My shortbread cookie recipe makes tender, buttery, classic shortbread cookies that hold their shape in the oven and melt in your mouth. Dipping in chocolate is optional, but highly recommended! Recipe includes a how-to video!
The Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe
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!
SAM’S TIP: Add your dry ingredients gradually! This dough is fairly stiff, and if you add them all at once, you will have a very tough time bringing everything together.
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
- Cream the butter with an electric mixer until lightened in color and creamy.
- Add the sugar gradually and keep mixing until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla extract until well incorporated.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the wet ingredients.
- 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.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is ⅛-¼” thick.
- 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.
- 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.
SAM’S TIP: If you don’t want to bake your dough right away, you can let it sit in the fridge for up to five days. It might be a bit tough to roll if chilled longer than an hour though, so you may need to let it warm up at room temperature a bit before rolling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! I’d recommend mini chocolate chips as regular-sized ones could be too thick and bulky in the dough. I’d probably add around a cup, fold them in using a spatula after adding all the dry ingredients to the dough.
Yes! If you’d like to do this, follow the instructions for cut-out cookies in my how to freeze cookie dough post.
The main difference between these two cookies is the ingredients and the ratios of the ingredients. Sugar cookies typically contain eggs, while shortbread cookies do not. Shortbread also has a higher ratio of butter to flour and are usually more crumbly and tender as a result.
If you’re on the hunt for a great sugar cookie recipe, try my easy sugar cookie recipe!
I’d love to hear how you like this new shortbread cookie recipe, especially if you were a fan of the old one!
Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until lightened, smooth and creamy.1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter
- Gradually add sugar, stirring until light and creamy.¾ cup (95 g) powdered sugar
- Add vanilla extract and stir well.1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt and whisk until combined.2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, ½ teaspoon table salt
- Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir until completely combined.
- Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes.
- Once cookie dough is nearly done chilling, preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is between ⅛”-¼” thickness. Press a cookie cutter directly into dough, making cuts close together, and place cookies on baking sheet spacing at least 2” apart. Combine any remaining scraps of cough into a ball and re-roll to make more cookies.
- Transfer baking sheet to center rack of 350F (175C) oven and bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn a very light golden brown (bake time will vary depending on thickness of dough and size of cookie cutter).
- If desired, melt 1 cup/6 oz/170g chocolate and dip completely cooled cookies into chocolate. Place cookies on a wire rack and allow chocolate to set before serving.
Number of cookiesThis will vary depending on the size of the cookie cutter used and how thick or thin you roll the dough. I use a 2” cookie cutter and get about 44 cookies.
ButterUpgrade to European-style butter for richer-tasting, more buttery cookies.
VanillaElevate your cookies by substituting 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste or the seeds of a scraped vanilla bean for the vanilla extract.
VariationsMake a brown sugar shortbread by reducing the powdered sugar to ½ cup (63g), cream ¼ cup (50g) of brown sugar with the butter, and increase cornstarch to 3 Tablespoons.
Original recipeOriginal recipe can be found here.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Recipe and photos updated 11/30/23. If you’d like the original recipe, you can find it here.