Shortbread, 10 Ways Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Updated Feb. 29, 2024

Shortbread, 10 Ways Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour, plus cooling
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Shortbread is not only one of the easiest desserts you can possibly make, it’s also one of the most adaptable. As long as you keep the butter-to-flour ratio constant (1 stick butter to 1 cup flour), everything else is negotiable. You can reduce or increase the sugar and salt, or mix in any type of flavoring from citrus zest to vanilla to herbs and spices. You can even alter the type of flour, swapping in some rice flour for all-purpose flour for increased crunch, or cornmeal for a nubby texture. Just be cautious about adding liquid to the dough; any more than one tablespoon could interfere with the texture. Here we give a master recipe and nine variations to play around with.

Featured in: The Simplest Shortbread You Can Bake

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Yield:24 servings

  • 2cups/250 grams all-purpose flour
  • cup/150 grams granulated sugar
  • ¾teaspoon fine salt
  • 2sticks/1 cup/226 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (24 servings)

130 calories; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 6 grams sugars; 1 gram protein; 61 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Shortbread, 10 Ways Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess; the dough should be somewhat crumbly. (You can also mix the dough in a bowl using two knives or a pastry cutter.)

  2. Step


    Press dough into an even layer in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, or a 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.


  • Here are nine variations for the master shortbread recipe above.
  • Scottish Shortbread: Use 1½ cups all-purpose flour and ½ cup white rice flour.
  • Tender Shortbread: Substitute confectioners' sugar for the granulated sugar, and ⅓ cup cornstarch for ⅓ cup of flour.
  • Vanilla Bean Shortbread: Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out the pulp. Pulse the pulp into the flour-sugar mixture before adding butter. Or add up to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with the butter.
  • Citrus Shortbread: Add 1 to 1½ teaspoons finely grated lemon, lime or orange zest with the flour. Add up to 1 teaspoon orange blossom water with the butter if desired. These are classic with poppy seeds.
  • Nut Shortbread: Grind ½ cup toasted nuts in the food processor with the flour before combining with remaining ingredients.
  • Spice or Seed Shortbread: Add up to 1 teaspoon spices, like ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, or seeds like caraway or anise. Or add up to 3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds.
  • Brown or Maple Sugar Shortbread: Substitute ⅓ cup light or dark brown sugar or maple sugar for the granulated. This yields a slightly softer shortbread.
  • Cornmeal or Whole Wheat Shortbread: Substitute up to ½ cup cornmeal or whole wheat flour for ½ cup of all-purpose flour. Season with spices, seeds, citrus or rosemary if desired.
  • Buckwheat Shortbread: Substitute up to ⅓ cup buckwheat flour for ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour.



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Private Notes

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Cooking Notes

Julia Moskin

Hi Myrna, please note: It's one STICK butter for each cup of flour. That's what the headnote says and it is correct.


what gives? the headnote states 1 cup flour to 1 cup butter, yet the recipe calls for TWO cups flour to 1 cup butter. ????????? which is it?


This is fantastic way to make sure I eat an entire stick of butter in about 10 minutes.

J John

11th Variation - Replace 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa for Chocolate Shortbread. 12th Variation - Dip in melted chocolate and sprinkle with crushed candy canes for Peppermint Chocolate Shortbread. 13th Variation - Don’t make 13th Variation. It is unlucky and will bring pestilence upon your household.

Jack Pickett

I cream the butter with the castor (fine) sugar and then fold in the flours, I like a third semolina. Bake until just set. They come out crisp and seem to only improve with age. Quality butter is a must! Try Kerry Gold


I make it with pistachios ground to a course flour substituted for 1/4 of the flour and cardamom.


Never made shortbread before but loved this when my aunt made it. Didn't know that it was done, when I made it, because it was so liquidy. That batch was rock hard since I left it in the oven too long. Made it again and pulled out when golden (and appropriate time had passed) and it was great. First-timers need to know that the top is very wet and the batch doesn't look done even though it is.


End product is very tasty but VERY crumbly. Dough (mixed in cuisinart) never comes together. Smoosh crumbs into 9 by 9 pan but fork pricks don't work, just break crumbs up. More butter? Or melt butter first?Any advice?


