Margarita Shortbread with Tequila-Lime Glaze

These buttery, lime-infused cookies found in Food & Wine Magazine are topped with a sweet-and-sour glaze and finished with flaky sea salt and lime zest. A nice counterpart to the more typical sweetly-iced Christmas cookies.

Using traditional Mexican flavors and ingredients in nontraditional ways is one of chef Esteban Castillo’s favorite things to do at Chicano Eats, so taking the classic margarita cocktail and turning it into a cookie was a no-brainer. And a very adult-like treat.

The cookies are infused with agave nectar (or in our case, local honey) and fresh lime juice for a sweet-and-sour kiss of citrus and then finished with a glaze that incorporates lime juice and lime zest as well as a touch of tequila to really tie together the signature cocktail flavor.

The high ratio of butter to flour yields a short, or crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Chill the dough well before slicing to allow the butter to resolidify. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. Unglazed cookies can be frozen up to 1 month. Thaw completely at room temperature before topping with tequila-lime glaze.

The end result shape-wise was supposed to be a circle, although I shaped my logs in more oval format. While maybe not the most visually attractive, the taste elevates them to another level. Which got me thinking once they were baked, the ideal shape would be to use a margarita glass cookie cutter! And given the popularity of these cookies, I will be making more…

I doubled the cookie dough recipe, but kept the glaze to a single batch, which was more than plenty to ice the tops, even had some leftover.

Margarita Shortbread with Tequila-Lime Glaze

  • Servings: 5 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 oz.), softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar (or a good honey)
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (about 10 5/8 oz.)

Tequila-Lime Glaze

  • 3 cups powdered sugar (about 12 oz.)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. (1 1/4 oz.) tequila reposado
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lime zest plus 3 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

Additional Ingredients

  • Flaky sea salt, white sparkling sugar, and lime zest, for garnish (optional)


Make the cookie dough:

  1. Beat butter, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lime juice and agave; beat on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour; beat on low speed until evenly incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  2. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a smooth log (about 9 inches long). Wrap logs individually in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper third and lower third positions. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Unwrap 1 dough log on a clean work surface (keeping remaining log chilled), and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 36 cookies per log). Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on 2 prepared baking sheets. Transfer to freezer; chill 15 minutes. Bake in preheated oven until edges are just beginning to brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets between top and bottom racks after 7 minutes of baking time. Remove from oven.
  4. Let cookies cool completely on baking sheet, about 30 minutes. While cookies bake and cool, repeat the cutting, freezing, and baking process with remaining dough log and remaining prepared baking sheets.

Make the tequila-lime glaze:

  1. Whisk together powdered sugar, tequila, and lime zest and juice in a medium bowl until smooth and thick. (Don’t be tempted to add any more liquid; the glaze will be very thick, but that’s the perfect consistency.)
  2. Scoop tequila-lime glaze evenly on centers of cookies (about 3/4 teaspoon per cookie). Using the back of a spoon, spread glaze over cookies, leaving a 1/4-inch border around cookie edge. Before the icing sets, garnish lightly with flaky sea salt to taste, sparkling sugar, and lime zest, if desired. Let cookies stand until glaze hardens, about 30 minutes.

Recipe by Esteban Castillo for Food & Wine Magazine


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