Mantecado: A Must-Have Christmas Day Dessert

Mantecado: A Must-Have Christmas Day Dessert

As the holiday season approaches, the aroma of Mantecado, a traditional Spanish shortbread pastry, fills the air. This simple Christmas dessert has been a staple in Spanish households during the Christmas season for centuries.

History of Mantecado

The history of Mantecado dates back to the 16th century in Andalusia, Spain. The surplus lard from the pig slaughter in December was put to good use in making these easy Christmas cookies. Over time, Mantecado has become synonymous with Christmas holiday desserts in Spain.

The Art of Making Mantecado

Making Mantecado is an art that requires patience and precision. The key ingredients are flour, sugar, lard, and almonds. The process begins with toasting the flour until it turns golden brown. The toasted flour is then mixed with sugar and lard to form a dough. Almonds are added to the dough for an extra crunch.

Variations and Differences: Mantecado vs Polvorón

While Mantecado and Polvorón are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. Here are some key differences between these two traditional Spanish Christmas desserts:

  1. Shape and Size: Mantecados are typically round, while Polvorones have an oval shape. Due to this elongated shape, Polvorones are usually a bit larger than Mantecados.
  2. Ingredients: Both desserts share some common ingredients like butter, flour, and sugar. However, Mantecados do not contain almonds and are often coated with sesame seeds. On the other hand, Polvorones are made with almonds and dusted with sugar, giving them a characteristic white tone.
  3. Flavor and Texture: As they are made up of different ingredients, their flavor is totally different. In addition, Polvorones contain a higher proportion of flour than Mantecados, as well as being subjected to baking processes that make their texture different.
  4. Production Area: Although both desserts originated in Andalusia, Spain, they are produced and consumed in different regions. For instance, Polvorón is widely consumed in Castilla y León and Navarra, while Mantecado is popular in Toledo.
  5. Variety of Flavors: Unlike Polvorones, Mantecados can be found in various flavors like cinnamon, lemon, chocolate, and coconut.

Remember that while all Polvorones can be considered Mantecados due to their similar ingredients and preparation methods, not all Mantecados are Polvorones. This Christmas season, why not try making both these easy Christmas desserts and decide which one you prefer? Happy baking!

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Mantecados

Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your Mantecados turn out perfect every time:

  1. Use high-quality lard for the best flavor.
  2. Toast the flour well to give the cookies a unique taste.
  3. Let the dough rest before baking to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. Bake at a low temperature to prevent the cookies from spreading too much.


Mantecado is more than just a simple Christmas dessert; it’s a tradition that brings families together during the holiday season. So this Christmas, why not try your hand at making these easy Christmas cookies? Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or try a variation, Mantecado is sure to become a new favorite in your Christmas day desserts repertoire.


Mantecado: A Must-Have Christmas Day Dessert

Mantecados are a traditional Spanish shortbread cookie that is typically enjoyed during the Christmas season. They are rich, crumbly, and delicious. Here's a basic recipe for making mantecados:
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 25


  • 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon (optional)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Sesame seeds (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the lard (or vegetable shortening) and powdered sugar. You can use a hand mixer or wooden spoon to cream them together until well combined and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt to the mixture. If you like, you can also add a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to give the mantecados a hint of spice.
  • Gradually add the all-purpose flour to the mixture, stirring well after each addition. Continue mixing until the dough comes together and is smooth.
  • Once the dough is ready, use your hands to shape it into small, round cookies. You can make them as small or as large as you like. A common size is about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter.
  • Place the shaped mantecados on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between each cookie. Add the sesame seeds If you like.
  • Bake the mantecados in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they are just starting to turn golden around the edges. Be careful not to overbake, as mantecados should remain pale in color.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes. They will be delicate when warm, so handle them with care.
  • Once the mantecados have cooled slightly, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once the mantecados are completely cooled, you can store them in an airtight container. They will become crumbly and delicious as they age.


Mantecados are a delightful treat, often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or a glass of Spanish sherry. They are a holiday favorite, but you can enjoy them any time of the year.
Keyword christmas, Fabada

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