At some point in the swamp of time that has been this past winter, my husband convinced me that we should watch Ted Lasso and, despite my skepticism about a dad-joking American football coach who gets a job coaching professional soccer in England’s ability to hold my interest, I begrudgingly agreed. It turned out to be… kind of delightful? Objectively enjoyable, really. Don’t worry, I will not be discussing sports today and there won’t be any spoilers, but do know that homemade shortbread cookies have a recurring role and that is where our story begins.
The moment the season ended, my hunt for the actually-most-delicious* shortbread recipe began. My platonic ideal of shortbread has always been Walkers brand shortbread fingers and I know this is going to upset some people because of course there’s so much better out there, especially homemade, but I live quite far from the shortbread motherland of Scotland in their defense, these packaged cookies have have the exact same ingredient list as homemade (butter, flour, sugar), and when does that ever happen?
[Just a casual reminder that SK is not sponsored by Ted Lasso or Walkers, I am recommending them on my own free will/questionable taste because I am… bad at business.]
I set out to recreate them as best as I could and considering that there are, once again, three ingredients, I thought it would be a cinch and yet I went through an unconscionable number of pounds of butter over the last few months trying to get them the way I thought they should be.
- Formula: The standard Scottish shortbread formula is 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour, but this isn’t exactly 1 cup sugar, 2 cups butter, and 3 cups flour because it’s by weight, and yes I learned this the hard way. Weight-wise, it works out to 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar, 200 grams (less than 1 cup) butter, and 300 grams (2 1/3 cups) flour, which is a solid formula for roll-out or shaped shortbread, but as my goal was pan-baked, I could get away with less flour for a more tender shortbread. I used less sugar due to preference, and fond memories of barely-sweet Walkers.
- Flour: I tried partial flour swaps with cornstarch (but found it chalky) and semolina (excellent and then suddenly it was sold out everywhere, which was the nudge I needed to get these right with no “special” ingredients), before settling on all all-purpose flour.
- Sugars: I tested with granulated sugar, superfine or caster sugar, powdered sugar, before settling on powdered, which gives a boost of tenderness to the cookies.
- Butter: I am deeply, stubbornly devoted to the use of “everyday” butter — that is, the store brand or equivalent stuff — in my recipe development, not because I do not love the taste of higher-fat European and Irish butters, but because I want my recipes to work no matter what your butter budget is. Since there are only three ingredients here, however, each ingredient is more prominent and should you splurge on the lush stuff, your investment will pay off, although I promise it’s delicious with all kinds.
- Flavors: You can flavor these any way you crave — I use 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste here, but extract would work too, as would lemon, orange or another citrus zest, almond extract, and more.
- Baking: I loved a low-and-slow bake on these for even color and a crisp texture. Key here for best flavor is getting a nice golden edge on the cookie without letting it fully brown. Baking time will vary because I find ovens often inconsistent at 300°F (150°C) but will guide you.
But what truly unraveled me was the shaping.
- Shaping method: I tried what felt like every possible method for cutting the pan of shortbread into fingers: Warm from the oven (looked okay but I wanted cleaner edges), warm from the oven after scoring the tops before baking (didn’t improve anything), fully cut in the pan before baking (it fully reattaches in the oven), and 10 minutes into the baking time (ditto with the reattaching), halfway into the baking time (didn’t reattach but the top was too dry to get a clean cut) before settling on 20 minutes in. When they come out of the oven, they should naturally separate at their lines, and are easily detached with a thin knife where they do not.
- Two-step cutting: When I shape the cookies, I like to do it in two parts. First, I use the back of a wooden skewer to gently drag across/indent the surface before making final, deep cuts with a knife because I like the more cushion-y final shape this makes, more reminiscent of my storebought favorites. You can absolutely skip this wider indent before cutting with a knife for a flatter top.
And they’re perfect — excellent once cool, but absolutely amazing over the next week. You’re in for a treat.
* Hannah Waddingham, whose character is the recipient of shortbread gifts, said in an interview that the cookies were actually terrible. “That’s the greatest acting job of my life, that anyone thought they tasted nice… Literally like sticking a piece of sponge in your face.” [Hire me, guys. I can make this right.]
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- 1 cup (230 grams or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- ⅔ cup (80 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Flavoring of choice (see Note)
- 2 ¼ cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
In a stand mixer: Beat butter, sugar, and salt together, scraping frequently, until butter is soft. Add flavoring of choice and flour, and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl again. This is the same order as for a hand mixer, but with a hand mixer, you’ll want the butter semi-softened first.
In a food processor: Combine powdered sugar, salt, and flour in the work bowl, pulsing a few times. Add flavoring of choice and butter and pulse several times to chop the butter down into smaller pieces. Then, run the machine until it is fully incorporated, coming together in a smooth mass, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape down the bowl a few times for even mixing.
All methods: Add to baking pan in chunks. Use hands to press evenly into the pan, then an offset spatula to smooth the top.
Bake: For 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to cut into shapes. Leave oven on.
Shape the cookies: For the 8-inch square pan, cut into 3 columns (about 2.5 inches wide) in one direction and 8 thin bars (just shy of 1 inch) in the other. Use the back of a wooden skewer (cut method explained explained in the post) to drag across the surface, making slightly indented lines first, then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
For a 9-inch round pan, use a 2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut the center. Then, use the back of a wooden skewer (cut method explained in the post) to gently indent lines like sun rays or the hands of a clock from the inner circle to the outer edge of the cookie so that they’re your desired size wedges. Then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
Finish baking: Return to the oven for another 25 to 35 minutes, until cookies have a deep golden edge but are mostly pale across the top. I find most ovens unreliable (either running hot or cold) at 300 degrees so keep an eye on these in the last 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t overbake.
Let cool in pan, or, if you’re impatient, let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove them.
Do ahead: Shortbread keeps for 1 week, if not longer, at room temperature. It freezes well too, just wrap it tight.
Note: You can watch an Instagram Story, or TikTok demo of this recipe, too.
351 comments on classic shortbread
Have been waiting for someone with patience and skill to conquer this “simple” recipe…thank you Deb!
Love me some Lasso. I have been trying to find time to make these b/c I thought they needed longer than your average cook time for cookies. I am happy to see I can give them a go this weekend!
I came to check this too. I suspect by weight you do a straight swap. By volume you have to account for powdered sugar’s fluffiness.
Oops, this was meant to be in response to someone asking about swapping the powdered sugar for granulated or castor sugar.
Bless you! I’ve been wanting to make a really good shortbread for a while, but I’ve been dragging my feet because I can’t stand the thought of making a batch that’s not as good as I want it to be!
Quick question – does the docking do anything, or is it purely for attractiveness. I’m a lazy baker. ;)
It’s supposed to make them bake more evenly. Also, stabbing things can be therapeutic.
Long-time reader, first-time commenter, because “Also, stabbing things can be therapeutic.” is the best baking direction ever. 😍
I bought a kit from a flour company from Scotland for shortbread cookies and I just added butter. The cookies were delicious but I only got 8 cookies from the recipe because I didn’t use the dough properly. This recipe has good instructions on handling the dough. I’m sure my next batch will come out perfectly. Thank you.
This shortbread is so good and so easy. Have made many times. Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting(trial and error batches)
I cannot agree more, with either Deb’s comment or Karenn M’s. :)
How did you know I’ve been craving shortbread with my evening tea?! Perfect timing, Deb. Can’t wait to try them…
Any guidelines for the amount of flavoring? 1tsp of vanilla extract? More/less? I don’t have vanilla bean paste! And I must have these before Friday’s next episode!!
I think she mentions that in her narrative before the recipe. 1 tsp vanilla paste equals 1 tsp vanilla. Hope this helps.
I’ve been watching Ted Lasso too and found myself scrolling through Smitten Kitchen cookie recipes, not really aware of why I was here. When I came across this one I said “That’s it! That’s what I’m craving, of course!”
I just made these for the second time because my first batch didn’t come out quite right and it was bugging me (also I’m still not done with the show and they’re delicious). This time I weighed my ingredients, and I had a rude awakening to how off my cups of flour are! I had put far too much flour in the first batch. I had suspected this based on how dry the dough was but it was still shocking since I was scooping and leveling. Anyways thank you Deb for all of your amazing recipes!!
