Cookies Sweet

Scotch Shortbread

The perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea, these cookies are buttery, crumbly, and lightly sweet.

Sometimes you just want a cookie that doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds with sweetness. A cookie that will melt in your mouth, and that pairs well with a warm beverage. A cookie that doesn’t take too long to make. If that describes your craving today, then this shortbread is the perfect cookie for you.

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My Scotch shortbread recipe is an adaptation of this version on AllRecipes. Shortbread is thought to have originated in the 12th century, though the first written recipe dates back to the mid-1700s. It has changed very little over the years, and it separates itself from other cookies with one important factor: shortbread uses no leavening agent, which keeps the cookies “short”. In addition to a less-tall cookie, the lack of leavening also gives you a more dense final product. I’m a big fan of shortbread, and I hope this recipe works well for you, too.

This recipe starts with one of my favorite foods: butter. (And yes, that is a Parks & Recs reference; thank you for noticing.) In making this shortbread, I used basic, store-brand butter and still had good results. However, if you feel like splurging, and you want to take your shortbread cookies to the next level, I recommend buying higher-quality, grass fed butter like Kerrygold. Because butter is such an integral part of this recipe, the quality of butter you use will impact the flavor of your final product.

Combine your room-temperature butter with sugar in a mixing bowl. You can combine them by hand, using brute force and/or a pastry blender — or you change up the process by combining your ingredients in a food processor. I tried both methods; the hand-mixed cookies ended up slightly less crumbly, but otherwise there was almost no difference in the final result or in the time required for mixing. Use whichever method sounds better for your home.

After the butter and sugar are completely combined, slowly mix in your flour. Mix in one cup, then your second cup, then sprinkle in the final 1/2 cup about a tablespoon at at time between mixes. At this point, your dough is going to be very dense. It may be easiest to knead it by hand to ensure the flour is completely combined.

Press the finished dough into an 8″ by 8″ pan. If you want a cleaner top on your finished cookies (aka no finger marks), cover the pan with wax paper and roll your dough with a heavy pan. This will smooth out the top and give you a more professional final project.

Prick your dough with a fork and, if you like, sprinkle with sugar. I used turbinado sugar, which is less processed than traditional granulated sugar, but the kind here doesn’t matter too much, as it is just a garnish.

Bake your cookies in a 300 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown.

Slice the cookies while they are still warm, and allow them to cool in the pan.

And you’re done! Enjoy your shortbread cookies!

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

The perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea, these cookies are buttery, crumbly, and very lightly sweet.
Course Dessert
Servings 20 cookies


  • 8" by 8" pan


  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar optional, for topping


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  • Combine butter and sugar until crumbly.
  • Slowly add flour. Start with one cup, then add the second cup, then add the final ¼ cup a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  • Press into 8 by 8 pan; prick top with a fork and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  • Bake at 300 degrees F until the edges are beginning to turn light brown, about 30-35 minutes
  • Slice shortbread while cookies are still warm; allow to cool completely in the pan.


Ingredients can be combined by hand or in a food processor.
Keyword christmas cookies, cookies, shortbread

2 comments on “Scotch Shortbread

  1. Annette Fulton

    Great recipe! I never even thought about them being Scottish! Love that bit of information!

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