Indian Mithai & Desserts

Coconut-Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Coconut Shortbread is rich & crispy on the outside and crumbly on inside. These shortbread need just 5 ingredients are super easy to make. These cookies are scented with ground cardamom are perfect for when you need a quick treat.

I find my husband raving about coconut cookies from his hometown bakery quite often.The discussion comes up mostly on weekends when we have the time to sit together for morning tea. I took the discussion a little further & asked him last week- after all what’s so special about them? Soft and chewy inside, crispy outside, overly sweet but something with a perfect balance of textures – a cookie that  leaves behind ghee laden coconut taste in the mouth – his prompt reply made me wonder if he waited all this while to be asked ๐Ÿ™‚

I knew what was baking for the next few weeks. First few batches were extremely dry, I almost burnt the bottom each time & obviously the ratios went haywire. I felt extremely uninspired to try more so I left it for a few weeks. What can terribly go wrong with loads of ghee (clarified butter),coconut & sugar? A question I asked myself all the while – however I have experienced in all the years that when a recipe calls for few ingredients, getting the right outcome is much more difficult.

What is a Shortbread?

A shortbread is a crumbly rich cookie made with butter (or any equivalent fat), sugar and flour. These are traditional scottish biscuits and unlike usual cooking they do not contain any leavening agents like baking powder or soda.

Coconut Cardamom Shortbread

We are a shortbread loving family. I am a huge fan of baking recipes that call for very few ingredients and I always reach out for such easy cookie recipes which are easy to make. My family is a fan of coconut confections and these cookies are a great after school snack as well. Coconut, ghee & sweet smelling cardamom are clearly the star here – the ingredients make these cookies enchantingly indian. If you are nuts about coconut,then you need to try these.

How I make the Coconut Cookies?

I simply add the dry ingredients to a bowl and start mixing. Freshly pounded cardamom makes a lot of different so make sure you use that.I mix the cardamom powder with flour, desiccated coconut & sugar and add ghee till the dough feels that it is just enough. I have mentioned the exact quantities I used in the recipe card but if you ask me, making a shortbread requires a little bit of impulse and feel as well. The dough will feel just about right when it is so ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients Needed for the Coconut Shortbread Cookies :-

The recipe is real easy & despite a lot of room for error, it runs good in the oven. I always make small batches of 15-18 which are enough for us. The best part about the recipe – just five ingredients. Quality of ingredients plays a huge role thereby, try using the best.Below are the ingredients you will need :-

Desiccated Coconut :- Unsweetened desiccated coconut is one of the important ingredients in this recipe. Toasting the desiccated coconut lightly is a great way to add extra flavor to the cookies.

Powdered Sugar :- Store bought powdered sugar has cornstarch in it and that lends a structure to these cookies.

Ghee :- We are going to use melted ghee to bind the dry ingredients together and form a dough.

Here is a short video of how to make these shortbread cookies.

Variations :-

  1. You can add finely chopped nuts to these cookies. Chopped almonds or walnuts taste really good.

A few more things to be kept in mind when you bake these shortbread :-

  1. These cookies are on a sweeter side. If you want them less sweet, reduce the sugar to 1/2 a cup and accordingly use 5 or 6 tablespoons ghee to bind the dough.
  2. I have seen that the quality of desiccated coconut also affects the texture of these cookies. I use fine grated desiccated coconut (as you can see in the video). However I have made these cookies with longer grated coconut (as shown in picture) and the texture was a little more chewy in the latter case.
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Coconut Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Easy to make, these cardamom scented coconut cookies are crispy on the outside and have a soft crumbly inside. They are perfect for when you need a quick treat. Super simple to whip up, these cookies need just 5 ingredients.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 15 cookies


  • 1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoon melted ghee


  • Dry roast the desiccated coconut flakes on extremely low heat for about 3-4 minutes or till you start smelling the aroma, taking care that flakes do not change color at all. Transfer to a plate & let cool completely.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt & powdered sugar to remove all lumps.Combine cardamom powder with the sifted flour mix. Mix the desiccated coconut next and rub the mixture with fingers or mix with spatula to combine everything together.
  • Add 3 tablespoon of ghee to begin with and start combining. Thereafter add 1 tablespoon ghee at a time and gently mixing the dough till you get a soft dough. Do not mix too much, just until everything is combined. The dough will be slightly sticky. Wrap the dough in a cling film and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until firm.
  • Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Take out the refrigerated dough and knead it again 2-3 times. Pinch 15-18 equal portions of the dough. Roll each portion between your palms into a smooth ball with no cracks.Line the balls on the parchment paper. Press lightly using back of fork.
  • Refrigerate again for 10 minutes. Meanwhile Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Bake on the middle rack for 13-15 minutes keeping a close eye, these cookies should not change color while baking.Once you see the bottoms turning brown, remove from oven and let cool completely on the sheet. They will be really soft while they are warm. Store in an air tight container at room temperature for upto 3 weeks.