I’m almost certain you already know this but just in case…….always completely fluff the flower in the canister. Then fill the measuring cup with a spoon and level. It was a revelation to me how much closer to the correct weight this method is for measuring out flour by cups.
This is the recipe I didn’t know I was waiting for!!!
My husband fell in love with Ma’amoul biscuits, and bought semolina flour ages ago intending to make them. He lost interest and I have a kg of semolina in the cupboard. :-)
Bad at business, perhaps. But you are probably one of the only food blogs I can go to these days without bring slapped in the face with pop ups and videos and screaming ads, and for this, you are a food blog heroine.
So I salute your bad-at-business-ness and say thank you for being you.
Brenda, fan since way before pop up ads were born.
Here, here! As Brenda stated above, l so appreciate the calm that I feel when visiting SK. I can focus on reading your story and being inspired on the ingredient or theme or … whatever comes to mind. The increasing level of pop-ups and ads on others has been a major distractor for me… and I’ve stopped following several. I know the creators deserve (and in some case rely on) some compensation, but the aggressive function of some pop-ups needs to be tempered. I’d fully support an add free subscription option if offered – most especially from SK. Deb, you are a joy to read!
Completely agree would support you an ad free subscription!!
So agree. All the other blog sites give me a headache after a few minutes as there are so many pop ups and you feel you are wading through a jungle with a machete just trying to get to the actual recipe!
TOTALLY agree with all of you!! I’ve left so many other blogs after a few minutes because of the pop ups!!!!🤬
No browned butter? Deb, are you feeling ok?
Ha! For once, I did not. But do know that you can.
Thank you for this, Deb! I’ve been regularly making your twice-baked shortbread to fulfill my cravings ever since I watched Ted Lasso, but Walker’s is my Platonic Shortbread Ideal, too. Very excited to try this out!
I have been waiting and waiting for you to bless us with a classic shortbread! I love your espresso one and have been making it for years! Question here – how easy is it to add in flavors here if I wanted to diversify a bit? Citrus zest, lavender flowers, etc. Thank you Deb!
It should be very easy, especially because they’re pan-baked so even an extra teaspoon of liquid won’t mess up their structure.
Not surprised you read our minds to create the Ted Lasso shortbread. The season season will be out so soon!!!!
My recipe is very similar, and a favorite variation is to add Chai spices, as follows. So lovely with tea.
1 ½ t ground cardamom
½ t ground ginger
½ t ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
I just got a fresh bottle of cardamom and was think of that as soon as I read the recipe.
Deb, you are a genius. I’ve never been able to make perfect shortbread — it’s always too crumbly or too dry and brittle, and then I get mad that I wasted good butter. I had given up and then you gave us this beautiful recipe —- I followed it to the letter, used 1 t vanilla extract, and my family was delighted. The shaping and cutting instructions are mind-blowingly easy _and_ effective. The shortbread separates into neat fingers and then simply melts in your mouth. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now my husband insists I have to watch TED LASSO.
I’ve been thinking about making chai flavored shortbread! Thank you for sharing your version!
Ooh, interested to try this! I’ve been using a recipe by a popular author that, while delicious, is always under-baked, even when I bake it for much longer than stated in the recipe.
Between Ted Lasso and the Great British Baking Show, I have been dying to try my hand at shortbread. Thanks for doing the work for us. Can’t wait to try it this weekend!
THANK YOU. Ted Lasso is just a delight, and those biscuits look so good. Shame that they’re not, but I will be promptly making yours. :)
Loved Ted Lasso! I actually made the shortbread from your archive for the finale. How do these compare? Because those? We’re delicious!!!!
Those are more crisp with a slightly deeper flavor, at times. These are thicker and more tender and classic.
When I was a teenager, I used to love experimenting in the kitchen. I wasn’t that adventurous. I simply tried to make foods that I had enjoyed outside the home. One of those was shortbread. Although this was over 50 years ago, I still remember that the magic ingredient was rice flour. It gave it that sort of smooth but gritty texture that I really liked. Although Walker’s Shortbread is pretty good, the stuff I made was better. I’m sure I got it from some recipe from a book but I have no idea where.
I definitely saw rice flour recommended in several recipes for silky/sturdy texture. I didn’t end up seeking it out, but should you want to use it here, swap by weight, as I suggest you do with the semolina. I’d remove 1/3 cup (45 grams) flour and add about 4 1/2 tablespoons (45 grams) white rice flour.
I agree that rice flour gives it an extra crisp. I tried it once in another shortbread recipe and it was lovely.
Ive also used semolina for the crisp and its slightly granular compared to smooth rice flour. Logic kz their sizes differ.
Both are good.
I’m in Australia, and because we traditionally have a very anglo culture here, shortbread is something our grandmothers always made, if you see what I mean, and rice flour has always been sold in tiny little boxes next to the wheat flour in the supermarket. I’m pretty sure it was only ever used for shortbread until coeliacs came along. And can I just applaud your devotion to ordinary butter? I love this about your food: the real kitchen, everydayness of it. Any recipe that starts with a note to ‘buy the very best butter/chocolate/ham/spam’ you can afford’ always irks me.
Yes! After I had some excellent Scottish shortbread (in Scotland), I went hunting for rice flour to try to replicate the texture. Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour is currently in my freezer for “impromptu shortbread cravings.” I’d highly recommend the extra effort.
That rings a bell. Perhaps I saw that rice flour was on the ingredients list for store-bought shortbread that I particularly liked so sought out a recipe containing it. On the other hand, Google was still decades in the future so I’m not sure how I would have pulled that off.
I’m guessing that the granularity of the rice flour makes a big difference. It doesn’t get much chance to take up water while baking so it’s all about texture.
You may have pulled it off the same way my dad did: He fell in love with shortbread after a business trip to Scotland in the 70s, and found a recipe in one of those Time-Life collections of “heritage” cooking. I specifically remember that it involved rice flour because it was sort of a novelty at the time.
Can you make chocolate shortbread?
My everyday shortbread has rice flour in it to give it that nice snap. My Christmas shortbread has rice flour plus ground arrowroot. When living in the US the trick was finding the arrowroot the first Christmas! But it’s a fabulous addition- just add an ounce to replace the same amount of flour.
I could have done with having this recipe b back then though! Three ingredients is hard go past!
Absolutely. My grandmother (British) always put rice flour in her shortbread. I’ve also made good shortbread using gluten free flour, which keeps it very short!
I have to take Deb up on calling shortbread ‘cookies’, though. It’s shortbread.
If i wish to make these into espresso cookies, do i just add 1tsp of espresso powder or instant coffee granules (powdered)?
Yes, but I must also point you to these, because they’re wonderful.
This looks lovely!
Question: Should this sentence “The standard Scottish shortbread formula is 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour”, say 4 parts flour instead? Based on the rest of your explanation and the recipe itself, believe it should be 4 parts flour.
Bit of a math nerd here, and I read that sentence a few times to make sure my mind wasn’t tricking me.
Yes! Well, it is 1:2:3 but my measurement examples were incorrect. Now fixed!
This sounds great.
Do you think it would work with browned butter?
Yes. I don’t expect it to need any adjustments for moisture because it’s pan-baked but it’s good to keep an eye on it.
I’ve tried brown butter shortbread with a similar shortbread recipe, and it is delicious! But I did need to add the water that was lost during browning. Without the water, the cookies felt greasy and the texture was off. They were still good, but I like them better with the water. Just DO NOT add the water to the hot butter (I learned this by mistake!!!). I let the brown butter cool to room temperature (refrigerated brown butter is pretty hard), but cooled the dough in the fridge before baking.
These are great! I wanted to use what I had on hand, so I went with salted butter and omitted the salt from the dry ingredients. Turned out pretty tasty, but I might add a pinch or two of salt next time. There will definitely be a next time.
I am so excited to try this recipe!!! I love shortbread and while I consider myself a good baker, I haven’t been brave enough to try making shortbread because I worry it won’t turn out. Thank you for sharing your process! This is what we love you for, Deb.
