Shortbread Cookies

Published November 28, 2020. Updated November 28, 2023

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An easy Buttery Shortbread Cookies recipe! It’s everything you love about the elegant shortbread treat: light sweetness, textured crispiness on the outside, and perfectly tender inside. They’re made with only FIVE ingredients and optional (but highly recommended) chocolate! 

Looking to make those pretty swirly-shaped cookies? Try my butter cookies recipe.

Overhead image of shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate on a blue plate lined with parchment paper.

Shortbread – The Perfect Christmas Cookie

These are such simple, humble cookies with rich and tempting flavors. They are delicious classics on their own, but they are also very easy to customize (see variations ideas below).

All that butter does the trick in this Scottish-style shortbread. A lot of the best foods start out with a generous dose of butter, don’t they?

Not only does quality butter bring an abundance of rich flavor, but it also gives them their distinctive crumbly and flaky texture.

Sure, you have lots of options to buy store-bought shortbread this time of year… but homemade buttery shortbread cookies are a game changer. They are fresher, cheaper, have a better butter flavor and a more tender texture. You’ll definitely be able to taste the difference with homemade shortbread.

Plus, these travel and ship well so they are great for holiday gifting or Christmas cookie swaps. Tis the season for cookies, so let’s get baking!

Christmas Shortbread cookies with a icing tree decoration.

Buttery Shortbread Cookie Recipe Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter: Salted butter can be used too (cookies will just be lightly saltier), just omit the salt in the recipe.
  • Granulated sugar: If you want cookies a little sweeter you can increase sugar to 2/3 cup.
  • Salt: Just use standard fine table salt.
  • Vanilla extract: Use real vanilla for the best shortbread.
  • All-purpose flour: I like to use unbleached all purpose flour. I’ve really converted to baking mostly with that this year. It has a better flavor than bleached and I wonder about the chemical bleaching process of bleached flour. If bleached is all you have, it will work.

Image of ingredients needed to make shortbread. Includes flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and optional chocolate for dipping.

How to Make Buttery Shortbread Cookies Dough

Stand Mixer

  • Mix cold diced butter, sugar and salt in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until combined.
  • Blend in vanilla and mix well.
  • Add flour and mix until fully combined. It will seem dry at first but it will come together as you keep mixing.
  • Compress dough together.

Food Processor

  • In a large food processor pulse flour, sugar and salt.
  • Add butter and blitz a few times then dot over with vanilla.
  • Pulse until it comes together.

By Hand

  • Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  • Add butter, dot vanilla over and rub mixture with fingertips until there are small crumbles.
  • Knead mixture until evenly blended and dough comes together well.
  • Chill dough to make it easier to work with before slicing if needed.

Collage of six images showing how to make shortbread cookies. Shows cutting cold butter into cubes, then mixing with sugar in a stand mixer. Then flour is added and mixed until it comes together.

Shaping and Baking Buttery Shortbread Cookies

Roll dough and slice with knife: This method is what I’ve used here. You’ll roll the dough out into a 1/3-inch thick rectangle on a floured surface. Trim away uneven edges, then cut dough into rectangles (or squares). Transfer to baking sheets and chill until firm, then bake in 350 degree oven 13 – 16 minutes.

Roll dough and cut with cookie cutters: Roll dough as directed then instead of cutting into squares or rectangles cut into desired shapes (re-roll scraps), chill and bake as directed.

Shape dough into logs and slice: This option simplifies things a little because you don’t have to roll dough out. Rather you can roll dough into 2 log shapes (press firm so there aren’t holes inside). Slice 1/3-inch thick then refrigerate and bake as directed.

Pressing dough into a pan: This is the simplest method. Rather than shaping beforehand just press dough into a 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Bake 325 about 35 minutes then cut into squares while warm.

Collage of six images showing how to roll, shape and cut shortbread cookies. Then also shows shortbread cookies on baking sheet before and after baking.

How to Store Buttery Shortbread Cookies

  • Let cookies cool completely on wire rack.
  • Then store in an airtight container.
  • Cookies can be stacked.

Shelf Life

  • Shortbread should keep up to 3 weeks at room temperature.
  • Or freeze up to 3 months.

Close up image of shortbread cookies with chocolate.


  • Try with other extracts such as almond, coconut, maple, coffee, rum extract etc.
  • Add citrus zest. Lemon or orange is delicious.
  • Mix in finely chopped nuts.
  • Add mini chocolate chips.
  • Season with spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Blend in sprinkles, like I did here.
  • Sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.
  • Decorate with royal icing (like the Christmas tree design above).
  • Prick the cookies with a fork for a classic shortbread appearance.
  • Dip in white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Finish with festive sprinkles.

Helpful Tips

  • Using cold butter in the recipe skips the need to chill dough 1 – 2 hours beforehand. I highly recommend this to save time, also using butter makes dough easier to work with and cookies spread less.
  • Mix long enough to fully incorporate ingredients.
  • Work to roll dough an even thickness for even baking.
  • Bake on ungreased cookie sheets so cookies spread less (don’t worry with all the butter in them they don’t stick).
  • Bake one sheet at a time for even cooking, keep other sheet chilled (again so cookies spread less).

