All-Butter Scottish Shortbread

All-Butter Scottish Shortbread Recipe

The Spruce

  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Depending on method up to:: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 Shortbread (12 Servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
233 Calories
16g Fat
21g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 Shortbread (12 Servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 233
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 145mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 1g
Calcium 20mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Shortbread is one of the most famous Scottish cookies. Eaten around Christmas, it is also an essential part of a traditional Scottish New Year (​Hogmanay). The success of a "shortie"—the Scottish nickname for shortbread—is to handle the dough with care and work it as little as possible. Do not pound or knead it heavily and make sure your hands and the dishes you use are cold. The resulting shortbread will then be light and crumbly, with a dense buttery taste. If you overwork it, too much gluten will develop, the butter will melt, and your crumb will be either too chewy or too tough. Less is more.

In other parts of Britain, similar shortbreads are made with vegetable fat and have baking powder or baking soda, but these traditional Scottish treats have very few ingredients; while some might argue that adding corn starch isn't traditional, the fact is that it is. It has been added for decades to make the shortbread crisper in the edges and softer in the center.

Shape them before or after baking but don't miss the chance to try out these traditional delicious treats.

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar (caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 3 1/2 ounces cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The Spruce 
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F/170 C.

    Preheating oven.
     The Spruce
  3. In a large bowl cream together the butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color, either by hand or with the help of an electric mixer. This might take a minimum of 10 minutes.

    Whipped butter.
     The Spruce
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch and sieve into the bowl with the butter and sugar. Mix quickly and thoroughly to bring all the ingredients together but do not over mix. If worked too much, the dough will warm up and the shortbread will have a poor crumb.

    Mixed shortbread ingredients.
     The Spruce
  5. Tip the mixture onto a cold and lightly floured work surface. Knead lightly and quickly to form a loose dough. 

    Scottish shortbread dough.
     The Spruce
  6. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/4-inch thick. Prick the surface all over with a fork. Cut into desired shape or rounds using cookie cutters.

  7. Place the Scottish shortbreads on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until pale brown and crisp. Once they're cooked, sprinkle the warm shortbreads with superfine sugar and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight tin or box.

    Scottish shortbread.
     The Spruce
  8. Enjoy!

    Scottish shorties.
     The Spruce

Flavored Shortbread

Although our shortbread recipe stands the test of yumminess without any additional flavoring, this basic dough allows home cooks to experiment with their favorite flavors to create their own shortbreads. To spice up your dough, add one of these to the butter while you're creaming it:

  • The leaves of 1 bag of Earl Grey tea.
  • 1/4 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
  • 1 vanilla bean.
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of matcha powder.
  • 1 tablespoon of lime, lemon, or orange zest.

These crunchy ingredients can be added before quickly kneading your dough:

  • 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • 1/2 cup of currants, tart cherries, or golden raisins.

Cutting After Baking

If you choose to shape the shortbreads after they've been baked, follow these steps:

  • Grease a 13 x 9-inch pan with butter. Press the dough evenly into the pan and prick it all over with a fork. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • With the shortbread still in the pan, cut into squares or fingers, dust with powdered sugar, and let cool for at leas15 minutes before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, store in an airtight tin or box.