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Buttery delicious Shortbread Cookies are an easy cookie recipe with only five ingredients! These melt in your mouth cookies are perfect any time of year, but especially during the holidays. These are such a classic and you are going to want to make a batch for all your cookie platters!

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stack of shortbread cookies on wood cutting board
Table of Contents
  1. What are shortbread cookies?
  2. 5 Ingredient Shortbread Recipe
  3. How to Make Shortbread Cookies
  4. Customize your Shortbread
  5. Expert Shortbread Cookies Tips
  6. FAQ
  7. Shortbread Cookies Recipe Recipe

What are shortbread cookies?

Shortbread, or what I like to call little bites of butter heaven, are delicious cookies with a crumbly texture and rich butter flavor. They’re really simple cookies, and the magic is in how you work the dough and butter.

When you’re making shortbread cookie dough, you don’t work it a lot, so the gluten is not developed. This results in a cookie that just melts in your mouth when you take a bite. The crumbly texture is why it’s called shortbread – the ratio of butter to flour creates the crumbly texture, which is also called “short.” Hence the name!

I promise, these are better than Lorna Done cookies, Ina Garten’s recipe and Walkers shortbread cookies combined!

Why you’ll love this recipe

When it comes to shortbread, I keep it simple! These rich and buttery cookies are amazing just as they are – no extra bells and whistles required!

If you’ve ever had a bite of a homemade shortbread cookie, you already know what to expect – a crumbly, buttery, rich cookie that melts in your mouth. If you’ve never made them yourself, you’re in for a pleasant surprise because they are simple to make.

This classic shortbread recipe is my favorite. They might look like basic cookies, but they have the most fantastic flavor and the perfect shortbread texture.

Ingredients in shortbread cookies

5 Ingredient Shortbread Recipe

  • Unsalted butter: The shortbread ratio is all about the room temperature softened unsalted butter to the other ingredients.
  • Powdered Sugar: I like to use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar because it gives the cookies a great texture.
  • Vanilla: Just a teaspoon of vanilla extract hint gives nice flavor.
  • Salt: Because every cookie needs a little to enhance the flavors!
  • All purpose flour: be sure to use the spoon and level method for measuring!
how to make shortbread 6 grid collage showing steps

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

  1. Cream the butter and powdered sugar in a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer.
  2. Add the vanilla, salt, and mix until smooth. Slowly add the flour, one cup at a time.
  3. As you add the flour cup by cup, wait until it’s absorbed into the dough before adding the next cup. The cookie dough comes together easily with a mixer.
  4. How to Roll Out Short bread Dough: Divide the dough in half and place each piece between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper. Roll each piece out until it’s ¼” thick. Chill the dough for at least two hours or overnight. Don’t skip this step because it allows the dough to rest, and chilling it will also allow the flavors to develop fully.
  5. Cut the cookies into rectangles (or use cookie cutters – see below).
  6. Press the cookies with the tines of a fork for decoration and then add to a baking sheet lined with silicone or parchment paper. Be sure to preheat your oven and bake until the cookies are light golden brown around the edges.
stack of shortbread cookies with one leaning against it and blue striped towel behind

Customize your Shortbread

  • Cookie Cutters or Slicing: You can cut the dough into a variety of different shapes using cookie cutters or just a knife. You don’t want to overwork the dough, so I prefer to cut them into squares and use a ruler and knife, so they are all the same size. I cut them into squares approximately 1-inch by 2-inches.
  • Decoration: If you want to give them some detail, use the tines of a fork to prick the surface of each cookie.
  • Cookie Sheets: Place them on prepared baking sheets – make sure your baking sheet is lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Shortbread cookies don’t spread much when they bake, so you can space them one to two inches apart.

Expert Shortbread Cookies Tips

  • If the dough is too sticky before you roll it out, chill it for a quick 20 minutes.
  • Don’t skip the long chilling step – it helps the gluten develop to make a nice crunchy cookie.
  • Decorate your finished shortbread by dipping in chocolate or frosting with buttercream frosting.
stack of 3 shortbread cookie rectangles with two halves on top

FAQ

Do you cut shortbread before or after baking?

It depends on the recipe! Some recipes have you score the dough first before you bake it and then slice the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. Others, like the one I’m sharing, have you cut the dough before baking. I think it’s easier to do before you bake the cookies.

Why do you put shortbread in the fridge before baking?

You need to chill the shortbread dough so the butter can firm up before you bake the cookies. If you skip chilling the dough, the cookies will spread too much when they bake. Chilling also helps develop the flavors, so the cookies taste amazing.

How do you know when shortbread is cooked?

The easiest way to tell when the shortbread cookies are done is to check the edges. They should be lightly golden around the edges.

Can you use salted butter in the recipe?

Yes, just omit the added salt in the recipe.

Can you freeze shortbread cookies?

Shortbread freezes great! Allow the cookies to cool and then store them in a freezer-safe container. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

What is the difference between Scottish shortbread and regular shortbread?

Scottish shortbread has a different texture. It’s crispier because it’s made with vegetable oil or a mix of butter and oil. Regular shortbread is made with only butter giving the cookies a richer, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Have you made this recipe?

Give it a 5-star rating below!

Stack of rectangular shortbread cookies on a wood cutting board

Shortbread Cookies Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Classic Shortbread Cookies are an easy cookie recipe that is super buttery! You can make these into any shape and they are the perfect shortbread cookie for all year but especially for Christmas.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Yield 48 cookies
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

  • 1 ½ cups (339g) unsalted butter softened (3 sticks)
  • 1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (372g) all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • In a large bowl with a hand or a stand mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and salt, then mix until smooth.
  • Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition until completely mixed.
  • If dough is too sticky to roll at this point, chill for 20 minutes.
  • Otherwise, divide dough in half. Roll each half out to 1/4-inch thick between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper.
  • Chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Chilling the dough lets it rest and adds to the overall flavor of the shortbread.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  • You can cut your shortbread as desired, using cookie cutters for shapes or circles, but I use a ruler and a pizza cutter to cut squares that are approximately 1-inch by 2-inches. Prick each with the tines of a fork for decoration.
  • These don’t spread, so you don’t need to space them more than an inch or two on the cookie sheets. Bake for about 14-18 minutes (depending on size of cookie and thickness) until they start to get golden around the edges.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

How do you know when shortbread is cooked?
The easiest way to tell when the shortbread cookies are done is to check the edges. They should be lightly golden around the edges.
Can you use salted butter in the recipe?
Yes, just omit the added salt in the recipe.
Can you freeze shortbread cookies?
Shortbread freezes great! Allow the cookies to cool and then store them in a freezer-safe container. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 10mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 177IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Dorothy Kern
Keyword cookies
Stack of rectangular shortbread cookies on a wood cutting board with recipe title on bottom of image

Classic Shortbread Cookies are an easy cookie recipe that is super buttery! You can make these into any shape and they are the perfect shortbread cookie for all year but especially for Christmas.

Last Updated on September 14, 2022

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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2 Comments

  1. So delicious and easy! My first try at shortbread cookies. My husband is eating cookies for supper tonight! Thanks!

  2. Dorothy, you are awesome! These are fantastic cookies! Made them tonight to share with neighbors and they went in 5 minutes! Another batch made for my husband so his glum face smiled.
    Thank you for this recipe!