Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars + Cookiepalooza Party

By Kate Riley December 20, 2011

‘Tis the season of baking and I did my share last week!  One of my favorite recipes I make every year is apricot almond shortbread bars, they’re always a big hit at our Christmas party and my go-to recipe if I ever get invited to a cookie swap. 

This recipe originally appeared in Bon Appétit in December 2005, and I made it when it first was published. Over the years I’ve modified it slightly, subtracting the almond paste, adding orange zest, and also doubling the recipe to make a full cookie sheet.  You can find the original recipe here.  The following is my version of apricot almond shortbread bars: 

apricot almond shortbread bars centsational girl


1 ½ cups apricot preserves

3 tbsp orange flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau)

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp orange zest

4 cups flour

½ tsp salt

1 small bag (2.25 oz) sliced almonds

parchment paper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray.  In a mixer, combine butter, sugar, and almond extract until well blended, then slowly add flour 1 cup at a time to form shortbread mixture.  Transfer 1 ½ cups of shortbread mixture to bowl and set aside.

apricot shortbread cookies step 1

Press remaining mixture of shortbread into parchment lined cookie sheet, fill to corners pressing gently with palm.  Mix preserves with liqueur in separate bowl and spread evenly over top of shortbread.

shortbread in sheet

Mix remaining 1 ½ cups of shortbread with orange zest and sliced almonds.

zest and almonds

Crumble with fingertips over sheet to form topping.

crumbled shortbread topping

Bake in oven for 50 minutes, or until crust turns golden.  Allow cookies to cool for 30 minutes, then slice with sharp knife or better yet, a pizza cutter.

pizza cutter and bars

Recipe makes one full cookie sheet of bars, or about 40-48 cookies depending how wide you slice them. Stack them up on a plate, and I dare you to eat just one. My hub cannot, they’re his favorite. The apricot gets all chewy and forms a heavenly flavor with the shortbread and orange and almonds.  Cherry preserves and cognac might be a nice substitute too but I’d skip the orange zest in that situation.  Serve with coffee or tea.

apricot almond shortbread bars cg

These are fabulous during the holidays with their light apricot and citrus combo, but equally wonderful at any other special occasion or event.  Like breakfast. 

Printable .pdf recipe here.

What about you?  Baked a favorite or famous holiday treat this season?  Do share!



  1. Okay, these look AMAZING — can’t wait to try. My father loves shortbread, apricots and almonds; think I’ll make these today and ship to him across the country as an added Christmas present. Thanks for the great idea!

  2. Thanks for doing this Kate! I’m excited to try some new recipes! I couldn’t decide which of my holiday treats to link up so I just linked up both of them! Is that ok? Let me know if you only want one treat per blog and I’ll take one down.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!

    Happy Holidays! :)

    • No problem Erin, thanks for joining up, I look forward to reading your recipes!

  3. Please tell me what size baking sheet you used. I want to make this ASAP.Thank you for such a lovely and informative site.

    • Sure Bebba, I should have mentioned… I use a standard cookie sheet approx 12″ x 17″, enjoy!

  4. They look fantastic – what a nice spin on traditional shortbread. Thanks for hosting the cookie party. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  5. Mmm, those bar look soo good! I may have to try those, and soon. : )

    Thanks for hosting, Kate. I linked up some easy peasy butter tart squares. Soo yummy.

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!!

    ~ Catie

  6. oh yum yum yum they look amazing! i have been busy baking chocolate orange butter cookies, sugar cookies and chocolate orange brownies (and eating them all up!) tomorrow I will be making fudge. mmmmm…xx

  7. 4 stars!! Back to report — just made these bad boys and they’re every bit as good as you promised.Since I wanted a smaller quantity, I used the amounts from the original recipe but used your substitutions. I also swapped 3 T. of orange juice for the liqueur, and vanilla for the almond extract (since I didn’t have any). I used a 9×13 pan — the crust seemed a bit too thick in the 9×9 — and baked for 50 minutes. We can’t stop eating them. And the house smells divine! Thanks again…

  8. Thanks for sharing this decadent recipe, Kate! They sound delicious! I’ll be playing Christmas music tomorrow and doing my baking.

  9. I had planned to make some sort of cookies today…..I’m making this one! I love shortbread and apricot. Thanks for this recipe. I haven’t commented here before, but I read your blog daily. Happy Holidays, Kate!

  10. I always go to your blog before the rest and I want you to know how much I enjoy what you do. These apricot almond bars look like something from a very special bakery. I will definitely make them. Happy Holidays!

  11. We made these yesterday following your recipe and they were DELICIOUS! So fruity, gooey and crunchy…. a perfect combo! Thanks for sharing!!!

  12. this shortbread is divine! my husband said he has never tasted something so good and crumbly like this. it burst with flavor when i was baking it. it’s awesome! This is a keeper. it has the european style due to the fruit and nuts, and yes… liqueur! Thanks you for sharing this with us.

  13. Hi Kate , first time commentator here; I’ve been following your blog for a while now and just had to say l absolutely love your posts! Your decorating ones have such a neat, clean, unfussy style to them , while at the same time feeling warm, comfortable and welcoming.
    And this recipe is similar in style – not too fussy but delivers- it hits the mark and best – it feeds a crowd. I was holding off doing my baking til this weekend and this recipe will now be one of my go to picks! Thanks so much!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours :)

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