For new bakers like me:I used a bench scraper to smooth the top of dough in the pan before baking.Using parchment paper made lifting the bread from the pan to the cooling rack very easy. And don’t forget to cut the bars when they’re still warm—they’ll be too hard to cut when they’ve cooled completely.

Roger Bullard

Old Southern housewives' knowledge: Everyone should be able to make biscuits blindfolded. Start with biscuit dough. Increase the amount of baking powder and you have dough for dumplings, or what is called "pastry" in eastern NC. Decrease the amount, and you have crust for cobblers. Increase the amount of shotening and maybe add some sugar, and you have shortcake. Don't do anything with it, and you have biscuits. Good with any meal.


With glass, the general rule is to bake at 25 degrees lower, as well. So if you do bake it in pyrex, lower the heat and watch it carefully. Also, remember to cut with a plastic knife so as not to scratch the glass, because that will weaken it, making it more likely to crack.


I have made this recipe for years, and for Christmas baking I change up a bit. I roll the buttery dough into walnut sized balls and then press with a cookie stamp, butter press, or the bottom of a decorative glass to imprint a pattern. Then bake low and slow until just lightly colored around the edges. They are great! Just be careful to not over handle the dough- they are better if the butter doesn't get too soft.

Kate in St Paul

I love this with a half teaspoon of cayenne - sweet, spicy, luscious, and crispy all at the same time.


I add chopped fresh rosemary and chopped crystallized ginger.


Variations 1 & 2:

Scottish Shortbread: Use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup white rice flour.
Tender Shortbread: Substitute confectioners' sugar for the granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup cornstarch for 1/3 cup of flour.
Vanilla Bean Shortbread: Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out the pulp. Pulse the pulp into the flour-sugar mixture before adding butter. Or add up to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with the butter.


For the Citrus version, I’ve drizzled the cookies with a glaze of the juice of the fruit and powdered sugar.

Lauren B

I must've made it wrong because it was more chewy in the center pieces. But I thought they were incredibly tasty, so yay for happy little accidents.


This doubles easily in a 9x13 pan. Use parchment both ways to make a sling. Reduce sugar to 225 g and it’s still plenty sweet. Variations — for a single recipe, 1 tsp each freshly ground cardamom (using decorticated cardamom is easiest), instant espresso powder, and vanilla. Or 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom and zest of one large orange. Or 1/2 tsp Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Baking. With the finely chopped rosemary variation — add zest of one lemon.


best combo of nuts for shortbread? Thinking of pistachios and cashews

Sarah Roeske

I had the same experience as BHanco*ck - I went with the "Tender" subs of powdered sugar for all of the sugar, and 1/3 c. sub of cornstarch for equal amount of flour. The mix never came together at all, but I (bravely) patted it down hard into a 9 x 9 pan, gave up trying to prick with a fork. I let it cool just a bit then cut and left it in the pan - it was super crumbly. BUT when it cooled completely - yummy! and tender, not overly crumbly. I added 2 t lemon zest, would go with more next time.


I tried the tender shortbread variation. This part is unclear if you bake by metric: "Tender Shortbread: Substitute confectioners' sugar for the granulated sugar"... is it by weight or volume? Because 2/3 cups granulated sugar does not weigh the same as 2/3 cup confectioner's/ icing sugar.I bake by weight so I ended up subbing 90g icing sugar (sieved) for granulated sugar and I did not swap out any AP flour for cornstarch, since icing sugar has some cornstarch already.


Followed the original recipe exactly and my shortbread came out delicious, but chewy! Especially the pieces from the center. Help! My family loved it, but shouldn’t shortbread be crunchy and short? I baked it on the longer end of the range given. What am I doing wrong?


I followed the recipe as written (using a pastry cutter, not a food processor). I probably won't make this again. This yielded pretty tasty cookies, but they're more like a butter bar or sugar cookie than a shortbread -- chewy rather than crumbly, buttery in flavor but not texture, not crisp. Next time I want shortbread, I'll go back to my old recipe, which requires creaming butter and confectioners sugar. It's still not 100% perfect but it's a lot closer than this one.

Nicole R

Delicous! I made it using Kerry Gold unsalted butter and added 1 tablespoon culinary lavender and the zest from one lemon. I pulsed the lavender in the food processor with the flour, sugar and salt. Then I added the lemon zest. Everyone loved it!


