Shortbread Cookies are made with only 5 simple ingredients to create a tender, flaky, buttery cookie that is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Shortbread is a classic Scottish recipe known for being buttery, flaky, and not overly sweet.
In my book, shortbread cookies are the perfect treat, especially when dipped into a hot beverage. It is a little bit salty, a little bit sweet, and oh, so buttery. Just delicious.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is best for baking, and this is true for shortbread as well. If you only happen to have salted butter on hand, feel free to use it, just omit the added salt from the recipe. I would not substitute vegan butter in this Shortbread Cookie recipe, as the fat content is not the same and the cookies will not hold their shape or texture well.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is best for this recipe. I have not had success using whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free flour when making shortbread cookies.
- Powdered Sugar: I recommend using powdered sugar in place of granulated sugar in the dough, as it is less dense than granulated sugar and produces a lighter cookie.
- Granulated Sugar: I use granulated sugar on top of the cookie for texture and a bit of additional sweetness, but it is not necessary.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is optional, and not always added to traditional shortbread recipes. However, I love the hint of vanilla that it lends to the cookie.
This recipe for shortbread cookies is super simple and comes together in a few simple steps.
Step One: Prepare the Dough
- Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract together using a stand mixer or handheld mixer until creamy.
- Add the flour and salt to the butter mixture and mix until combined. If the dough is still crumbly, press together with your hands into a cohesive dough.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will allow the butter to get cold and form air pockets in the cookie as it melts, keeping it light and tender--much like biscuits.
Step Two: Shape Shortbread
- On a floured surface, roll the dough out into an 8x8 square, about ½ inch thick.
- Cut dough into 2-inch squares and place onto a baking sheet.
- Piece cookies with a fork, toothpick, or skewer, several times. This will allow steam to escape and the shortbread to not puff up too much as it bakes.
- Place the shortbread cookies onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart from each other.
- Sprinkle lightly with the granulated sugar. This will give the shortbread a nice crunch and sweet finish.
Step Three: Bake
- Bake the shortbread cookies until lightly golden and set about 18 to 20 minutes. Be careful to not let cookies brown, they should be fairly pale in color.
- Let the shortbread cool to room temperature on the baking sheet and then remove the cookies to a cooling rack or platter for serving.
How to Store Shortbread
Once the shortbread cookies have fully cooled, transfer them to an airtight container and store them for up to 7 days at room temperature
Alternatively, you can freeze shortbread in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. I do prefer placing shortbread in a container versus a freezer bag to keep them from being damaged as things are tossed about in the freezer. Defrost at room temperature and enjoy.
Shortbread Cookie Dough can be made up to 5 days in advance. Prepare the dough as directed and store the dough, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer in a freezer-safe storage container for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight if needed, and then roll, cut, and bake the cookies as directed.
Chocolate Dipped Shortbread
I love dipping Shortbread into chocolate after being baked, which gives it a sweet, rich finish.
- Bake the shortbread as directed and allow to cool fully.
- Place 1 cup of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips into a heat-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until melted.
- Dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate and then place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
- Allow the chocolate to harden and then serve or store as directed.
More Homemade Cookie Recipes
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Neiman Marcus Cookies
- Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Sugar Cookies
- Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
I hope you love these shortbread cookies as much as I do! If you give them a try, I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below.
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar powdered sugar
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 325° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together butter and powdered sugar then add vanilla. Add flour and salt and beat until combined. If the dough is still crumbly, press together with your hands into a cohesive dough.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough out into an 8"-x-8" square, about ½” thick.
- Cut dough into 2” squares and place on prepared pan about 1 inch apart from each other.
- Piece cookies with a fork or skewer, several times.
- Bake until lightly golden and set, 18 to 20 minutes. Do not let cookies brown as they should be fairly pale in color.
- Let cool to room temperature on the baking sheet and then remove to a baking rack or container.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days at room temperature.
- Feel free to use a toothpick instead of a fork to create the dots on top of the shortbread. It really does not matter how they are placed, but I do suggest a minimum of 6 dots per cookie for the air to properly escape as the cookies bake.
- Shortbread is delicious if dipped into melted chocolate once baked and cooled.
- If you only have salted butter, simply omit the salt from the recipe and proceed as directed.
- Regular, all-purpose flour is best for this recipe. I do not recommend substituting.
- Vanilla extract is optional and can be omitted.
- I would not substitute vegan butter in this Shortbread Cookie recipe, as the fat content is not the same and the cookies will not hold their shape or texture well.