Polvorones (Spanish Shortbread Cookies)

A Classic Polvorones Recipe For the Perfect Crumbly Cookies!

Traditional Spanish Polvorones are a small and sweet type of shortbread that is super soft and crumbly. Polvorones literally mean “dusty” or “powdery”.

They are definitely not on the lighter side but are a very satisfying mouthful with a sweet, nutty, and subtle cinnamon taste. 

round spanish polvorones cookies on parchment paper with stack of cookies behind and red christmas bulbs beside.
Polvorones are great for the holidays – or any other time of year!

Originating in the south of Spain – the Andalucía region – these Spanish shortbread cookies are a type of Mantecado (a term for different types of shortbreads, including Polvorones).

Nowadays, Polvorones are eaten and beloved all around Spain. Even though you could eat Polvorones all year long, these delightful bites are traditionally produced, sold, and consumed during Christmas festivities as a dessert.

You can eat Polvorones after large meals, in what Spaniards know as “sobremesa” (literally means over the table).

This is a lovely weekend and Mediterranean Holiday tradition (not exclusive to Spain) that consists of staying around the table after the meal, with sweets, coffee, tea, liquors and lots of conversations and family time. 

Oh, and this is a true Polvorones recipe from Spain since this is my Grandma’s recipe!

Ingredients

ingredients in bowls on purple counter with labels for polvorones.
These are the ingredients needed for Polvorones!

In order to tackle this Spanish polvorones recipe, here are the ingredients that you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • Flour – All-purpose flour works well. Make sure you use a good quality one though.
  • Lard – Should be at room temperature. Alternatively, you can use olive oil or butter but that would change the flavor and is not as traditional.
  • Powdered sugar – Also known as icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar. To make the dough and some for sprinkling on top.
  • Almond flour – An ingredient for the dough. Alternatively you can also toast raw almonds.
  • Cinnamon – To add that delicious cinnamon flavor.
  • Salt – You can use regular table salt.

Recipe Tips & Substitutions

Before you make these polvorones cookies, have a read through these recipe tips and substitutions so that you know exactly what to expect!

  • If you can’t find almond flour, you can also toast raw almonds in the oven or a pan on the stove until they are toasted on both sides. Once they have cooled, you can process them in a food processor. Do not overprocess because then you end up with almond butter instead of flour.
  • Instead of almonds you can also use hazelnuts.
  • Polvorones are traditionally made with lard, a type of fat that comes from pigs. It has a strong smell when raw, but it disappears when cooked (it does not leave any meat flavor at all). It can be substituted with olive oil or butter, but of course, the flavor will change. 
  • Don’t skip the toasting of the flours step, those two are absolutely crucial to achieving the flavor and final texture. You can toast the flour in a pan on the stove if you prefer, but doing it in the oven is much more convenient and easier since you are going to toast a large quantity. 
  • The dough-forming process can feel impossible to achieve at one point but trust the process. It feels dry and crumbly, but keep mixing it, eventually, you’ll get a soft dough. It should be very soft but not stick to your hands. 
  • Polvorones are extremely fragile while hot, so once you remove them from the oven let them cool down for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack. I recommend doing this with the parchment paper underneath, so you avoid touching them. 

How to Make Polvorones – Step by Step Instructions

If you’re wondering how to make polvorones, here are the step-by-step instructions with recipe process photos.

That way, you can track your progress as you bake. Otherwise, the complete recipe card is at the bottom of this post.

flour spread out on oven pan with ingredients around on counter top.
Spread out the flour on a baking sheet.

Start by preheating the oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then toast the flour in the oven. For this, add it to a baking tray and spread it out with a fork. Bake it in the oven for 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it to keep it from burning.

bowl of almond flour with white spatula sitting on top.
Toast the almond flour in a pan.

While the flour is toasting in the oven, add the almond flour into a pan and toast it on the stovetop stirring it constantly on medium-low heat.

toasted flour in bowl with white spatula on counter top.
Look at this toasted almond flour.

The almond flour is done when it reaches a darker color and smells toasted.

toasted flour on baking pan sitting on counter top with ingredients around.
Let the flour cool a bit.

Let both flours cool down a bit once cooked before moving on to the next step.

mixing bowl of ingredients for polvorones with hand adding ground cinnamon on top.
Add the ingredients to a bowl.

Next, make the dough. In a big bowl combine the flour, lard, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

dry dough in glass mixing bowl being tossed with white spatula.
Keep on mixing.

You can do it with a spatula and your clean hands. It might take a while until you get a soft dough – that’s normal.

ball of cookie dough on counter wrapped in cling film.
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Form the dough into a big ball, then cover it in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

polvorones cookie dough rolled flat on counter with wooden rolling pin beside.
Roll out the dough.

