This easy, buttery shortbread cookie recipe comes together quickly. You can use one shortbread recipe to make classic shortbread cookies, or press into a pan to make shortbread fingers.
Hi hi! Just jumping in to share this super easy shortbread cookie recipe with you! Shortbread Cookies were one of the very first things I learned to bake from my Grandma, and they are so easy, I can't believe it has taken me this long to get a classic shortbread recipe on my site!
I love making homemade cookie recipes, and this one is extra special to me - to me, these are my ultimate Christmas cookie (or shortbread biscuit as we call them in New Zealand) although they are so good year round too.
Shortbread is a simple cookie to make, and I worked on this dough so that it can be made into two formats - shaped into a log for a slice and bake shortbread cookie, or pressed into a pan and topped with sugar, for more of a Scottish Shortbread style shortbread recipe.
Both options are the perfect shortbread cookie recipe - super buttery, with a nice snap, and a cookie that melts in your mouth. Truly just the best.
I had a bunch of people point out this was a great Ted Lasso shortbread - I haven't seen it, but I had a quick google and it seems to fit perfectly!
The base shortbread cookie recipe does not require a chill time, and can be made in 30 minutes. It is an egg free cookie recipe, made with pretty limited ingredients - it is the best shortbread recipe for a reason!
Check out my Hundreds and Thousands Biscuit recipe for another classic nostalgic NZ recipe!
Ingredients in Shortbread Cookies
This recipe for shortbread cookies follows a classic 3:2:1 shortbread recipe model: 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part sugar, by weight.
This is a classic ratio, and makes the recipe super easy to scale, especially as this is an egg-free cookie recipe.
The dough comes together super quickly, so it is great to double up on and make extra shortbread cookies to have on hand whenever you need - they keep up to two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Powdered Sugar. Also known as icing sugar - I like to use powdered sugar rather than granulated sugar or caster sugar as it gives the shortbread a super smooth, crumbly finish.
- Butter. This shortbread recipe has minimal ingredients, so good quality butter is important here. I use unsalted, but if you would like to use salted butter, just omit the extra salt in the recipe.
- Flour. All-purpose flour is the best to use for shortbread. I top my flour up with a little cornstarch, which helps give the shortbread cookie a tender finish. You can use custard powder if you have that on hand in the place of the corn starch.
- Vanilla. This is optional and not often included in traditional shortbread recipes, but I love the flavour profile that it adds.
That's it! This shortbread recipe is super super simple - I really hope you love it as much as I do.
Two Shortbread formats - slice and bake shortbread, and Scottish shortbread
I worked on this dough so that you can use the plain shortbread recipe to make two forms of shortbread - one which you form into a log and slice into pieces, then bake to form shortbread cookies, and one where you press the shortbread dough into a pan, then bake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, then slice into fingers, like Scottish shortbread.
Both formats are super easy and I truly don't have a favourite between the two of them - if you are wanting to make these in bulk, the scottish shortbread recipe might be easier, however I do love the look of the classic, slightly shaggy shortbread cookie.
You could also press the mixture into a 10" round cake pan and then turn out and cut into shortbread wedges.
The recipe for these shortbread cookies details how to make the slice and bake format - for the Scottish shortbread, check the notes under the recipe for the baking time and temperature.
How do you know when Shortbread is baked?
Shortbread cookies are baked at a lower oven temperature than something like a chocolate chip cookie recipe - although it is quite a stiff dough, you do want to prevent it from spreading too much, and you want the cookies to bake before they turn golden.
A good way to check to see if the shortbread is baked is to see if they are set - they will be slightly firm around the outside, and may be just beginning to turn golden around the edges. You want to keep them nice and pale so make sure your oven is running at the temperature it says that it is.
I bake the shortbread cookies at 160°c / 320°f, and the Scottish shortbread at 150°c / 300°f.
Both oven temperatures are conventional, not fan - this is important to ensure that your cookies do not over bake. You will need to adjust your oven if it will only bake with fan.
Does this shortbread recipe need to be chilled?
No - I played around a lot with this while I was testing, changing the quantity of butter, sugar, and flour in the recipe and testing chill time, and found that there is no noticeable improvement made by chilling the dough before you bake the shortbread. However, if you did want to make it ahead, you could wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake cookies.
How to make Shortbread ahead of time
If you wanted to make shortbread ahead of time, you could freeze the baked cookies in an airtight container for up to a month, then defrost at room temperature. They are definitely much better fresh though, so if you can, make them ahead! For more information on freezing cookies, check out my post on how to freeze cookie dough
How do you store Shortbread?
Store your shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for up to a week.
What are the fork holes in shortbread for?
The fork holes in my shortbread are there because my grandma put them there, so now I do too. They do help the cookies from puffing up in the oven I think, but the pattern is totally up to you - my Grandma did two fork holes, so now I do too!
To me, that rustic shaggy look on the top of the shortbread cookies is how I like it - it comes from the dough dragging against the knife.
What size should I make my shortbread cookies?
This is totally personal preference. Once the dough is mixed, I turn it out of the mixing bowl, and shape it into a log on the work surface. I aim for a log about 3.5x6cm (1.4"x2.3"), knowing that the cookies will spread a little. If you would like yours to be a slightly different format, feel free to shape into a different sized log.
I cut slices off the log about 1cm (0.4") thick for my shortbread cookies, but again, you do you here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools and equipment do you use?
You can find a full list of the tools and equipment I use on my products page
Can I add other flavors to the shortbread?
If you want to add chopped nuts, chocolate chips or other extracts to the recipe, please feel free - know that I have not tried these so you will need to experiment.
Can this recipe be made without a stand mixer?
Yes - if you want to make these shortbread cookies with an electric hand mixer in a large bowl, that will work just fine - just make sure that the butter and sugar get creamed together well. I often use my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment but an electric mixer works great too.
What is Corn Starch / Powdered Sugar?
Corn starch is also referred to as 'Cornflour' in NZ and the UK. Powdered sugar is 'icing sugar', and all-purpose flour is 'plain flour'.
For more Holiday cookie recipes, check out:
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This easy, buttery shortbread cookie recipe comes together quickly. You can use one shortbread recipe to make classic shortbread cookies, or press into a pan to make Scottish shortbread.
- 125g powdered sugar, sifted
- 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (optional)
- 2g (½ tsp) kosher salt (leave out if using salted butter)
- 350g all-purpose flour
- 30g corn starch
- Preheat the oven to 320°f / 160°c. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl using a handheld electric mixer, cream together the powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Sift together the flour, corn starch and salt if using and add to the bowl, and mix until just incorporated.
- Turn out the dough onto a work surface, press the dough together, and shape into a rectangle log about 3 ½ cm x 6 cm (1.4"x2.3"), squaring off the edges with a bench scraper.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the shortbread into biscuits 1cm (0.4") thick, and arrange on the trays, leaving a little room for spreading.
- Bake the shortbread for 16 to 17 minutes, until set and just beginning to turn golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the pans, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Store shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks - best eaten the week that they are made.
For Scottish shortbread : Preheat the oven to 300°f / 150°c bake. Grease and line a 9" (23cm) square pan with parchment paper, extending it over the edges to form a sling.
Make the dough as directed, then press the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing down with your hands. Prick with a fork or make a design on the top. Sprinkle with raw sugar if you like, then bake for 50 to 55 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then remove from the pan and slice into fingers using a sharp knife.
Keywords: Shortbread, Scottish Shortbread, Shortbread cookies, Easy shortbread recipe