Pan de Polvo (Mexican Shortbread Cookies)

Pan de Polvo, aka Mexican shortbread cookies, are soft-crumbly and tiny cookies that melt in your mouth. They taste and smell delicious and you can’t stop eating them!

Pan de Polvo, aka Mexican shortbread cookies, placed on a cutting board and a cookie jar.

About The Recipe

Pan de Polvo is a sweet treat from northern Mexico consisting of small cinnamon-anise infused cookies with a light and flaky texture. They are commonly known outside the country as Mexican shortbread cookies or Mexican wedding cookies.

These cookies are made by combining flour, sugar, and lard with an aromatic tea prepared with cinnamon and anise, which give them an amazing and unique flavor and aroma.

They are particularly popular in the States of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Durango, where they are served at special events such as weddings and Quinceañeras. And according to tradition, they must be made a few days in advance by the bride’s relatives or friends.

These Mexican shortbread cookies will be served as a welcome appetizer for guests arriving at the reception to thank them for being present on that special day for the hosts.

Pan de polvo means “dust bread” and it refers to the dusty and crumbly texture of the cookies that practically become powder when you bite them.

Pan de polvo cookies piled, with one cookie cut to see the crumbly and flaky texture inside.

Ingredients:

  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour or your favorite blend of gluten-free flour.
  • Cornstarch: Adding cornstarch to the dough adds softness to the finished cookie and also helps keep the dough from spreading when baking.
  • Clarified pork lard: Traditionally, those cookies are made with pork lard, but modern versions include shortening. I am not a fan of shortening so I rather recommend substituting it with butter.
  • Sugar: I used regular granulated sugar.
  • Cinnamon: You will need Mexican canela (cinnamon) for the tea and ground cinnamon for the coating. The cinnamon sticks can be found in many Mexican food stores or online and you can grind it in a molcajete or a coffee grinder, or you can substitute it with cinnamon powder too.
  • Anise: You can use anise seeds or anise stars, whatever is available to you.
  • Salt. A pinch of salt always brings out the flavors in baking goods.
Pan de Polvo ingredients on a marble surface and labeled with names.

How To Make Pan de Polvo

Place the cinnamon stick, anise star, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.

Cinnamon and anise tea in a white small pot.

Remove the saucepan from the stovetop and allow the infusion to cool completely.

Place flour, cornstarch, sugar, lard, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Ingredients for pan de polvo dough in a mixing bowl.

Mix with the flat beater attached to the mixer (or with your hands) until the ingredients are loose combined.

Ingredients combined for pan de polvo dough.

Now, add ½ cup of the cinnamon tea and knead for 2 minutes or until everything is nicely combined into a dough.

Pan de polvo dough in a mixing bowl.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form a ball, wrap it in cling film, and place it in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

Pan de polvo dough ball wrapped with cling film on a working surface.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 360°F/180°C and line a large cookie baking tray with parchment paper. Mix sugar and ground cinnamon on a plate and set aside.

Lightly flour a working surface. Roll the dough ball into a sheet about ¼ inch thick.

Rolling the pan de polvo dough with a marble rolling pin.

Cut the cookies with a 1.5″/4cm rounded cookie cutter and then transfer them to the prepared baking trays.

A collage with 2 photos of cutting pan de polvo cookies and the raw cookies placed on a baking tray.

Gather the dough scraps, roll them and cut out more cookies until all dough is used.

Bake between 18 and 20 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden and puffed.

Freshly baked pan de polvo cookies on a baking tray.

Carefully, remove the cookies with a spatula and coat them on all sides with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Pan de polvo coated with cinnamon and sugar mixture and placed on a wire rack.

Place cookies on a wire rack and allow them to cool down completely, then enjoy or store them as suggested below.

Recipe Notes

  • Be careful when you remove the cookies from the baking sheets as they are very fragile and can break easily.
  • Cookies have to be still hot when you coat them in the cinnamon mixture. Otherwise, it will not stick.
  • When rolling the dough, make sure also to flour the rolling pin to prevent the dough from sticking to it.
  • I strongly recommend eating those cookies the next day, as their texture will be a lot better.
  • You will get about 6 ½ dozen cookies with a small cookie cutter, less if you use a large one, but take in mind the baking times will also change. Adjust accordingly to what type of cookie cutter you use.
Pan de polvo, aka Mexican shortbread cookies placed on a cutting board with cinnamon sticks and anise star scattered around.