Once the resting time is up, sprinkle some flour on your work surface. Then roll out the ball of dough with a rolling pin until it reaches approx. 1 inch of thickness.

At this time also preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

cookies cut into raw dough on counter top with rolling pin beside.
Cut out the cookies.

Cut the dough with a cookie cutter (traditionally circle or oval-shaped).

raw round cookies on baking pan sitting on counter.
Place the raw cookies onto a baking sheet.

Transfer the raw polvorones to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Gather the leftover dough, roll it out again and cut out more cookies. Repeat until you have no more dough left.

baked cookies on parchment paper sitting on counter cooling.
Delicious baked polvorones.

Bake the cookies in the oven for around 12 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, but keep an eye on them at the 10-minute mark since they can burn quickly!

Remove the baked polvorones from the oven and let them sit for a minute. Then transfer them to a cooling rack with the parchment paper underneath to keep them from breaking.

stack of polvorones cookies with bite out of one with cookies behind.
These Polvorones are ready to eat!

Garnish the cooled cookies with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!

Storage Tips

These homemade Spanish polvorones can be stored in a sealed box with some tissue paper or kitchen paper or in a dry place (out of the freezer).

They will keep well for probably just over a week – but they will likely be gone by that time anyway!

FAQ

Here are a few answers to classic questions about Polvorones:

What are polvorones?

Polvorones are a type of Spanish shortbread cookie. Traditionally made with lard, these cookies are sweet and very crumbly and enjoyed especially during Christmas time. Variations are also popular in Latin American countries such as Mexico.

Where do polvorones come from?

The recipe for Polvorones originated in the South of Spain (the Andalucía region) during the 16th century when a surplus of cereal and lard happened. 

Related Recipes

If you’re searching for more great Spanish recipes, here are some that are sweet, savory, and even some for quenching your thirst!

round polvorones cookies on parchment paper with red Christmas bulbs around.

Polvorones (Spanish Shortbread Cookies)

Traditional Spanish Polvorones are a small type of shortbread that is super soft and crumbly. These cookies are sweet and nutty with a subtle cinnamon taste – perfect for Christmas festivities!
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 57 minutes
Servings: 38 cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup lard, at room temperaturee
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Then toast the flour in the oven. For this add it to a baking tray and spread it out with a fork. Bake it in the oven for 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it to avoid it from burning.
    4 cups all-purpose flour
  • While the flour is toasting in the oven, add the almond flour into a pan and toast it on the stovetop stirring it constantly on medium-low heat, until it reaches a darker color and smells toasted.
    1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • Let both flours cool down a bit once cooked.
  • The create the dough: In a big bowl combine the flour, lard, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and salt. You can do it with a spatula and your clean hands.
    1 cup lard, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Form the dough into a big ball, then cover it in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Once the resting time is up, sprinkle some flour on your work surface. Then roll out the ball of dough with a rolling pin until it reaches around 1 inch of thickness. At this time also preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cut it with a cookie cutter (traditionally circle or oval-shaped) and transfer the raw polvorones to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Gather the leftover dough, roll out out again and cut out more cookies. Repeat until you've no more dough left.
  • Bake the cookies in the oven for 12 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, but keep an eye on them at the 10-minute mark since they can burn quickly!
  • Remove the baked polvorones from the oven and let them sit for a minute. Then transfer them to a cooling rack with the parchment paper underneath to avoid them from breaking.
  • Garnish the cooled cookies with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.

Notes

  • Don’t skip the toasting of the flours step, those two are absolutely crucial to achieving the flavor and final texture. You can toast the white flour in a pan if you prefer, but doing it in the oven is much more convenient and easy since you are going to toast a large quantity.
  • The dough-forming process can feel impossible to achieve at one point but trust the process. It feels dry and crumbly, but keep mixing it – eventually you’ll get a soft dough. It should be very soft but not stick to your hands.
  • Polvorones are extremely fragile while hot, so once you remove them from the oven let them cool down for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack. I recommend transferring them with the parchment paper, so you avoid touching them.
  • Instead of lard, which is the traditional ingredient, you can also use olive oil or butter, but of course, the flavor will change.
  • If you don’t like or can’t eat almonds, you can also make polvorones with hazelnuts.
  • Store the polvorones in a sealed box with some tissue paper or kitchen paper in a cool and dry place. 

Nutrition

Calories: 86kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 17mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 48IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Desserts
Cuisine Spanish
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This recipe was contributed by
Alba Luna Meyer
Born and raised in the Southeast of Spain, Alba is a photographer and a foodie. Always hungry for new flavors and recipes, but with a big passion for traditional recipes that speak about roots and family. You can always find her talking about food, photographing it, or cooking! Obviously, she is team “tortilla de patatas con cebolla”.

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