Scottish Shortbread (Easy Shortbread Cookie Recipe)
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Scottish Shortbread Cookies – By far the best and easiest recipe for making traditional buttery shortbread cookies from scratch, perfect for customizing with your favorite extra goodies!
What is Scottish Shortbread?
Simple and buttery Scottish Shortbread is considered the original, and in my opinion, the best shortbread cookie recipe. It is traditionally made with just 3 staple ingredients: butter, sugar, and flour.
So what is the difference between shortbread and butter cookies? Well, while American butter cookies tend to be flat and on the crispy side, Scottish shortbread is made thick with a dense crumble. So although the ingredients used are similar, the preparation methods are quite different.
We love the soft, tender, slightly crumbly consistency of these classic Scottish Shortbread cookies. But for a fresh twist, we’ve added a few special ingredients to elevate them to an even more delicious holiday treat.
Ingredients You Need for the Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe
As mentioned, most Scottish Shortbread recipes only call for butter, flour, and sugar. However, swapping the white granulated sugar for brown sugar, and adding a splash of vanilla, and a little salt, adds extra layers of flavor that really make a big difference.
But instead of adding salt plus unsalted butter to the recipe, I like to use salted butter, and then sprinkle the tops of the cookies with Fleur de Sel!
Along with flour, brown sugar, salted butter, and vanilla, feel free to add nearly any extra goodies you like!
Possible Shortbread Add-Ins
- Mini chocolate chips
- Cocoa nibs
- Toffee Chips
- Fresh chopped herbs like rosemary or lavender
- Lemon or lime zest
- Instant coffee granules
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Let me know in the comments what add-ins you tried and loved!
How to Make the Best Scottish Shortbread Recipe
The dough for Scottish Shortbread is very easy to make using just one bowl.
Firstly, set out an electric stand mixer. To the bowl add softened butter and brown sugar, and cream on high until light and fluffy with the paddle attachment. Take your time and let the butter and sugar cream together for at least a few minutes for the best cookie texture.
Once the sugar and butter are creamed, scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla extract, and then slowly add in the all-purpose flour. As soon as it’s combined, turn off the mixer so as to not over-mix the dough.
On a lightly floured surface use your hands to press the dough into a rectangle, and wrap it well in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. You can leave the dough in the fridge for up to a full day before making the cookies, but any longer and the dough will dry out.
When ready to bake the Scottish Shortbread cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Thoroughly flour a clean work surface. Place the dough in the center of the floured area and roll it out into an even sheet, ½ inch thick. Keep lightly flouring the counter and rolling pin as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
Next, use a large chef’s knife (or pizza cutter) to cut the shortbread dough into 2 ½ X 1 inch pieces. Carefully move the pieces to the prepared baking sheets, keeping them about 1 ½ inches apart.
Use a fork to gently poke holes over the surface of each cookie. You don’t want to poke too deep!
Bake the cookies until just golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top of each cookie with Fleur de Sel while they are still warm. Then cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before moving to a platter.
These simple cookies are perfect for the holidays or any special occasion! Enjoy as-is, dip in chocolate, or drizzle with caramel sauce for an even sweeter treat.
Why Do You Poke Holes in Shortbread Cookies?
Poking holes helps to release steam so the cookies hold their shape better.
Don’t skip this step while making the best shortbread cookie recipe, or you will wind up with cookies that are too flat and don’t have that beloved Scottish Shortbread texture.
How Do You Store Scottish Shortbreads?
Keep shortbread cookies stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you stack them, I recommend putting a piece of parchment paper between the layers to keep them freshest.
Scottish Shortbread can be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
LOOKING FOR MORE CLASSIC COOKIE RECIPES?
- Best Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe
- Oatmeal Cream Pie Cookies
- Caramel Shortbread Recipe
- The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
- Chocolate Dipped Lace Cookies
- Linzer Cookies (Cookie Cutter Christmas Cookie)
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, protein, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, and fiber percentages.
Scottish Shortbread Cookies (Easy Shortbread Cookie Recipe)
- 2 cups salted butter softened (1 pound)
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- Fleur de Sel
- Set out an electric stand mixer. Add the softened butter and brown sugar. Cream on high until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. (Don’t skimp on the time!)
- Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, then turn the mixer on low. Add the vanilla extract, then slowly add in the flour. Once combined, turn off the mixer as to no over-mix the dough.
- Press the dough into a rectangle and wrap well in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Thoroughly flour a clean work surface. Place the dough in the center of the floured area and roll it out into an even sheet, ½ inch thick. Use as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter or rolling pin.
- Use a large chef’s knife (or pizza cutter) to cut the shortbread dough into 2 ½ X 1 inch pieces. Carefully move the pieces to the baking sheets, spreading them 1 ½ inches apart.
- Use a fork to poke holes over the surface of each cookie. This helps release steam so the cookies hold their shape better.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden around the edges. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with Fleur de Sel while they are still warm. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before moving.
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!
This recipe is a lovely shortbread. The only adjustment I made was to double the vanilla. As for execution. I rolled the shortbread out and laid it in my cookie sheet and scored it into fingers, Then docked it. Then put in fridge as recommended. It was easier to roll out soft than would have been right out of the refrigerator. After baking, I let it cool for a few minutes, but while still warm cut through the fingers along the scored lines. When completely cool I was able to transfer. I Love the brown sugar in these. Adds a wonderful flavor. So many recipes call for confectioners sugar, which I do not like. I think being very cold and going into the oven really made a difference in the structure and flakiness of these shortbread. Will be doing this again. Thank you.
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This didn’t work for me at all. When I took the dough out of the fridge, it was hard as a rock and crumbled to bit. It wasn’t possible to roll it with a rolling pin at all.
Chilled dough, especially a crumbly one, will be hard as a rock for a minute or two as you start to roll it out. This is a good thing. Cold hard dough going into the oven created a buttery crumbly texture that holds its shape.
Did you end up baking the shortbread?
I absolutely LOVED this shortbread recipe!!! There’s this one place where I live that makes the best shortbread and nothing has ever gotten close to it. I’ve also tried to recreate it, but I was very unsuccessful, until now… This recipe makes shortbread that is even better!!!
The shortbread is buttery and crisp and the brown sugar! The brown sugar is a must!!! It gives the biscuit a gorgeous caramel flavor as well as the little chewiness.
Absolutely fantastic!!! Definitely adding it to my annual Christmas cookie bake list!
Delicious! My sister said it was the best cookie she ever ate!
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I really enjoyed the ease of this process and the flavor and texture of the shortbread. I think my tastes skew a little sweeter, so I added about 2T white sugar (didn’t want to add more brown out of fear the cookies would be chewy). I used Kerrygold. I will definitely use this recipe again, with added sugar for a hair more sweetness.
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Truly wonderful, best shortbread I’ve had with the easiest recipe. Truly a winner!!! Also, I halved the recipe and the half makes exactly one oven tray which was convenient. Hope more people find and try this recipe, soooooo worth it. They are chewy yet short and buttery all at the same time.
I had an idea while reading over the recipe, my favorite flavor is almond, I love the taste of it in or on all my sweets, yeah,I know, just a little bit obessive, but anyone who loves this flavor like I do would surely agree with me. how about maybe just mixing in a couple of drops for some added taste? I think I just might try it to see how it comes out. I don’t think it would hurt much and who knows maybe it will be a hit. Just wanted to get your feedback on my brilliant idea. Regards and stay safe.
This so amazing! My kids loved these cookies!
These are going on my holiday cookie tray! Yum.
These are such an amazing shortbread cookie!