Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Y’all, this Shortbread Cookie Recipe is straight-up irresistible! That first bite? Crispy perfection, followed by a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth experience. And honey, that light drizzle of chocolate on top? It adds a depth of flavor that’ll have you remembering these cookies long after they’re gone. It’s a simple little cookie with just a few ingredients and easy-peasy instructions, but oh, does it deliver on flavor! Perfect for the holiday season, but let’s be real, it’s a classic you’ll wanna enjoy all year round.

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Chocolate drizzled shortbread cookies on a parchment lined wire rack against a white background.

Yall we can never have enough cookies, and the options are limitless. Thumbprint, gingerbread, macaroon, or custard cream, the list is both endless and delish.

While I love the innovation and variety, I also never turn down the classics. I’m talking snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, and chewy sugar cookies! Each one offers its own incredible flavor and irresistible nostalgia, especially the classic shortbread cookie.

What are Shortbread Cookies?

Shortbread, with its delish crispy and buttery vibes, is pretty much the ultimate cookie, y’all. These babies have that extra crisp texture ’cause they’re made without any leavening – and that crunch?

It’s their signature move. They’ve got this fab flaky texture, kinda like pie crust, you know? And when it crumbles and just melts away in your mouth – isn’t that just everything we love about a good cookie?

They can be decorated or left plain, dunked in coffee or hot chocolate and even stored in tins and given away as a sweet treat.  They are so versatile. 

This shortbread cookie recipe comes from the amazing Sarah Kieffer, who I like to think of as a baking queen y’all.  Her cookies are absolutely sensational. 

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Absolute Perfect Treat. It starts with the crisp first bite, followed by the melt-in-your-mouth sweetness and a slight coating of butter that lingers so wonderfully. One bite of this cookie, and you’re never going back.
  • Short Ingredient List. Shortbread cookies are made without eggs or a leavener making a super simple ingredient list. All you need are four simple ingredients to make the cookies, plus the chocolate for drizzling.
  • Easy Recipe For Beginner Bakers. If you struggle with baking, shortbread cookies are an easy recipe to start with baking. They are easy to mix up, and you really can’t mess them up too much!
  • Versatile Cookie: It’s a basic cookie that lends itself to a variety of add-ins and flavoring options you can use to customize them to your own taste preferences. You can also cut them into different shapes, making them ideal for special occasions and holidays.
  • Great for Gift Giving. They make an ideal choice for gift-giving during the holiday season or other special occasions. Their simplicity and elegance make them an excellent homemade gift.

Ingredients for Shortbread Cookies

To make the perfect crisp shortbread cookies, you will need just a few key ingredients:

  • Butter: Butter is what ensures the best texture and taste of your cookies. So you have to be sure to use good quality butter. Believe me, you’ll taste the difference. I really adore using European-style butter for shortbread cookies because the fat content is much higher and the cookies end up tasting much richer.
  • Flour: An essential base you need for your cookies.
  • Sugar: This recipe uses powdered sugar which easily dissolves into the butter giving the cookies a very tender texture.
  • Salt: As with all baking, salt is key.  Everyone always thinks about the sugar in baked goods but salt is just as important.
  • Vanilla: For the rich vanilla flavor in these shortbread cookies, we are using vanilla bean seeds.
  • Chocolate: The light drizzle of chocolate on top adds an added depth of flavor. Personally, I love the use of the bittersweet chocolate.

You will find the entire ingredient list, along with quantities for each, in the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients to make this shortbread cookie recipe on the table before mixing.

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

Now that you know what ingredients you need, it’s time to get baking! Here’s an overview of the steps. I suggest checking the detailed instructions in the recipe card before you actually start mixing.

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix together on low speed. 
  2. Add the butter one piece at a time and mix on medium until it is incorporated and the dough starts to form a ball. When it’s done mixing, shape it into a flat disk, roll it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for thirty minutes.
Collage of two images showing the dry ingredients in a bowl and then the butter added.
  1. Roll out the dough into a half-inch thick square. 
  2. Cut the dough into circles using a 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter.  

PRO TIP: Only place 8-9 cookies on your baking sheet at a time. Store excess dough or any dough scraps wrapped in the refrigerator while the cookies are baked. Then repeat with the second batch.

  1. Transfer the cookies to a prepared baking sheet using a metal spatula. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges of the cookies begin to brown.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool completely before drizzling with chocolate.
A collage of images with the dough rolled out and then cut into circles and transferred to a baking pan.

Melt and Drizzle the Chocolate

  1. Melt one ounce of chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of shallow boiling water. Stir constantly until it’s melted. Add the remaining chocolate and continue to stir until smooth. Allow it to cool to room temperature.

PRO TIP: The water in the pot shouldn’t touch the bowl you use. You need just enough water to boil and you want to avoid splashing any water into your chocolate which may cause it to seize.

