Easy Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Scottish Recipe) (2024)

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Traditional Scottish Shortbread Recipe from a dear Scottish family friend! Delight in the buttery richness and irresistibly crumbly texture, a beloved treat for generations. An easy shortbread recipe!

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Why You Will Love This Shortbread Recipe

  • EASY: High-quality ingredients are best here, only a few pantry staples.
  • Lasso Worthy: In fact, shortbread biscuits or cookies are all the rage thanks to the Ted Lasso Biscuit recipe — I think you will find these superior!
  • Customizeable: One basic batter, multple ways to bake shortbread recipes. Press into a pan for shortbread fingers, roll and cut out for cutout shortbread cookies, press into a shortbread cookie mold!

Shortbread cookies are probably one of my favorite Christmas cookies, but I make these cookies all year long! The secret of shortbread’s buttery crumb lies in its simplicity.

So maybe you are wondering if this is the official Ted Lasso shortbread recipe, not quite, but these are certainly a crumbly, tender, buttery delicious version — and mine were popular before Ted Lasso’s recipe! 😉

I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, use the Jump to Recipe to head straight there!

This is hands down the best shortbread I’ve ever made (or eaten) — absolute buttery heaven, a huge hit at my recent BBQ. Delicious.

Leslie
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If you love shortbread recipes, you will love these other popular cookies: Crumbl Cookie recipe, Greek Butter Cookies and Raspberry Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies <<– a must try! Simple and elegant, these gorgeous Champagne Truffles recipe!

It yields about 2 ½ dozen, and is easily doubled to make 5 dozen Scottish Shortbread Cookies.

History of Scottish Shortbread Cookies aka Shortbread Biscuits

According to Saveur this delicious confection was once considered a festive food consumed only on Christmas or on Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve, shortbread has evolved into a treat enjoyed year-round—and there are as many variations of it as days in the calendar.

Since medieval times the term short has been used to describe all things crisp and crumbly, but it wasn’t applied to cake and bread until the 1600s, when it came to refer to baked goods that contained a lot of butter or shortening.

The first shortbread recipe appeared in a Scottish cookbook dated 1736; early formulas called for yeast, but by 1850 most were utilizing only butter, flour, and sugar, combined in a ratio bakers still use.

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Traditional Shortbread Simple Ingredients

This is a recipe from a dear Scottish family friend, I could listen to her beautiful Scottish lilt all day!

  • Butter | Use the real deal, no blends here, real creamery butter. Use salted or unsalted butter, if using salted, omit the salt. Splurge for some European butter for this recipe, with limited ingredients, you want the highest quality ingredients. European butters (like Kerrygold) have a higher fat content and less water = best shortbread recipe ever!
  • Sugar | I use all-natural pure cane sugar which adds a little caramel taste and requires creaming a little longer, granulated white sugar or bakers sugar also called caster sugar may be substituted. I even know of people who have used powdered sugar and brown sugar.
  • Optional vanilla Extract | Adds a lovely vanilla hint to the cookie; try other extracts as well, like almond, lemon, orange, but add ⅛-¼ teaspoon.
  • All-purpose flour | I use unbleached flour in most of my baking; see below for how to make gluten-free.
  • Cornstarch | Cornstarch adds an amazing tenderness, lightness and a bit of chew to the cookie. A soft, buttery bite, I like non-GMO cornstarch. And yes, this was in our Scottish friends’ original recipe!
  • Sea salt | Or kosher salt, you just need a touch! If using table salt, use a little less.

Get the full recipe in the recipe card below.

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How to Make Shortbread Cookies

Step 1 | Make short bread dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer), fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes; gradually add ½ cup sugar, beating well for about 2-4 minutes, beating longer for cane sugar or brown sugar as it’s more coarse. Add vanilla if desired.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt and whisk until combined well.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed after each addition. (Mixture will be stiff)

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; it will be crumbly.

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Step 2 | Knead and prepare dough

Knead dough until it holds together, about 7-8 times. Folding it over on itself, using the heel of your palm to work the dough. See notes if too dry and crumbly.

Press dough into an un-greased 11×7 or 9×9 pan (if doubling, use a 15×10 in a jellyroll pan, parchment lined if desired for easier removal).

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Prick dough at 1-inch intervals with a fork, and score (cut, but not all the way) using a sharp knife into 2 ½ x 1-inch bars.

Step 3 | Chill Shortbread Dough

Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. *Make sure to chill; this will firm the butterfat back up and allow for that delectable light, crisp crumb you get with Scottish Shortbread.

Or freeze for one hour if you are short on time. As it sits in the fridge, not only does the butterfat firm back up giving these biscuits that light, crispy crumb, but it also helps the glutens to relax in the dough and the ingredients to get to know one another. Do not skip this step!