Love Shortbread. so excited to try these. Also, can I just say, I miss searching for the links to see pictures of your cute kids!! I’m sure Jacob tired of that as he got old enough to have an opinion and school friends to “acknowledge” those pictures.
Deb!?!? I am so chuffed that you did this. I went nuts while we were watching Ted Lasso, obsessing about finding a recipe that replicated these cookies – I am so excited you took on this project because there is NO ONE BETTER to make them a reality. Thank you thank you thank you! Can’t wait to make them.
This has very little to do with this recipe, but I have to tell you that I read the word “reattaches” about three times before actually recognizing it as a word that is in my vocabulary. I said it with a French accent, then tried to decipher its meaning as a cooking/baking verb, before I finally realized what the word actually was and that, yes, it is a word I have previously and correctly used. It has been that kind of day.
Omg Marcy that is hysterical! I’ve had stuff like that happen to me, and aside from terrifying myself into thinking I’m getting early dementia, it’s always a laugh at the end. Even when I choose not to tell anybody else about it, lol!
Ha! There is something in the (internet) air. Just yesterday Jason Kottke posted a link to a guy who did some sleuthing on Ted Lasso’s shortbread and decided the recipe was from Melissa Clark: https://www.david-smith.org/blog/2021/04/21/breadcrumbs/
It’s so funny when two different people are thinking about the same thing at the same time except now that I’m writing it out it seems rather obvious that this would be a not uncommon occurrence. Like this week Luisa Weiss writing about Korean rice cakes, which I’d never heard of, and Spilled Milk Podcast releasing a Korean rice cakes episode. Anyway, now I need Korean rice cakes AND shortbread.
Oh that’s really funny but it can’t be Melissa Clark’s, can it? Because the actress said they tasted horrible and I refuse to believe Melissa Clark could have an un-delicious recipe.
Agreed. My guess is that there was no actual recipe, the shortbread in the show was store bought, and that somebody at Apple just chose a random shortbread recipe off the internet to tease people with.
I fear we will have to wait for the Ted Lasso cookbook. :)
This is the Ted Lasso cookbook! Likely even better than the one portrayed in the show.
I love Ted Lasso- I can’t wait to bake these this weekend!
I toss in one tablespoon or a bit more of finely chopped fresh rosemary. People go bonkers over my shortbread.
Jill+Nielsen, I also flavor my shortbread with herbs. I make 1/2 c. herb citrus butter with (for example) 2 packed Tbsp. torn sage leaves and 2 Tbsp. orange zest, or 2 Tbsp. torn basil leaves and 2 Tbsp. lemon zest plus 1/2 c. butter. Fresh thyme and rosemary also work well.
Torn basil leaves sound nice. Howz the look of the shortbread afterwards? Kz on pizzaz, fresh basil turns black with the heat.
Can’t wait to make this. Do you recommend Paddle or wisk for the stand mixer?
I’d use the paddle.
Your “for any budget” reason for using everyday butter resonated with my soul. That you didn’t say use yak butter made in an ancient urn is why I fully support you!
I know it’s a small thing, but thank you for this.
We’re huge TL fans so I’ve been searching for a great shortbread recipe. My daughter and I made these this morning. EXTREMELY YUMMY! We don’t have vanilla paste so I used a tsp of vanilla extract.
Now, please, instructions for making the perfectly sized pink boxes Ted Lasso uses to package these treats! I’m so happy to picture you watching that fun show and can’t wait to try these. I may make a Ted Lasso tribute meal of extra spicy Indian food and ale and shortbread while we re-watch the series for the third time during this pandemic. Thank you!
I actually came across this link to make Ted Lasso’s pink boxes before I ever watched the series! While I didn’t make the boxes, I did try the “ biscuit” recipe included, which has part almond flour in it, and thought they were good, but not traditional enough for me. I just made Deb’s recipe today, and I must say, they are delicious! It would be fun to have a Ted Lasso party and give out Deb’s classic shortbread in these pink boxes!
Pink boxes! It looks so cute.
I stumbled upon the article in People where Ana Calderone recreated Ted Lasso Biscuits, and they have become a weekly staple in our house. And I now make them and give them away in all kind of circumstances (new neighbor, hostess gift, thank you present). We are big shortbread fans in this house and we all like these better. Somehow they are better than typical shortbread. Less sweet, a little cakey if you bake them until just golden (one time I baked longer and did not love them as crisp). Her ratio is similar to yours, slightly less sugar and flour. And the technique is super easy. https://people.com/food/ted-lasso-biscuits-with-the-boss-shortbread-recipe/
Yes, I got up and started making these as soon as I saw the Instagram story. Luckily the 3 ingredients were all on hand.
I used ground star anise, cinnamon, and cardamom with a little grated ginger and vanilla extract for flavoring. It yielded a lovely spiced cookie.
These were as easy as promised and delicious.
Can’t wait to try these, I’ve been looking for a good shortbread recipe! I love Walker’s, they are good for a store-bought cookie and wonderful with a cup of tea. But I’d like to try making them at home. I love that you cut them just like Walker’s and included the dots! I had to Google Ted Lasso, didn’t know what that was. I have Apple TV, so will have to watch.
Ted Lasso is an excellent show. I put off watching it for a long time because the premise sounded silly but it really, really works. I’m English but mostly raised in California so I could appreciate the clash of cultures but it’s just good comedy writing and acting. The baking is good too though it plays a minor role.
This is probably a silly question…but do you cut them while they’re still in the pan? Any tricks/tips on that?
It’s very easy! Just use a sharp knife. You can watch a demo here (Instagram) and watch and listen over here (TikTok).
My very Scottish grandmother always included some rice flour along with all purpose flour. She also said you had to listen for the “snap” if you knead it slightly before shaping.
Is the butter cold or softened? Thanks!
It will depend on your method. For food processor or stand mixer, cold is fine. For a hand-mixer, you’ll want room temperature.
I’ve been making your twice-baked shortbread for years and I guess I feel torn, which is admittedly very strange because they’re both yours, but there it is. And also my shortbread making time is December so there’s that. Oh Heck- is nothing dependable? Wait – don’t answer. No and that I can depend on.
I haven’t had a chance to try your recipe yet, but some of my favorite shortbread variations include:
– Brown butter (delicious) … weigh the butter, brown it, then add enough water to bring back to original weight (AFTER the butter has cooled!!!)
– Green tea (add matcha powder)
– Raspberry chocolate … add chocolate chips & ground up freeze dried raspberries
– Double chocolate … cocoa + chocolate chips
– Coconut … add toasted coconut
– Almond … almond extract and optionally toasted almonds
Sometimes I press demerara sugar into the top of the cookies for a little extra crunchy sweetness.
I also like to mix up my shortbread by sometimes making them a bit thicker and bringing them out early (about 20 minutes). They feel almost raw coming out of the oven, but after cooling they are soft and doughy (not exactly traditional shortbread, but good in a different way – almost like eating cookie dough).
Just remembered that I also tried a few other variations:
– Coffee … melt the butter and add coffee beans. Let cook without boiling for a bit to extract the coffee flavor into the butter (sous vide works well for this).
– Lemon … I cooked the butter with lemon rind (I’ve tried meyer and yuzu). I sometimes add citric acid to make the cookies sweet and sour (which are very good). I use this as a base for a really yummy key-lime like pie (using meyer lemon juice instead of lime juice).
And one last version that I just remembered:
Lavender … I picked lavender blossoms from my garden, and as above, I cooked them in the butter to infuse the butter with flavor. Not everyone likes “floral” desserts, but I thought they were really good!
Ron, when you infuse these ingredients, do you then strain them out, fish them out, leave them there, or does it depend on the size? Thanks for all these ideas.
I guess it depends on what I am infusing with. Normally, I use a strainer to remove the solids after infusing. For something like the lemon rind, you can leave it in if you’d like (although after infusing there is really not much taste left in the rind).
Ron, do you let the brown butter re-harden again and then whip the water by weight back in when mixing it with the sugar?
I’m not sure how much it matters, but I let the brown butter cool back to room temperature. I cream the brown butter and sugar together, and then add the water when I am mixing in the flour.