Recipe Variations

  • Make them nutty: Add ½ cup of pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts to the dough. Make sure they’re finely chopped but with some small bites here and there for a nice crunch.
  • For chocolate lovers: You can sub ½ cup of flour with about 1/3 cup of dark chocolate powder to make pan de polvo de chocolate.
  • Add vanilla: You can also add half of teaspoon of vanilla extract for a subtle aroma and taste.
  • Make them citrusy: Add the zest of a lemon or 1 tablespoon of orange zest to the dough for a fresh citrus kick.
  • Sub lard: If eating lard is not your thing, use the same amount of butter.

How To Store

Pan de Polvo can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you like cold cookies and want to store them in the fridge they will last for about 13-15 days.

To freeze, place the baked cookies in a freezing container between layers of parchment paper (this will prevent them from sticking to each other).

Or you can also place the sugar cookies on a plate or small cookie sheet and freeze them for 1-2 hours, then transfer them to a resealable bag or container before returning them to the freeze.

Pan de polvo will last up to 4 months in the freezer.

Pan de polvo cookies placed on a cookie jar and some more on the background.

More Mexican Cookies Recipes

  • Polvorones. Traditional Mexican pan dulce with a texture very similar to a cookie.
  • Coricos. Corn cookies made from nixtamalized flour. Naturally gluten-free!
  • Mexican sprinkle cookies. Also known as galletas de grageas, those cookies are perfect to enjoy with milk.
Pan de Polvo Recipe.

Pan de Polvo (Mexican shortbread cookies)

author Maricruz
6 dozen cookies
These Pan de Polvo cookies have a delicious cinnamon taste and are so crumbly that practically melt in your mouth! They are known as Mexican shortbread cookies or Mexican wedding cookies, but no matter the name, they're absolutely delicious!
prep 20 minutes
cook 20 minutes
total 40 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 round cookie cutter about 1.5″/4cm

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ lb pork lard (or butter)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

For the tea

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 anise star
  • 1 cup water

For coating

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • Add water, the cinnamon stick, and anise star in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Allow the cinnamon tea to cool completely.
  • Place flour, cornstarch, lard, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix with the flat beater attached to the mixer (or with your hands) until the ingredients are loose combined.
  • Add ½ cup of the cinnamon tea and knead until everything is combined into a dough.
  • Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form a ball. Wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 360°F/180°C and line a large cookie tray with parchment paper.
  • Lightly flour a working surface. Roll the dough ball into a sheet about ¼ inch thick.
  • Cut the dough with a 1.5″/4cm rounded cookie cutter and then transfer the raw cookies to the prepared baking trays.
  • Gather the dough scraps, roll them and cut out more cookies until all dough is used.
  • Bake between 18 and 20 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden and puffed.
  • Carefully, remove the cookies with a spatula and coat them on all sides with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • Place cookies on a wire rack and allow them to cool down completely.
  • Enjoy or store for later.

Notes

  • Be careful when you remove the cookies from the baking sheets as they are very fragile and can break easily.
  • Cookies have to be still hot when you coat them in the cinnamon mixture. Otherwise, it will not stick.
  • When rolling the dough, make sure also to flour the rolling pin to prevent the dough from sticking to it.
  • I strongly recommend eating those cookies the next day, as their texture will be a lot better.
  • You will get about 6 ½ dozen cookies with a small cookie cutter, less if you use a large one, but take in mind the baking times will also change. Adjust accordingly to what type of cookie cutter you use.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1dozen cookies | Calories: 679kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 28g | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Mari! I am from Monterrey but I live now in the Philippines, your pan de polvo recipe looks exactly as I remember and can’t wait to try it because it remind me of my abuelita when she used to buy it for me when I was a kid, thank you so much for the memories, I’ll be back to tell you how it was.
    Gracias paisana!

  2. 5 stars
    Excellent and well written.
    For novices I would add:
    1 Lb all purpose flour = 3-1/3 Cups
    1/2 Lb butter = 2 sticks.
    I’m from South Texas.
    I’ve been making these for years in various ways. Lemon, Chocolate, Orange, Vanilla Stawberry, and Coffee are my most requested flavors.