Salted Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread

overhead image of pistachio shortbread triangles with the ends dunked into dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt and crushed pistachios

It’s the end of the week and I saved the CHOCOLATE for last.

Happy freakin’ Friday.

hands dunking pistachio shortbread into melted dark chocolate in a glass measuring cup

Though can I admit that I’m more excited about the pistachios and buttery shortbread here? They’re the spotlight in these golden triangles. But before we get to all that, a big giant YAY is in order. This is recipe #5 in our 2016 Christmas cookie palooza! We’re halfway through at this point and our ovens haven’t gotten a rest. Butter has been flying out of our refrigerators quicker than you can say holly jolly Christmas. And nothing is slowing down. This is the first weekend of December, so you better have some cookie baking on your to-do list!!

And I highly suggest adding shortbread to your weekend agenda. 4 reasons why:

  1. butter
  2. sugar
  3. flour
  4. salt

Ahh, the good things in life. Ok actually, those 4 items are what make up shortbread– they’re the building blocks. I’m positive you have each of them in your house right now. Go check. I’ll wait. While you’re in there, grab some coffee. We have shortbread to chat about.

shortbread dough in a glass stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment

Basic shortbread is not fussy or complex– rather, it’s quite pure and simple. Buttery and sweet and, in today’s case, crisp and tender. Shortbread is uncluttered and straightforward. It’s delicious. But if you’re the kind of person who can’t leave things alone (hi.), shortbread is your chance to go a little wild. It IS the holiday season, after all. And shortbread is the best blank slate for many different flavors, drizzles, dunks, chunks, and more.

Today’s shortbread begins in our mixing bowls with butter. We’ll cream it and add some sugar. I like a little extra flavor, so I subbed in 1/4 cup of light brown sugar for some of the sugar. I know you’ve got that on hand too. After the butter and sugars are creamed (pictured above), we’ll add vanilla, flour, and salt.

Oh! And I haven’t even mentioned the best part of all yet: this is all made in ONE BOWL. And NO CHILLING. A truly effortless recipe. Respect, shortbread. Respect.

2 images of pistachios in a food processor

Actually, the best best part about all this are the Diamond of California pistachios. They get all toasty inside the dough when it bakes! Combined with buttery vanilla shortbread, salt, and chocolate? Holly jolly Christmas indeed.

We’ll chop them up real fine before adding to the shortbread dough– and a food processor immensely helps with this step.

2 images of shortbread cookie dough in a glass bowl and hands pressing shortbread dough into a cake pan lined with parchment paper

The shortbread dough is crumbly. But don’t fret, that’s what you want. Press it into two lined 9-inch cake pans. We’ll cut the baked shortbread into wedges like a pizza.

A… butter pizza.

pistachio shortbread cut into triangles

Absolutely nothing compares to the distinct smell of shortbread baking.

Now this is the holidays, people!

overhead image of pistachio shortbread triangles with the ends dunked into dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt and crushed pistachios

We’ll dress up the shortbread with melted chocolate, more Diamond of California chopped pistachios ♥ and a sprinkle of sea salt. So let’s really think about what you’ll get in just one of these shortbread wedges:

  1. buttery and sweet
  2. a little brown sugar and vanilla
  3. toasty pistachios
  4. crunchy sea salt
  5. a whole mess of chocolate

Shortbread upgrade.

slices of salted chocolate pistachio shortbread on a silver plate

Weekend upgrade.

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overhead image of pistachio shortbread triangles with the ends dunked into dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt and crushed pistachios

Salted Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


With just a few ingredients, you can turn traditional shortbread into this salted chocolate pistachio shortbread. An easy one bowl dessert recipe!


  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/4 (281g) cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (100g) finely chopped pistachios, divided*
  • 8 ounces (226g) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • optional: sea salt for sprinkling on top


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper leaving enough overhang around the sides to easily lift shortbread out. (Parchment is used so you can easily remove the shortbread and not cut it while it’s in the pan.)
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat together until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla, salt, and flour and beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed as the mixture combines. Add 2/3 cup of the finely chopped pistachios, reserving the rest for sprinkling on top of the chocolate. Dough will be very crumbly.
  3. Press 1/2 of the dough into each of the prepared cake pans. You want it nice and compact in each pan.
  4. Bake the shortbread for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top and around the edges.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the shortbread from the pans by picking it up with the parchment paper on the sides. Cut each into 12 wedges. You want to make sure you cut the shortbread while it’s still warm. Allow to cool completely on the parchment before dipping into chocolate.
  6. Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stopping and stirring after each until completely smooth. Dip the shortbread ends into chocolate and sprinkle with remaining chopped pistachios and sea salt. Allow chocolate to completely set.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Shortbread stays fresh covered at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can make the shortbread dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 3. Baked shortbread freezes well for up to 3 months. Unbaked shortbread dough freezes well for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before continuing with step 3.
  2. Special Tools: Ninja Blender | Cuisinart Food Processor | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Flex Edge Beater | Pyrex Glass Measuring CupCake Pans
  3. Chopped Pistachios: I suggest a food processor to grind up those pistachios nice and fine. I used my Ninja (love this!).