Interested in trying this—I like that it’s a shortbread finger, rather than the big honking squares & triangles they make the shortbread pans for. (Do not knock Walkers; their Scottie dogs were a treasured indulgence of kiddiehood, like chocolate oranges & Cadbury bars.)
How much extract would you use for the equivalent of the vanilla paste?
I have a recipe from a genuine Scotsman that used rice flour for part of the flour. He was an elderly man my mom would visit in the retirement home when I was a kid. I went with her one time and that was my first introduction to shortbread. Wow was it amazing. I could eat butter, sugar, and flour all day, everyday.
I’ll have to dig it out and compare to your recipe and maybe try yours with some rice flour.
You can use a full teaspoon in exchange here.
What a relief! Walker’s shortbread is my very favorite as well. I’ve Googled “Walkers shortbread copycat recipe” a few times over the years, and the results have never been convincing (they all seemed to have been posted by people who believe that shortbread is shortbread is shortbread). I may have tried a few, and I never DISLIKE shortbread, but. Anyway. Deb, I always trust your testing and perfectionism and I’m so glad you’re a Walker’s fan, too! I’m sure these will be just right.
Could this also be tagged under the “5 Ingredients or Fewer” category? I may or may not obsessively stalk that section of SK when I’m craving something like delicious (like this) when I’m feeling lazy (which is a lot more than I’d like to admit). Can’t wait to do a Rosemary/orange shortbread!
Yes! Thanks for reminding me.
I’ve been making shortbread for years with a recipe I got from a Canadian friend. It has rice flour in place of some of the AP and I love the texture. I couldn’t find it one year at the holidays and used corn starch and didn’t love it. That shortbread is in my top 5 all time favorite things. And now I want some…😄
I’m so relived to see I wasn’t the only Walker fan! I second what you say about Walkers. I don’t have much to compare it with and plus it has no additives. I even gifted them to friends and family to spread my shortbread love without much success. Maybe I should try your recipe and see if that does the trick!
These were amazing. I substituted 100 grams of Rye flour for 100 grams of AP, and flavored with the zest of an orange. I suspect these changes made a quite different cookie, but delicious.
This was exactly what my Friday night needed! I added a teaspoon of lavender salt and it is heavenly. I may have mangled the top a bit by using a bit too thick of a skewer to score them, but the results taste just as good as they would have otherwise. I think I have a new go-to shortbread recipe.
If I were to use almond extract, would you recommend scaling it back a bit compared to the vanilla? I typically feel like a little goes a long way when it comes to almond extract, but I do like the flavor. If so, how much would you use?
I’d use 1/2 teaspoon here.
My mother was from Scotland an she has made short bread for he whole life. She used salted butter 1/2 a pound. She only used 5 tablespoons of berry sugar.. Her flour was 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 cup rice flour. She also a pinch of baking powder it then gets needed and formed into 3 large cakes. Dock the top and bake at 300 defers until golden brown. This is the best shorbread I have ever had
Can you use wholemeal flour?
I think you might try starting with half wholemeal flour, and see what happens – the texture will be crumblier, and you might find you need a bit more butter. Do try and get back to us!
I wouldn’t do a full swap without making other adjustments. Try 1/3 to 1/2.
Sounds great, Deb, but how about adapting this recipe to be rolled out and shaped by cookie cutters? I love making all shapes for kids’ parties, and the kids like to choose their favorites
You’d want to use more flour, I’d go up by 1/4 cup.
I live in Scotland and still buy the Walker’s shortbread pretty often. It’s dangerously good!
Is there any reason not to halve the recipe and bake in a 6” or 7” round tin? I did some quick geometry and both of those would give half the surface of a 9” round tin (perfectly half would be a 6.35” tin which obviously doesn’t exist!)
Nope; I actually did many of my recipe tests halved in a 6-inch round pan.
Fantastic, thanks! Will probably just cut into petticoat tail wedges.
Deb, thanks for this detailed and thoughtful explanation of the how’s and why’s. My question is this: If I were absolutely intent on turning these into brown butter shortbreads, could I simply brown the butter, let it firm back up in the fridge to the original stick-butter temp, and then cut it into chunks? Or, because the recipe asks for the butter to beaten until soft, should I skip the firming up in the fridge and only let it firm up more slightly at room temp? Does it need to be beaten from cold to end up with the right texture? I love the gently slumping shoulders, the size and shape of these cookies. And I think the prettiest bar cookies always come from a straight-sided pan.
I think you could brown the butter, cool it slightly, and then use it here. I don’t really whip air into these, so no need to have it cold enough that you could.
These look great. About the granulated etc sugar sub: when you say, “To use granulated, superfine, or caster sugar instead of powdered sugar, use half as much” — half as much by either volume or weight, eg ⅓ cup or 40g of granulated etc? Thanks!
What is a wooden skewer? Do you have a photo of one? Obviously, this is a new tool to me. Also, I am guessing that to “dock” means to poke holes in something?
Shortbread used to be a once-yearly delight, a stick or two from the Walker box my stepmother brought back from her annual trip to Wales. But do you know what later equalled it? The version from Greens with bits of candied ginger
Yay! I, too, am a Walker’s fan. The first time I tasted Walker’s shortbread was when I was living in the UK (my American family bought cookies from the bakery or made them) and I swear I heard angels sing. Can’t wait to try this. Thank you!
Have you ever made these using a gluten free flour?
Wondering the same thing?. These look amazing, but I have celiac and would love to try to make them GF.
Walkers makes a decent gf version of theirs, so I’m really hopeful…
But if you want to make your own ??
Made these today with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 GF baking blend and they turned out beautifully! Melt-in-your-mouth tender. I was expecting them to be fairly crumbly but they hold together well. I used Kerrygold salted butter and cut back on the flour by 2 Tbs (so 2 cups + 2 Tbs overall) since that usually helps with this particular flour blend. They did bake for the full time and didn’t get as dark as Deb’s, but that’s pretty typical for me with GF substitutes.
Question about the weight/volume conversion: King Arthur Flour baking site gives 120 grams per cup of AP flour. Using that, 2 1/4 cups flour = 270 grams, not 295. Are you using a different conversion?
I don’t get the same weight as KA for 1 cup of flour. Mine always clock in at 130 grams. Just to note, almost nobody agrees on this — Cook’s Illustrated says 1 cup of flour = 140 to 145 grams.
When you say ‘powdered sugar’…do you mean icing sugar??
Can’t wait to try these…although I only have ever made shortbread cookies at Christmas….and the two best recipes so far are the ones from Buckingham Palace and Bonnie Stern…of Toronto.
Swiss Mountain Shortbreads??? I wish I had a Toblerone bar today.
Yes, it should be the same as icing sugar in the UK.
A couple of things: 1) for anyone craving rice flour, just toss some raw white rice in a blender and grind it (with the lid on) — no need to buy it, ever. 2) I make shortbread every year and have never used a machine to do it: the classic method is to work the sugar into the butter with your hands and then add the flour, hand-kneading all the while. I add salt and flavoring at the end, also kneading them in. The gluten won’t toughen because it doesn’t take much to combine shortbread ingredients.
I had to read all the way to the end to figure out that the “back” of a wooden skewer refers to the blunt end rather than the pointy end. Having forgotten that skewers are pointy on one end only I was flummoxed as to how a symmetrical/cylindrical item could have a back or front. Perhaps just describe it as the blunt tip/end rather than as the back of the skewer? Sorry to be persnickety and I’m looking forward to trying the recipe.
I was perplexed by this too, and still am. The only wooden skewers I have are pointed on both ends. Guess I need to study up on wooden skewers!
If you have ever been to the walker factory in the highlands then you will love them forever. It’s just so beautiful where they make them. So please always love walkers the best!
Have you ever tried a brown butter shortbread? It’s hands down my favorite. Had one from a bake stand in Santa Barbara once and have come close, but never fully recreated it. I may try your ratios here with some brown butter and see how it goes. Thank you!
