Classic Shortbread Cookies! These perfectly buttery shortbread cookies have a wonderful, rich flavor and crisp texture. With just 4 ingredients, they couldn’t be easier to make.
Why is it called shortbread?
The “short” in shortbread refers to the fact that a high percentage of fat and low moisture in the dough prevents the protein in the flour from developing long, strong gluten strands. Less developed, shorter strands of gluten makes a cookie with a tender, crumbly, melt-in-your mouth texture.
Shortbread dough is made with only butter, sugar, flour and salt. I don’t even add vanilla to my basic shortbread because I think good shortbread should taste like buttuh!
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Butter: Use unsalted to control the amount of salt in the recipe. The butter should be room temperature, which is about 70°F (21°C). The butter should be pliable but not soft and melty.
- Granulated sugar: Sugar not only adds sweetness, but sugar also absorbs moisture. By drawing the moisture (from the butter) out of the dough the sugar contributes to the crisp texture.
- All Purpose Flour: AP flour has the right amount of protein to keep the cookies from spreading too much or becoming tough and dry.
Scroll through the process photos to see how to make this recipe:
Cream the butter and sugar without adding too much air. The dough will look crumbly but will come together when you knead it.
How to make petticoat shortbread cookies:
- Form the dough into a round
- Roll the dough to a 12″ round
- Crimp the edges and cut the round into 12 or 16 wedges
- Poke each wedge 3x with a fork
- Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes
How to make shortbread fingers:
- Form the dough into a small square
- Roll the dough to a 8″x12″ rectangle
- Cut the dough into 1″ pieces along the 8″ side
- Cut the dough into 3″ segments along the 12″ side
- Poke each cookie 3x with a fork
- Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes
Bake the shortbread until the edges are golden brown and the center of the dough is set. Cool completely, then cut along the score lines.
Pastry chef tips for making the best shortbread cookies:
- Don’t overwhip the butter and sugar. Incorporating too much air into the dough will cause the cookies to rise and spread. A good shortbread cookie has a pleasantly “dense” and buttery texture.
- Cut the dough into cookies, but do not separate the individual cookies before baking. The dough will spread a bit in the oven but keeping the cookies together will prevent them from drying out.
- Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking to prevent it from spreading too much.
- If your oven has hot spots, turn the tray half way through for even baking.
- Bake on parchment paper for the best results. Don’t use a non-stick or buttered pan or the cookies will spread too much. If you don’t have parchment paper, butter and flour the pan.
- Overbaking can result in dry shortbread.
How to work ahead:
- You can freeze the shortbread dough or unbaked cookies for up to 1 month.
- You can refrigerate the dough or unbaked cookies for 1-2 days before baking.
How to store shortbread cookies:
- The baked cookies will keep at room temperature for several days. Store them in a tightly covered container.
- For longer term storage, the baked cookies can be frozen for up to a month.
Variations and add ins:
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 have a sourdough starter you can make Sourdough Shortbread
- Add a little cocoa to make Chocolate Shortbread
- Add coconut flour and make Coconut Shortbread
- A touch of rose water and a decoration makes Rose Shortbread
- For the holidays you can make Peppermint Bark Shortbread
- Make Savory Shortbread for your next charcuterie board
- Fill the dough with lemon curd and make Lemon Curd Shortbread
Hey Cookies Monster! Here are a few more classic cookies for you to try: Rainbow Cookies, Black & White Cookies, Diamant Sablé, Coconut Thin Cookies, Lemon Thins, Linzer Cookies, and cute little Checkerboard Cookies.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- 8 oz unsalted butter (room temp)
- 5 oz granulated sugar (½ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 10 oz all purpose flour (2 cups, see note)
- 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, just mix the ingredients. Scrape the bowl and beater.8 oz unsalted butter, 5 oz granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 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 small square or disc.10 oz all purpose flour
- To make shortbread "fingers": On a sheet of parchment paper pat the dough to a small square. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll to a 8”x12” rectangle. Use the straight edge of a ruler or a bench scraper to square off the edges. Use a long knife to cut the dough into 1" pieces along the 8" side and 3" pieces along the 12" side. Don't separate the cookies after cutting. Poke each cookie with a fork 3x. Slide the paper on to a sheet pan and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- To make petticoat shortbread: On a sheet of parchment paper pat the dough to a small disc. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll to a 12" round. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges of the round. Use a long knife to score the round into 12 or 16 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 350 °F.
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator and sprinkle the dough generously with granulated sugar.
- Bake the cookies until the dough is set all the way to the center, about 20 minutes. If you're oven bakes unevenly, rotate the tray halfway through baking. Allow to cool completely then use a long knife to cut along the scored lines to separate the cookies.
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