several round shortbread cookies on a white cake pedestal
Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

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This shortbread cookies recipe is so awesome. The cookies are perfect for the holidays, or any time you want a basic but flavorful cookie.

And talk about easy! Shortbread cookies only need 4 ingredients, of course, you can even make them with only 3! They are perfect to eat as a snack, or as a dessert. You can fancy them up a bit with some jam, powdered sugar, glaze, and chocolate if you like. Or of course, they are awesome, plain!

My brothers and I always joke that shortbread cookies are the Elven equivalent of Lembas bread, from The Lord of the Rings.

If I can do it, you can do it. Let’s get baking!

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

Ingredients in bowls on a table.

In order to make shortbread cookies you only need 3 ingredients with a couple optional ingredients.

  • Flour – All-purpose or plain flour
  • Butter – Softened room temp unsalted or salted butter
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar
  • Salt – optional, don’t add additional salt if using salted butter
  • Vanilla extract – Traditional authentic shortbread cookies do not have vanilla extract, but I add it to boost the flavor a bit. But it is optional.
  • Optional Toppings – Jam, powdered sugar, glaze, melted chocolate.

Tools

  • Hand mixer or stand mixer
  • Spatula
  • Bowls
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper or silicone mat

What are shortbread cookies?

Shortbread comes from Scotland. It is often referred to as a biscuit instead of a cookie. They are made of three basic ingredients, flour, butter, and sugar. But many people add salt and or vanilla extract as well.

One main thing is they do not contain any leavening, such as baking powder or baking soda. This amazing little cookie or biscuit is popular around the holidays.

How to make shortbread cookies

Hand mixing shortbread cookies dough in a large glass bowl.

First preheat the oven to 350 F/176 C. Now add the flour, softened butter, sugar, salt (optional) and vanilla extract (optional), to a large bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until well combined.

You can use a stand mixer, food processor, or even a pastry blender or fork to mix the shortbread dough. The idea is to incorporate all that butter until the mixture gets crumbly.

Shortbread cookie dough in a large glass bowl.

Now using very clean hands bring all the dough together and knead it into a ball. Then cover the bowl and chill the dough for 15 to 20 minutes. While chilling the dough isn’t necessary, I usually do it. It makes it a little easier to work with.

Step 3: Form the cookies

Round shortbread with thumbprints in them on a metal cookie sheet.

Classic shortbread is usually in the shape of a rectangular flat biscuit or a round flat cookie. You can roll the dough out and use a round cookie cutter to get that shape if you like, or shape the dough into a bread loaf shape and then cut 1/4th inch biscuit shapes from it.

Then poke holes in the top with a bamboo skewer for a classic Scottish shortbread cookie look. I like to get a little more fancy. Take a glob of dough, roll it into the ball and then press down in the middle with your thumb creating a nice cavity for jam.

Once you are done shaping them place them onto an ungreased baking or cookie sheet. They won’t spread out much so they can be about an inch apart.

If using jam scoop some jam into each cavity. I love to use strawberry preserves, but you can use any jam or jelly that you like.

Step 4: How to bake shortbread cookies

9 freshly baked shortbread cookies with strawberry jam on a baking sheet.

Place the cookies in the oven and bake them for 12 to 18 minutes for thicker cookies like these. If you make really flat traditional style cookies they only need 10 to 11 minutes to bake.

They are done when they are slightly golden brown on the bottom edges of the cookies. If you bake them too long they will be super crumbly. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then move them to a cookie rack to cool completely.

Step 5: Decorating the finished shortbread cookies

Shortbread cookies pin for Pinterest
(Pin it!)

If you want to get fancy, you can dip your shortbread into chocolate, like just half of it. Or you can drizzle chocolate over the top. You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top, or make a simple glaze with milk and powdered sugar and put that on top. Easy as that, enjoy!

Can I make the shortbread cookie dough in advance?

Yes! You can make the dough in advance and just keep it covered in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to use it. The dough will last about a week in the fridge. Or you can freeze the dough as well.

How long does shortbread last?

Shortbread cookies will last about 1 week if kept in an airtight container at room temp for about 3 to 4 weeks in the fridge, or even a few months if frozen.

Here are a few other cookie recipes you may like:

Keto Shortbread Cookies

Thin Mint Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Molasses Cookies

Easy Meringue Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

These yummy homemade shortbread cookies are so easy to make with very few ingredients. Make them plain or make a thumbprint style filled with jam. They are so easy to make!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Cooling Time10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Cookies
Cuisine: English, Scottish
Keyword: buttery, crumbly, sweet
Servings: 9 cookies
Calories: 170kcal
Author: Matt Taylor

Equipment

  • Hand mixer, stand mixer, food processor, fork, or pastry blender
  • Spatula
  • Bowls
  • Cookie sheet or baking pan
  • cookie rack

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of all-purpose or plain flour 120g
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar 66g
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter 113g
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract optional – classic shortbread cookies don’t use vanilla extract (1ml)
  • 1/8 tsp. of salt optional (1/2g)

Extra Toppings

  • Jam, jelly, powdered sugar, etc.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F/176 C. In a large bowl mix together the flour, butter, sugar, and optional salt and vanilla extract, using a hand mixer, stand mixer, fork, food processor or pastry blender. Mix until the dough is all crumbly, and blonde in color.
  • Bring the dough together and knead it a little bit, then shape it into a ball or log. Cover it and chill it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. While chilling the dough isn't necessary, I usually do, because it helps when shaping it.
  • There are several ways to form the cookies. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4th of an inch thick and use a round or rectangle cookie cutter, or take a couple of tablespoons of it and roll it into a ball and then press your thumb into it. If doing the thumbprint kind, fill each cavity with about a tsp. of jam or jelly.
  • Now bake the cookies on the middle rack for 12ish to 16ish minutes for the thicker thumbprint style cookies or 10ish minutes for the smaller flatter classic style of shortbread cookies. They are done with slightly brown on the bottom edges.
  • Remove the cookies and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • You can eat them as is, or dust them with powdered sugar, dip them in chocolate, or drizzle a powdered sugar and milk glaze over them. Up to you. Enjoy!

Video

How to Make Shortbread Cookies | Easy Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Notes

These nutritional facts only pertain to the cookies themselves and not any additional toppings.
Nutritional facts for shortbread cookies

Do you like the recipe? Please give it a rating and comment down below, I really appreciate it.  If you make it tag me on Instagram @inthekitchenwithmatt. Also, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss out on any of my new posts and recipes.

6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this great recipe! They turned it really good. This is the second time I’ve made them, and they always get a ton of compliments.

  2. wilhelmina

    5 stars
    These cookies baked up tender and delicious! I love this classic, no-fuss cookie recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    We love making shortbread cookies! Raspberry jam is our favorite topping for the center!

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