Keywords: pistachio shortbread, shortbread

See all cookie palooza recipes.

cookie palooza logo image


  1. This looks amazing! I’d like to cut them into squares though! The chocolate… the pistachios… YES. Maybe throw in some white chocolate chips to the batter? 🙂

    1. White chips in the dough would be incredible. Especially paired with the sea salt and pistachios!

  2. No surprise that these are delicious! I was looking for shortbread cookies but also something my uncle would enjoy for his birthday. He loves pistachios and chocolate, so these were perfect, and this recipe was posted at just the right time. They were a big hit! Keep the amazing recipes coming, Sally! 

  3. I baked the shortbread recipe yesterday as a treat for my dad’s birthday…they were a hit! I left them plain, but will definitely be making these again (and soon) with different toppings/dips. I imagine a white chocolate dipped one with orange zest and pistachios, and maybe a dark chocolate dipped with cherrie and walnuts! Yum! My best friend is not much of a sweets eater, but she does like shortbread…can’t wait to see what she thinks of these! Thanks for another great recipe!

  4. Sally this recipe looks absolutely wonderful! I was wondering something though: do you think this recipe would work with vegan butter or some other substitute? One of my good friends is vegan and I’d love to include him in some holiday baking this year. Thanks!

    1. Hi Margaret! I can’t be certain only because I’ve never baked with vegan butter before. But I feel like it could easily work. Please let me know if you try it!

  5. I love shortbread, so was super excited to try this. I was going to wait till my next grocery trip to pick up pistachios, but then I saw a comment on using almonds instead. Which I already have bags of! So made these with almonds and a touch of almond extract. So yum! I might’ve over-baked a tad because they felt a bit more crunchy than I expected. But still wonderful! Thank you for the easy recipe and the step by step pictures.

  6. Vicki Skonieczny says:

    Just made these last night and the hubby is obsessed! I didn’t think I could top all the scone recipes I have gotten from you, but he says these are the best. He loves a dessert where you can taste the salt in the recipe and I didn’t even use the sea salt on top. This one’s a keeper. Thanks. Merry Christmas Sally.

  7. Hello! Would you recommend this recipe without using the chocolate? I was looking for just a pistachio shortbread recipe! Thank you!

    1. Hi Robin! You can simply leave off the chocolate.

  8. Hey Sally,
    I’m hoping to make these cookies today, but only have salted butter. I’m planning on leaving out the additional salt in the dough, but am on the fence about whether or not to include the sea salt topping. Any thoughts on if this would be too salty? 

    Also- I wanted to share a little story with you! I had asked for your cookbook for Christmas and my parents ordered it online but unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time. My dad improvised by hand drawing out the cover onto a sheet of paper and taping it to the front of another cookbook! Needless to say it looked hilarious. I had a good laugh but am still patiently waiting for the real thing to arrive 🙂 

  9. Sally!
    These are amazing! Easily one of my favorite cookies from you, and I’ve made quite a few;) Thanks for this recipe! You’re the best!

  10. Sam Van Kooy says:

    This is one of THE BEST cookies I have ever made! I have been craving them since Christmas and am hoping for a snow day tomorrow for another chance to make them!

  11. I just made these fab pistachio shortbread cookies for a weekly get together with friends.  I, of course, had to try one…well, maybe two.  They are so delicious!  The cookie is rich and buttery.  I used semi-sweet chocolate chips and sprinkled the pistachios on top.   Every one of your recipes I have tried have turned out delicious.  Although, they are never as beautiful as, they are always so wonderfully flavorful.  I get more compliments on the things I make from your website than any other.  It’s always, “Where did you get this one?   and I always answer, “Sally, of course!”   Thank you for all your fab recipes.

  12. Can this recipe be halved and baked in a 8 x 8 or
    9 x 9 in pan? If so, will I need to adjust the time?
    I’m looking forward to baking this, it looks and sounds yummy!!

    1. Absolutely! The bake time is still the same.

  13. Hi Sally! I always have to go through your recipe categories periodically cause otherwise I forget about gems like this! I made these around the holidays a couple years back and brought them to my husbands aunts house, then a couple days later we were back there with more of his family and his aunt says to me when it was just us in the kitchen, “I know I should put those cookies you made out for everybody but they’re so good I don’t want to share them!” Lol. She was serious! She didn’t share them with anybody, and I definitely don’t blame her! I need to buy pistachios and make these again. So incredible. I know it’s only September but I’m already pumped for holiday baking

  14. Hi Sally! These look to die for!!!! I was just wondering what nut substitution would work or if i could just leave out the nuts totally? Would the taste significantly change? Or can i add in some chocolate chunks? Pistachios are unfortunately too expensive where i come from.