  1. Spoon the room-temperature chocolate into a zipper-lock bag and seal it closed. Snip the tip to make a very small opening.  Avoid making the opening too big because the chocolate will flow out too fast. 
  2. Drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the cookies. You can use a criss-cross pattern as shown in my pictures or any pattern you like.  Let the chocolate set before removing the cookies from the pan (unless, of course, you need to eat one right away).
A collage of images with the melted chocolate in a bowl, in a bag, and drizzled on the shortbread cookies.

Tips for these great!

Here are a couple of tips to make these the best shortbread cookies possible. 

  • Do Not Skip Refrigerating Your Cookie Dough. I know you’re in a hurry and it may be tempting to simply go ahead and roll out your dough. However, the refrigeration allows your dough to set properly so the cookies hold their shape as they bake and don’t spread out too much.
  • Use Vanilla Bean Paste! If you don’t have actually vanilla beans this product makes a great option.  I actually keep vanilla bean paste in my kitchen because I adore the convenience of it.  You can add it to a recipe like you would add vanilla extract. But your cookies will taste better using the paste or vanilla beans rather than extract.
  • Cool the Cookies Completely Before Decorating! The one mistake I read about a lot is impatience.  Have you ever tried decorating warm cookies?  Icing and just about everything falls off and melts away.  Have a little patience and wait until everything is completely cooled before drizzling with chocolate.
  • Baking Your Cookies. Bake one sheet pan at a time with the rack in the middle of the oven. This ensures that the cookies are evenly heated and don’t cook too quickly on the bottom or the top. Don’t forget to preheat! When your oven is hot your cookies will cook more evenly in the correct amount of time.
  • Best Buttery Flavor. Use a high-quality unsalted butter and don’t forget to let it sit at room temperature to soften before mixing. This ensures the butter easily blends with the flour and sugar creating a smooth cookie dough. Shortbread is known for its buttery flavor so this is not the recipe to prepare using a lower-quality butter.

Popular Substitutions & Additions

  • Change Up The Chocolate. You can easily personalize this recipe by using the chocolate of your choosing. White, dark, milk or peppermint! Whichever you choose will add a silky, cocoa flavor that compliments your shortbread perfectly. You can even do a combination of flavors if you want.
  • Add Some Nuts: Shortbread cookies work great with nuts added. I suggest chopping them well so they blend in with the cookie dough. Add them right at the end and fold them in just long enough to incorporate them fully. You can also simply sprinkle them over the top of your cookie cutouts.
  • Add Some Citrus. Give your shortbread cookies a hint of lemon or orange by mixing finely chopped citrus zest into your cookie dough.
  • Add Some Spice. If you want to add a hint of warming spice, add in a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, or a popular blend such as pumpkin spice.
  • Skip the Chocolate. If you prefer to leave off the chocolate you can sprinkle your cookies with some coarse sugar before baking or you can add a simple cookie glaze or sprinkle of powdered sugar after baking.
Chocolate drizzled shortbread cookies on a silver wire rack against white background with a bowl of sugar and chocolate to the side.

What to Serve with Shortbread Cookies

  • Create Holiday Gift Cookie Boxes. These cookies make the perfect holiday gifts. I love to pack them up in cookie tins or trays along with white chocolate ginger cookies, peanut brittle, and eggnog cookie dough truffles.
  • Serve with a Tasty Beverage. For something sweet try this sugar cookie martini or a hot chocolate.
  • Enjoy Them for Holiday Parties. They make a delightful cookie to enjoy on a buffet along with other easy-to-eat foods. Mini tomato tarts, potato pinwheels, crab cakes, bacon popcorn, and deviled eggs are just a few of my favorite easy-to-eat appetizers to serve for parties.
  • Dessert Table for Family Gatherings. When creating a dessert table, consider adding a variety of different types of desserts, flavors, and textures. This gives everyone options or they can sample a bit of each. A combination such as this banana pudding pie, blueberry crumble bars, honey bun cake, and red velvet trifles would work great.

How to Store

For best results, store your cookies in an airtight container or cookie tin at room temperature. I suggest placing a piece of parchment in between layers of the cookies so they don’t stick together. If it’s warm, you might consider placing them in a cabinet or pantry that’s a bit cooler. You can also make the dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge.

How long will shortbread cookies last?

At room temp, your cookies will stay fresh for up to a week and the dough will last in the fridge for up to a week.

Can I freeze shortbread cakes?

Oh yeah, they work great to freeze once baked. Place them in a container or bag and freeze for up to three months. You can also freeze the dough for up to a month.

Close up shot of broken shortbread cookie with chocolate drizzle against white background.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie?

Sugar cookies and Shortbread cookies have very similar flavors.  In fact, they can even be decorated similarly.  However, sugar cookies are more tender and softer in texture.  That’s also because shortbread cookies don’t have eggs which change the texture completely.
Sugar cookies also have a bit more sugar and sweeter taste.  If you have time to do a side-by-side taste test, by all means, do it and do it during the holiday season.

