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Puerto Rican Cookie Recipes: How to Make Mantecaditos & Polvorones Shortbread

If you’re a fan of delicious cookies, you’ve probably tried your hand at a good number of recipes. But have you ever dabbled in Puerto Rican cookie recipes? Puerto Rico has a rich culinary tradition with many yummy treats to offer, but their cookies are truly something special. Today, we’re going to delve into the world of Puerto Rican cookies, specifically the Mantecaditos and Polvorones shortbread cookies. So, get your apron on and let’s get baking!

Introduction: A Taste of Puerto Rico

For those unfamiliar with Puerto Rican cuisine, it’s a delightful fusion of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno influences. The island’s tropical climates lend themselves to the use of a variety of fresh ingredients. When it comes to their cookies, Puerto Rican recipes often include almond extract, vanilla extract, and sometimes even rum extract for a unique burst of flavor. The Mantecaditos and Polvorones are little butter cookies that are a favorite dessert during the holiday season and a staple at every cookie swap.

A close-up of a selection of deliciously golden brown Puerto Rican cookies, showing their perfect texture and characteristic shape.

The Mantecaditos: Puerto Rico’s Perfect Cookies

Mantecaditos are a type of shortbread cookie that is popular in Puerto Rico, especially around Christmas time. They’re often topped with a maraschino cherry or a dollop of guava paste, which is a popular topping in Latin America. The dough is typically mixed with a paddle attachment in a stand mixer, but you can also use an electric mixer. The aim is to achieve a perfect dough ball consistency.

An array of Mantecaditos on a cookie board, some topped with maraschino cherries and others with a quenelle of guava paste.

Creating the Perfect Mantecaditos Dough

Creating the perfect cookie dough for Mantecaditos involves a delicate balance of ingredients. The butter should be at room temperature and creamed with the sugar until light and fluffy. This is typically done with unsalted butter, but a mix of half butter and half shortening can also be used. The dry ingredients, including purpose flour and a pinch of salt, are then slowly added to the creamed mixture at a low speed until well incorporated. The dough is then wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled for at least one hour.

A large bowl with the perfect Mantecaditos dough, ready to be wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled.

Shaping and Baking Mantecaditos

Once the dough is chilled, it’s time to shape the cookies. The dough is rolled into small balls using a small scoop or the palm of your hand. The balls are then flattened slightly and placed on a prepared baking sheet. A small indentation is made in the center of each cookie, where a maraschino cherry or a dollop of guava jelly can be added. The cookies are then baked in a preheated oven until golden brown.

A sheet pan of raw Mantecaditos, ready to go into the oven. Each cookie has a small indentation in the center, some filled with maraschino cherries and others with guava jelly.

Polvorones: Puerto Rican Shortbread Cookies

Moving on to our next Puerto Rican cookie recipe, we have the Polvorones. Also known as “powder cookies”, these delicious treats are typically made with almond flour and are a kind of cookie that crumbles easily, hence the name. They’re a favorite around Christmas time and are often paired with a steaming cup of café con leche or hot cocoa.

A pile of golden-brown Polvorones served on a rustic wooden board, with a cup of café con leche visible in the background.

Creating the Polvorones Dough

Like the Mantecaditos, the Polvorones dough is made by creaming butter and sugar together. Almond flour is used in addition to the regular flour to give the cookies their unique texture. The dough is then rolled into small balls and placed on an un-greased cookie sheet. The top of the cookie is then slightly flattened, creating a small indentation in the center of the cookie where a piece of almond or maraschino cherry can be placed for decoration.

A close-up of Polvorones dough balls on a cookie sheet, each with a small almond or maraschino cherry in the center.

Shaping and Baking Polvorones

The Polvorones are baked in a preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until they turn a lovely golden brown color. They’re then allowed to cool on a wire rack before being dusted with a little powdered sugar. The end result is a delicious cookie with a satisfying crumbly texture, perfect for a sweet treat at any time of day.

Freshly baked Polvorones cooling on a wire rack, dusted with a light coating of powdered sugar.

Conclusion: Enjoying the Perfect Puerto Rican Cookies

There you have it, a look into the world of Puerto Rican cookie recipes. Mantecaditos and Polvorones shortbread cookies are a beloved part of Puerto Rican cuisine, and now, with a little practice, you can enjoy them right in your own home. So, why not try your hand at these recipes and create a little piece of Puerto Rico in your kitchen? Happy baking!

A final shot of the finished cookies, both Mantecaditos and Polvorones, displayed beautifully on a serving platter.

Puerto Rican Polvorones (Shortbread Cookies) Recipe

Puerto Rican Polvorones (Shortbread Cookies) Recipe

Yield: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Enjoy these traditional Puerto Rican Polvorones that offer a delightful blend of sweet and savory flavors. They are perfect to serve at holiday gatherings or simply to enjoy with a cup of coffee.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup guava paste
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the flour and sea salt to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until well combined.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and continue to mix until the dough comes together.
  5. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.
  6. Press a thumbprint into the center of each cookie, being careful not to press all the way through.
  7. Fill each thumbprint with a small piece of guava paste and a dollop of cream cheese.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Dust the cooled cookies with powdered sugar before serving.


Polvorones can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 15gNet Carbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 1g

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