    1. Hi Rica! The flavor and texture of the actual shortbread won’t change and it’s wonderful with different additions like chocolate chunks or other chopped nuts like cashews, almonds, pecans, or walnuts.

  15. Can I make these slice and bake? I need round cookies to ship.

    1. Hi Arielle! I haven’t tried this dough as a slice and bake cookie. My fear is that the dough will be too hard and crumbly to slice through without an egg. You can give it a try OR bake any of my slice and bake cookie varieties instead:

      Santa’s Whiskers Cookies (almond, cherry, coconut)
      Toasted Hazelnut Slice and Bake Cookies
      Sprinkle Slice and Bake Cookies
      Dark Chocolate Orange Slice and Bake Cookies
      Salted Pistachio Chocolate Slice and Bake Cookies

  16. I just made these and thought I followed everything exactly, but mine all cracked and fell apart after I cut them into wedges What did I do wrong?

  17. I do NOT like shortbread cookies and I absolutely hate sugar cookies, But these are wonderful! I will definitely be adding these cookies to my permanent Christmas cookie list! THANKS!!!

  18. forgot to mention I doubled the recipe and put it in a jelly roll pan had to add 10 mins to the baking time but they turned out awesome

  19. I made these exactly as written and they were a huge hit at my office party. I tempered the chocolate for a little extra shine. They looked beautiful. Would definitely make again.

  20. Haven’t even dipped these in the chocolate yet….My husband and I are just eating a couple as they cool…DELISH. Making these forever. Merry Christmas from Florida!

  21. Connie Attanasio says:

    I bought salted pistachios, should I omit the salt in the recipe?

    1. Hi Connie! If you like salty/sweet, leave the recipe as written using salted pistachios. But for a less salty treat, you can reduce the added salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

  22. Hi Sally, can i replace the pistachios with another nut or none?

    1. Absolutely! Try walnuts or pecans or simply leave out the nuts all together.

  23. Yeah! I had been baking these things that took hours to complete. I needed something that was just a bit different and pretty to gift for the holidays. These are PERFECT! They look really pretty in cellophane bags too. Mind weren’t as crumbly as your pictures above but they are delicious! Just a bit of chew and buttery like a shortbread should be.

    Officially in my holiday rotation!

  24. Hi I just read your pecan shortbread recipe and noticed that it had about 1/2 cup more sugar compared to this pistachio shortbread recipe. Was wondering why is this so and what difference does it make?

    1. Hi Jocelyn! They are simply different recipes. This shortbread doesn’t need as much dry ingredients since we’re baking it in cake pans– the dough can remain a little moister. Additionally, these get a nice dunk into chocolate, which keeps them plenty sweet too. I hope this helps.

  25. I was a little hesitant to make these when I saw brown sugar in the recipe because I like a traditional shortbread. But I went for it and I’m so glad I did! The brown sugar creates a divine, toffee-like flavor and makes them a little bit softer than a traditional shortbread. I also added a little bit of almond extract in addition to the vanilla! Love that these are one bowl and no chill, will definitely make again!

  26. Kim Goldfeder Clarke says:

    Being a lover of pistachio and chocolate, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate them into various desserts. Since I’m a fan of Sally’s Baking Addiction and every recipe I’ve attempted from this site has been a real winner, I decided to give this one a go. In a word: DELICIOUS! The texture has just the right amount of crumb and chew and the addition of the dipped Ghirardelli chocolate and sprinkled pistachios on top makes it a very charming-looking cookie. I would highly recommend this shortbread and will definitely be keeping it in my rotating repertoire! Thanks again, Sally, for a wonderful recipe! Keep up the excellent work. You’re a master of the art of baking. All the best,
    Kim (aka Ya Mom’s in the Kitchen)

  27. What an EASY dessert! So easy to make yet so fancy looking and special to enjoy on your own or to give as a gift. I think this is a new holiday favorite for us. I bought salted pistachios so i rinsed them and laid them out on a sheet pan to air dry. That worked great for me. They turned out delicious.

  28. I love the sound of this recipe but would like different shapes – does this do well baked in a square pan (to cut into fingers) or a half sheet pan? Or, how about if I do mini balls, freeze and then bake them up? Would that work or would there be too much spread? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Faye, you can use dough in a square baking pan and cut into rectangles or squares. I haven’t tried the dough rolled into balls for fear they would over-spread.

  29. Can I use lightly salted pitachios and not add salt to dough or half the amount of salt?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Donna, If you like salty/sweet, leave the recipe as written using salted pistachios. But for a less salty treat, you can reduce the added salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

  30. Hi Sally. Just finished baking your peppermint bark cookies and thinking of these next. Is it possible to bake these in a springform pan? That’s the only round one I have. If not, I’ll make them rectangular, but I love the triangular shape.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shana, Yes you can use two 9-inch springform pans instead. Enjoy!

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