Shortbread Cookies are traditional Scottish biscuits with a buttery taste that have a soft and crumbly texture. Try my Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies for another cookie with a shortbread-like foundation.
Shortbread dates many many years to 12th century Scotland. Shortbreads were a delicacy at that time and were reserved for only special events. So what makes a shortbread? Butter. Shortbread actually started out like a biscuit bread, but by adding in a large amount of butter the dish became crumbly. Back in the day, the term “short”, meant “crumbly” (a high proportion of fat to flour).
Shortbread Cookies Ingredients
This recipe only has five ingredients, as I tried to stick to a more authentic shortbread cookie (which can turn more into a sugar cookie when you add vanilla, cream, or eggs).
Butter: 2 sticks are just the right amount of butter to keep the cookie dough held together, but not too much to cause the cookies to lose shape in the oven. The butter should be cold.
All-purpose flour: Bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour works fine.
Cornstarch: Using 1/4 cup of cornstarch kept the cookies together, but still soft. You could also use 1/4 cup rice flour in place of cornstarch.
Superfine Sugar: Also known as caster sugar, the superfine crystals make a difference in this recipe. If you don’t have caster sugar, simply process granulated sugar in a food processor for about 30 seconds. (Granulated sugar causes the cookies to be too coarse and confectioners’ sugar will make the cookies too dry.)
Salt: Yes, it’s a little amount of salt, but it makes a big difference in flavor, so don’t leave it out!
Shortbread Cookie Dough
This recipe is one of the very few times that I will have you use cold butter. Keep it cold until you are ready to cut it into cubes. To get started, combine the flour, corn starch, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. (You could also get away with a handheld electric mixer.)
Next, cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch cubes, working quickly to keep it cold. Place the butter in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to the bowl, coating the cubes of butter. Pour the floured butter (as well as any extra flour mixture) back into the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix on low for about 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use your hands to toss the ingredients together, rubbing in any butter bits.
How to Make Shortbread Cookies
Press the shortbread mixture firmly and evenly into the lined 8×8-inch pan, smoothing it with the back of a spoon. Bake the shortbread for 35-40 minutes, or until the top and edges are lightly golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes. (Leave the oven on for an additional baking time.)
After the shortbread has cooled for a few minutes, place a piece of parchment paper over the top. Flatten your palm on top of the paper and flip over the bread onto your hand. Carefully lay it down on the counter or cutting board. Use a knife to slice the shortbread in half (one way). Then, slice it in fourths the other direction. You will end up with 8 rectangular cookies.
Keeping with the traditional piercing of the cookies (which has no function, other than looks), poke holes in the tops of the cookies with a skewer or fork. Place the cookies (it is fine if they have separated from one another) on a baking sheet. Keep the parchment paper under them. Bake for an additional 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. To freeze the cookies, let them cool completely before freezing them. Separate layers of cookies with freezer paper or wax paper so they don’t stick together. Freeze for up to 3 months, making sure to label and date the freezer-safe container.
My Favorite Way to Use Shortbread Cookies
Pie crust, of course!! I use it in my Caramel Pie, Lemon Cream Cheese Pie, even my Peaches & Cream Pie! It also works well as a complement to desserts, like in my Strawberry Shortcake Cups.
Now, I want to be clear, this is the BEST TASTING shortbread cookie you’ll ever make. It’s authentic and pure and will yield the best results you’ll get. They are wonderful to snack on, to dip into coffee, to sneak into your kid’s lunch. But they are so much more than that! Please make sure you try them out next time you want to take your desserts to the next level!
Looking for More Cookie Recipes?
Red Velvet Peanut Butter Blossoms
Christmas Ooey Gooey Butter Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) butter, cold
- 1 ¾ cup (219g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (32g) cornstarch
- ⅔ cup (150g) superfine sugar, or caster sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt at low speed until combined (about 5 seconds).
Cut the cold butter into ½-inch cubes. Place the butter cubes in a small bowl and toss with ¼ cup of the flour mixture.
Add the floured butter (with any extra flour) to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the dough is light yellow in color and small crumbs (about 4 minutes).
Remove bowl from stand mixer and use your hands to toss the mixture and rub any remaining butter bits into the flour mixture.
Press the shortbread mixture firmly and evenly into the lined pan, smoothing it with the back of a spoon.
Bake 35-40 minutes, or until the top and edges are lightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. (Leave the oven on for additional baking.)
After cooling, press a piece of parchment paper onto the shortbread and cover it, gently holding it down with the palm of your hand. Invert the shortbread upside down onto your hand and carefully lift the pan off. Lay the shortbread flat on the countertop or cutting board.
With a knife, slice the shortbread in half. Then, slice into fourths the other direction (giving you 8 rectangular cookies). Pierce a few holes on the top of each section with a toothpick, wooden skewer, or fork.
Put the shortbread (still on parchment paper) onto a baking sheet and bake an additional 8 minutes to firm up. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.