These attractive, crowd pleasing Checkerboard Shortbread Cookies are delicious and easier to make than you might think!
What do you make when you are not sure if you want chocolate or vanilla cookies? You make these buttery, tender shortbread cookies with a perfect crispy edge and the fun checkerboard pattern.
A pretty cookie that is a tasty, fun festive holiday Christmas treat!
Checkerboard Cookies origins
Checkerboard cookies are also known as "checkered cookies" are believed to have come from Germany or Austria.
Known for their classic and distinctive checkerboard pattern, by layering different color dough and slicing them in a checker patttern.
An 18'th century cookbook contains the earliest checkerboard recipe called "Schwarz-Weiss Gebäck," which means black and white pastries.
Easier than you think checkerboard cookie
How many times have you seen these checkerboard cookies on Christmas platters and you wanted to make them but thought they would be to hard? I sure did!
I decided to try them as they are a perfect holiday cookie that have it all.
They not only look great but I felt the combination of the vanilla and chocolate cookie flavors would go so well together.
I am so glad I did, as the checkered combination of vanilla and chocolate shortbread is not just fun to make but they're also buttery heaven to bite into.
I promise that once you make these patterned cookies once, the next time will be a breeze. The dough is rolled and cut into strips, then stacked in alternating rows and chilled for one hour, sliced and baked.
I've added step-by-step instructions for these impressive slice and bake checkerboard cookies that will ensure you're successful with this recipe.
You've got this! Show off a little for your guests this holiday season.
You will also love our swirl pinwheel cute cookies with the remaining leftover dough!
Why you'll love this cookie recipe
- Much easier than you think, no need to be daunted making checkerboard cookies
- Simple 5 easy ingredients for making chocolate and vanilla cookies
- Show stopper checkerboard shortbread cookies that look stunning on Holiday cookie trays or for boxed gift giving
- The vanilla and chocolate shortbread is delicious as they look
- Bonus swirl pinwheel cookie instructions with leftover dough
Ingredients for Christmas checkerboard cookies
- Butter - Use salted butter at room temperature.
- Granulated sugar
- Cocoa power
- Vanilla - pure vanilla extract is best for flavour, however, you can also use artificial vanilla extract.
- All-purpose flour
Step by step instructions for checkerboard cookies recipe
Don't forget the parchment paper
You will need two ungreased or I like to use parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
These cookies are baked in a 350°F oven. Oven will not be preheaedt at the start of the recipe as there is a one hour chill time for the cookie dough in the refrigerator.
In a large mixing bowl, or bowl from a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. (about one minute)
Add vanilla and beat just until combined.
Gradually add flour, about ½ cup at a time, mixing just until combined.
Divide the dough in half and place one-half of the dough in a small mixing bowl and add in the cocoa powder. You can use the mixer, or mix with clean hands or a wooden spoon until well-combined.
Start with the vanilla dough: Place the dough between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap and roll out into a 7x7-inch square. Repeat with the chocolate dough.
Trim the dough to exactly 7x7-inches and set aside the remaining dough to make swirl cookies.
Cut each square into ¾ inch wide strips.
Use a ruler to score the dough with a sharp knife to mark the ¾" for each cut line.
I used a ruler and pizza cutter to cut the strips. Cut the vanilla strips and set aside.
Cut the chocolate strips and set aside.
If the dough tears a little as you move it, simply press it back together.
Next, lay a piece of plastic wrap on the work surface. Carefully, lift three strips, one at a time, and lay them beside each other, alternating the vanilla and chocolate.
Press the three pieces together lightly.
On top of the first down, continue with a second, third and fourth layer using the opposite colours from one row to the next as follows:
Row one: Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate
Row two: Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla
Row three: Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate
Row four: Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla
Wrap the brick in plastic wrap and press the sides and top together gently.
Refrigerate for one hour.
Next, you're ready to slice the cookies! Trim both ends of the dough with a sharp knife.
Slice cookies ¼-inch thick and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake in 350°F oven, one sheet at a time for 8 to 10 minutes. The edges will be lightly browned and the top still a bit soft.
Cool on wire cooling rack.
Variations for chocolate and vanilla checkerboard shortbread cookies
How to make chocolate & vanilla pinwheel swirl cookies
To make the swirl Pinwheel cookies: Re-roll remaining dough into rectangles. Place the chocolate piece over the vanilla piece and roll up on the long-side. Pinch the edges to seal when you are finished rolling. Slice into ¼-inch thick cookies and bake on parchment paper-lined baking sheets for 9 to 11 minutes until lightly browned at the edges.
Matcha checkerboard green cookies are a fun festive Japaneese cookie made with icebox cookie dough.
Add a festive mint flavor to these checkerboards cookies by adding peppermint extract to the vanilla cookie dough.
Adding a sugary topping is also good idea but not traditional.
Using raspberry jam spread on one or two cookies and press together to make jam checkerboard cookies.
Lemon and Lavender Checkerboard Shortbread have the zest of two lemons in the butter and sugar mixture with dried lavender.
Tip tips for baking the best checkerboard shortbread cookies
- Use room temperature butter for the best results
- Pure vanilla extract makes better tasting cookies
- Use parchment paper to line the cookie sheets for baking shortbread
- Measure the flour properly by scooping the flour into the measuring cup with a spoon and levelling off with a knife
- Follow my step by step instructions
- Chill your checkered dough for one hour before cutting and baking
- Make sure your checker logs are the same size using a really sharp knife
- Trim the edges with a sharp knife to make perfect squares if your cookies come out a little messy or little bit rounded
What butter should I use for checker cookies?
I normally use unsalted butter for baking recipes and add in my own salt to better control how much salt is used.
I use salted butter for this recipe for this recipe with no other salt added and they turned out perfect.
You can use unsalted butter to reduce the salt or add in ½ teaspoon of salt with the unsalted butter.
Storage & freezing instructions for checkered cookies
Store in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days or in the fridge for 7 days. Parchment paper is great for separating any layers for easy serving.
Freeze using a freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months using parchment paper to separate any layers of checkerboards.
Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before serving.