Puerto Rican Cookies – Mantecaditos – are tender, crisp and buttery! Sometimes called polvorones puertorirqueños these festive cookies with sprinkles or guava paste are especially popular for Christmas!
They are not strictly Puerto Rican cookies. I think every country must have its version of a cookie like this and they go by different names.
Manteca means lard or butter in Spanish so you could translate these as little butter cookies.
Technically they are shortbread cookies since there are no eggs or leavening agents added to the dough.
Some also call them polvorones, but depending which Spanish-speaking country you are in you could end up with a completely different cookie (like Mexican Wedding Cakes).
I love how simple and easy these are to make!
There are three main components to mantecaditos:
Types of fat
In the days before vegetable shortening these were made with lard and/or butter.
I like baking and cooking with lard, but it does have a specific flavor.
You can use shortening instead of lard, which is what most people do. I like half shortening, half lard, (plus the butter).
The combination of all three gives the mantecaditos the best flavor and texture!
Types of flavoring
Almond extract is traditional, but vanilla extract is equally delicious.
Some people use one or the other and some people use half of each.
Types of toppings
Sprinkles! Use the round sprinkle balls called nonpareils.
Multicolored sprinkles are classic, but you can also customize the colors based on the event or holiday. One year I had colors that matched the Super Bowl.
Kids especially love the sprinkles, but my favorite is a small cube of guava paste.
The sweet guava paste with almond extract is especially yum. If you love that flavor combo, you should also check out my recipe for Panetela (Guava Cake)!
Last but not least, maraschino cherries are another popular topping for mantecaditos. Cut them in half or quarters before using.
You will make a thumbprint in each cookie before baking, then add the desired topping.
The little well keeps the topping from falling off while they cook.
How to make mantecaditos
To prepare the dough, cream butter, shortening (or lard) and sugar until light and fluffy. This is easily done with a hand mixer, but I love my KitchenAid!
Stir in almond extract (or vanilla), salt and flour until well combined.
Be sure you are measuring the flour correctly by spooning it into the measuring cup and then leveling off.
Too much flour will make the cookies dry and crumbly.
Divide dough into small balls, about 2 teaspoons each. You can make them larger or smaller depending on your preference.
Space them out a couple inches since they will spread.
I always use a silicone baking mat to prevent too much spreading and my cookies always turn out perfect (and no sticking)! Otherwise you can use an un-greased cookie sheet.
Create an indent in each cookie with your thumb.
The edges of the cookie may crack when you flatten it, but that’s ok as long as your dough is not too crumbly.
Add sprinkles, a small cube of guava paste (about ½ inch cube) or maraschino cherry.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden.
Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Pair these with an ice cold glass of my coquito recipe for a very merry Christmas!
Pin these to your cookie board!
- ½ cup unsalted butter*, at room temperature
- ½ cup shortening or lard
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
- ½ teaspoon salt*
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- Sprinkles or guava paste for filling
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, or use an ungreased cookie pan.
- In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening (or lard) and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in almond extract, salt and flour until well combined.
- Divide dough into small balls, about 1 ½ teaspoons each.
- Create an indent in each cookie with your thumb.
- Add sprinkles or a small cube of guava paste (about ½ inch cube).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden.
- Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
*just use a pinch of salt if using salted butter
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 125
You might also like these Guava Pastelitos (only 2 ingredients!)