Step 4 | Baking Scottish Shortbread Recipes

If desired, sprinkle with raw sugar, turbinado or Demerara sugar, or colored sugars before baking.

Bake in preheated 325°F (162° C) for 35 minutes, until set and very lightly golden brown. Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes; then cut the shortbread into bars using previously scored lines.

Cool completely before removing from the pan.

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Storage Tips

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Freeze for up to 6 months, when wrapped well in plastic wrap, then placed in air tight container or plastic baggie.

What Type of Sugar is Used in Shortbread Cookies?

You will find recipes using all types of sugar! Classic white sugar, castor or baker’s sugar (here in the states), brown sugar and powdered sugar.

I use all natural cane sugar, the grain is a little larger, but I love the slightly caramel flavor it lends to the shortbread.

For this recipe, you can easily replace the sugar with classic white, or baker’s sugar, but I have never tried using powdered or confectioner sugar, though I am told it works.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to fix crumbly shortbread?

Shortbread tends to have a crumbly texture, but if too crumbly try kneading it a few times and see if it begins to hold together, something about kneading by hand will typically bring the mixture together.
If still too crumbly to hold a shape, add a few drops of water, mixing until it holds its shape. If it holds its shape enough to press into a baking pan, don’t worry too much about how crumbly it is, it should blend and bake together well.

Can you freeze shortbread cookies?

Yes! You can freeze the dough and bake as directed, or simply freeze cooled, baked cookies and thaw at room temperature.
If baking frozen dough, bake an additional 2-3 minutes, covering it with foil if they start browning too quickly. Remove from the freezer for 20-30 minutes while you preheat your oven.

Can I make Scotch Shortbread in a food processor?

You bet! Follow the same process, careful not to over process the dough after adding the flour mixture.

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Why is my shortbread dough crumbly?

  • Butter | The quality of your butter and the fat content can change the moisture content, so be sure to start with REAL butter. How did you measure the flour? It might be too much flour. Use the spoon and level method.
  • Was it my flour? Perhaps you used a pastry flour, gluten-free flour or whole wheat flour, whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture which would lend to a dryer crumb.
  • Be sure to cream your butter and sugar together well, at least 2-3 minutes on medium speed.
  • Knead! The dough will be somewhat crumbly when you take it from the mixer, get in there with your hands and gently knead the dough until it begins to come together.
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Can I make sugar-free Shortbread Cookies?

Yes, I have had great success substituting monk fruit (granulated) sugar cup-for-cup in many recipes, I am confident it will work well with this recipe too. Be sure it is a cup-for-cup sugar replacement.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

I have found that converting recipes to gluten-free is easy with simple ingredients. You can substitute the all-purpose flour for your favorite 1-to-1 Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour, rice flour or Almond Flour. I prefer using a 50/50 mix of GF AP Flour and Almond flour in gluten-free shortbread cookies.

How to make Rolled Cookie Cutter Shortbread cookies

Shortbread dough is so versatile. If you want to cut shapes with cookie cutters, chill the dough in 2-3 discs wrapped in plastic wrap for 2 hours.

Using a rolling pin or your hands, roll or press dough to about ⅓ – ½ inch thick and press cookie cutters into the dough, transferring shapes with a spatula to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Like these fun Valentine’s Day Shortbread cookies below.

Or shape into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick and cut it into finger-sized rectangles, piercing with a fork for the traditional shortbread appearance. or cut into squares, then cut squares at a diagonal.

Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheet with a few inches between each cookie for a crisper cookie. Bake at 325° F (165° C) for 10-12 minutes, do not let them brown, golden is what you are after. Read on for how to dip them in chocolate.

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How to make chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies

If you’d like to dip these shortbread cookies into a little dark, milk, or white chocolate as shown in the pictures.

  • 1 cup of your choice of chips (dark chocolate, semi-sweet, milk, or white chocolate chips)
  • 2 teaspoons butter

Melt on high in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-30 second intervals, stirring well between heatings. The chocolate will continue to melt with residual heat; it’s important not to overheat it as it will cause it to “break”. If it burns or breaks, add a teaspoon at a time of a little vegetable oil, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Dip as desired and add sprinkles if desired.

High Altitude Adjustment for Traditional Shortbread Recipe

This recipe is a winner at sea level, high altitude, and anywhere between! Since there isn’t any leavening, no adjustments are necessary!

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How to press Shortbread into a cookie mold

If you want to get fancy, press dough into a pretty shortbread mold and make Christmas shortbread cookies! Easy and gorgeous!

I love this snowflake mold, simply press dough evenly into pan, and bake as directed, they are a little thicker, so might need an additional 3-5 minutes of baking time. Cool in pan, then invert onto cutting board and with a sharp knife, slice your Scottish shortbread cookies.