Chocolate dipped Shortbread Cookies

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Rectangular shortbread cookies shown on a plate at a side angle.
4.93 from 26 votes

Shortbread Cookies Recipe

A classic cookie recipe! They're deliciously buttery and rich, lightly sweet, nicely crisp and perfectly tender. They're made with only FIVE ingredients and optional (but highly recommended) chocolate! 
Servings: 30
Prep30 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Ready in: 45 minutes



  • Add butter and sugar to bowl of electric stand mixer. Sprinkle salt around into bowl. Set mixer on medium-low speed and blend until combined.
  • Add vanilla and blend mixture until well combined (butter should be evenly blended in), scrape down bowl as needed.
  • Pour in flour and mix until combined.
  • On a floured surface, roll dough out 1/3-inch thick. Cut into squares or rectangles (using a cookie cutter or knife. I did about 3 by 1-inch rectangles here).
  • Transfer to ungreased baking sheets spacing 1-inch apart. You can dust of excess flour from scrapes, compress together and re-roll.
  • Transfer baking sheets to refrigerator and chill 30 minutes. Halfway through preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake one sheet at a time in center of oven until cookies are just set about 13 - 16 minutes. Tip: around 9 minutes if your cookies are spreading uneven on edges you can remove from oven and use a butter knife to scoot spread portion back in and even out their edges.
  • Let cool on baking sheet 15 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with second baking sheet.
  • If opting to use optional chocolate finish: Place chocolate in microwave safe dish. Melt in 20 second increments on 50% power, stirring between intervals until melted and smooth (or melt in a double boiler on the stovetop).
  • Dip cooled cookies about halfway into chocolate, lift cookie then run bottom side of cookie along inside bowl edge to remove excess chocolate. Transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheets then refrigerate to set.


  • *If you want them a little sweeter you can use 2/3 cup sugar.
  • **If you are at high altitude or if your cookies are normally prone to spreading then add and extra 2 - 3 Tbsp flour.
  • Try with other extracts such as almond (you'll only need about 1/2 tsp), coconut, maple, coffee, rum extract etc.
  • Add citrus zest. Lemon or orange is delicious.
  • Mix in finely chopped nuts.
  • Add mini chocolate chips.
  • Season with spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Blend in sprinkles, like I did here.
  • Sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.
  • Decorate with royal icing (like the Christmas tree design above).
  • Prick the cookies with a fork for a classic shortbread appearance.
  • Dip in white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Finish with festive sprinkles.
Nutrition Facts
Shortbread Cookies Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 141 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 17mg6%
Sodium 21mg1%
Potassium 54mg2%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 192IU4%
Calcium 8mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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  • Deb

    These came out great for my Christmas cookie selections and have given out the recipe to a couple of people. I did your green “Christmas tree squiggle” and glittery sugars and even found the little star candies! Your squiggles look way better than mine, but you could still tell it was a tree LOL. The recipe is a keeper and I want to try it next with the chocolate dip. Thank you!

  • Faith

    I made these for the first time. The last and only other time I’ve tried shortbread cookies they didn’t turn out very well at all but this recipe was really easy to follow and they turned out great. I used orange extract and with the chocolate dipped ends they were sooo good I had to make more because they disappeared so fast 😋

  • Cindy

    Hi,do you have approximate measurements when you roll the dough out? Or do I do the 1/3” thickness? TY

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I believe it’s about 10 to 11 inches by 9 inches. But as long as it’s 1/3 inch thick the exact dimensions shouldn’t matter so much. Enjoy!

  • Danielle

    I just made these and they are so delicious! My mother also loved them and asked for the recipe. They aren’t like traditional whipped shortbread, but in my opinion they are better. Thanks for sharing. A new family favourite!

  • Mary

    I decided to make Christmas Cutout Cookies with your Shortbread Recipe and they came out and look wonderful! I love the buttery flavor and that they’re not too sweet. I will be adding this recipe to my list of cookie recipes for the holidays. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

  • Chris

    I came here because of the picture with the cookies decorated with a festive tree design. I’m disappointed because I don’t see the needed ingredients nor directions for how to decorate the cookies. It might seem simple to some with skills and experience, but it’s not something I can figure out on my own. I can, however, follow directions to (hopefully) obtain the pictured results. If you’re going to use the festive Christmas tree picture to draw people in, then please be sure to include full directions (not 4 words in a bulleted list under “Variations”).


    I just love all your cookie recipes. They look beautiful and taste delicious. Cooking Classy is my new recipe for classy ideas. Thank you. I’m hooked!

    • Debbie

      Delicious! I made a batch of plain, tasted one (delicious) – dirtied everything again, to make another delicious batch. Made half a batch with nuts in some and chocolate on another – both were – you guessed it delicious. My next batch will be nuts and chocolate in one batch then citrus in the other. Did I mention they were delicious?
      Thank you for sharing this easy delicious recipe. Oh my husband thanks you as well. 🤭

  • Kim

    I made these and baked them in a 9×9 pan and cut in small squares and turned out perfect. This is a delicious recipe and I used almond extract instead of vanilla. Thank you for this simple yet delicious recipe.