Dark Chocolate Stars – Shortbread Cookie Recipe

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Simple shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate and topped with sprinkles. This shortbread recipe is a copycat of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Stars Cookies and perfect for the holidays or any time you need an easy cookie recipe!

platter of shortbread cookies coated in chocolate with christmas sprinkles

Copycat Trader Joe’s Star Cookies

I have a real thing for shortbread cookies lately. I’ve recently made: Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies, Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars, and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. It’s so easy and I really like the mild flavor, especially paired with chocolate.

If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you’ve probably seen these dark chocolate stars on their shelves.

They’re my favorite Trader Joe’s cookies, probably even my favorite store bought cookie period, but you usually only see them around the holidays (along with the mint variation – not my favorite).

So, I needed to make my own copycat shortbread cookie recipe so I can eat them year-round.

The older I get, the more I appreciate shortbread cookies. They have very minimal ingredients, they’re easy to roll out, they keep their shape, and they’re light & buttery.

The shortbread recipe only has 4 ingredients and rolls out beautifully after you let it chill.

stack of chocolate covered shortbread cookies

Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Stars

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • Butter – I like to use salted. If you’re using unsalted, add a pinch of salt.
  • Powdered Sugar – Also called confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar. You’ll need it both for the dough and to use while rolling the cookies out.
  • Vanilla Extract – I know it’s pricey, but try to use a good quality vanilla extract and not imitation. I like to buy it in bulk from Sam’s Club or Costco.
  • Flour – All purpose white flour.

close up of dark chocolate shortbread star cookies

How to make shortbread

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar with a hand mixer (or in your stand mixer). Add in the vanilla and mix. Slowly add in the flour and mix until just combined.

Next, form the dough into a ball, wrap it with plastic wrap, and then let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

shortbread dough being rolled out & cut into stars

While it’s chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. Get your rolling pin and cookie cutters ready. Also, a shallow dish of additional powdered sugar for rolling/dusting will be helpful.

Then, prep a large clean area with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Once the dough is chilled, remove it from the fridge, cut it in half, and place half back in the fridge.

Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick and use your cookie cutters to cut shapes. Cut all your can fit then re-roll and start over. I got about 22 mini cookies out of each half of dough, so 44 cookies total.

Place each cookie on your prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden around the edges. Remove when done and let cool on a cooling rack.

While they’re baking, to a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then repeat as needed until smooth and evenly melted.

Dip each cooled cookie into the melted chocolate and then set on a wire cooling rack to let the excess chocolate drip off. Sprinkle with nonpareils and let set.

overhead shot of dipping shortbread star cookies into chocolate


Sugar cookies have many ingredients, shortbread cookies only have four. Sugar cookies are sweeter, shortbread has a mild, buttery flavor. Both are easy to cutout and decorate.

Do you use salted butter for shortbread?

Yes, I use salted butter in shortbread. If you have unsalted, add a bit of salt to your dough as you’re mixing it.

Should you chill shortbread before baking?

Yes, you should chill your shortbread dough before rolling it out and baking it. Because of the high butter content, you want it to firm up before working with it.

chocolate shortbread cookies on wire cooling rack

How do you know when shortbread cookies are done?

Shortbread cookies are done when they start to turn a light golden brown around the edges. Dark brown or black means you burned them and if they’re still white, they haven’t baked long enough.

How many cookies does this recipe make?

It will depend on the size of your cookie cutters. I used mini star cutters and it made about 44 cookies.

overhead shot of platter of dark chocolate star shortbread cookies

Equipment you’ll need

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platter of shortbread cookies coated in chocolate with christmas sprinkles

Dark Chocolate Stars – Shortbread Cookies

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
Simple shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate and topped with sprinkles. This shortbread recipe is a copycat of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Stars Cookies and perfect for the holidays or any time you need an easy cookie recipe!
4.31 from 42 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 53 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 44 mini cookies
Calories 74 kcal


For the Shortbread

  • 1 cup salted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • powdered sugar for rolling

For the chocolate

  • ½ cup chocolate chips I use Ghirardelli baking chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil optional, to thin the chocolate


  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla and mix. Slowly add in the flour and mix until well combined.
    1 cup salted butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups all purpose flour
  • Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner and set aside. Get your cookie cutters and rolling pin ready.
  • Prep a clean surface (I like to use a large cutting board) with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, cut in half, and place half on the board and put the other half back in the fridge.
    powdered sugar
  • Roll out the dough (I like to roll it out underneath a piece of parchment paper) to 1/4″ thick and press out your shapes. I like to dip the cookie cutters into powdered sugar before cutting the dough to help them not stick. Cut out all you can fit, then re-roll the dough and start over. I got about 22 mini cookies out of each half.
  • Place each cookie onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until just lightly golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave using 30 second intervals – 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir. If your chocolate is too thick, add in 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to help thin it. It will make the chocolate smoother and dipping the cookies easier.
    ½ cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Dip each cooled cookie into the chocolate then place onto a wire rack over parchment paper so the excess chocolate can dip off. Sprinkle with nonpareils and let set. I popped mine into the fridge to speed up the process.


Coconut oil is optional to thin the chocolate. Vegetable oil or shortening can also be used.
Amount of cookies will vary based on cookie cutter size. 
Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. 


Serving: 1gCalories: 74kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 38mgPotassium: 7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 134IUCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Originally published January 6, 2015

4 ingredient shortbread cookies perfect for cutting out shapes then dipping in dark chocolate. A Trader Joe's copycat! | Persnickety Plates

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  1. Odelle Smith (U.K.) says

    5 stars
    Better late than never is my motto…
    I’m ever so pleased that you did post this delicious recipe, which has got to be good…
    It has shortcake covered with thick dark chocolate, which we all love in any shape or form, Christmas or not!
    I can assure you that these will be made tomorrow & thoroughly enjoyed by all my family & friends, not to mention myself, as I know that I will have to stop myself from consuming far too many.
    I think that perhaps I ought to exercise a little self-control or not as is more likely with me.
    Thankfully, I don’t have to watch my weight & do eat good, healthy meals, which is what’s important.
    A little of what you fancy does you good & boy these are going to taste good.
    Many thanks on some great posts & recipes over the last year, I shall look forward to many more in 2015.
    Best wishes,
    Odelle Smith. (U.K.)

    • Melissa Williams says

      Thank you for the sweet comment! I hope you like them =)

  2. Tammy says

    Oh my goodness, these look so yummy! I can only image how good they taste. Will be pinning these for later 🙂


  3. Darlene says

    Other option than coconut oil

    • Melissa Williams says

      You can thin the chocolate with shortening or vegetable oil.

  4. Georgia says

    5 stars
    Can you make the dough ahead and freeze?

  5. Liza says

    I want to make these ahead of time, would it be better to freeze the dough as a whole batch, then defrost and rollout when I am ready to bake? Or bake then freeze? Thanks!

    • Melissa Williams says

      I prefer to freeze before baking, but I’ve never frozen a whole batch. I’d roll them out, cut them, then freeze in a single layer with parchment between each. If you prefer to bake first, that will work, too!

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