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Be sure to print out my FREE gifts from the kitchen gift tags or these Christmas gift tags, to complete your cookie gifts!

I hope you try this simple butter cookie and trust that it will soon become your favorite cookie!

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Get the pan!

Our favorite shortbread recipes

  • Lemon sandwich cookies (yummo)
  • Lemon shortbread cookies (melt-in-your-mouth!)
  • These Greek Butter Cookies (aka Koulourakia) are a simple shortbread cookie.
  • Linzer Raspberry Cookies

Need more great cookie recipes?

  • Oatmeal Cutout Cookies
  • Oreo Crumbl Cookie | Crumbl Cookie Recipe
  • Pfeffernusse Cookies (German Spice Cookies)
  • White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
  • Greek Butter Cookies | Koulourakia
  • Pan Banging Sugar Cookies
  • Classic Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies or

Best drinks to serve with shortbread

Who doesn’t love dunking a rich cookie into a cold glass of milk or a warm cup of tea or coffee? Try this easy Christmas morning chai Dutch Bros (not just for Christmas morning), or my homeamde chai tea latte, for the adults, this Starucks Eggnog latte or this classic Irish coffee.

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Homemade Eggnog Latte Recipe (Starbucks Copycat)

Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with my rich, creamy Copycat Starbucks Eggnog Latte recipe. This homemade eggnog latte is so simple to make and so festive to drink!Enjoy this warm eggnog coffee drink before a crisp morning walk, or as a special treat on a chilly afternoon.

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Homemade Chai Tea Latte

Using everyday ingredients, save money by creating your own all natural Chai Tea Latte, superior to a fancy coffee shop.

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Easy Classic Irish Coffee Recipe (4 ingredients)

This easy Irish coffee recipe is a classic Irish coffee co*cktail that is ideal for chilly nights. It is a delightful blend of coffee, whiskey, sugar, and cream, perfect for warming you up on a cold night or adding a touch of sophistication to your after-dinner drink.

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Easy Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Scottish Recipe) (28)

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Easy Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Scottish Recipe)

Traditional Scottish Shortbread Recipe from a dear Scottish family friend! Delight in the buttery richness and irresistibly crumbly texture, a beloved treat for generations. An easy shortbread recipe!

4.86 from 171 votes

Click stars to rate now!

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Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes minutes

Chill Time: 2 hours hours

Total Time: 2 hours hours 50 minutes minutes

Servings: 30 cookies

Calories: 102kcal

Author: Kathleen Pope

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter 2 sticks; I love using Irish butter like Kerrygold, softened (use salted or unsalted butter, if using salted, omit the salt)
  • ½ cup cane sugar I use all natural pure cane sugar, white or bakers sugar may be substituted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract try other extracts as well, like Almond or orange, but use just a fraction
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch I use a non-GMO cornstarch
  • teaspoon kosher salt omit if using salted butter
  • all natural or sanding sugar for sprinkling optional

US CustomaryMetric

Instructions

  • Beat butter (1 cup) at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar (½ cup), beating well about 2-3 minutes. Stir in vanilla (1 tsp).

  • Combine flour (2 cups), cornstarch (¼ cup), and kosher salt (⅛ tsp); whisking to mix; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed after each addition. (Mixture will be stiff and may be crumbly)

  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 8-10 times.

  • Press dough into an un-greased 11×7 or 9×9 pan (if doubling, use a 15×10 in jellyroll pan, parchment lined if desired for easier removal).

  • Prick dough at 1-inch intervals with a fork, and score (cut) into 2 ½ x 1-inch bars. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

    Make sure to chill, this will firm the butterfat back up and provide that delectable light, crisp crumb you get with Scottish Shortbread. If desired, sprinkle with all-natural sugar or sanding sugar before baking.

  • Bake at 325° F (162° C) for 35 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Do not over bake! Cookies should be just lightly golden at the edges, baking too long will make them dry.

    Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes; cut the shortbread into bars using previously scored lines. Cool completely before removing from the pan. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months. This recipe easily doubles!

Last step! Leave a RatingRate this recipe here. This helps other readers and helps support this website.

Video

Notes

As you can see, shortbread dough is quite versatile. If you want to cut shapes with your cookie cutters, chill the dough in 2-3 discs wrapped in plastic wrap for 2 hours.

  • Roll or press dough to about ⅓ inch thick and press cookie cutters into the dough, transferring shapes with a spatula to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Like these fun Valentine’s Day Shortbread cookies
  • Or shape into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick and cut into finger-sized rectangles, piercing with a fork for the traditional shortbread appearance. or cut into squares, then cut squares at a diagonal.
  • Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet with a few inches between each cookie for a crisper cookie. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes, do not let them brown (golden is fine.)
  • If you want to get fancy, press dough into a pretty shortbread mold, bake as directed for additional 3-5 minutes until just golden.