Simply easy and delicious.

Abigail M

Made the base recipe + 1 tsp vanilla, using a pastry blender. Was extremely crumbly. I pressed it into the pan as directed, but was unable to get good fork marks. As suggested in a comment, I stuck the pan in the freezer. for ten minutes, and that helped. Did not grease pan or use parchment. Came out fantastic!!!


Variation #1: add 2 tablespoons matcha powder and 1 cup dried blueberries. Bonus points if you’ve got blueberry matcha powder. Bake as directed.Variation #2: add 1 tablespoon lime zest and bake as directed.


Used ~2/3c confectioner's sugar instead of granulated. The end result was delicious and had the right consistency (crunchy but tender and buttery). But I agree on comments of others--after using food processor, it came out NOTHING like what was in Melissa's video. It was just a bunch of crumbs that I patted together in pan. I tried docking the dough after putting it in pyrex pan. That just led to it breaking apart a bunch.


This is the cookie that I think Ted Lasso takes to his boss.

Tori Walker

My mom would make these using shortening instead of butter, and I loved it as a kid. So much richer with butter! Mmmmm

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Shortbread, 10 Ways Recipe (2024)


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 mistake in making shortbread? ›

The most common mistakes when making shortbread are over-working the dough, and incorporating too much flour.

What's the difference between Scottish shortbread and regular shortbread? ›

As mentioned above, the main differences between the two styles of cookies are butter content and inclusion of leavening agents. These differences result in very different texture and taste experiences. No matter your preference, you can be sure to get a quality product from Walkers Shortbread.

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.

What not to do when making shortbread? ›

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. Stretching and pulling the dough activates the gluten in the flour, making chewy cookies and not crisp ones.

Why do you put cornstarch in shortbread cookies? ›

Cornstarch provides the shortbread with structure, but its biggest job is keeping the cookies extra soft, tender, and light. I love adding a small amount to chocolate chip cookies too. Optional Coarse Sugar Topping: For an optional sparkly crunch on your shortbread wedges, add a sprinkle of coarse sugar before baking.

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.

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

Do you have to poke holes in shortbread cookies? Yes! Poking holes in the cookies helps the moisture escape and the heat distribute evenly throughout the cookie. It is key to getting their perfect dense, crumbly texture.

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.

What do Americans call shortbread? ›

Shortbread isn't a bread, it's what we Americans call a cookie. It its homeland across the pond it's a biscuit. The short part of the name is because it's made with a dough rich in fat (preferably really good butter). This is called short dough.

Why is millionaires shortbread called millionaires 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.

Are shortcake cookies the same as shortbread? ›

Shortbread is similar to shortcake but doesn't include baking powder. Lots of rich butter gives shortbread a high fat content, resulting in a fine, crumbly texture. Shortcake and shortbread biscuits are delicious on their own, with fruit and cream, or simply topped with a delicate dusting of sugar.

Why is Walker shortbread so good? ›

It is only by baking in small batches that we can ensure that classic taste for which Walker's are famed. As it always has been, our shortbread is made using only four ingredients: flour, pure creamery butter, sugar and salt.

What country makes the best shortbread? ›

Buttery, crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth magnificence. We can only be talking about Scottish shortbread. The finger-licking favourite of foodies in and outside Scotland. So simple, yet outrageously flavoursome and addictive.

Why is shortbread so expensive? ›

As shortbread was made with butter, sugar and flour, it would be both expensive and difficult to get hold of the ingredients, and so became synonymous with wealth, luxury and celebrations.

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.

Does shortbread use the rubbing in method? ›

Rubbing in butter and flour

Shape the dough into a round and then press into the tin, ensuring that all of the tin is evenly covered. Step 5: Chill the dough in the tin in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking.

Why did my shortbread fail? ›

There are a variety of reasons why the shortbread could be damp underneath but it is most likely that either the dough is being pressed out too thickly, the pan is not metal so heats up too slowly, or the oven temperature is too high causing the top to brown before the bottom has cooked sufficiently.

What makes shortbread tough? ›

It's important to avoid over-mixing shortbread dough, which will develop gluten and make the finished product tough, not tender. To make sure that the flour mixes completely with little effort, sift the flour first to get out all of the lumps.


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