“Head of a fish” shortbread cookies for Rosh Hashanah!

One of the more ‘out there’ symbolic foods for Rosh Hashanah has to be the head of a fish. Placed on the festive table (although rarely eaten!) it symbolises our desire to be “the head and not the tail” – leaders rather than followers, or maybe thoughtful and considered rather than blindly thrashing about.

In previous years, we’ve bought (kosher) Haribo clown fish and snipped the tails off with scissors. It’s a fun treat for everyone, and the one time a year that Kipper gets to eat Haribo! I’m sure she will grow up associating jelly sweets with the High Holidays…

This year, I decided to up our game. Our fish heads are still a sweet treat, but it’s a homemade one, and one that not only lends itself to teatime snacking, but would also make a fun Rosh Hashanah gift (to a friend with a suitable sense of humour!). Enter, the “head of a fish” shortbread cookie!

Even the kids will love having the 'head of a fish' on the Rosh Hashanah table, when they're made of cookies! Crunchy sweet shortbread for a sweet new year!

Made from the most basic 3 ingredient shortbread (OK, 4 if you count the vanilla) these cookies are crisp, flaky, buttery and delicious. The shape is simply a heart, turned sideways – neat, eh? I used a fluted round cutter and the wide end of a piping tip to impress patterns on the cookies before baking, then dusted with edible metallic lustre to highlight their scales after baking. A dab of chocolate for the eyes and the fishes were ready to go!

I’m sure Kipper and her friends are going to love these on Rosh Hashanah! 

Makes 12-14 cookies.

Even the kids will love having the 'head of a fish' on the Rosh Hashanah table, when they're made of cookies! Crunchy sweet shortbread for a sweet new year!

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head of a fish shortbread cookie
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5 from 1 vote

"Head of a Fish" shortbread cookies

Buttery, crisp shortbread cookies in the shape of fish heads for Rosh Hashanah!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine jewish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 cookies
Author Helen


  • 100 g butter or margarine (scant 1/2 cup)
  • 50 g light muscovado sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 4-5 drops vanilla extract
  • 150 g plain flour (1 cup)
  • Melted chocolate and edible metallic lustre dust to decorate (optional)


  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
  • Add the flour and continue to beat well. The mixture will start to clump together into crumbs - at this stage, use your hands to press it into a ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it. Roll out the dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper to a thickness of 4mm. Use a 10cm heart shaped cutter to shape the cookies. Impress scale patterns using a fluted cutter or the wide end of a piping tip.
  • Transfer the cookies to the prepared tray and bake at 170C for 10 minutes or until just starting to turn a pale golden colour. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.
  • Once cool, add a dot of melted chocolate for an eye, and brush lightly with edible lustre dust to highlight the scaly patterns (optional).


You can use either butter or margarine - butter gives a superior flavour while margarine has the advantage of being parve.
I use muscovado sugar for the flavour, but the recipe will work just as well with regular white caster (superfine) sugar.








  1. 5 stars
    How creative – I’ve never seen fishy ones. Love the scale effect on the cookies too!

  2. What a great idea!!! I love the symbolism. Such an interesting image!! And let’s be honest a fish head cookie is much nicer than a regular one :-p

  3. These look lovely and I really like how you got the extra detail with the fishes scales on the cookies.

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