  • These cookies are on a sweeter side. If you want them less sweet, reduce the sugar to 1/2 a cup and accordingly use 5 or 6 tablespoons ghee to bind the dough.
  • I have seen that the quality of desiccated coconut also affects the texture of these cookies. I use fine grated desiccated coconut (as you can see in the video). However I have made these cookies with longer grated coconut (as shown in picture) and the texture was a little more chewy in the latter case.
  • Depending on how the dough feels, you will need a tablespoon more or less of ghee. The idea is to use ghee to make the dough similar to how we use water to knead the dough for making flatbreads.ย 

49 thoughts on “Coconut-Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

  1. Oh I have loved coconut cookies for as long as i have remembered. Just loved this recipe and your photographs are making me want to snack on them right now. Awesome post as always Tanvi:)

  2. I LOOOOOOVE both coconut and cardamom. It sounds easy enough for me to make, and I’d love to try these soon. Tanvi, your photography is amazing. I keep saying that from last year but I’m talking about another level from last year! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. There are only about a handful of things that I am crazy about when it comes to desserts / sweets. Stuff that is coconut based is one of them:)) Nice recipe! Are the coconut flakes you used the same as dessicated coconut ?
    Love all the shots but no. 2,3 and 4 are just fabulous!!

    1. I m afraid but I think fresh might not work.The cookies may not come out crispy. However, if you still give it a try..let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Infact I did a little bit of research on web & saw that toasting fresh coconut longer to dry it out more may work.

  4. Hi Tanvi – Sending my first hello since we arrived in the States. I am thrilled to finally have the time to catch up with some real homemade foods and goodies after two-week of traveling. Coconut and cardamom both make an incredible pair! We had a taste of cardamom twisted doughnut in Iceland and absolutely loved it. I will surely give these cookies a try once I get back to the kitchen.

  5. Tanvi, these cookies look great…coconut and cardamon…would love to have one of this with my afternoon tea.
    Hope you are enjoying your week ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I just made a chilled summer soup with coconut and cardamom (I will be posting it soon!) — it’s such a fantastic combo! Bet it’s delicious in your cookies too!

  7. I love the last picture ๐Ÿ™‚ Too bad I am not a coconut fan, definitely looks delectable. P is one lucky guy!

  8. I am such a fan of both coconut and cardamom, and have been suing ghee a lot in my cooking as I read that it’s considered very healthy in ayurvedic terms, so these cookies sound right up my alley! also, gorgeous photos, I love the styling.

  9. Awesome pics… makes me go craving for food… especially the ones in the pictures… hope to learn cooking very soon… ๐Ÿ™‚ following you.. and I love the name Sinfully Spicy..

  10. Thank you! I’ve looked at three different versions of this recipe and none of them told when to add the coconut. Crazy! So I guess I try them. I teach a class to children called arts and crafts around the world. This week is India. This will be a great treat.

    1. Art & craft week sounds exciting Michelle! Hope the little ones enjoy these cookies, both baking them & eating them!

  11. I tried them and they came out gr8. I have a question it possible to substitute ghee with something healthy? I tried half veg oil nd half ghee the secpnd time and they were good too. Just wondering if we can add some water or milk and less ghee to make the dough?

    1. Thanks. I have never tried adding water or milk to make them so can’t say what would be the outcome. These are more of shortbread rather than a cookie, I agree! I would say make a small batch and portion control – healthy? ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you

      1. I know healthy was not the right word here :)..will try to experiment with different options.. and thanks once again everyone in my family loved the cookies ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I made these cookies a couple of days ago after finding the recipe (and your site) on The Huffington Post. I am a professional baker and let me simply say, this is the shortbread formula I have been looking for all my life. These cookies are so utterly outstanding: sweet but not too sweet, crumbly but with a fascinating chewiness from the coconut (I describe them as multi-textural though I know that is not a word) and today I am going to make them again except instead of coconut, am using chopped pistachios. Pistachios and cardamom are great together. Actually, cardamom is great with almost everything. Don’t worry — I’ll still continue to make them with coconut in the future, maybe with a bit of lemon zest. Many thanks.

    1. Many thanks Pat.Your comment is very generous.Thanks for trying and more for your feedback here.
      Yay to the cardamom shortbread ..with coconut or without:)

    1. It’s dry shredded coconut. Unsweetened. I get mine from whole foods bulk section ( in case you are located in the states).

  13. my apologies, I see now where it clearly states ‘flakes’ ๐Ÿ™‚ I had to make some alterations due to what ingredients I have on hand, I’m using coconut sugar and whole wheat pastry flour….I’ll report back on how it works out….the dough is divine!

  14. Love these cookies. The combination of coconut and cardamom and the final texture of these cookies..outstanding. The cookies from your site always come perfect. I usually make a batch of nan khatais and coconut cookies together and enjoy them with family and friends. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Hi Tanvi,
    thank you for this lovely recipe. I made the cookies today and while they taste delicious, they did not quite turn out right/like they were supposed too; they wouldnร‚ยดt form a dough so I had to double the amount of butter but even baked and cooled they are still super crumbly. I would love to make them again, so it would be great if you could advise me on what have might gone wrong.
    The only point were I think I might have done a mistake is when it comes to sugar- could you please clarify what kind of sugar you used? For me as a european its so hard to understand because we do not differentiate between castor sugar and `normal`sugar and also I think in the paragraph were you talk about combining the ingredients you mention powdered sugar. Do I need to use castor sugar next time or powdered sugar? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Katharina,
      In USA here, we call it confectioner’s sugar, the one which is used in cake frostings and cookie icing.The confectioners sugar we get here in the States is mixed with cornstarch which plays a role in the texture of the sugar.
      Granulated or crystal sugar will not work in the recipe.

      1. Hi Tanvi,
        thanks so much for your reply. I had no idea that confectioners sugar contains cornstarch (somehow the german expat sites failed to mention that, common opinion was that you could just substitute it with normal sugar), no wonder the dough wouldnร‚ยดt form! The cookies were delicious nevertheless and gone within a few days ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Diwali and thanks again!

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