Icebox cookies are a holiday classic, but there’s no reason you can’t make them year-round! The easiest cookies you’ll ever make, they’re full of buttery flavor and can be customized in a variety of ways.
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These icebox cookies may remind you of shortbread or sugar cookies, but there’s a key difference: they’re way easier. And with all we have on our plates during the holiday season, who doesn’t need an easy cookie recipe in their back pocket?!
Icebox cookies are made with a type of cookie dough that you can shape, slice, and bake. Roll the soft dough into logs or shapes and chill them in the refrigerator; all that’s left to do is slice them with a sharp knife and pop them in the oven!
Classic Icebox Cookies Recipe
Although there’s no single origin story for icebox cookies, we know they date back to, well, the icebox!
Like icebox cake, icebox cookies became popular in the 1920s because they could be made ahead of time and stored in the “icebox,” which was the precursor to the refrigerator. The dough would keep for days or even weeks before being sliced and baked into cookies. Today, icebox cookies are still popular—even if we don’t have iceboxes anymore!
Icebox cookie recipes are a great choice for beginner bakers because they’re quick and easy to prepare, and they require no special equipment or ingredients. Plus, you can make the dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.
Cookies whenever you want? Sounds good to me!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
For the Cookie Dough:
- Butter – Unsalted butter is best.
- Granulated sugar
- Egg – Here’s the best way to crack an egg!
- Vanilla extract – You can use almond extract for a different taste.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Cocoa powder
- Chocolate chips – Mini chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) work especially well in icebox cookies.
- Dried cranberries
- Chopped pecans – Pistachios look pretty in these cookies, too.
- Orange zest – Make sure the orange zest is grated finely so it distributes evenly.
How to Make Icebox Cookies
- Cream the butter and sugar: Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together for about a minute, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Finish the dough: Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until a smooth dough forms. Fold in the mix-ins now; you can divide the dough and make different flavored cookies if you’d like.
- Form the log: Roll the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the dough: Unwrap the cookie dough log and slice it into ¼-inch slices. Place the slices on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake: Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown.
- Cool: Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely before storing.
You can use a stand mixer to make these icebox cookies, or a large bowl and a hand mixer.
How to Store Icebox Cookies
Store the cookie dough log in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. They can also be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
These cookies are called icebox cookies because they were originally made in the icebox, which was an early version of today’s refrigerator. The dough could be made ahead of time and stored in the icebox for days or even weeks before baking into delicious cookies.
The cookie dough should be stored in the refrigerator. After the cookies are baked, they can either be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
The difference between an icebox cookie and a shortbread cookie is mainly in the texture. Icebox cookies are light and crisp, while shortbread cookies are denser and more crumbly. The ingredients for both cookies are quite similar—butter, sugar, flour and salt—but the ratio of ingredients is slightly different. Shortbread usually has a higher fat content, which creates the crumbly texture. Icebox cookies are made with fewer fats and more flour for a crunchier texture.
Yes, pinwheel cookies are a type of icebox cookie. They are made with the same basic ingredients as other icebox cookies, but they are rolled up in colorful layers and cut into slices before baking. This creates the signature swirls that make pinwheel cookies so popular! See my Christmas pinwheel cookies for an example.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes
Classic Spritz Cookies
Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cocoa powder
- Chocolate chips
- Dried Cranberries
- Chopped pecans
- Orange Zest
- Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together for about a minute. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so all the butter is evenly blended.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat again.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix to form a smooth dough.
- If you are adding any mix-ins to the dough, add it at this point. You can divide the dough and make different flavored cookies at this step as well.
- Roll the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log tightly in plastic wrap then place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or longer. I like to let the dough sit overnight in the fridge so it is nice and firm.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Unwrap the cookie dough log and slice it into ¼ inch slices. Place the slices on the parchment lined tray about 2 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. The edges will be a light golden brown.
- Move the baked cookies to a cooling rack then enjoy!
- 1 cup sprinkles (either mixed into the dough or roll the log in the sprinkles to coat the outside of the cookie dough)
- 1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder—add along with the dry ingredients
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup finely chopped chocolate (chopped chocolate works better than chocolate chips which are hard to cut through when the cookie dough is cold)
- 1 cup chopped M&Ms
- 1 Tbsp orange or lemon zest
- 1 cup finely chopped Oreos