Shortbread Cookie Recipe

5 Min Read

I’m very excited to be sharing my updated shortbread cookie recipe with you today! While I enjoyed the original for years, my old version started to feel more like a sugar cookie. I wanted to make some tweaks for more tender, soft, and melt-in-your-mouth results that still held their shape beautifully. This is true, classic, perfected shortbread.

Why Try This Recipe

  • They’re a classic. Everyone should have a good staple shortbread recipe in their repertoire, and now, this is mine. No, it’s not super flashy, but it’s a classic and it’s a good, solid recipe.
  • It’s simple. Shortbread uses only 6 ingredients and comes together quickly with just a brief stint in the refrigerator. No, it’s not as flashy as praline cookies or apple pie cookies, but that’s the nature of shortbread.
  • It tastes good! It has a buttery flavor and a texture that slightly crumbles beneath your teeth and absolutely melts in your mouth.
  • It’s versatile. Include or omit the vanilla extract, or substitute it for vanilla bean paste. Level up the cookies by substituting classic butter for European style. Add chocolate chips or dip in chocolate, and cut them into any shape you’d like (I opted for hearts, but you could skip the cookie cutter and just use a knife to cut into rectangles).

This is the perfect addition to your Christmas cookie tray. I can’t wait to hear how you like this updated version ❤️

What You Need

Classic shortbread is made with just butter, sugar, and flour, but I’ve found a few small adjustments make for even better results. Here’s what you need for my recipe.

  • Butter. European butter is a great upgrade here! Since shortbread uses so few ingredients, the quality of each of them can really make a difference in the final outcome. I don’t often splurge for it and you do not have to, but you will have more tender and buttery results if you use European-style butter (this is because it has a higher fat content!).
  • Powdered sugar. Similar to my shortbread-esque crust for my fruit tart, we’ll be using powdered sugar in this shortbread cookie recipe. This is also known as confectioner’s sugar, 10x sugar, or icing sugar.
  • Flour. Use all-purpose (also often known as “plain”) flour. Self-rising flour will not work here. I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure this; if not, you could over-measure and end up with a dry dough.
  • Cornstarch. This promotes tender, melt-in-your-mouth results. It also helps prevent the cookies from spreading too much in the oven, so they hold their shape beautifully!
  • Vanilla extract. This is not a traditional ingredient and you can leave it out if you’d like; however, I love the way it deepens the flavor of the shortbread. Vanilla bean paste or a scraped vanilla bean would also work!

Note that there is no baking powder or baking soda in this recipe–this is intentional and expected with shortbread cookies!

Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

  1. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until lightened in color and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar gradually and keep mixing until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in the vanilla extract until well incorporated.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the wet ingredients.
  1. Use your hands to form the dough into a flat disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  2. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is ⅛-¼” thick.
  3. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter, making the cuts as close together as possible. Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet and space 2″ apart. Re-roll the scraps and repeat this process to make more cookies.
  4. Bake until the edges are just starting to turn a light golden brown. This is about 9-11 minutes for my 2″ cookie cutter, but can vary depending on the size you use.
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