Hey Deb, for the flour, you might try 3 parts unbleached all purpose and 1 part cake flour. That’s the formula a Scottish friend of mine spent years perfecting after she couldn’t afford to bring British flour into Canada. I’ve been using this for many years with success.
How could anyone not love shortbread? My husband once visited the company he works for in Britain and at tea time they brought out shortbread with the monogram of the company’s name pressed into the shortbread. He brought me back one cookie so I could see it. We decided we wanted to press our own family monogram into shortbread too! One more thing, for rice flour, white rice can be put through a wheat grinder and makes lovely rice flour. We never buy rice flour. My husband uses it to coat the baskets that hold his rising sourdough bread, so we need to keep it on hand. Our own “homemade” rice flour is every bit as nice as store bought at a fraction of the cost. Thanks for the recipe!
Would love to find the answer to the gluten free question. I have a cookie loving husband who doesn’t tolerate gluten.
My husband works for Apple and insists that I watch all the Apple events. This latest one “Spring Loaded” on Tuesday had this bit right at the very end of the Credits where this starts to scroll into view:
Ted Lasso’s Secret Shortbread Recipe
(Makes about one box)
…and then half a line of the first ingredient and it cuts to black! Haha! Such teases! How rude! A guy on the internet deciphered the first ingredient to be “1 1/2 cups / 340 grams cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces plus more for greasing pan” and after trawling the internet it could be the same as the shortbread part of Melissa Clark’s Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread.
Who knows! But now Hannah Waddingham says they weren’t even very nice… I am shook.
BTW, I made Melissa Clark’s Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread (NYT) at the request of my husband and it has been one of our favorite baked goods ever. It sounds like it might be over the top, but it is easy to make and oh, so delicious! Of course my motto is: “any shortbread in a storm”!
I ended up making it too, but omitted the nuts (I don’t like them) and added chocolate chips instead… if you’re going to do this thing you may as well go all out right? Haha!
We have been eating it all week.
My partner is from Paisley, Scotland. We made them with butter from our Amish neighbor. Given it’s currently late April I lightly flavored them with lemon. The result was excellent. We are looking forward to eating them with fresh picked strawberries.
By powdered sugar, do you mean confectioners sugar (which may contain cornstarch)?
Made these last night, and they are delicious! I used Kerrygold butter. I think my oven runs hotter than Deb’s so, when I made the channels with the skewers, I ended up with some crumbs (that I just had to eat while the cookies cooled) and my edges aren’t quite as lovely as Deb’s. I’ll channel earlier next time or just skip that step and only use the knife. I have been craving shortbread for several months, and am so glad Deb posted this recipe!
The late Laurie Colwin, a marvelous food writer, has a recipe with some rice flour in it. A really good addition to shortbread.
Mine are in the oven. I just checked on them and they look and smell delicious. I forgot to put down parchment paper. I hope that’s not going to make it impossible to get out of the pan.
Made these today and they were so easy and so delicious! Your method of scoring and then cutting worked wonderfully and they are so cute and tasty. We are midway through watching Ted Lasso, I am also finding it delightful, and this recipe just called to me. Thank you!!
Some have mentioned lavender to flavor; I used to work for a chef who food-processed lavender buds with granulated sugar and used that to flavor shortbread.
One more thing: someone mentioned the joy of eating butter, sugar, and flour every day and it reminded me of another Scottish thing: tablet. I’ve been wanting to make it since I learned about it years ago, but I fear that I’ll crawl inside the pan and never come out. Here’s a recipe: https://www.thespruceeats.com/traditional-home-made-scottish-tablet-435825
I have heard of Scottish Tablet but never knew what it was exactly. I still wonder, after looking at the website, what the texture is like…is it like good fudge that is creamy but a bit crumbly, or what? Also, it can be flavored, but is it usually just plain or flavored with vanilla? Many cooked candy recipes are tricky, even though they have very few ingredients. I can bake almost anything and have been cooking for decades but I have failed at candy and it all looks so “easy”!
Made these today to freeze because my parents will be visiting next week and my 3yo daughter wants to have a tea party with Nana. We haven’t seen them in 2 years so it deserves special cookies. They are delicious And I look forward to having them with tea. I’m not sure I prefer them over the other shortbread cookies on your site, Deb. I will have to make them again and compare. :)
I had the same response to watching Ted Lasso – that I needed to figure out how to make those cookies! Thanks for the recipe : )
This shortbread looks AMAZING! I have been wanting to make shortbread ever since I first saw it made on my favorite TV show “The Great British Bake Off” and I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing!
This is so much a post after my heart!!! Even tho it’s not exactly what I think of as shortbread baking season, I know I’ll be obsessively trying your directives here sooner rather than later. Probably even this week!
And to thank you for it….One of my favorite baking memories was a wintery early 80s December day in my tiny kitchen in Minnesota, age about 30, making shortbread for the first time. I’d been inspired by a recipe in Cuisine article written by a woman recalling the obsessive care her father took making it each year, followed her instructions assiduously, and was certain that I’d baked the most glorious, the most delectable shortbread ever. I mislaid the issue somehow, but never forgot it and kept hoping someday I’d find it again and would be able to once again make the perfect shortbread. I recalled so many small details about piece, the photograph that accompanied it, and most of all how wonderful my kitchen smelled and how much pleasure I took in the sandy color I achieved and how perfectly way the scored cookies broke cleanly apart. So on and off, for decades, I would poke around, first in libraries, then on the internet, trying to find it again. Just a few years ago I finally did, reproduced here on this blog: http://whenlifesendsyoulemons.blogspot.com/2015/02/my-fathers-shortbread-cherished-legacy.html i was thrilled, and am sharing it with you because I think you would enjoy it too.
I fully read the blog Constance and its indeed detailed and full of good facts. Do you know around what time this was written by the daughter?
Yes, the article was written and published in Cuisine in 1983.
Constance, thank you for sharing the link. The article is simply delightful, along with so many useful hints, facts and tips. I sort of felt transported into her life! I will most definitely save that post along with all the other lovely tips on Deb’s post/comments.
This is so, so lovely. Thank you for sharing it.
in a typical year, I make dozens of pans of shortbread at Christmastime for an annual bake sale. While I was allowed to retire from work, I was not allowed to retire from the bake sale. I do include a bit of cornstarch in mine, as I use King Arthur Flour, and it’s higher in protein. I love to play with it, I think my favorite included oats and brown sugar. Huz is a shortbread purist, and even frowns if he catches me adding the vanilla. I’m definitely going to try some rice flour next time. And some with browned butter…wait, some inspired soul mentioned freeze-dried raspberries, and suppose I swapped in some almond flour and almond extract with that? Hmm.
I was thinking just yesterday that I wanted to try making millionaire’s shortbread (shortbread with caramel and chocolate on top) but put it on the back burner because I didn’t have a good shortbread recipe for the base. This is perfect timing.
These were SUPER simple to make and tasted DELICIOUS. They were even found to be on par with Walker’s, which is a huge deal in my household. Can’t wait to try dipping them in chocolate for a fancy gift!
Perfect thing to bake on this rainy Sunday. I used a teaspoon of almond extract and did the semolina swap- they are delicious. The texture is firm yet melts in your mouth. I’m terrible at shaping so mine are more like thumbs than fingers but still taste amazing!
I had heard positive reviews about “Ted Lasso”. When your Classic Shortbread recipe popped up with comments about the show, it prompted my husband and I to start watching it last night (love it!) and to make the shortbread this morning (love it!). I used a food processor which combined the ingredients perfectly. Didn’t have vanilla bean paste, so I used vanilla extract. Excited to try other flavorings in the future, too. Delicious and easy to make! Thank you!!
I made these on Saturday and used salted butter which I grabbed by mistake at the store. And used the rice flour recommendation that was posted. These are delicous ! Will try with lemon and lavendar next!
I have one of those ceramic scone dishes from World Market (it bakes 8 separate wedge shaped scones) – do you think I could do shortbread in there or would baking in ceramic give a different result?
I’m sorry, I’ve just never baked cookies in a ceramic pan before so I’m not sure. I’d say just keep an eye on it in case it takes less time, keep it in longer if it needs more, and it should be fine.
