Made with nutrient-dense almond flour and a touch of brown rice flour, these tender and fragrant cardamom orange shortbread cookies are a perfect make-ahead vegan cookie because you can keep the dough in the fridge ready to slice and bake whenever folks are dropping by!

stack of shortbread cookies
These tender, not-too-sweet vegan shortbread are fragrant with ground cardamom and fresh orange zest

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If you’ve been a part of my world for a while now, you know that A) cardamom is my ride-or-die spice for sweets and B) I love a quick and easy almond flour cookie. I’ve got pillowy vegan snowball cookies and easy gingerbread cookies and classic 4-ingredient shortbread cookies…but not a single cardamom spiced option (well, on the blog anyway…the pistachio cardamom donuts in Eat More Plants are killer!!). 

Almond flour is one of my go-to’s for plant-based recipes because it’s packed with plant-based protein, fibre and healthy fats, and it’s naturally gluten free which the gut health dietitian in me loves because my friends with celiac disease deserve yummy cookies too! 

These cookies have a really special “sparkling effect” that enhances the orange zest almost like a little flavour crystal! I made it happen by using cane sugar instead of the traditional powdered sugar because it doesn’t fully dissolve so you get a just a hint of crunch. I tried making these cookies with 3 different sweeteners and this was my favourite variation by far!

And these no-one-will-guess-they’re vegan shortbread cookies come together so easily: In about 15 minutes, you’ll beat together the sugar and vegan butter, whisk together the flours and flavourings and then combine the two and roll them into logs. 

The hardest part? Waiting for them to chill…but there’s a silver lining here! The dough is a great make-ahead because it keeps so well in the fridge, so you can slice and bake these cookies anytime you have company…or a craving! These orange cardamom shortbread bake up in less than 15 minutes and firm up as they cool. And since they are most fragrant the day you bake them, it’s a win-win.

This is a beginner friendly recipe because the lack of gluten means you can’t overmix the batter…so your cookies will always be tender and never tough. But if you need a little more reassurance, I’ve got helpful step-by-step instructions (complete with pictures!) below.

How to make these tender cardamom orange shortbread cookies

I love the sweet flavour and tender crumb of almond flour in baking. If you’ve never worked with almond flour before – or vegan and gluten free baking – there is one thing you need to know: because it doesn’t have the structure of gluten, these cookies come out of the oven soft and firm up as they cool

Step One: grab your ingredients (just 7, including salt!). You’ll need almond flour, brown rice flour – which gives a bit of sandiness and structure like traditional shortbread, vegan butter (I like Earth Balance or Miyoko’s best here), cane sugar, salt, ground cardamom and the zest of half a large orange.

Step Two: cream the butter and sugar together using a handheld electric mixer, stand mixer or a wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease. You want the mixture to look fluffy and a bit paler than you started out. 

Step Three: whisk together the almond flour, rice flour, salt, cardamom and orange zest and then add it, one-third at a time, to the butter mixture, mixing until well combined (you can’t overmix!). 

Step Four: divide the dough into 2 halves on a piece of parchment and form into logs about 1 ½ inches (4cm) in diameter and 8-9 inches (20-22cm) long. The dough won’t be super firm, so I use my hands to shape it and then roll the parchment over it.

Step Five: chill for 2 hours in the fridge // 1 hour in the freezer…or stop here and store until you want to bake! As long as the dough is wrapped well and protected from air, it will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months (recommend a second layer of foil if freezing).

Step Six: slice and bake! Preheat the oven to 350F (175C), give the log a quick roll if it flattened and slice in 1 cm (just less than ½ inch) slices and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-13 minutes. You want them golden on bottom – you’ll see it at the edge.

Step Seven: cool FULLY. Gently slide the parchment and cookies onto a cooling rack and let them cool fully so they firm up. The more air exposure you give them, the firmer they’ll be. So feel free to store them uncovered on the counter for up to a day. More than that, you’ll want to transfer them to an airtight container for up to 4 days more. Or freeze!

More easy vegan Christmas treats

stack of shortbread cookies

Tender Cardamom Orange Shortbread

Made with nutrient-dense almond flour and a touch of brown rice flour, these tender and fragrant cardamom orange shortbread cookies are a perfect make-ahead vegan cookie because you can keep the dough in the fridge ready to slice and bake whenever folks are dropping by!
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Ingredients

  • cup cold vegan butter, stick type, like Earth Balance sticks
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, variation: try cinnamon!
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ orange, zest only

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using a handheld electric mixer (or stand mixer, or a wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease!) You want the mixture to look fluffy and a bit paler than you started out.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, rice flour, salt, cardamom and orange zest and then add the flour mixture, ⅓ at a time, to the butter mixture, mixing after each addition until well combined (you can’t overmix!)
  • Divide the dough into 2 halves. Place each half on a piece of parchment and form into logs about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) in diameter and 8-9 inches (20-22 cm) long. The dough won’t be super firm, so I use my hands to shape it and then gently roll the parchment over it.
  • Chill logs for 2 hours in the fridge // 1 hour in the freezer…or stop here and store until you want to bake! As long as the dough is wrapped well and protected from air, it will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months (recommend a second layer of foil if freezing).
  • Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Give the log a gentle roll if it flattened and slice in 1 cm (just less than ½ inch) slices. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes. You want them golden on bottom – you’ll see it at the edge. Cookies will NOT be firm at this point.
  • Gently slide the parchment and cookies onto a cooling rack and let them cool fully so they firm up. The more air exposure you give them, the firmer they’ll be. So feel free to store them uncovered on the counter for up to a day. You’ll want to transfer any leftovers to an airtight container for up to 4 days more. Or freeze!

Notes

Texture note: I’ve used cane sugar here to give a “sparkling” effect with the orange which I love but you can absolutely use ultra fine sugar – NOT powdered sugar – if you want less of this.
Low FODMAP friends: Two cookies is a low FODMAP serving!