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Irresistible Mantecados from Spain (Christmas Cookie Recipe)

The world is full of popular cookie recipes. You could grab a map, point to any country, and that would have a specific recipe for cookies that are characteristic of the region.

The same goes for Andalusia, which is home to some of the most delicious treats from Spain. In this article we will focus on the Mantecados recipe, so you can make it yourself.

This article includes step-by-step directions, suggestions for ingredient substitution, and advice on how to store and serve them.

mantecados cookies on a white plate and in the background there's a Christmas wreath.
Irresistible Mantecados from Spain

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Background of the Dish

mantecado cookies on a white plate

Today mantecados are a popular recipe and one of the best-selling cookies at Christmas time, but in reality, when his recipe was created it was because there was an excess of pork in Andalusia.

Just as you read it, during the 16th century there was an excess of pigs in southern Spain, to the point that in some places they were even considered pests. 

That’s why people looked for different ways to eat them.

This is how mantecados arose, which use a good amount of lard, and other cheap ingredients such as sugar and flour. 

The recipe began to spread, and it became one of the favorites of all Andalusians.

You will find them in every supermarket all over Spain, especially before the holidays.

Many of the mantecado cookies are prepared in Andalucia, in cities like Estepona and Seville.

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A photo with 4 different mantecado cookies on top of each other on a wooden table. At the bottom there's written Christmas mantecados cookies.

Things You’ll Need for Mantecados

To make the shortbread you only need 4 ingredients that are key and cannot be missing, but there are still changes you can make.

If you are looking to enlarge your cookbook of Andalusian recipes, we recommend that you try other Spanish Christmas pastries such as the fantastic Bunelos de viento.

closeup with a bowl of lard for lard cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (40g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) white wine
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (200 gr) lard
  • 3 1/4 cups (400 gr) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Lemon zest

How to Make Mantecados – Step-by-Step Guide

making spanish christmas cookies
  1. To start making the Spanish cookies recipe, you have to be sure that the wine and the lard are at room temperature. 
  1. Once the ingredients for the Spanish biscuits are ready to be used, mix the lemon zest with the sugar and the lard, and stir well.
  1. Now that everything is mixed, you can gradually add the sifted flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. You will know that the dough is ready once it doesn’t stick to the hand. Then cover it with plastic wrap and take it to the fridge for 2 hours.
  1. Remove from the fridge, stretch the dough with a rolling pin until you reach a thickness of 1 cm (0.39 inches), and cut in a rounded shape. You can use a cookie cutter or a round glass.
  1. Put the mantecados on a greased baking tray or lined with parchment paper so it doesn’t stick.
  1. For the final step, bake the Spanish cookies at 180° for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  1. Once you bake them, you can coat the mantecados in powdered sugar.

Substitution of Ingredients

traditional Christmas cookies with cocoa on a wooden table next to a bowl of cocoa powder

Mantecados are one of the Hispanic desserts that best represent the Spanish flavors, although they are not the typical Christmas flavors that you would expect in a classic Christmas cookie recipe.

Spanish cookie recipes generally don’t have a lot of cinnamon or nutmeg, but you can add that if you’re looking for that taste in your mantecado.

You can also coat them with cinnamon sugar instead of powdered sugar or regular sugar. 

You can even make them with cocoa powder but you’ll need to reduce the flour quantity.

You can choose to do something similar with the Pestinos and coat the mantecados in syrup, although keep in mind that it would be a sweeter touch in this cookie.

This recipe is different from other Spanish cookie recipes since instead of regular butter you need lard to make them. 

You can use 250g of common butter if you don’t have lard, but don’t forget that the lard is what gives it its characteristic flavor.

You can also use gluten-free flour, brown sugar, or use another type of alcohol, although remember that all these changes will make it not the typical Andalusian recipe.

Tips on Serving Mantecados

spanish christmas desserts on a wooden table with christmas decorations next to it.

The mantecados cookies have a special place within the Spanish Christmas desserts because they are easy to serve and eat at any time. 

Of course, they are ideal to eat for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, but you can serve them for dessert.

You can make a completely Andalusian dessert plate and serve them together with Polvorones, Alfajores, marzipan cookies, and turron

To have a Spanish hot chocolate would be ideal, but tea or coffee are also perfect options.

How to Store Mantecados

How to Store Mantecados
Ingredients such as nuts, apples, salad, and eggs in a fridge.

What makes shortbreads one of the most popular cookies is that you can store them at room temperature or freeze them.

The easiest thing is to leave them on the counter covered with a clean plastic bag or in a Tupperware container with a lid. 

There the Spanish Christmas cookies can last up to 3 days, not longer as otherwise they will be hard as a rock.

You can also prepare the recipe for this Spanish cookie, cook them and everything, and then when they reach room temperature store them covered in the freezer. 

There they can last up to 40 days, and then you just have to let them thaw in the fridge the night before.

Recipe Card: Mantecados

Yield: 6

Tasty Mantecados Recipe

mantecados cookies on a white plate and in the background there's a Christmas wreath.

The world is full of popular cookie recipes. You could calmly grab a map, point to any country, and that would have a specific recipe for cookies that are characteristic of the region.

The same goes for Andalusia, which is home to some of the most delicious treats from Spain.

This is the best recipe for Mantecados that you must try and we'll help you with our easy recipe.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (40g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) white wine
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (200 gr) lard
  • 3 1/4 cups (400 gr) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Before you start preparing the mantecados cookies, make sure the wine and lard are at room temperature.
  2. Mix the zest with the sugar and the lard, and stir well.
  3. When everything is mixed, gradually add the sifted flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. The dough should not stick to the hand, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Remove from the fridge, stretch leaving a thickness of 1 cm (0.39 inches), and cut in a rounded shape.
  5. Put the mantecados on a greased baking tray or lined with parchment paper so it doesn't stick.
  6. Bake the Spanish cookies at 180° for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Once they are ready, coat them in powdered sugar.

Notes

This recipe is the perfect twist to change from the traditional Christmas cookies, but if you want to give it the classic flavor of these holidays you can add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or half of the nutmeg.

Also, they're lard cookies, and that's what gives them the right flavor. But you can use 250g of regular butter if you don't dare to use lard or you can't find it in any store.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 629Total Fat 34.8gSaturated Fat 13.5gCholesterol 32mgSodium 30mgCarbohydrates 69.1gFiber 2gSugar 30gProtein 17g

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