These classic shortbread cookies are so, so buttery and rich! They have a wonderful snap when you break into one, but they're crumbly and soft when you take a bite. Absolute melt-in-your-mouth goodness!
* This post was updated with new photos and step by step photo instructions 🙂
I'm a sucker for some classic Scottish shortbread cookies.
These little guys have all of the qualities I look for in a good shortbread cookie. Buttery? Check. Sandy? Double check. Melts in your mouth. A million checks!
AND on top of everything, they're surprisingly easy to make at home, and only use FOUR simple ingredients!
Shortbread cookie ingredients:
• flour: for the dough and as needed for rolling and shaping!
• sugar: powdered sugar let's us skip the step of creaming butter and sugar together! You can just toss it in with the dry ingredients
• cornstarch: helps crisp and dry the cookie for an ultra melty and crumbly delight!
• butter: this is NOT the time to start your diet
How to make shortbread cookies:
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Cut butter into dry ingredients to get your dough.
3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm.
4. Roll/cut/shape cookies.
6. That's it!!!
How to shape shortbread cookies:
You can use this shortbread cookie dough to make all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whatever shape and size you choose, make sure you don't skip the step for poking holes on top of the cookie. Not only is this step part of getting the classic shortbread cookie look, but it also helps it bake evenly and crisp throughout.
If at any point you find the dough is too soft to work with, just place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to make it easier to shape. Here are a few of the ways you can shape this dough:
Shortbread cookies cut into shapes: This shortbread dough can be used to roll out and cut into shapes using any cookie cutter you like. When you roll out your dough, you can make it anywhere between ¼ inch to ½ an inch thick. The thinner the dough, the more crispy your cookies will be and the shorter the bake time.
Slice and bake shortbread cookies: To make slice and bake cookies, roll the shortbread dough into a log on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough and place in the fridge to firm up (about 1 hour). Unwrap the dough and place on a cutting board. Cut into ¼ inch to ½ thick slices.
Shortbread crust: To use this dough to make a crust, the shaping will differ depending on what type of crust you need. If this is a crust for a pie or a tart, roll out your dough to somewhere between a ¼ inch and ½ an inch. Transfer the rolled out dough to a pie or tart pan.
To make crust for shortbread bars, simply pack your crust into a baking dish. For both options, poke holes in the crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until no longer shiny and lightly golden brown along the sides.
Shortbread disks: The easiest and quickest way to shape shortbread cookies is to break off pieces of dough, roll into balls, and flatten into disks.
How long shortbread cookies last:
To store shortbread cookies after baking, pack them into an airtight container and cover. These cookies will keep for up to 1 week stored at room temperature.
Can shortbread cookies be frozen?
Yes! I like to make large batches of this dough and freeze it for later use. Simply wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and wrap with a layer of aluminum foil to avoid freezer burn. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Defrost for about 1 hour at room temperature before using. Alternatively, defrost overnight in your fridge. If defrosted in the fridge, allow the cookie dough to warm slightly to make shaping easier.
Shortbread cookie alternatives:
This shortbread dough can be used to make plain cookies, or a lot of different varieties! Some of my favorite ways to spice up this recipe include:
• chocolate chip shortbread cookies: Add ¾ cup chocolate chips or chocolate chunks to the dough to make chocolate chip shortbread cookies. Any type will work (dark, semi-sweet, milk, or white chocolate). Just be careful with your sugar because darker chocolate has a stronger cocoa powder flavor so it needs more sugar and white chocolate can be overly sweet, so you may need less sugar.
• nut shortbread cookies: Almond shortbread and pecan shortbread are my favorite versions, but you can add almost any of your favorite chopped nuts to this dough. I like to add around ¾ of a cup for this recipe, but you can increase or decrease that to suit your taste.
• lemon shortbread cookies: Add a teaspoon of lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice to the dough before mixing everything together to make lemon cookies. You can also use orange zest/juice or lime zest/juice instead!
• chocolate shortbread cookies: Swap out ¼ cup of flour for ¼ cup cocoa powder to make chocolate cookies.
• Spiced shortbread cookies: Add any spices you like to your flour before making your cookies to literally spice up your cookies. Ground nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom are some options.
If you liked these shortbread cookies, you may also like some of these other cookie recipes:
Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- In a large bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk to combine.
- Add your softened butter to the dry ingredients. Using your hands or a utensil (fork or pastry cutter), mix everything together until the butter breaks up and absorbs the dry ingredients. You should be left with a soft ball and sticky dough.
- Transfer the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a rough disk shape. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour, or until firm.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Turn your chilled dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into about a ¼ inch thick (you can go thicker if you like - the bake time will be slightly longer). Cut out your desired shapes using a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or cookie cutter. I just went with simple rectangle cutouts.
- Arrange the cookies on your parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between each cookie. (Optional) Use a skewer or fork to poke holes on the surface for a classic look.
- Bake the cookies in your preheated 325°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The cookies should be just barely golden brown on the edges and bottom, with a matte finish on top. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on your baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature. They will harden once cooled.