Shamrock Shortbread Cookies

I was inspired to make these Shamrock Shortbread Cookies using a secret ingredient to make them green. My family has this sort of conspiracy theory that it’s my life mission to use this secret ingredient in every recipe. Between you and me, they’re being a bit dramatic.

But if it *were* my mission to use this secret ingredient in every recipe, it’s not as if it would be a bad thing. You see, I have this passion for spinach. And spinach is one of those super foods. Dr. Joel Fuhrman describes how spinach is one of the most nutritionally dense foods around. He suggests adding spinach to smoothies, salads, but I don’t think he’s thought about adding it to cookies.

That’s what I’m here for!

Shamrock Shortbread Cookies are great treats for St. Patrick's Day.

I knew I wanted green cookies for St. Patty’s day, but I didn’t want to use the traditional green food coloring. That’s where my favorite spinach stepped in to save the day. I was concerned that the spinach would make the cookie batter too thin, but I was surprised at how well it incorporated into the dough.

The results are obvious – green Shamrock Shortbread Cookies. Can I say these cookies are healthy? Well compared to some they certainly are. They’re green, they’re vegan, and they’re loaded with spinach. How many other cookies do you eat that include spinach? But although Dr. Fuhrman promotes spinach, I doubt he would elevate these cookies to the status of a super food.

So I suggest making them small so you can have more than one!

Green vegan cookies for St. Patty's Day on the Namely Marly site.

Shamrock Shortbread Cookies

(Recipe source: Joy of Baking)


  • β…” cup Pecans
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup dairy-free margarine, room temperature
  • Β½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ΒΌ teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup powdered sugar


Place pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes at 350, or until lightly brown. I used a toaster oven for this step, but you could also use the oven. Either way just be careful not to let the “lightly brown” go too far. Let the pecans cool and then put them, along with 2 tablespoons of the flour from the recipe, into your food processor. Process until they are finely ground. Set aside.

Don’t wash out that food processor just yet. Next, add the cup of fresh spinach. Don’t be stingy here, spinach can be like brown sugar. It needs to be pressed in to measure it accurately. Add the 1/2 cup of water and pulse a few times to get the spinach broken down a bit. Stir back into the mix any spinach leaves that have tried to escape and then pulse for about a minute until you the spinach becomes more like a smooth gel. You don’t want a lot of spinach chunks showing up in your cookies – otherwise people will catch on to our secret ingredient. People are happy when they think they’re eating green food with chemically created green food coloring, but they get a little squeamish at the thought of spinach. Go figure!

Use a mixer to beat the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract and the spinach. Mix until well incorporated and then add the remaining flour and salt and beat until combined. Stir in the baked nuts. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm; an hour is great but if you’re like me, you need to get these cookies done asap, so I gave them 30 minutes tops. Hey, we’re busy people here!

Next, heat your oven to 350 F. Form the chilled dough into 1 inch balls (or smaller) and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheets. Bake for about 12 – 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

After cookies have cooled, roll them in powdered sugar. See if you can get your family to guess how you made green cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen delicious cookies.

Updated by Marly · Permalink

20 Responses to Shamrock Shortbread Cookies

  1. Love that you coloured these with spinach! So smart. I love shortbread, please pass me the plate.

  2. What a great idea, never would think to use spinach in cookies, but I love it! I’ve made coconut milk ice cream with spinach in it and it came out terrifically, you can’t even taste the spinach.

  3. Spinach? How fun. Never would have thought…!

  4. What a great idea so the color, and it turned out pretty too. I don’t like using a lot of dye but I did for my St. Paddy’s cookie dough truffles, oh well next time I will try these out!

  5. you get the gold star of BRILLIANCE today Marly – and we’re big fans of spinach anyway so this wouldn’t be a stretch – slap a big ol’ LOVE on this one!

  6. I knew exactly what your secret ingredient was the first line! I know you and spinach. Funny! They look good. How did they “go over”?

  7. I love, love, love this idea! Beautiful cookies!

  8. Now what about using frozen spinach (obviously thawed), do you think that would be okay in your cookies?

    • I don’t know if frozen spinach would have the same effect. Fresh spinach really doesn’t have that much flavor whereas cooked spinach really does. I would strongly suggest sticking to the fresh spinach if you wanted to keep it tasting like a cookie. πŸ˜‰

  9. These are brilliant! What a fantastic way to achieve the perfect St. Patrick’s Day color without the green food coloring.

    • Well, I figured it was worth a try. I was worried as I made them that the spinach mix would mess up the dough, but my taste testers confirmed and evidence suggests (empty container) that they tasted just fine!

  10. These cookies are gorgeous! You got such a vibrant green. My St. Patty’s muffins are green tea & pistachio, but the color did not come out like this! Love your creativity πŸ™‚

    • What a great idea to use green tea and pistachios. We may have to combine forces for next St. Paddy’s day and do a green tea, pistachio, spinach cookie. What a mouthful!

  11. Heather Davis

    What a great idea! They look gorgeous. Perfect for getting kids to eat the green “beast”.

    • Yes – it’s so true. Putting spinach in a cookie can be a fun way of getting them to eat their “greens.”

  12. You are a genius! These look and sound amazing Marly, loving the pecans. I love nuts in cookies.

  13. I never would have thought to put spinach in a cookie! They came out such a pretty color.

  14. You know how to make me want to abandon my evening plans and start baking. What a fun recipe! I love spinach too, and we are actually growing some in our garden. PERFECT! Thank you for sharing your creativity with me! I hope you have a blessed Sunday. You make me smile πŸ™‚


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