Classic Shortbread Cookies

classic shortbread cookie recipe

Have you ever tried a classic shortbread cookie?  Not the packaged, dried out things in the cookie aisle of your supermarket.  I mean the real thing, homemade shortbread cookies.

Traditional shortbread comes from Scotland and is a 1-2-3 recipe.  1 part white sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts oat flour.  Some bakers have swapped out oat flour for rice flour or cornflour.  More modern recipes have changed the sugar to 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 powdered sugar.  All of these changes can make slight alterations to the texture and taste but the results are still very tasty.

shortbread cookie recipe

The Scots call this cookie a biscuit and it shouldn’t be confused with shortcake.  Shortcake is more of a true cake recipe with eggs and baking powder.  Shortbread is denser and baked at low temperatures to avoid browning.

A Very Simple Recipe

There doesn’t need to be anything complicated about making shortbread cookies.  You have 4 ingredients, that’s all.  No special equipment is needed, just your stand mixer or a food processor.  This is a pan cookie, you will cut the cookies into their shapes after baking but before they have cooled.  Don’t wait too long to cut them, if they have cooled too much you end up with a crumbly cookie.

Shortbread Cookie Ingredients

  • 2 cups/250 grams all-purpose flour
  • cup/150 grams granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks/1 cup/226 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

If you can find European butter, use it!  It has a higher butter fat content and will result in a richer cookie.  Make sure it is unsalted.  Don’t let the butter warm, you want the dough to be crumbly before you press it into the pan.



  • Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together, but don’t over process or over mix; the dough should be somewhat crumbly. (You can also mix the dough in a bowl using two knives or a pastry cutter.)


  • Press dough into an even layer in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, or a 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Even though the original shortbread recipes used oat flour we are using all purpose flour here.  If your supermarket has fine oat flour you can substitute.