Hawaiian Coconut Shortbread Cookies

"This is a recipe from an old Sunset Desserts Cookbook, likely from the 1970's, that was lost during a move. I searched high and low on the internet for this exact recipe, as I remembered it, to no avail. I finally found a copy of the recipe I had handwritten and placed in my mother's very old cookbook many years ago. Eureka! I wanted to post it here, so that I wouldn't lose it, and to share so others could enjoy them as well. I used to make these occasionally as a special treat for our family and for holidays and events. Rich and buttery with that wonderful coconut taste with a powdered sugar coating similar to wedding cookies. These are pretty simple to make and are "jr. chef assistant" friendly, especially for little hands to coat them in powdered sugar. Probably one of the best things about these cookies is that they are so great for a "make-ahead" cookie, as the dough is refrigerated and sliced, so you can break up the prep time into different days. Also, the baked cookies improve in flavor as they mature, so another "do-ahead" advantage. They are ideal for "care packages" to mail, if cushioned and packed securely, as they don't go stale. I hope you enjoy these as much as our family and guests have :)"
photo by msnokaoi photo by msnokaoi
photo by msnokaoi
photo by Rita1652 photo by Rita1652
Ready In:
1hr 5mins
36 cookies




  • Cream the butter until smooth. Add granulated sugar and vanilla, creaming again until smooth and slightly fluffy.
  • Sift flour and then measure the 2 cups of flour. Add salt to flour and sift again.
  • Gradually add to the creamed butter mixture until you have added all the flour and mixture is smooth. Mix the coconut into the cookie dough.
  • Shape into a one and half (1.5) inch diameter roll and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until it the dough is firm, about 2-4 hours, or for several days until ready to use. May be frozen for later baking.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4 inch slices from the cookie dough roll and place on a very lightly greased cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  • Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, until a light golden brown at edges, but not browned entirely across the top.
  • Cool cookies on sheet just until they are set, easy to remove and have cooled slightly, usually about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies with a spatula and place on the 1 cup of powdered sugar that you have sifted onto a piece of wax paper or similar surface. Cover cookies with powdered sugar on all sides by sifting more sugar over them or "rolling" them in the sugar. After they have cooled and the powdered sugar has "set", you can coat them with more powdered sugar if you would like. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container, for however long you can keep them from being eaten!
  • Try these the first time following the recipe as given. The next time, you can play around with adding other ingredients to tweak these to your exact tastes. Some ideas, toasting some of the coconut before adding to the dough, adding finely chopped macadamia nuts, ginger, cardamom or any citrus zest. Key lime zest and macadamias is a great combo, truly a cookie that takes you to tropical islands without the frequent flier miles :).

Questions & Replies

  1. All I had at my store is unsweetened coconut, can I just add a little more sugar? Like 1/2 cup?


  1. One of the best cookie recipes I've ever tried. The cookies turn out very buttery and crisp, just melt in your mouth good. I added 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract for a little extra coconut flavor. Thank you for posting this great recipe. The reader that gave you a 3 star rating must have done something wrong as everyone else gave you a well deserved 5 stars...
  2. I LOVE these cookies!! They just melt in your mouth!! I toasted my coconut and it helped the flavor. Can't wait to try adding other ingredients to make them better!!Ü
  3. Super yummy. I made them for an Obama inauguration party. He's from Hawaii, get it??
  4. Thanks for this great recipe. I did make some changes by rolling the dough in coconut flakes then sprinkling on some granulated sugar for that added coconut taste and crunch before placing them on the baking sheet and pressing them flat with the bottom of a cup. For that added crunch, I doubled baked them after a few minutes of removing them from the oven to let the cookies and the oven cool down a bit then baked them again with the oven turned off for an additional 10 minutes. If you like really crunchy cookies, I'm sure you will love them baked this way.
  5. Well I guess I'm just not the "norm" here. I enjoyed the ease of the recipe. I ended up toasting half of the coconut. But I did some without refrigerating and some with, neither took 20 minutes to cook, they took WAY longer! Closer to 30 minutes. If I waited too long the powdered sugar would not stick as well, which is hard because I have LARGE sheet pans and cook a lot at the same time. I wasn't all that impressed, I wanted MORE coconut flavor (which is good I guess, didn't eat that many!). The teachers I made them for apparently loved them, so I guess that was good!


  1. You can never exercise enough to offset how many of these cookies you'll eat! I added 1 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts before adding the flour and instead of using the powdered sugar, I dipped one end of the cookie in melted chocolate. Thanks for sharing this wonderful cookie recipe, Ismy!



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