Rosewater cookies sandwiches a creamy, soft rose buttercream in this easy rose cookie recipe that everyone will love. Rose shortbread cookies are a lovely addition to afternoon tea and make a gorgeous food gift for Valentine’s Day and other occasions. Plus, the dreamy recipe requires only 6 ingredients!
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Homemade rosewater cookies
These elegant rose cookies combine rosewater shortbread with a rose-infused buttercream. Each component of this treat has a delicate rose aroma, and I really love the variety of textures, a creamy filling and tender cookies.
Aside from all that yumminess, the recipe is surprisingly simple to make. You start by creating a buttery and fragrant cookie dough, bake up a bunch of cookies, and then sandwich them with a decadent rose cream.
You can also skip the filling and enjoy the rosewater cookies as is, dipped in melted chocolate, or decorated with royal icing and dried rose petals or sprinkles.
This recipe was first published in July 2017 and has been updated with new photos and content in December 2021.
These rosewater cookies only need a few simple ingredients, so make sure to buy high-quality. The cookie wafers and rose buttercream share most of the same materials, making this a 6-ingredient cookie recipe (or 5 if you skip the food coloring.)
This is just an overview. Scroll to the printable recipe card at the end of the page for the full measurements and recipe instructions.
These rose cookies combine the best aspects of sugar cookies and traditional shortbread. Like shortbread, the recipe is ultra-tender and requires only minimal ingredients. But the dough also contains an egg and can be treated similarly to roll-out sugar cookies.
- All-purpose flour: Too much flour will dry out the dough. So be sure to spoon and level the flour into your measuring cup to get the right amount or use a digital kitchen scale.
- Powdered sugar provides sweetness and creates a super soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Unsalted butter creates a soft crumb and a delicious buttery flavor. You want the butter relatively cold for this recipe. I recommend putting it on the counter 10 to 15 minutes before starting to soften only a bit.
- Egg: 1 egg adds richness and helps to bind the dough together.
- Rosewater is the ingredient that lends the cookies their delicate rose aroma.
The rosewater buttercream tastes light and fluffy and is made from the same ingredients as the cookies. You’ll need unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and rosewater.
I also added a touch of food coloring for a soft pink color. Of course, you can omit the food color if preferred.
The hands-on time for this rosewater cookie recipe is pretty quick. But you should calculate some time for chilling the cookie dough and allowing the baked cookies to cool before frosting them. Let’s go over the instructions step-by-step!
Step 1: Mix liquid ingredients
- To a large bowl using an electric mixer (or stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment), add the butter and powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the rosewater and egg. Whip on high speed until completely incorporated.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Step 2: Add dry ingredients
- Add the flour to the wet ingredients from step 1. Mix on low speed until combined, and you no longer see streaks of flour.
- I like to knead the dough with my hands for a minute or two to ensure everything is fully incorporated.
Step 3: Chill dough
- Pat the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap / cling film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- The shortbread dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, allowing you to make the dough in advance and bake it at a later time.
Step 4: Preheat oven
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
- Line 2 large baking sheets (trays) with parchment paper (baking paper) and set aside.
Step 5: Shape cookies
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled cookie dough until 1/4 in / 6 mm thick.
- Using a round cookie cutter, cut out cookies.
- Transfer the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet (tray), arranging them 1/2 in / 1.2 cm apart.
- Repeat with the dough scraps.
Step 6: Bake cookies
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until just set and lightly golden around the edges.
- Let cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 7: Whip buttercream
- As the cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, whip the butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy.
- Reduce to slow speed and gradually add the powdered sugar and whip until well incorporated.
- Mix in the rosewater and pink food coloring (if using.)
Step 8: Sandwich cookies
- Transfer the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
- Ice half of the cookies, then top with the remaining cookies. Enjoy your rosewater cookies!
- Use real butter and powdered sugar. To get the fine crumb and perfect buttery shortbread texture, you need powdered sugar and real butter. Granulated butter, brown sugar, or margarine aren’t suitable for this rosewater cookie recipe.
- Work with cold butter. Using cold butter cuts down the chilling time and makes the dough easier to work with. “Cold butter” means that you let the butter soften only for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Watch the baking time and only bake 1 sheet at a time. These cookies bake quickly and look only very lightly golden around the edges. They may seem soft at first but firm up as they cool.
- Vanilla: For vanilla rose cookies, add 1 tsp vanilla extract or the seeds of 1 fresh vanilla bean to the cookie dough.
- Chocolate: Stir 1/4 cup melted, cooled semisweet chocolate chips into the buttercream. You can also enhance the cookie dough with 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Pistachio: To make pistachio rosewater cookies, grind 1/4 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios in a food processor and incorporate them into the cookie dough.
- Lemon: For lemon rose cookies, add the finely grated lemon zest of 1 organic lemon to the dough.
- Lavender: Not a rose fan? Feel free to substitute the rosewater with lavender extract. Lavender flavoring tends to be pretty strong, so use only 1/2 tsp for the dough and 1/4 tsp for the buttercream.
Rose petal cookies are similar to these cookies but contain real rose petals. To make cookies with rose petals, prepare the dough as described. Then, gently knead 1/4 cup dried rose petals or 1/2 small fresh rose petals into the dough. Bake and chill as outlined in the recipe.
- Room temperature: Unassembled baked rosewater cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Fridge: The baked sandwich cookies will be good in the fridge for 1 week. To store the unbaked cookie dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Freezer: Sandwiched cookies can be frozen for 1 month. Without the buttercream filling, the rose cookie wafers freeze well for 3 months. You can also freeze the unbaked cookie dough for 1 to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours at room temperature.
Making rose cookies ahead of time
The great thing about these rose shortbread cookies is that they store really well and are great to prepare in advance.
To save time, I bake this easy shortbread recipe, cool them completely, and then store them in an airtight container on the counter. That way, I can fill and sandwich the rosewater cookies another day.
Equipment & tools
- Rolling pin: This adjustable rolling with rings makes it easy to roll out the dough to the correct thickness.
- Cookie cutters: I used the 1 7/8 / 4.8 cm cutter from this set. The cutters come in 7 sizes and have round and scalloped edges.
- Baking sheets: Light aluminum cookie sheets are the way to go for perfect cookies. Dark baking sheets get hotter and may burn the delicate rose water sugar cookies.
- Parchment paper: I prefer parchment paper (baking paper) over silicone baking mats for these rose flavored cookies.
- Pastry bag and a star piping tip are needed for pipping on the buttercream filling. Feel free to use any shape of piping tip you’d like.