These were good (but not as good as the old twice baked shortbread), and seemed a little softer than I would have expected. I did the semolina swap but did everything else by weight as written. The second half of the bake went for quite a while longer than expected. The shortbread just wasn’t browning at all after 35 minutes – ended up kicking up the temperature by 25 degrees and baking another 8-10 minutes (I eventually lost track after adding time repeatedly to my timer). They browned, but not as deeply. Will likely try again with the higher temp for the entire second half of the bake and see if I get better results.
Hi! So if you’re halving the sugar to convert to caster/granulated, does that mean you use 1/3 cup granulated sugar, or 40 grams granulated sugar? The weights are way different and it seems like it would make a big difference. Thanks!
Ah, of course. You can swap by weight too; I mentioned the halving just because that’s how I tested it.
Thanks for the response! I’m still not sure how to convert, though. 1/3 cup of granulated sugar is ~65g by weight. So would you halve the weight of the powdered sugar and use 20 grams, or the volume, which makes 65 grams? Thanks! :)
I came to check this too. I suspect by weight you do a straight swap. By volume you have to account for powdered sugar’s fluffiness.
Funny, I came here with question that’s sort of an answer to this. I was apparently distracted making these today because I just now (hours and many biscuits eaten later) realized I used granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar by mistake. I used the full 80g and the biscuits are great!
I’m curious to know if that’s what Deb would do (a 1:1 swap by weight), and I plan to try these both with powdered sugar and maybe with less granulated sugar just to see what happens.
Easy peasy and yummy! Hubs loves the Walker’s…declares these even better!
I really like your suggestion of using powdered sugar and look forward to trying your recipe. My go-to recipe is one I got from a friend some ago that uses 4c white flour, 1c rice flour, 1lb European butter, a scant cup of white sugar, and vanilla bean paste. I’ve enjoyed that recipe–the rice flour makes for a tender cookie. I may experiment with that recipe, substituting powdered sugar for the white sugar. Thank you–we certainly benefit from all your experimentation!
Thank you for sharing your take on this classic.
I think there’s a mistake in the flour weight conversion from cups to grams, but this conversion has been hunting me since I began baking.
In general I always find 1 cup of all purpose flour to be 150g, which flour do you use? Is it 130g per cup?
I’m gonna weigh the two 3 types I use for baking cookies, I try and be consistent with the ones I use on a recipe base :)
I’ve never gotten a cup of flour to equal 150 grams. I get 130 grams. I suppose you could if you really pack the cups? But most recipes assume you have lightly fluffed flour or at least not compacted when you scoop. I know that Cook’s Illustrated goes with 140 grams, and King Arthur goes with 120 grams, for reference.
Love shortbread! My mum makes the most amazing shortbread, with one addition/ change to the classic 3:2:1 formula- it’s 250g flour, 200g butter, 100g sugar, 50g ground rice (this is a thing you can buy in supermarkets here in the UK, am unsure if this is available elsewhere or if it actually is what it sounds like)- the ground rice gives it the particularly short texture, and it’s wonderful. We make it completely by hand- smushing the block of butter into the flour, then pressing into a lightly floured ceramic, fluted quiche dish, then cut into frilly edged triangles once out of the oven. It’s amazing!
This makes me smile as I used to go to school right next to the Walkers shortbread factory in Scotland and for recess we would get the broken bits of shortbread they couldn’t sell which were delicious!
Good morning Deb. My grandmother‘s 130-year-old shortbread recipe from Edinburgh. I make it every couple of weeks and it brings rave reviews. It is 8 ozs of butter creamed with 4 ozs of confectioners’ sugar, 4 ounces of cornflour, and when almost white, add a punch of salt and 8ozs all purpose flour. Continue the mixing process in a stand mixer until it comes together in one lump which indicates the gluten as well expanded. Roll on cool surface and cut into a little less than 1/2” thick x 2” squares putting 3 fork indentations on each square. Lift each one and place on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 30 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven. It should stay creamy white and not any browning. They come out of the oven like little white pillows of deliciousness and dissolve in your mouth.
These were very tasty and quite easy with the food processor method. I made them as written, with trader joe’s unsalted butter and vanilla paste. They took on the long side to get any color on the edges at all, and the flavor was amazing but they were a tiny bit chalky. I’ve never made homemade shortbread this way. The other recipe I’ve made, SK’s austrian raspberry shortbread, came out a bit more moist because of the egg yolk. Bottom line, I suppose, is don’t expect an egg-ed consistency from something without eggs!
Walker’s are my favorite shortbread. I’ve tried many recipes but none can compare. This one is about as close as you can get. Thanks for all your trying to get this delicious cookie.
By powdered sugar, do you mean confectioners sugar (which may contain cornstarch)?
Just made these but will remake tomorrow in the food processor instead of my stand mixer. I was afraid of over-mixing and toughening the dough and don’t think it was mixed enough—way too crumby when I pressed it into the pan, even though my butter was very soft. I rechecked your photo and our batters looked like two different recipes!
Also, after 20 min in, the top of mine in a few places was cracking. Was my oven too hot?
They tasted ok, but a bit too dense and had a bit of a raw taste, even though cooked through. Weird.
I am not defeated though. I know the mistakes were mine, and my awful oven. Tomorrow is a new day.
You don’t need to worry about overmixng the dough; this is very different from a pie dough. Making a cookie dough in the FP from cold butter needs longer to blend to get that smooth cookie dough. If it was overbaked too soon, it might have been an oven temperature issue (as I mention, I find most ovens unreliable at 300 degrees, but if you have a oven thermometer, you can confirm if yours is correct). If the texture was off, though, it was the mixing.
Oh, my glory, I can’t wait to try these. Walker’s shortbread are a once-a-year Christmas treat around our house, which is probably a good thing because I’ll eat an entire package of any size with a large cup of coffee given the chance. Now I guess Spring Shortbread needs to be a thing, too. Yay!
These are very overdone. Lower and slower, they should not vary in colour on top nor be browned on the bottom. The WI would not award these!
What would WI stand for?
My all time favorite flavor combination is Walker shortbread with Lindt Zimbabwean Koriander chocolate. So delicious! If I could only find that chocolate here in the US.
Hi! I was wondering if you have any pictures of how the ones baked in the 9 inch round are made? I’m just having some trouble picturing it. Thank you!!
I promise to take photos next time. For now, here’s a photo that was on my phone of an early test in a 6-inch pan (a half-recipe), just to give you an idea of shape. For a 9-inch, I’d make the wedges much smaller.
These are just barely sweet… in a good way. We were hoping to spread caramel on them and then dip them in chocolate but we’re not going to have any left for that. They did take forever to bake in my oven and I eventually just removed them from the oven, even though they werent quite golden brown.
I almost never look at the “years ago” section here, but today I couldn’t help noticing that it’s now “14 years ago”. Wow.
I can hardly believe that I’ve been reading you for 14 years, Deb. Even more astonishing that you’ve been DOING it for 14 years.
Congrats on the tenacity.
Thank you. Almost 15! It’s wild.
I’d love to see your take on Babish’s version with the toasted sugar
Thanks for the Lasso recommendation. My wife and I loved it. Won’t be making the shortbread anytime soon as it’s not on the heart healthy diet that’s imperative for me these days… but I can’t imagine it would give me more joy than the show did.
Thanks for this post, as it inspired me to finally watch Ted Lasso, and it’s so great.
I have to make these because a) the show but also b) when my husband and I went to parenting classes when I was pregnant with my first, they always gave us Lorna Doone cookies as a snack. So there’s a total nostalgia factor for me :)
So awesome – I love reading how you came to decide to make something, lol. I love shortbread since I found a recipe on 101cookbooks, but yours sounds so much easier. Question for ya though… since I’m a chocoholic, would these be good dipped in dark chocolate? I mean…most everything is, but I like the look as well as the taste… :)
Thank you and absolutely, no way they’d be bad if dipped in chocolate.
I made these right away. I definitely need to practice the scoring so that they look neater, but they were delicious. Big thumbs up from The Arbiter of All Baked Goods (husband). Thank you.
