Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies

These Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies are buttery, tangy, zesty, lightly sweetened and super easy to make! Make the most of seasonal winter citrus!

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Today I bring you the perfect Valentines Day cookie: Pretty, pink, and sweet with just the slightest hint of bitterness. Ha!

It's no secret that I think Valentines Day is a stupid silly holiday. But when it's the middle of February and the trees are bare and everything is gray and summer seems like it's still so far away... I guess it makes sense that someone would create a holiday dedicated to all things warm and fuzzy. There's nothing wrong with taking a day to pay tribute to love, but I think we should be spreading the good vibes that go around on February 14th 365 days a year. You feel me? Anyway, for the sake of today, let's celebrate with cookies.

Baked cookie dough in a large rectangle cut into smaller triangles.Spreading white icing on a sheet of baked shortbread cookies cut into triangles.

I discovered this recipe back around Christmastime when I was busy making batch after batch of cookies and brownies for this family and for that party and for those neighbors. I was allured by this gorgeous photo and the reminder that citrus season was just starting to roll back in. The idea of making these felt like a welcome break from the chocolate-gingerbread-caramel marathon I was enduring. So I baked a batch on a whim, and then somehow they managed to get lost in the shuffle. I really enjoyed them, but when presented on a table next to salted caramel brownies, they all mostly went uneaten. It was a sin.

Lately I've been snagging some incredibly sweet grapefruits from my local market and these cookies popped into my head again. February felt like the perfect time to give these another go-around. With winter in full swing, a little bit of grapefruity pizzazz is just what we need to make things seem a little less dull. Citrus season is winter's silver lining, no doubt.

Sprinkling crushed pink peppercorns over frosted grapefruit shortbread.Close up of grapefruit shortbread that are iced and have pink peppercorns on top.

I happen to love grapefruit, but it can be polarizing. It's strong and bitter and quite acidic. Sugar tames the beast, and these shortbreads have plenty of it. The cookies themselves are actually not very sweet at all, like a proper shortbread should be. It's the glaze that comes in with a sugary one-two punch to balance out all that pungent grapefruityness.

The dough contains only grapefruit zest and no juice, as any liquid would make the cookies tough. Don't be like me the first time I made these and assume that more zest would be better. Stick to what's written in the recipe if you want to avoid cookies that make your mouth numb. We'll use just a teenie bit of juice to flavor the glaze with a touch of tang. If your grapefruit is as sweet as mine, go ahead and polish the rest of that bad boy off like an orange. That's what I did.

Rectangle of grapefruit shortbread that has been iced.Splitting a rectangle of shortbread cookies into triangles.

The original recipe calls for a number of different decorative pink ingredients for you to optionally sprinkle over the top. Without them, these can come off as pretty bland and basic cookies. I think a little accessorizing is necessary to make them look as jazzy as they taste. Pink sprinkles are the easy way out and there is nothing wrong with that. Call me crazy, but I've never been a fan of sprinkles. They're weird and fake and do not taste good, and I'll never understand why people are so totally infatuated with this flavorless, edible confetti. But sprinkles will get the job done and will make your grapefruit cookies look like they have grapefruit in them, which is ultimately the end game.

Of all the suggested toppings, I was particularly amused by the idea of dried hibiscus flowers, but then I kept forgetting to look for them at the market. They have a tangy flavor and gorgeous deep crimson hue that would make for a truly unique and attractive cookie-topper. I did, however, happen to have some pink peppercorns in my pantry that rarely ever get any action, so that's what I went ahead and used. In addition to giving these a fun decorated exterior, I felt the subtly floral, peppery bite actually complimented the grapefruit quite well.

Triangles of grapefruit shortbread set out in an array around a grapefruit half.Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies

If you're not a fan of grapefruit, or if you just had something a little more indulgent in mind this Valentines Day, I teamed up with Finlandia once again to make this video for a Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie Sundae for Two (full recipe available here). It's over-the-top decadent, and even though I say it's for two, it can 100% be for you and you alone. No judgement here.

Spread some love today, y'all. Even if it's just with cookies.

YouTube video

One Year Ago: Chorizo con Huevos (Video!)

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Pink grapefruit shortbread cookies cut in triangles.
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Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies

These Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies are buttery, tangy, zesty, lightly sweetened and super easy to make! Make the most of seasonal winter citrus! Adapted from Bon Appetit December 2016
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Calories: 75kcal


For the Shortbread

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Topping

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh grapefruit juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • Crushed pink peppercorns and/or pink sprinkles, sanding sugar, dried rose petals and/or dried hibiscus flowers (optional)


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the butter, grapefruit zest, vanilla extract, powdered sugar and salt. Pulse until smooth and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the flour and pulse until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it's roughly 14" long by 7" wide. Carefully peel the top piece of parchment off and transfer the bottom piece with the dough to a sheet pan.
  3. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and immediately cut in half lengthwise (I use a pizza cutter), then cut crosswise 6 times to make 12 even rectangles. Then cut each rectangle into a diagonal to make 24 total cookies. Allow to cool completely.
  4. Make the icing by whisking together grapefruit juice, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread a thin layer of icing over the cookies, then sprinkle with whatever pink toppings you desire. Allow the icing to set, then carefully break off the cookies where they were cut.


Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 7mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 118IU | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.2mg

These Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies are buttery, tangy, zesty, lightly sweetened and super easy to make! #easy #grapefruit #shortbread #recipe #citrus #cookies #dessert | These Pink Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies are buttery, tangy, zesty, lightly sweetened and super easy to make! #easy #grapefruit #shortbread #recipe #citrus #cookies #dessert |

4.80 from 5 votes (1 rating without comment)

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  1. 4 stars
    Does the Grapefruit zest have to be freshly zested for this recipe, or do we dry the zest out as normal & then add dried zest to the recipe?

  2. 5 stars
    I love the peppery, bitter, sweet thing you have going on here! I'm not a huge peppercorn fan (though I'm starting to enjoy them more), so I never would have though of using pink peppercorns on cookies. I'm intrigued now though. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I was one of the lucky ones who got to sample these at Christmas and they are really delicious, I will definitely make these soon!