All-Butter Scottish Shortbread

All-Butter Scottish Shortbread Recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Depending on method up to:: 45 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
233 Calories
16g Fat
21g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
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. It is eaten around Christmas and is also an essential part of a traditional Scottish New Year (​called 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 equipment you use are cold. If you overwork the dough, too much gluten will develop, the butter will melt, and your crumb will be either too chewy or too tough. A successful shortbread is light and crumbly, with a dense, buttery taste.

These traditional Scottish treats have very few ingredients, which is why using the best butter you can find is so important. While some might argue that adding cornstarch isn't traditional, the fact is that it has been added for decades to make the shortbread crisper on the edges and softer in the center. The cookies can be shaped before or after baking.

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of 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 (3/4 cup plus 1 1/4 tablespoons) cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for the All-Butter Scottish Shortbread recipe
    The Spruce 
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F/170 C. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

    Preheating oven to 325 F
     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 about 10 minutes.

    Creamed butter, salt, and sugar in a bowl
     The Spruce
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch, and sift into the bowl with the butter and sugar. Mix quickly and thoroughly to bring all the ingredients together but do not overmix. 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 shapes or rounds using cookie cutters.

  7. Place the Scottish shortbreads onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until pale brown and crisp.

  8. 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 cooling on a wire rack
     The Spruce
  9. Enjoy.

    Scottish shorties on a plate with strawberries
     The Spruce

Flavored Shortbread

This basic dough allows home bakers to experiment with flavors to create their own shortbreads. To spice up your dough, add one of these to the butter while creaming it:

  • Leaves of 1 bag Earl Grey tea
  • 1/4 tablespoon 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 semisweet 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 least 15 minutes before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, store in an airtight tin or box.