How do you know when shortbread is cooked?

You want the bottoms to start to be lightly brown with a hint of light brown edges as well. To keep them perfectly tender avoid overcooking.

Can I use salted butter to make these cookies?

Yes, you can! I suggest skipping the additional salt in the recipe. I prefer baking with unsalted butter since different brands of butter contain different amounts of salt. It simply gives you more control over the exact flavor you want in your cookie.

What is the secret to good shortbread?

The main things I suggest if you want to ensure the best cookies are to stick with the ingredients in the recipe and make sure you use high-quality options. Good butter and real vanilla beans (or paste) are highly recommended!

A stack of the best shortbread cookies drizzled with chocolate on a white countertop.

Alright, now that I’ve spilled the tea on whipping up the best shortbread cookie recipe and shared a slice of my cookie obsession, it’s your turn to get busy in the kitchen. Time to break out that mixer, roll out some dough, and treat yourself to a buttery bite of this bomb shortbread. Trust me, once you’ve had a taste of these cookies, you’ll be making them over and over again – they’re that good!

*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!

Shortbread cookies stacked on silver tray against white background

Shortbread Cookie Recipe

This Shortbread Cookie Recipe is irresistible! The initial bite is wonderfully crisp followed by a melt in your mouth buttery texture. The light drizzle of chocolate on top adds an added depth of flavor that is unforgettable!
4.67 from 33 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 2 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 17 cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Chocolate Topping

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Instructions

  • Adjust an oven rack in the middle position.  Preheat the oven to 350 F . Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a paddle, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds on low speed.  Add the butter one piece at a time and mix on medium until it is incorporated and the dough starts to form a ball.  Dump dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, shape into a flat disc, and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough into a large, 1/2 inch thick square.  Using a 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles.  (Any dough scraps can be rewrapped and chilled while the cookies are baking).  Gently slide a metal spatula underneath each round and transfer it to a prepared baking sheet.  Place 8-9 on each sheet.
  • Bake one sheet at a time, 15-17 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.  Transfer the pan to a wire wrack and allow the cookies to cool completely before drizzling with chocolate.

For the Chocolate

  • Put about 1 inch of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. 
  • Melt 1 ounce of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over the pan of boiling water, being careful not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.  Stir constantly until just melted.  Add the remaining 1 ounce and stir until the chocolate is completely smooth.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

To Decorate

  • Keep the cookies on the baking sheet.  Spoon the room temperature chocolate into a zipper-lock bag and close to seal, then snip the tip to make a very small opening.  If the opening is too big, the chocolate will flow out too fast.  Drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the cookies, making criss-cross patterns (or any pattern you like).  Let the chocolate set before removing the cookies from the pan (unless, of course, you need to eat one right away).

Notes

Be sure to check the full post for variations, storage information, ingredient tips, and more!
  • Do Not Skip Refrigerating Your Cookie Dough. I know you’re in a hurry and it may be tempting to simply go ahead and roll out your dough. However, the refrigeration allows your dough to set properly so the cookies hold their shape as they bake and don’t spread out too much.
  • Use Vanilla Bean Paste! If you don’t have actually vanilla beans this product makes a great option.  I actually keep vanilla bean paste in my kitchen because I adore the convenience of it.  You can add it to a recipe like you would add vanilla extract. But your cookies will taste better using the paste or vanilla beans rather than extract.
  • Cool the Cookies Completely Before Decorating! The one mistake I read about a lot is impatience.  Have you ever tried decorating warm cookies?  Icing and just about everything falls off and melts away.  Have a little patience and wait until everything is completely cooled before drizzling with chocolate.
  • Baking Your Cookies. Bake one sheet pan at a time with the rack in the middle of the oven. This ensures that the cookies are evenly heated and don’t cook too quickly on the bottom or the top. Don’t forget to preheat! When your oven is hot your cookies will cook more evenly in the correct amount of time.
  • Best Buttery Flavor. Use a high-quality unsalted butter and don’t forget to let it sit at room temperature to soften before mixing. This ensures the butter easily blends with the flour and sugar creating a smooth cookie dough. Shortbread is known for its buttery flavor so this is not the recipe to prepare using a lower-quality butter.

Nutrition

Calories: 102kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 72mg | Potassium: 28mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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Filed Under:  Christmas, Cookies, Dessert and Baking, Oven

Comments

  1. EXCELLENT! I shared them with 8 of my besties on a recent outing and they were the HIT of the evening. The compliments poured in from the Shortbread lovers in the group. Yahoo!

  2. I made these yesterday. They were delicious! My only regret, I wish I had Doubled the recipe. They disappeared FAST!

    1. I would keep it the same measurement or bring it down just a tiny bit. They can usually be substituted by the same amount.

    1. Are you trying to cut letters out for a cake? I apologize for not quite understanding.

4.67 from 33 votes (22 ratings without comment)

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