Classic shortbread cookies are a perfect holiday treat! This recipe is tender, buttery-rich, flaky, and a close copycat recipe for Walker’s Shortbread.
Why You’ll Love These
- Only four ingredients! That’s it, and I’m betting you already have them in your kitchen.
- So easy you’ll be making them all year.
- You will never purchase another plaid tin box again!
- You don’t need a food processor or even have to roll the dough!
- As with most of our cookie recipes, these easy shortbread cookies make great gifts.
- The classic Christmas cookie!
During Christmas, we also love to make our thumbprint cookie with a red center, chocolate orange cookies, sugar cookies with heavy cream, and gingerbread cookies with corn syrup icing. Just a few of the cookies we enjoy during the holiday season.
What are shortbread cookies?
Traditionally shortbread cookies are made with sugar, good-quality butter, and flour. Unlike other cookies, shortbread cookies do not require a leavening agent.
You only need all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar), and salt.
I’ve used standard butter and European-style butter. There is a significant difference in these cookies’ flavor and crumbly texture. Both are delicious, but one is superior in taste and texture. Use the European-style butter if you can.
How to Make Classic Shortbread Cookies
If you have never made shortbread before, you will be amazed by how quick and easy it is to whip up a traditional shortbread recipe.
Traditional Scottish shortbread typically uses caster sugar or baker’s sugar. Powdered sugar is easier to find in our area.
Whisk together the all-purpose flour, powdered sugar (icing sugar), and salt in a bowl.
Cream the room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Slowly add the flour and sugar mixture, then beat until light and fluffy again.
Press the dough firmly into a parchment paper-lined 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan. You can also use a shortbread pan. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the dough.
Refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, with a rack in the upper third.
Remove, cut the dough into your desired shapes, and dock all over with a toothpick or wooden skewer.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and to a wire rack. With the cookies still warm in the pan, recut them into previous shapes while still in the pan.
I went with the traditional “sticks” and it was a perfect size to have with my afternoon coffee.
Enjoy this melt-in-your-mouth best shortbread recipe ever.
- Be sure to measure the flour and powdered sugar properly. Aerate, spoon, and swoop level.
- This recipe uses unsalted butter. It’s harder to control the seasoning level with salted butter. Preferably European butter with at least 82% fat!
- If using salted butter, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon.
- Traditionally shortbread cookies are pale in color. To achieve this, we use a low oven temperature. But we like a little color on these to have that signature buttery crunch. Just do not overbake them.
- Piercing the cookie dough allows heat to penetrate the cookie for more even baking. You can do this with a toothpick or a fork. Don’t skip this step.
- For this recipe, you can use an 8×8 (3/4 inch thick cookie), 9×9 (1/2 inch thick cookie) baking pan, or a shortbread pan.
- Use a round cake pan and cut the dough into wedges.
- Toss in some toasted pecans to make a pecan shortbread.
- Dip them in melted chocolate and add some sprinkles.
- Sprinkle the top of the dough with granulated sugar or sparkling sugar.
Do not skip chilling the dough! The butter firms up again, helping it slowly melt in the oven to make the shortbread flaky and light.
Yes. You can refrigerate the dough for up to 1 week.
To freeze the dough – Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, then wrap it with aluminum foil and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking as instructed.
Place the completely cooled cookies in an air-tight container and store them at room temperature for up to one week.
Absolutely, but be aware the texture is not as crispy after thawing! Place completely cooled cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard, about 1 hour. Place them in a freezer-safe container or bag layered between wax or parchment paper, and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw the cookies, remove them from the container to a baking sheet or plate and thaw at room temperature.
To revive that signature crunch, bake them in a 300 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes. The time will depend on the size of the cookies you thawed.
More Cookie Recipes
Easy Classic Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (2 sticks)
- Line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- Place butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl.1 cup unsalted butter
- Gradually add flour mixture; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Press the dough firmly into the parchment-lined pan. Be sure the dough is evenly spread out. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the dough, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third.
- Remove plastic wrap. Cut dough into desired shapes with a knife. Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, prick all over at 1/4-inch intervals.
- Bake until lightly golden brown and firm in the center, about 35-40 minutes. Remove pan to a wire rack. Recut shortbread into previous shapes; let cool completely.
- Remove using the parchment as handles and transfer shortbread to an airtight container.
Recipe inspired by MarthaStewart