Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

Sourdough Shortbread Cookies! Buttery shortbread cookies are enhanced with powdered sourdough discard. These cookies have an absolutely haunting flavor.

If you love a perfectly buttery and crumbly shortbread cookie have I got a treat for you. The addition of sourdough discard adds a lovely yeasty flavor to a classic shortbread cookie. I’m officially obsessed!

If you don’t already have one, I can show you how to make a sourdough starter and how to feed a sourdough starter.

If you do have a starter, I’m sure you’re always looking for new ways to use your sourdough discard.

Sourdough discard can easily replace a portion of the flour and water in almost any recipe. The water in the original recipe could be in the form of actual water, or the water can come from milk, buttermilk, egg whites, etc.

But what can we do when there is no or very little water in the original recipe? I had to ask myself that question when I was trying to create this recipe for Sourdough Shortbread.

Shortbread dough couldn’t be simpler with just 4 ingredients; butter, sugar, flour and salt. The only trace of water in the original recipe comes from the butter, and flour needs water to develop gluten.

The “short” in shortbread refers to the fact that without much water the dough doesn’t develop long gluten strands. Less developed gluten means your cookie will have a tender and crumbly texture.

When I tried adding wet sourdough discard to my shortbread the cookies were chewy and not at all crumbly. The discard added too much water to the dough. The water developed the gluten, yada, yada, yada, tough cookies.

LIGHTBULB: I had to figure out how to add sourdough discard to this recipe without adding any water. It took quite a few trials but I finally did it. I made a sourdough powder that could be added directly to the dough.

Once the dough is made it can be cut into 2″ square cookies or into “petticoat tails” (wedges). Either way they’re delicious.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make the best Sourdough Shortbread:

One photo shows a mixing bowl with butter and sugar. Second photo shows adding sourdough powder to the bowl.
1. Cream the butter and sugar until softened. 2. Add the powdered sourdough starter.
First photos shows crumbly short dough. Second photo shows dough kneaded together into a small square.
1. The dough will look crumbly after mixing. 2. Knead the dough together into a small square or disc.
one photo showing a square of short dough. The second photo shows the dough cut into 25 cookies.
1. Roll the dough to a 10″ square and chill. 2. Cut the dough into 2″ squares.
showing shortbread cookies before and after baking.
1. Arrange the cookies onto the pan and sprinkle with sugar. 2. Bake until lightly browned around the edges and pale in the center.
photo 1 shows a 10" round of short dough. Photo 2 shows the round scored into 12 wedges. Photo 3 shows the round after baking.
1. To make “petticoat tails” roll the dough to a 10″ circle. 2. Score into 12 wedges and sprinkle with sugar. 3. Bake until golden brown and just set in the center. Slice after cooling.

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

You might also like these Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies made with sourdough powder.

Basic shortbread is perfect as it is, but here are a few ideas for adding another layer of flavor to your shortbread cookies:

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Print Recipe
4.86 from 14 reviews

Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

Buttery shortbread enhanced with sourdough discard.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time20 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
25 cookies
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  • 8 oz unsalted butter (1 cup, at cool room temp)
  • 4 oz granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 oz sourdough discard powder
  • 7 1/2 oz all purpose flour (1 1/2 cups, see note)
  • granulated sugar for topping


  • Combine the butter, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl and mix on medium speed until softened and well-combined. You don't want to aerate the dough, just mix the ingredients.
    8 oz unsalted butter, 4 oz granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Add the powdered discard and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix until combined. The dough will look crumbly at this point. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead to bring it together. Form the dough into a disc or small square.
    4 oz sourdough discard powder, 7 1/2 oz all purpose flour
  • To make square cookies: On a sheet of parchment paper pat the dough to a small square. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll to a 10"x 10" square. Use the straight edge of a ruler or a bench scraper to square off the edges. Slide the paper on to a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • To make "petticoat tail" cookies: On a sheet of parchment paper pat the dough to a small disc. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll to a 10 round. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges of the round. Use a long knife to score the round into 12 wedges, do not slice all the way through the dough. Poke each wedge with a fork 3x. Slide the paper on to a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • For square cookies: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and slide the paper with the dough off the pan. Use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the dough into twenty five 2" x 2" squares. Slide the dough with the cookies back onto the sheet pan and space them out evenly. Poke each cookie 3x with a fork. Sprinkle the cookies generously with granulated sugar.
    granulated sugar for topping
  • If you're making the petticoat tails: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and sprinkle the round generously with granulated sugar.
    granulated sugar for topping
  • Bake the cookies until the center is set and the edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. If you're oven bakes unevenly, rotate the tray halfway through baking. For the petticoat tails allow the round to cool completely then use a long knife to cut along the scored lines.

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If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
To work ahead, you can cut cookies, wrap the tray and refrigerate for a few days before baking, or freeze up to three months. Defrost and then bake.


Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 227IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I could see using this recipe for a pie shell for my coconut cream pies. The hardest part was waiting for the sourdough discard to dry.