Leprechaun bites are mini shortbread cookies with festive sprinkles. These green cookies are a perfect treat for Saint Patrick's Day!
Y'all, I'm at it again. You loved my Cupid Bites, Jingle Bell Bites and BOO! Bites and now I give you these Leprechaun Bites! Tiny and delicious shortbread cookies that can be decorated for any occasion.
These are the perfect green cookies to celebrate Saint Patricks. This is the first time I used food coloring in these shortbread cookies. It worked perfectly!
When I first tested a recipe for Leprechaun Bites, I only added green, yellow and orange sprinkles without the food coloring. They were still very cute, but just didn't give off the festive Saint Patrick's Day vibe I wanted. So, I added the green food coloring which was the best decision!
Ingredients for Shortbread Cookies
(full printable recipe at end of this post)
You will need the basic ingredients for sugar cookies, plus nonpareils (the hard beady kind of sprinkles). I do not recommend using jimmies because the color sometimes bleeds into the dough -- but others have had success with them.
What you need:
- All-purpose flour (1 ¼ cups)
- Unsalted butter (½ cup)
- Granulated sugar (¼ cup)
- Vanilla (or almond) extract (¼ teaspoon)
- Salt (¼ teaspoon)
- Nonpareils (4 tablespoons)
Make sure your nonpareils are Saint Patrick's Day colors. A mixture of green, white, yellow and orange works!
These little Leprechaun cookies are perfect for bagging up into cellophane treat bags to gift to your favorite teacher, neighbor, co-worker or whoever! I found cute little plastic cauldrons at Target - a package of 9 cauldrons for $3.00. Or, you can use these that I found on Amazon.
We love to gift sugar cookies. Have you tried my sugar cookie hearts decorating tutorial?
Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the step-by-step instructions on how to make these shortbread cookies. The general steps are as follows:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare 8-inch pan.
Beat butter, sugar and extract at until creamy.
Add the flour and salt.
Mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Stir in the nonpareils until evenly distributed.
Transfer dough to prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom.
Slice the dough into ½-inch square pieces.
Place the squares on baking sheet.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until bottoms just begin to brown.
What kind of food coloring should I use?
Use gel food coloring, not liquid. I prefer Americolor food colors for the strongest and most vibrant colors. They're also very easy to use as you just squeeze the coloring right from the little bottle. For this recipe, I used about 4 to 6 drops of mint green food color.
Why is my dough crumbly?
It is important to make sure your butter is at least at room temperature or warmer when mixing this dough. It is a very crumbly dough and takes quite a few minutes of mixing before it comes together. You want to try to avoid adding more liquid to force the dough to come together or you'll lose the crispy and crunchy texture for which shortbread cookies are known.
Storage and Leftovers
Store: Store cookies bites on the counter in a sealed container for, well, quite a while. These last longer than you need them to.
Freeze: Shortbread cookies freeze very well. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. (Probably longer, but that's usually around the time I like to clean out my freezer.)
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza
- Irish Soda Bread
- Guinness and Onion Irish Cheddar Soup
- Guinness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
This recipe was originally published February 2019 and updated March 2021.
Leprechaun Shortbread Cookie Bites
- ½ cup unsalted butter , at room temperature (plus more to butter the pan)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 drops green gel food coloring
- 4 teaspoons Saint Patrick's Day color nonpareil sprinkles (recommend a mixture of green, yellow, and orange)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pan, then line with parchment paper, pressing the sides and corners to stick.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and extract at medium speed until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until crumbly. Add the food coloring and continue to mix on low until a dough forms. It will be crumbly for a while, but keep beating and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Stir in the nonpareils until evenly distributed.
- Transfer the dough to the lined pan and press evenly into the bottom. Use the parchment paper to lift the dough from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the dough into ½-inch square pieces (a pizza cutter works well). Place the squares ½-inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet; discard parchment paper. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until bottoms just begin to brown.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only.
- Try these for any occasion using different sprinkles and other food coloring or none!