Would these be successful in a shortbread pan such as this? I have two adorable (still unopened) decorative shortbread pans from my wedding registry sitting around! Sorry for the long link I can’t figure out how to hyperlink
I definitely think so! If it comes with any baking tips, I’d apply them here, but otherwise, I think you’ll be fine with this recipe and baking time.
These look phenomenal! I too adore Walker’s shortbread, and have fond memories of when I was studying abroad in Galway, sitting in the lounge on rainy afternoons (i.e., most afternoons) in the main building with a styrofoam cup of tea, a package of two Walkers fingers, and my Discman. <–dates self as Very Old.
Very excited to try! How do they relate to the older receipes https://smittenkitchen.com/2008/10/twice-baked-shortbread-other-lost-recipes/ and the shortbread receipe part (without the jam of course) of these https://smittenkitchen.com/2007/12/austrian-raspberry-shortbread/? Thinking of testing all :)
Twice-baked are a more crisp and toasty. The raspberry more… fluffy but wonderful. I love them all. :)
As we barrel into strawberry season (so close. so close) can I suggest to you my discovery of a few years ago? If you replace shortcake with shortbread in your ‘strawberry shortcake’ you will not be disappointed.
What?! This sounds DELICIOUS. I must try it
As a Scot, I grew up with the smell of freshly baking Shortbread wafting through the house and there’s nothing quite like it.
My mum’s recipe is very minimal: 4oz butter, 8oz sugar, creamed together, and then 12oz of plain flour. Baked at 150* for 40-50 minutes.
Thank you for the reminder to make a batch!
I have been craving shortbread like crazy since watching Ted Lasso (which is so charming). Thanks, Deb. You always know what we need.
I am excited to make these as they are just what I feel like. If my choice is to bake them in a square pyrex pan or a round metal cake tin, which do you suggest? I prefer the square shape for cutting but I wonder if this changes the timing…
You can do either. Square will make it easier to get rectangles but you can do very pretty sunrays/wedges with round.
Happy to report that even with Walmart brand powdered sugar, Target brand flour (that was clumpy and poorer quality than I expected) and Land o Lakes butter, THESE shortbread are so delicious. I cannot stop eating them. Mine definitely don’t look as good as yours (edges aren’t as clean). Can’t imagine how amazing these would be with quality ingredients. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.
Recipe just in time to make for my college student to come home (shortbread is her favorite)! In a food processor the dough looks incredibly powdery but do not fear – it comes together with in the 1-2 min time frame Deb gives us. I let the cookies cool completely in the pan and when I went to separate them, they came away without the clean edges – or even the pillowy edges described in the recipe. I wound up cutting the rest apart. Anyone have thoughts or advice?
Please try without added flavoring first! The classic recipe truly is 3 ingredients only and there’s a good reason for that. So good! Then experiment with added flavorings if you must.
I made these yesterday and gave a couple to my partner, who immediately looked very wounded and said “You MADE these? Have you been able to do this the whole time?” – as though I had been holding out on him for our entire relationship. Guess I know what’s getting added to the repertoire! :)
I made lemon and rosemary shortbread with less sugar, extra salt. Toddler approved.
Extra salt! Yes!
Very tasty cookies, and so easy to make. I used a food processor and they came together quickly. My family promptly devoured them.
I made these shortbreads twice, and the first time I mistakenly only included 230g of flour, but both times they were absolutely delicious :) I added the zest of a lemon to both batches and it’s so easy to make and so good (by British neighbour loves them, too!), I should do it every weekend! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
I love shortbread. I love good shortbread. This recipe is for the most ridiculously fantastic and scrumptious shortbread cookies of all time. Thank you for giving me small pieces of heaven.
Just took these out the oven- took another commenters suggestion and added cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and cloves along with the vanilla extract. They smell divine and I will try to keep my hands (and mouth) off of them while they cool. Only got 21, rather than 24, any skinnier and they seemed too small-not complaining though. Thanks again for the excellent directions and suggestions!!
P.S. I lied, couldn’t keep my mouth off them- just cut them and buggered up one so I HAD to eat it (and not sorry that mine were bigger). YUM-make these, make them now, you won’t be disappointed.
Deb, what do you think of adding rosemary to these?
Wait, Walker’s shortbread is bad?
Also, I love a good food motif
Oh God, these are so good! I followed your recipe and used some French butter I had lying around. I cannot stop eating them!
I can’t wait to try this. I have been looking for a thorough shortbread recipe for years. One question: if using a stand mixer with cold butter, approximately how long would you mix it for? I think in the past I’ve either mixed for too long, or not long enough.
Hi! Do you think this would work with a malted powder mixed in? :) I just love the taste it imparts and was wondering if it was possible to add in your recipe?
I love the taste too but haven’t worked it into a cookie before. Maybe just start with 1 tablespoon and see how it goes? I’d love to hear about it.
In the recipe, it say’s “Flavoring of choice (see Note)”, but I’m not seeing the Note. Are we talking vanilla extract ? Ok to just skip this and let the butter & sugar do all the flavoring ?
Ah, the note is above the recipe — I’ll move it to where the others are, it will make more sense. Here’s the note: “You can flavor these any way you crave — I use 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, extract would work too, as would lemon, orange or another citrus zest, almond extract, and more.”
And you can absolutely just let the butter and sugar be the flavor. I think it’s enough.
I LOVE shortbread and I couldn’t have been gladder when I saw SK has a shortbread recipe. I’ve tried a couple and they never worked. I’m here to tell you, as always SK delivers. the 50+ recipes you tried Deb to get to this one really do result in a perfect shortbread cookie. I didn’t even make it! Husband and toddler wanted a baking project so I pointed them to this: they did everything right! The shortbread is DELICIOUS. I’ve told husband to make another batch as soon as this one finishes. All three of us absolutely love this shortbread cookie. So much thanks for the public service you did in developing this recipe! ;)
These were so good! My friend was lovely enough to drop off some rice flour for me, which gave them a kind of indefinably crispy/gritty texture (in the best way!). There’s not much to them, so I was worried they’d be almost plain, but everyone in the family loved them. They were perfect for the season finale of Ted Lasso and I’ll definitely be making them again (and probably watching Ted Lasso again, let’s be honest …). I just used vanilla for the flavor but I think lemon would be amazing.
My friend’s grandmother was Scottish and made the best shortbread I’ve ever had. It was not flaky but very dense rectangles about 3/4 inch high and 2.5 inch tall and you had to really bite into them. She had a special cutter that zigzagged the edges slightly. We used to sneak into her pantry and swipe a few hopefully without her catching us or we’d be in for a long sermon about the Lord. Never got the recipe. Have searched high and low for a shortbread like hers. Did you try baking separately as I describe? Would kneading the dough do anything to the texture?
If you want to bake these as separate cookies, you’ll need more flour for them to hold their shape — I’d go to 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cup.
Just made these with semolina, had the first one still warm and wow I hope they last long enough to dip in chocolate. I didn’t watch the demos and I definitely messed up some of my lines by pushing too hard with the skewer, it broke up the crust somewhat but man so delicious anyway!
These are so delicious and so easy to make. I used homemade vanilla extract and upped the amount to 1-1/2 teaspoons. Used Kerry Gold unsalted butter and only AP flour. I baked them in a Breville compact oven without issue.
Just made these on a 110 degree day. Maybe not the best move, but what the hell. I added 2 tbsp of fresh chopped bee balm petals from the garden. Easy to make and very delicious. I cut the recipe in half and it turned out great. Perfect amount of sugar.
Hi! If using regular iodized salt in this recipe, would you use the same amount as the sea salt or less? Thanks!
Thank you. Every year at Hanukkah and Christmas, I give family and friends at least 6 different kinds of cookies. Although there are always favorites included, I look for some different ones. This one, knowing it came from you, caught my eye. It’ll be a definite “must make”. Thank you.
My Scoth/Irish born (Glasgow/Belfast) grandmother made these slightly wider and shorter, still a rectangle but not as long and skinny. When i was a child, sHe would send them to my house every Christmas. My Mom would savor the deliciousness. Proud of my Scottish heritage. Yum!!!!
