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Chocolate Shortbread Cookies bursting with chocolate flavor, aromatic chai spices, and the perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture. Bake this gorgeous, holiday-inspired cookie recipe with just 15 minutes of prep work. Vegan.
These Chocolate Chai Shortbread Cookies are guaranteed to take your holiday baking up a notch! Buttery shortbread cookies combined with a rich chocolate flavor and aromatic spices that taste like a warm mug of chai. And as an added bonus, they’re easy to make dairy-free and vegan!
Table of Contents
All About This Chai-Spiced Chocolate Shortbread Recipe
If you’re a fan of my Vegan Chai Sugar Cookies and these Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cookies, this Chocolate Chai Shortbread Cookie recipe is going to be your new favorite holiday cookie recipe! Imagine a classic shortbread cookie filled with warming, aromatic spices and rich cocoa powder, then baked until golden around the edges and topped with a heavy drizzle of melted chocolate.
It’s simply one of those shortbread cookie recipes that doesn’t last long, especially when a chocolate craving is involved, so I might suggest a double batch! 😉
Ingredients for Chocolate Chai Shortbread Cookies
Baking up delicious chocolate shortbread cookies requires just 11 easy-to-find ingredients:
- Unsalted butter: Please only use butter (no softened coconut oil or other alternatives!). If using dairy-free butter like I do, I’d recommend using vegan butter from brands Violife, Country Crock, or Earth Balance. Different brands of vegan butter may spread more/less in the oven and affect the final texture of these shortbread cookies.
- Powdered sugar: Traditional shortbread cookies are typically made with powdered sugar for two reasons – it gives the cookie that classic, must-have melt-in-your-mouth texture and thanks to the added cornstarch, adds necessary structure that helps to keep the cookies light and tender. If you only have granulated sugar on hand, make your own Homemade Powdered Sugar from scratch with a mixture of white sugar and cornstarch.
- Flour: I’ve only tested these shortbread cookies using all-purpose flour and can’t confirm a gluten-free flour blend would work well. If you decide to experiment and experience good results, share a review in the comments section below!
- Cocoa powder: The source of the rich chocolate flavoring the cookie dough. Make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder. Or, if you find cocoa powder to be bitter, use a dutch-process cocoa powder. Hot chocolate mix will not work.
- Spices: Just like my Chai Sugar Cookies, you’ll need a blend of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and optional black pepper. Or, if you have one on hand, replace this individual spice blend with 2 tablespoons of a pre-mixed chai spice blend.
- Chocolate: I prefer the richness of dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, but any chocolate of choice will work. Feel free to use chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, or a chopped chocolate bar. A mix of dark chocolate and vegan white chocolate would also be delicious!
- Turbinado sugar: While optional, topping the chocolate-dipped cookies with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar adds the perfect, sweet crunch!
How to Make Chocolate Chai Shortbread Cookies
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream the shortbread cookie dough ingredients together.
- Knead the cookie dough into a flattened disk, then wrap and chill for at least an hour.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the cookie dough until about 1/2″ thick, then cut using cookie cutters to form cookies.
- Transfer the cookies to prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
- While the cookies cool on a wire rack, melt the chocolate until smooth.
- Drizzle the cooled shortbread cookies with icing, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar or flaky sea salt, if desired.
- Rest the decorated cookies until the icing sets, then enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Lightly knead the dough, as needed. When ready, the cookie dough should look completely smooth when you roll it out – if you see any cracks, knead the dough a tiny bit to help develop the gluten and smooth the dough. Otherwise, these cracks will show up in the final baked cookies.
- Avoid dunking the cookies in chocolate. Shortbread cookies are fragile and are likely to break or crumble if dipped in thick melted chocolate. Instead, I’d recommend drizzling the cookies with chocolate, as desired.
- Roll the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface. This will prevent sticking and make the cookies easy to transfer to the baking sheet.
Chai spiced chocolate shortbread cookies are the perfect dessert to serve on their own, or alongside your favorite beverage or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They also stay soft and crumbly for a few days, making them the perfect holiday cookie to gift friends, family, neighbors, and teachers!
How to Store Chocolate Chai Shortbread Cookies
Once firm, leftover chocolate cookies will keep best in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Baked cookies will also keep well for up to 1 month in the freezer (with or without icing). Thaw frozen shortbread cookies overnight at room temperature before serving.
Making good shortbread cookies requires the proper ratio of sugar, butter, and flour, as well as a chilled dough that hasn’t been overworked. For the best, delicious cookies, avoid making substitutions and lightly work the dough until smooth.
Shortbread cookies are known for their high butter content, resulting in the iconic, crumbly texture that melts in your mouth. Sugar cookies, on the other hand, are softer, puffier, and often sweeter.
Yes, just like with my Golden Milk Shortbread Cookies, chilling the dough is unavoidable. If you are short on time, I’d recommend preparing the cookie dough in advance and refrigerating overnight.
I recommend using softened butter that is room temperature. It should be pliable, yet not melted.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Chocolate Chai Shortbread Cookies
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter I used dairy-free
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt use ¼ tsp for salted butter
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper optional
- 2 ounces chocolate for dipping the cookies in
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar for topping (optional)
- Cream the Butter: Add the softened butter to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer on low speed until light and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. You can also use a stand mixer.
- Form the Dough: Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt to the bowl. Beat again until smooth, about 1 minute. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and black pepper over the wet ingredients (important to remove clumps!) Beat one final time on low speed, until there is no more dry flour and the spices are evenly incorporated. The dough should look crumbly, but will stick together when pinched.
- Knead & Chill: Use your hands to press the dough together, then knead it a few times to form a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc, cover in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight.
- Oven Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and set aside.
- Form the Cookies: Generously dust a cutting board and rolling pin with flour. Unwrap the dough and place on the cutting board; if the dough does not look completely smooth, knead it a few times to help the gluten develop some. Roll the dough out until it is around 1/2” thick, then use a cookie cutter to form cookies. Transfer each cookie to the baking sheet (a bench knife makes this easy!), leaving about 1/2” of space between each cookie.
- Repeat: Knead the remaining dough back together and repeat step 5 until there is no remaining cookie dough. Dust your cutting board with more flour if things start to stick.
- Bake: Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking tray (to help the cookies cook more evenly) and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Cool: Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking tray for 10 minutes to set. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
- Melt the Chocolate: Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler, until smooth.
- Decorate: Drizzle or spoon the chocolate over the cookies; I would not recommend dunking them, as they are delicate and may break. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the chocolate and return to the wire rack.
- Serve & Store: Let the cookies rest until the chocolate sets and is firm, which can take up to 1 hour. Once firm, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Vegan Butter: Different vegan butters spread more/less in the oven and will affect the final texture of these shortbread cookies. I would recommend Violife, Country Crock, and Earth Balance brands.