Rosewater Pistachio Shortbread

I can’t remember the first time I had rosewater, but I’ve long liked it in my baked goods. When it’s properly balanced, rosewater adds a nice fragrance and a subtly sweet, floral flavor. It’s quite hard to describe: it’s floral, but not in a soapy or edible flower way, as long as you control the quantity. It’s comforting, with a bit of sweetness to balance out the floral. It’s distinct, too- once you’ve had it, you will know what I mean. Rosewater is popular around the world- you may find it in Indian or Middle Eastern desserts, floral teas, or French macarons. Yet, it isn’t very popular in the U.S. and I don’t see it around that often. I started playing around with rosewater last year in a recipe for blondies, and have been itching to use it again.


Mixing in the pistachios

I got my chance a couple weeks ago when my friends organized a cookie swap. I made 1 recipe that I’d done before, and then wanted to try something new, too. It seemed like a good time to give this recipe a go. It’s simple, yields a lot of cookies, and seemed like it’d be a standout on a table full of cookies.

These really hit the spot: a scrumptious combination of flavors, with a robustness you just don’t get from many American cookie recipes. The rosewater flavor is perfectly balanced with the cardamom so it’s just a subtle, fragrant sweetness and not an overwhelming flavor. Pistachio studs add a satisfying bite to a delicious, buttery shortbread base. My friends were surprised to see a rosewater cookie on the cookie table, but they’re an adventurous bunch and gobbled these right up.

20151206_140420This dough is super quick to pull together, but you do need to allow time to chill it, so don’t forget to factor that in when you’re planning your baking. The dough can also be frozen for up to 3 weeks. I had a bit left over myself, and plan to bake it up tomorrow to share with coworkers on Monday.

Rosewater Pistachio Shortbread 

Source: The Pomegranate Diaries

Yield: ~45 cookies 

Suggested equipment: a mixer 

Total Time: ~ 1 hour 40 minutes, assuming 1 hour chill-time and pre-chopped pistachios. Add in time if your fridge usually takes longer to chill things, or you plan to prep the pistachios yourself. 

Cook Time: ~22 minutes 

I broke the original recipe into a few more detailed steps and wrote my own commentary below.


  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 standard sticks)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped (I highly recommend you either splurge to buy the baking aisle pistachios that are pre-shelled and chopped, or convince someone to help you prep the nuts. I spent a lot of time prepping my pistachios before I could start baking and wished I’d just coughed up the extra money to buy the baking aisle bag) 

Step by Step Directions

Prep your dough  

  1. Using a stand or electric mixer, beat the butter for about one minute on medium speed.
  2. Turn the mixer off and add the powdered sugar, rosewater and cardamom
  3. Turn the mixer to low so the sugar doesn’t spray everywhere. When the sugar begins to incorporate, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy
  4. Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Mix on low-speed until just incorporated. The mixture will be slightly crumbly. Do not overmix or it will result in a tough cookie.
  5. Add the pistachios and turn the mixer on to low and mix until the pistachios are distributed.  Again, do not overmix.

Chill your dough 

  1. Divide the dough in half and roll into a log approximately 12 inches long on top of a large rectangular piece of wax paper. (I used plastic wrap and it was fine) 
  2. Roll the cookie dough log in the wax paper and twist the ends
  3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until completely firm (do not skip this part! You may need to adjust the chilling time, and will want to check and make sure your dough is chilled solid before you start baking) 

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice the chilled log into 1/4 inch pieces.
  3. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat and arrange cookies spaced out one inch apart
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are starting to very slightly brown
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe note: You may also freeze the dough by putting the log into an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 3 weeks. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using.




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