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Mantecaditos (Puerto Rican Cookies)

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!

Easy Polvorones recipe from Puerto Rico (Mantecaditos with sprinkles)

Mantecaditos Recipe

This recipe is adapted from the Puerto Rican Cookery cookbook by Carmen Valldejuli. This is the definitive cookbook on Puerto Rican cuisine and every cook should have one (along with a caldero)!

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.

Easy Polvorones recipe from Puerto Rico (Mantecaditos de guayaba)

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!

Mantecaditos Puertorriquenos

There are three main components to mantecaditos:

  • Fat
  • Flavoring
  • Toppings

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!

Mantecaditos recipe - Puerto Rican Cookies

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.

Mantecaditos recipe - Puerto Rican Cookies

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.

Mantecaditos recipe - Puerto Rican Cookies

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.

Mantecaditos recipe from Puerto Rico (with almond flavor) #christmascookies

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.

Mantecaditos recipe - Puerto Rican Cookies

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!

Tender, crisp, buttery Mantecaditos - an easy dessert recipe from Puerto Rico! | sugar cookies | almonds | #christmascookies

Mantecaditos recipe - Puerto Rican Cookies

Mantecaditos (Puerto Rican Cookies)

Yield: 2 dozen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

These Mantecaditos are tender, crisp, buttery Puerto Rican shortbread cookies!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, or use an ungreased cookie pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening (or lard) and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in almond extract, salt and flour until well combined.
  4. Divide dough into small balls, about 1 ½ teaspoons each.
  5. Create an indent in each cookie with your thumb.
  6. Add sprinkles or a small cube of guava paste (about ½ inch cube).
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden.
  8. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

*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

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment below! Or tag @kitchengidget on Instagram with the hashtag #kitchengidget

You should also try these crisp brown sugar shortbread with notes of caramel!

Brown Sugar Shortbread - perfectly crisp cookies with notes of caramel | Kitchen Gidget

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Dulcie

Monday 21st of December 2020

I have a 10 year old grandson who does not like chocolate!! We made these gems on our annual cookie day and he LOVED them. They are easy to make and taste wonderful. Thanks for the recipe ๐ŸŽ„

ANGELLEE

Saturday 24th of October 2020

Hello. I would like to know if I can make the polvorones just with butter? I Don't eat pork and prefer the butter to the hydrogenated shorting, but not sure if only butter with work. Thanks

GRACE ACEVEDO

Sunday 22nd of November 2020

@ANGELLEE, You can always use Crisco shortening which is a vegetable shortening. That's what I use and they come out perfect. Also, if you have a gas oven, then only cook for 10 minutes.

Rebekah

Sunday 25th of October 2020

All butter should work just fine. Sometimes cookies can spread or flatten more with butter. If that happens you can chill the dough before baking.

Jennifer Crespo

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

My husband is from Puerto Rico. First time I've made them. He said they were perfect. Extremely easy to make.

Roxana

Wednesday 9th of September 2020

Loved your recipe, brought back memories of my childhood (many moons ago). My daughter is pregnant and asked me to fill a can with the ones with guava paste, "Just for me" she said. ;) I added some lemon zest to the recipe and everybody enjoyed that extra flavor.

Glorimar

Saturday 30th of May 2020

Thank you for the recipe, I made them and they came out amazing, for my taste the only thing I will change is the salt to just a pinch. IMG_0906.jpeg