Why is my dough so crumbly, and how do I fix it?

  • The quality of your butter and the amount of fat it contains can change the moisture content, so start with REAL butter. Meaning, it is rock-hard coming out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. I prefer using European butter (e.g. Kerrygold) as it’s higher in butterfat than American butters.
  • How did you measure the flour? It might be too much flour. Use the spoon and level method, spooning your flour into the measuring cup, then using the straight edge of a knife to level.
  • Did you use all-purpose flour? Perhaps you used a pastry, gluten-free or whole wheat flour, whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture which would lend to a dryer crumb.
  • Be sure to cream your butter and sugar together at least 2-3 minutes on medium speed.
  • Knead! The dough will be somewhat crumbly when you take it out from the mixer, get in there with your hands, and gently knead the dough until it begins to come together. It is called short “bread”
  • To fix, try kneading by hand for several minutes until it comes together.
  • If still too crumbly to hold its shape, add a few drops of water and knead in, or try a few teaspoons of butter.

CHOCOLATE DIPPED SHORTBREAD COOKIES

If you’d like to dip these shortbread cookies into a little dark, milk or white chocolate as shown in the pictures on the post.

  • 1 cup of your choice of chips (dark chocolate, semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate chips)
  • 2 teaspoons butter

Melt on high in 30-second intervals, stirring well between heatings. The chocolate will continue to melt with residual heat, it’s important not to overheat it as it will cause the chocolate to “break”. Dip as desired and add sprinkles if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 102kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 189IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Easy Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Scottish Recipe) (30)

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Easy Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Scottish Recipe) (2024)

FAQs

What is the secret to making 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 is the difference between Scottish shortbread and regular shortbread? ›

Traditional Scottish shortbread is a simple recipe made with sugar, butter, flour, and salt. Other shortbread styles will include leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda, which makes them crisp instead of crumbly like traditional Scottish shortbread.

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 is traditional Scottish shortbread made from? ›

Shortbread is a centuries old traditional Scottish biscuit made from butter, sugar, and flour. In fact the first written recipe dates back to 1736. The 'short' in the name comes from the baking term 'short' which just means it has a high percentage of fat.

Should you chill shortbread dough before rolling? ›

Use your hands to form the dough into a flat disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is ⅛-¼” thick.

Why do you put cornstarch in shortbread? ›

Making shortbread cookies with cornstarch is necessary for a tender and delicate cookie. Next time you make chocolate chip cookies, I suggest you try adding 1 Tbsp of cornstarch to the batch to help keep them extra soft and tender.

What is shortbread called in Scotland? ›

Shortbread or shortie is a traditional Scottish biscuit usually made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three to four parts plain wheat flour. Shortbread does not contain any leavening, such as baking powder or baking soda.

Why do shortbreads poke holes? ›

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 it called millionaire shortbread? ›

The name "millionaire's shortbread" appears to have originated in Scotland. The "millionaire" prefix to millionaire's shortbread or millionaires slice implies a level of decadence and wealth to the sweet treat, that it is an upgrade from regular shortbread.

What happens if you don't chill shortbread before baking? ›

Step 3: The Secret to the Absolute Best Shortbread

After shaping the cookies, don't rush to the oven! Instead, chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so (overnight is OK, too). A short stay in the fridge will firm up the cookies and solidify the butter. This will help keep them from spreading too much.

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.

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.

What is the world's famous shortbread? ›

Walker's Shortbread is honoured to carry a Royal Warrant, granted by Her Majesty the Queen, for the supply of Shortbread and Oatcakes. Walker's Shortbread is a gift fit for a king, and a treat befitting any special occasion.

Why use unsalted butter in shortbread? ›

Unsalted butter for best results

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.

What are the 3 traditional shapes of shortbread? ›

So while you lick your lips in anticipation, here are 10 fascinating facts to get you in the mood.
  • 3 ingredients is all you need.
  • Its butteriness gives it the name 'shortbread'
  • A 12th century dough experiment was the catalyst.
  • There are 3 shapes: fingers, petticoat tails, and rounds.
Jul 12, 2022

Should butter be cold for 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.

Should shortbread be crunchy or soft? ›

Your shortbread should be crisp but crumbly. The key with shortbread is not to overhandle it. Make the dough exactly as instructed, but don't mess around making shapes or over rolling the dough - you will end up with delicious but tough biscuits.

How do you keep shortbread crust from sticking? ›

Shortbread Crust: Lightly butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, an 8 or 9 inch (20-23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.

How do you keep shortbread dough from crumbling? ›

To fix this, you can add more fat to the dough. This can be in the form of butter, shortening, or even olive oil. Just add a little at a time until the dough comes together and is no longer crumbly. You may also need to add more liquid, such as milk or water, to get the right consistency.

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