbor, friend, family member, co-worker, service person… whoever… I made a fun little Irishy label to attach to a gift box, bag or plate.
If you’d like a free printable PDF for these labels and instructions on how to use them, just leave us a little note in the comment section below. We’ll email you the PDF. All you have to do is double click on the PDF icon which will bring up the PDF reader on your computer. You will then have an option to print the labels. If you don’t have a home printer, you can take the PDF to any office or printing store and have them printed there.
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! Put on some Irish music, make a batch of these super easy Leprechaun Shortbread Bites and start celebrating!
Cafe Tips for these Leprechaun Shortbread Bites
- Because this recipe doesn’t call for a mixer, you want the butter to be nice and soft. You can leave butter sit out at room temperature to soften but if the air is chilly it won’t get soft enough. Here are a few easy tricks for softening butter.
- You can soften the butter in the microwave at a 10% power level. It works like magic. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 1 minute. Add 20 to 30-second increments until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- Another technique I often use to soften butter is to put it in the microwave for 30 minutes to an hour with the light on. To keep the light on in the microwave I put a folded paper towel in the door. Don’t leave it in there too long though. I forgot about it a few days ago and was amazed when I opened the door and found a plate of melted butter!
- Boil a cup of water in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and get things nice and steamy. Leave the water cup in the microwave, add the butter and close the door. The warmth from the steamy water will help to quickly soften the butter within 20-30 minutes.
- Cutting the butter into small pieces helps it soften quicker.
- Put the butter in the oven with the light turned on. This will take 1-2 hours.
- The fastest way to soften butter is to put cold butter in the microwave for 10 seconds. Turn it to the opposite side and microwave for another 10 seconds. It might be ready at this point, but if it’s not completely soft, add one or two more 5-second stints, turning the butter each time. Don’t walk away when using this option or you’ll have the prettiest melted butter you ever saw.
- If you prefer to use a mixer, go for it! You won’t need the butter to be as soft.
- There are several pan options for making these Leprechaun Shortbread Bites and your choice will determine how thick the final shortbread squares are. I usually use a 9×9-inch baking pan which results in a nice thick shortbread as pictured above. You can also use a 9×13-inch baking pan which will yield thinner (and more) squares. We love it both ways.
- These Leprechaun Shortbread Bites make a delicious and easy dessert served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of this Best Ever Hot Fudge Sauce or this Mint Basil Syrup (in keeping with the green theme).
- As mentioned above these delicious shortbread cookies make a really fun gift. I like to put them in a little cellophane treat bag then tuck the bag into one of these pretty gift boxes. Add a label (see above) and you’ve got a delightful gift that anyone would love, Irish or not!
- I use a bit of green gel food color for the Leprechaun Shortbread Bites as well as green, white and a few pink nonpareils. Pink is not a traditional St. Patrick’s day color but I think they add a touch of magic. And, in combination with the green shortbread and green and white nonpareils, there is a reminisce of Irish hillsides dotted with wildflowers in springtime.
- A 1-inch wide plastic ruler makes it a breeze to score and cut these Leprechaun Shortbread Bites.
- Normally, I love to line my sheet pans with parchment paper for easy clean up, however, it seems that skipping the parchment with this recipe helps the dough to spread less in the oven.
Thought for the day:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
What we’re listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 1 cup very soft butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
- green food color gel or liquid
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 9 teaspoons multi-colored nonpareils I use green, white and a few pink
Heat oven to 325°F. Line 9-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on 2 sides. Spray the foil and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine butter, sugar and extracts in a large bowl. Stir until creamy and well combined. Add the green food color, a little at a time until the desired color is achieved.
Beat until well mixed. Add the flour and salt and stir with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon until all of the flour is incorporated. The mixture will be crumbly. Stir in the nonpareils. leaving 1-2 teaspoons for the top.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and pat it to an even layer. I like to use a flat bottom glass or a metal hamburger spatula to help pat and even out the dough. Sprinkle reserved nonpareils evenly over the top and press gently to help them stay in place.
Refrigerate for 10 minutes then use the foil to lift the dough from the pan onto a cutting surface. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Place squares 1-inch apart onto 2 ungreased cookie sheets; discard foil.
Refrigerate again for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Bake 13-15 minutes or until bottoms just begin to brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes.