Buttery Shortbread Cookies Recipe - Cooking Classy (2024)

Published November 28, 2020. Updated November 28, 2023

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An easy Buttery Shortbread Cookies recipe! It’s everything you love about the elegant shortbread treat: light sweetness, textured crispiness on the outside, and perfectly tender inside. They’re made with only FIVE ingredients and optional (but highly recommended) chocolate!

Looking to make those pretty swirly-shaped cookies? Try my butter cookies recipe.

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Shortbread – The Perfect Christmas Cookie

These are such simple, humble cookies with rich and tempting flavors. They are delicious classics on their own, but they are also very easy to customize (see variations ideas below).

All that butter does the trick in this Scottish-style shortbread. A lot of the best foods start out with a generous dose of butter, don’t they?

Not only does quality butter bring an abundance of rich flavor, but it also gives them their distinctive crumbly and flaky texture.

Sure, you have lots of options to buy store-bought shortbread this time of year… but homemade buttery shortbread cookies are a game changer. They are fresher, cheaper, have a better butter flavor and a more tender texture. You’ll definitely be able to taste the difference with homemade shortbread.

Plus, these travel and ship well so they are great for holiday gifting or Christmas cookie swaps. Tis the season for cookies, so let’s get baking!

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Buttery Shortbread Cookie Recipe Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter: Salted butter can be used too (cookies will just be lightly saltier), just omit the salt in the recipe.
  • Granulated sugar: If you want cookies a little sweeter you can increase sugar to 2/3 cup.
  • Salt: Just use standard fine table salt.
  • Vanilla extract: Use real vanilla for the best shortbread.
  • All-purpose flour: I like to use unbleached all purpose flour. I’ve really converted to baking mostly with that this year. It has a better flavor than bleached and I wonder about the chemical bleaching process of bleached flour. If bleached is all you have, it will work.

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How to Make Buttery Shortbread Cookies Dough

Stand Mixer

  • Mix cold diced butter, sugar and salt in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until combined.
  • Blend in vanilla and mix well.
  • Add flour and mix until fully combined. It will seem dry at first but it will come together as you keep mixing.
  • Compress dough together.

Food Processor

  • In a large food processor pulse flour, sugar and salt.
  • Add butter and blitz a few times then dot over with vanilla.
  • Pulse until it comes together.

By Hand

  • Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  • Add butter, dot vanilla over and rub mixture with fingertips until there are small crumbles.
  • Knead mixture until evenly blended and dough comes together well.
  • Chill dough to make it easier to work with before slicing if needed.

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Shaping and Baking Buttery Shortbread Cookies

Roll dough and slice with knife: This method is what I’ve used here. You’ll roll the dough out into a 1/3-inch thick rectangle on a floured surface. Trim away uneven edges, then cut dough into rectangles (or squares). Transfer to baking sheets and chill until firm, then bake in 350 degree oven 13 – 16 minutes.

Roll dough and cut with cookie cutters: Roll dough as directed then instead of cutting into squares or rectangles cut into desired shapes (re-roll scraps), chill and bake as directed.

Shape dough into logs and slice: This option simplifies things a little because you don’t have to roll dough out. Rather you can roll dough into 2 log shapes (press firm so there aren’t holes inside). Slice 1/3-inch thick then refrigerate and bake as directed.

Pressing dough into a pan: This is the simplest method. Rather than shaping beforehand just press dough into a 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Bake 325 about 35 minutes then cut into squares while warm.

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How to Store Buttery Shortbread Cookies

  • Let cookies cool completely on wire rack.
  • Then store in an airtight container.
  • Cookies can be stacked.

Shelf Life

  • Shortbread should keep up to 3 weeks at room temperature.
  • Or freeze up to 3 months.

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  • Try with other extracts such as almond, coconut, maple, coffee, rum extract etc.
  • Add citrus zest. Lemon or orange is delicious.
  • Mix in finely chopped nuts.
  • Add mini chocolate chips.
  • Season with spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Blend in sprinkles, like I did here.
  • Sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.
  • Decorate with royal icing (like the Christmas tree design above).
  • Prick the cookies with a fork for a classic shortbread appearance.
  • Dip in white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Finish with festive sprinkles.

Helpful Tips

  • Using cold butter in the recipe skips the need to chill dough 1 – 2 hours beforehand. I highly recommend this to save time, also using butter makes dough easier to work with and cookies spread less.
  • Mix long enough to fully incorporate ingredients.
  • Work to roll dough an even thickness for even baking.
  • Bake on ungreased cookie sheets so cookies spread less (don’t worry with all the butter in them they don’t stick).
  • Bake one sheet at a time for even cooking, keep other sheet chilled (again so cookies spread less).

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More Classic Cookie Favorites to Try

  • Butter Cookies
  • Mexican Wedding Cookies
  • Stained Glass Cookies
  • Shortbread Bites
  • Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)

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Shortbread Cookies Recipe

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A classic cookie recipe! They're deliciously buttery and rich, lightly sweet, nicely crisp and perfectly tender. They're made with only FIVE ingredients and optional (but highly recommended) chocolate!

Servings: 30

Prep30 minutes minutes

Cook15 minutes minutes

Ready in: 45 minutes minutes



  • Add butter and sugar to bowl of electric stand mixer. Sprinkle salt around into bowl. Set mixer on medium-low speed and blend until combined.

  • Add vanilla and blend mixture until well combined (butter should be evenly blended in), scrape down bowl as needed.

  • Pour in flour and mix until combined.

  • On a floured surface, roll dough out 1/3-inch thick. Cut into squares or rectangles (using a cookie cutter or knife. I did about 3 by 1-inch rectangles here).

  • Transfer to ungreased baking sheets spacing 1-inch apart. You can dust of excess flour from scrapes, compress together and re-roll.

  • Transfer baking sheets to refrigerator and chill 30 minutes. Halfway through preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Bake one sheet at a time in center of oven until cookies are just set about 13 - 16 minutes. Tip: around 9 minutes if your cookies are spreading uneven on edges you can remove from oven and use a butter knife to scoot spread portion back in and even out their edges.

  • Let cool on baking sheet 15 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with second baking sheet.

  • If opting to use optional chocolate finish: Place chocolate in microwave safe dish. Melt in 20 second increments on 50% power, stirring between intervals until melted and smooth (or melt in a double boiler on the stovetop).

  • Dip cooled cookies about halfway into chocolate, lift cookie then run bottom side of cookie along inside bowl edge to remove excess chocolate. Transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheets then refrigerate to set.


  • *If you want them a little sweeter you can use 2/3 cup sugar.
  • **If you are at high altitude or if your cookies are normally prone to spreading then add and extra 2 - 3 Tbsp flour.


  • Try with other extracts such as almond (you'll only need about 1/2 tsp), coconut, maple, coffee, rum extract etc.
  • Add citrus zest. Lemon or orange is delicious.
  • Mix in finely chopped nuts.
  • Add mini chocolate chips.
  • Season with spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Blend in sprinkles, like I did here.
  • Sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.
  • Decorate with royal icing (like the Christmas tree design above).
  • Prick the cookies with a fork for a classic shortbread appearance.
  • Dip in white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Finish with festive sprinkles.

Nutrition Facts

Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 141Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value*

Fat 9g14%

Saturated Fat 6g38%

Cholesterol 17mg6%

Sodium 21mg1%

Potassium 54mg2%

Carbohydrates 14g5%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 6g7%

Protein 1g2%

Vitamin A 192IU4%

Calcium 8mg1%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Scottish

Keyword: Shortbread

Author: Jaclyn

Buttery Shortbread Cookies Recipe - Cooking Classy (2024)


What is the secret to good shortbread? ›

Tips To Make the Best Shortbread Cookies
  • Choose High Quality Butter. No matter what brand of butter you buy, if it's real butter, you can rest assured that it's the best. ...
  • Keep Ingredients Simple. ...
  • Add Flavor. ...
  • Don't Overwork. ...
  • Shape Dough. ...
  • Chill Before Baking. ...
  • Bake Until Golden. ...
  • Add Finishing Touches.

What are common mistakes when making shortbread? ›

The most common mistakes when making shortbread are over-working the dough, and incorporating too much flour. The less you work the dough, the more crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth your shortbread cookies will be.

What happens if you put too much butter in shortbread? ›

Greasy mess: Extra butter means more fat, making the dough greasy and difficult to handle. Spreading like crazy: Cookies lose their shape, spreading thin and flat instead of staying nice and round. Uneven baking: The excess fat can burn easily on the edges while leaving the center undercooked.

Why is shortbread so buttery? ›

The basic dough for classic shortbread is 1-2-3 dough, or 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour (by weight). The word short refers to the high fat content of the dough as well as the limited mixing, which prevents long gluten strands from forming and keeps the dough tender.

Why put egg in shortbread? ›

This unexpected addition will make buttery confections like shortbreads and shortcakes even more tender and flaky. “Biscuits should be crumbly, buttery and sweet,” reads a headnote for a cinnamon sugar-spiced shortbread recipe in the Ritz London Cookbook.

What is the best brand of butter for shortbread cookies? ›

Use a Good Butter for the Best Results

The whole point of these cookies is that you get a crisp, buttery experience where the sweet cream flavor of butter really comes through. My personal favorite choice is Kerrygold Irish Butter, which is readily available here in the US.

What happens if you don't poke holes in shortbread? ›

Piercing the shortbread with a fork is not only for decoration, but it's meant for more even baking. Poking holes in the shortbread allows the heat to penetrate the cookie, hence more even baking. Notice I'm using powdered sugar here.

What is the difference between Scottish shortbread and regular shortbread? ›

actually, no. "Shortbread" is just Scottish shortbread; they're one and the same. While the recipe has changed throughout its history, and there is a version of shortbread from Ireland, the original shortbread you're familiar with comes from Scotland.

Should butter be cold when making shortbread? ›

Should butter be cold or room temperature for making shortbread? Always start with cold butter straight from the refrigerator. This will keep the dough from warming up, making it greasy and difficult to roll out.

Why do my cookies taste too buttery? ›

Too much butter makes cookies turn out just as you'd expect: very buttery. This batch of cookies was cakey in the middle, but also airy throughout, with crispy edges. They were yellow and slightly puffy in the middle, and brown and super thin around the perimeter.

What is the formula for shortbread? ›

The classic shortbread ratio is 1:2:3, meaning it's 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour, by weight. This means that you can make a small batch of shortbread with 100 grams sugar, 200 grams butter, and 300 grams of flour.

Why do you put holes in shortbread? ›

The word "bread" comes from "biscuit bread" which was made from leftover bread dough that was sweetened and dried out in the oven to make biscuits. Why do you poke holes in shortbread? The holes allow the moisture to escape during baking and more even heat distribution. This helps dry out and crisp up the cookies.

Why is shortbread unhealthy? ›

Why is shortbread considered to be bad for you? Shortbread is considered unhealthy because of the high butter content. How long do homemade shortbread cookies actually last? Depends on how you define that… they won't make you sick for weeks after they become unpalletable, which is after a couple of weeks at best.

Why use unsalted butter in shortbread? ›

Use unsalted butter for balanced flavour. Unsalted butter was traditionally used in baking because it was a superior product to salted - salt is used as a preservative so unsalted butter was thought to be fresher.

Why do you put shortbread in the fridge before baking? ›

Why do you put shortbread cut-out cookies in the fridge before baking? This is to resolidify the butter. The butter is at room temperature when making the dough resulting in a soft dough. If baked straight away, the butter would melt away immediately when hitting the hot oven and the shortbread would spread.

Should you chill shortbread dough before rolling? ›

Roll out the shortbread dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to a ½ cm (¼ inch) thick. Note: if the dough is too soft at this point then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or longer until it firms up slightly and makes it easier to roll out.

Should butter for shortbread be cold? ›

If it's too warm, the butter and sugar cannot properly cream and the cookies will taste dense. Many shortbread recipes call for cold butter worked into the dry ingredients and that gives you a wonderfully flaky cookie but if not mixed properly, the results can be inconsistent.

Should shortbread be crunchy or soft? ›

Shortbread should always have a tender, melting texture, but be slightly crisp when you bite into it. It should not generally be damp or wet underneath. A classic shortbread recipe will also only have flour, butter and sugar as the ingredients (in a 3:2:1 ratio) and not egg, which could lead to excess moisture.

How do you keep shortbread from falling apart? ›

Make a roll of the dough using parchment paper and put in 'fridge for 30 minutes. Unwrap and slice into rounds. Cooling will cause dough to stick together and prevent crumbling.


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