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plate of shortbread cookies

The holiday season is here, and UH News is asking members of the UH ʻohana to share their favorite recipes. The hope is these recipes and the short stories that accompany them will give everyone some recipe ideas for the holidays.

Windward Community College student Joshua Kealanahele submitted his shortbread cookies recipe.

“This cookie is great for the holidays because it is super ono, easy to make and easy to decorate,” he said. “These cookies are such a great way to bring family together whether it is to sit down and decorate with one another as people share holiday stories or you can bake a bunch and take it over to your friends and families house for everyone to share. I myself will be baking shortbread cookies for the holidays and years to come.”

See more UH-mazing holiday recipes

Kealanahele developed the recipe as one of his first big collegiate assignments for a Windward CC entrepreneurship class.

“We had to come up with a cookie recipe and create a logo and branding for it and eventually sell them,” he said. “I had a ton of help from my professor, Chef Dan Swift, and together we killed it. He has been a huge impact on my college career and he has shown me a lot of guidance and what it takes to start up a small business. This is why this cookie recipe is special to me.”

Shortbread cookies

Prep Time
20 minutes

2 dozen cookies (depending on the size)


  • 1 cup salted butter at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (you may also use brown sugar)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Mixing Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and it forms a dough.
  4. Scoop and/or shape as desired.
  5. Place on baking sheet.
  6. Bake in 350°F oven until outside border of cookies starts to brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool.

Variations are limitless, for example:

  • Macadamia nut: add 12 oz. chopped macadamia nuts
  • Matcha: add 1 tablespoon of Matcha green tea powder
  • Coffee: add 1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1½ tablespoons water to form a paste
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