If you need some biscuit or cookie inspiration. look no further than these Saffron and Pistachio Shortbreads. The crumbliest and melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbreads are flavoured with saffron and powdered pistachio, reflecting the popular Indian Kesar Pista combination. 

bite sized eggless sarron flavoured shortbread served in a metal tray



I love desserts with saffron and pistachio. They are quintessentially Indian and the flavours can be used in a variety of sweet recipes. 

Kesar Pista Ice Cream in the summertime is one of my personal favourites!

Kesar Pista Coconut Ladoo is great for special occasions. 

You can also add badam or almond to the flavours like we have done with Kesar, Badam Pista Barfi

I had in mind to make saffron and pistachio biscuits of some sort during Diwali but the recipe got delayed. I then gave these a go with shortbread and couldn't be happier with the results.

Why these are the best buttery shortbread cookies ever!

I am a huge fan of shortbread. I remember first trying proper Scottish Shortbread during a trip to Edinburgh for Hogmanay. I instantly fell in love! 

The shortbread were light and buttery. The texture is so different to supermarket shortbread. Supermarket shortbread tends to be harder but these shortbreads, shaped in petticoat tails, were extremely melt-in-the-mouth.

This recipe also achieves similar textures with a pop of flavour. 

Kesar Pista Shortbread/Saffron Pistachio Shortbread

✔️ are egg-free and can be made nut-free too

✔️ are buttery, crumbly and Melt-in-the-mouth 

✔️ only need 5 basic pantry ingredients 

✔️ perfect for the holidays and gifting 

✔️ bite-size 

pale yellow saffron shortbread served in a metal tray, red rose petals are sprinkled over

Perfect at Diwali

This shortbread, with their addition of traditional saffron and pistachio, would go wonderfully as an addition to Diwali sweets. They would also be perfect during Ramadan and Eid. 

Check out our 19 Best Barfi Peda recipes for more Diwali inspiration. 

Perfect over Christmas

Bake these over Christmas with the family and revel in the wonderful warm aroma of the aromatic expensive spice Saffron. 


● Plain flour - we have used white plain flour also known as All-Purpose flour. You may use whole wheat flour (chapati atta) but the results won't be the same as plain flour. Shortbread made with whole wheat flour turns out dense and not as flaky. 

● Sugar - golden caster sugar, which is more finely ground than regular granulated sugar. It dissolves quicker than normal sugar in creamed mixtures, whips and more.

● Unsalted butter works best for shortbreads. For an authentic recipe do not replace butter with oil. 

● Pistachio - we have ground the pistachio finely and added to the recipe. Do not use salted pistachios as they will not work in a sweet recipe.

● Saffron - use saffron threads. For a cheaper alternative, you can use safflower 

We have used dried rose petals for photographic purpose only. 

How to make Shortbread

1- In a big bowl take chilled cubed butter, flour, sugar and saffron threads. 

2- Use your fingertips to combine all the ingredients until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

3- Then bring it together using your hands and make a ball. 

4- Wrap the dough in the clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

5- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin, keep the thickness around 1/2cm. 

6- Cut the dough into a desired shape or fingers and arrange them on a lined baking tray, chill for 10-15 minutes.

7- Meanwhile preheat the oven to gas mark 3-4 or 350F. 

8- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or just getting a little brown. 

9- Remove them from the oven and sprinkle it with finely ground pistachios, leave it to cool completely. 

Making the dough ahead of time

You can make the dough ahead of time and keep in the fridge. 

I would say around a day before is fine. 

Shortbread Shapes

Traditional shortbreads are shaped in 3 ways: fingers or shortbread rounds or petticoat tails (one large circle of shortbread divided into segments)

I also underwent much deliberation with shapes for the shortbread and in the end settled with this design using a cookie cutter, but you can use any shape. 

Ways to decorate this shortbread

I was undecided as how to decorate this shortbread and flitted between keeping them plain or adding some icing. In the end, I decided to sprinkle some with pistachio powder. 

Don't want to use nuts? Decorate using chocolate. Just dip a half side of completely cooled shortbread in melted chocolate. It can be white, milk, dark or ruby. 


Don't skimp on ingredients, especially butter. 

Make sure you use chilled and cubed butter.

Must chill the dough in the refrigerator, before and after cutting into the shape so they don't spread whilst baking. 


I have found that this shortbread softens very quickly so do not make a large batch and store away but eaten within a day or so. 

Keep stored in a biscuit tin.


These moreish shortbreads are best served with a cup of Masala Chai or Karak Chai in the mid-morning but they are equally good with homemade billionaire's latte in the afternoon too. 

I sometimes love to have a couple with our Kesar badam milk 😄

eggless saffron cookies shaped in flower, served on a wooden board in metal tray

Other egg-free cookies


Linzer cookies

Coconut and cardamom whole wheat cookies

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shortbread, saffron, pistachio, holiday cookies, eggfree cookies, vegetarian baking, Christmas baking, easy shortbread
Snacks, desserts
Yield: 20-22 COOKIES
Author: Hayley Dhanecha


The crumbliest and melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbreads are flavoured with saffron and powdered pistachio, reflecting the popular Indian Kesar Pista combination.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 20 Mininactive time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 25 M




  1. Place butter, sugar, saffron and flour in a big bowl.
  2. Run everything together using your fingertips.
  3. Then bring it together using your hands to make a dough.
  4. Wrap it in the cling film and chill 30 minutes in the fridge. 
  5. Roll out the dough into 1/2 cm thickness on the lightly floured surface.
  6. Cut into the desired shape and place them on the lined baking tray.
  7. Chill for 10-15 minutes in the fridge again.
  8. Meanwhile preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until slightly golden.
  10. Remove and sprinkle pistachio and let it cool completely.
  11. Serve right away or store.


1 cup = 250ml

make sure the butter is chilled.

do not forget to chill the dough before and after shaping the cookies.

dried rose petals are sprinkled illustrated purpose only.



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  1. The shortbread cookies look amazing. The shape of these are so beautiful. Your are surely doing justice to this Christmas edible treats with these, so send some my way too.

  2. You've got my full attention at the mention of Scottish Shortbread.. the best ever cookies in the whole wide world. Not saying that your saffron and pistachio shortbread are not nice.. they look so beautiful and inviting. Wish I could pick a couple. Love your different shaped cookie cutter.

  3. I must say, the first thing that caught my attention was the shape...They look so gorgeous and are tempting me to grab them off the screen. Perfect treat for the holiday season!

  4. Saffron in the cookies along with pistachios is like dream come true for my husband and boys. The flavors are spot on and the melt in the mouth shortbread is so good.

  5. These shortbread cookies that are beautifully shaped, look amazing. These are indeed perfect for this Christmas and best edible gift also.
    Lovely share.

  6. Can't take my eyes off these gorgeous looking saffron pistachio shortbread cookies! I am sure these are a treat to the taste bud aswell.

  7. Hi delicious recipe! can u please
    Share where you got the cookie cutter from? Thx

    1. Thank you! We bought these many years back from cake and bake show here in London, I am sure these are available on Amazon too. Hope this helps.


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