Classic Shortbread Cookies

How To Bake Shortbread Cookies

Most people think about shortbread cookies only around the holidays. That’s a shame as these rich, buttery cookies are classic treats that should be enjoyed year round.  Originally a Scottish biscuit (cookie), shortbread made its way through the United Kingdom over the years and became a favorite of British tea houses.  When it was first created, it was primarily a treat for the wealthy.  It was commonly baked for special holidays, such as the Scottish New Year, but became more popular as it showed up in other countries.

What Does Shortbread Mean?

First of all, it’s not bread.  It started out as a biscuit bread, a type of treat that was rolled in sugar.  Short comes from the fact that the cookie is crumbly.  In old English and Scottish, that was the opposite of long or stretchy.  The short texture is because of the high fat content inhibiting the any forming of long gluten strands.  A well baked shortbread cookie will be somewhat moist but of a crumbly texture.

The Best Shortbread Cookies

Classic shortbread cookies usually follow a 1-2-3 formula.  1 part sugar, 2 parts butter (margarine never seems to work very well with shortbread) and 3 parts flour.  Some recipes may substitute rice flour for part of the wheat flour to alter the texture a bit.  Some recipes call for the addition of vanilla and some recipes will use a 50/50 split of granulated sugar and powdered (confectioners) sugar.  Other recipes change the amount of butter being used by using Irish or European butter.  This butter is higher in butterfat than butters made in the US and will give the cookies a very buttery taste.

Shortbread Cookie Recipe


10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Baking Shortbread Cookies


Cream the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer

Add the vanilla and mix well

Slowly add the powdered sugar

Mix the salt with the flour and add slowly to the butter sugar mix

Shape the dough into a brick and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats

Slice the cookie dough in 1/2″ thick slabs

Place on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes

Don’t over bake.  The cookies will start to brown around the bottom when done


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