Thank you for this recipe! I don’t see a note about flavoring. How much vanilla or almond extract would you add?
Deb said in a previous comment: “Ah, the note is above the recipe — I’ll move it to where the others are, it will make more sense. Here’s the note: “You can flavor these any way you crave — I use 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, extract would work too, as would lemon, orange or another citrus zest, almond extract, and more.”
And you can absolutely just let the butter and sugar be the flavor. I think it’s enough.”
How do you think banana flavoring/extract would taste?
I’ve never used it but I’m sure it would be good.
Love this idea!! Because we don’t have a square pan, but do have a 7×11 Pyrex, I tried to 1.5 x this by weight for flour, sugar, 1/2 + 1/4 tsp salt and 12 oz butter. It never came together in the food processor as a dough like thing but I pressed into a pan. Cooking now but what do you think went wrong?
Also don’t tell my kids, I am making these as a surprise for the new Ted Lasso season premiere tomorrow!!
It might have needed to blend longer, if it still seemed crumbly.
I want to try this!! But I’m in Europe and am nervous that our butters have more fat? The brown butter cherry bars turned out greasier in the EU with kerrygold vs Kroger brand butter in the US. Thanks so much!! Wishing you all the best.
OMG, I have been on a shortbread baking binge since Covid started and I was living alone, without my husband, who was working and living elsewhere for the first three months….these were my goto savior cookies. I would make four at a time and bake them in mini muffin tins. When the power went out during a storm, I put the tins on the weber gas grill outside and they were delicious! Thanks for this recipe, I will certainly try them. Love adding a bit of ginger and vanilla paste. I have mostly been making them by feel without measuring, and they come out well. Amish butter is my favorite on these too.
So excited for season 2!!! I just made these are they are absolutely amazing! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I’ll definitely be making this again.
Am I using 1 stick of butter or two? It said 1cup/8oz Thank you!
One stick equals one-half cup/four ounces/one-quarter pound.
1 cup = 2 sticks (from most U.S.) brands or half a 1-pound box.
I made these as soon as I saw you posted it on Instagram in honor of season 2 of Ted Lasso. I had all the ingredients so it was a no brainer to make. The instructions were perfect and the end product turned out great. I don’t like too sweet cookies and these were perfect. It takes all of my willpower to not eat more than 2 of these cookies with my morning coffee. Thank you for another great recipe.
What is the note about flavor? Am I overlooking it?
Lindsey, there are a few sentences on the topic of flavoring in the text before the recipe itself. CTRL+F is a perfect way to find it.
Can the recipe be doubled and made in a 13 x 9 pan?
If I double the recipe in a13x9 pan, how long should I bake for?
I would love for Smitten Kitchen to make a pecan shortbread millionaire bar – maybe a take on this shortbread recipe with caramel and chocolate layer on top?!
I love this idea! I’ve made millionaire bars before but I — and it should be established here by now that I love baked goods — almost inedibly sweet and would love to make them as I wish they’d taste.
Just here to nudge this idea a little more…
I just made this recipe in a quarter sheet pan, and they were still quite thick. I bet they would bake up nicely in a 9×13 with caramel and chocolate on top…
Brown the butter!
These are the same as Dorie Greenspan’s everyday shortbread except with confectioners sugar instead of granulated (and hers go in at 325 degrees). I made both versions in the last couple days and while both are delicious, my family all agreed we liked your version more for the melt-in-your-mouth-ness. They taste just like I imagined the Ted Lasso version would, a rarity for me with recipe hunting. These will be my go-to moving forward. Thank you!
I made these with brown butter and they are divine. I ended up needing to add a bit more butter due to some of it cooking off during the browning process, but they turned out great and with plenty of that nutty flavor coming through. Yum!
I made these with about a few teaspoons of chopped up rosemary as suggested by other commenters and a dollop of vanilla paste and they are delicious. Planning to share them with some neighbors … if we don’t eat them all first. Also enjoying Ted Lasso! Thanks for a great easy recipe. Agree with earlier commenter that I love how down to earth your recipes are Deb – regular old stick butter made a great cookie.
Hi! I love your cookie recipes! For this one, if I were to add earl grey tea leaves for flavoring, how much would you recommend using? Thanks in advance.
These look amazing! If I want to add lemon zest, should I also add the vanilla too? Or just one or the other?
I find that using icing sugar makes a dry cookie.
Can I substitute brown sugar and if so, how much
should I use?
I didn’t test it with brown sugar so I’m not sure how the swap will work. But promise that the cookie isn’t dry as written. Powdered sugar allows for a silkier texture.
Thank you for this recipe! I made these and usee vanilla bean paste – I am definitely making them again, also wanted to use almond extract and/or nut flours but had to make these nut-free :) they came out really well!
I decorated these with rose-flavored royal icing and it was a great combo!
THE GOAT!! Seriously, this has replaced all of my other shortbread recipes. It is perfection.
It says 8 ounces/1 cup of butter. 1 cup = 16 ounces, right? Just making sure I’m not losing my mind. This is the second time I’ve made these and first time was amazing, so double checking.
No, each 1/2 cup stick (the ones that come 4 to a 1-pound box) are 4 ounces, not 8. So, 1 cup = 8 ounces
Just wondering if you have ever used a cookie cutter ? My grandmother always baked them with a snippet of candied peel on each cookie.
These are great cookies. I have been making (and decorating) rolled shortbreads for years and I appreciate your careful notes about the shaping of these Walker’s-like bars. I especially appreciate that you call it using less flour and less sugar when what we’re really doing is using more butter!
I make Shortbread every year for my Scottish husband and believe I have found the perfect recipe. Mine adds rice flour according to a traditional recipe I found. (Rice flour can be made with some white rice and spice grinder.) Rice flour gives it a nice delicate tooth. Replace AP with up to 1/2 C rice flour by measure. I use less sugar, granulated (2/3 vs 1/2) and no flavoring. When I make bars, I bake them already cut on a cookie sheet. I’m going to try your method for cutting in a round pan hoping that I don’t break the points on the Petticoat Tails – Scottish speak for Petit Gateau! Try shortbread with a bit of fresh rosemary – outstanding.
I used a bench scraper to cut them which eliminated the work of the initial lines. These are spectacular cookies!
I made them and they are awesome, but I have a friend on a salt free diet. I’d like to omit the salt. That shouldn’t be a problem, correct? I happen to love the addition of salt and vanilla but never used them in other pure shortbreads that I e done.
Yes, you can skip it.
Does the recipe change if I use Irish butter? It’s all I have here!
No, it will be delicious.
Thank you!! I made them and they were delicious, but a wee bit crumbly. Could they have been too dry, or over baked, maybe?
Could be overbaked or perhaps over-measured flour. Do you use cups or weights? Both work but cups can be more finicky because you have to make sure not to pack them.
Thanks for the response! I did weigh it. I wonder if it is the flour itself. It does vary from country to country. Guess I’ll need to try it again with a different brand. More shortbread to eat. What a hardship! ;)
Well, Deb, here it is, Monday of work-from-home-week-before-Christmas, and I am already 6 sticks of butter deep. Unfussy Sugar Cookies, these shortbreads (x2), and next up are the gingersnaps. I keep stepping away from my desk for just a quick 15 min to whip up the next batch. Thanks for enabling! xoxo
Deb, one question on the sugar. I usually make my own powdered sugar in my Vitamin. Should the weight stay at 80 grams no matter what form your sugar is in?
Yes, the same weight will be fine.
Just wanted to share that I did the scoring with a skewer but forgot to cut with a knife during that step and they came out fine. I let sit in the pan for 10 minutes and then cut with a chefs knife. So just in case you make the same mistake, have no fear.
I’m planning on shaping the dough into the pan and leaving it overnight in the fridge before baking the following day.
Would cutting the dough, while **cold** from the fridge, eliminate the need to cut it after 20 minutes of baking?
I found that if I cut them before baking, I’d have to do it again after, i.e. the cuts disappeared.
I typically roll my eyes at people who ask about substitutions, but I would like to think that this one may be justified and that there may be wisdom here.
If one wanted to substitute schmaltz for part of the butter, any idea how much?
One of my favorite local places has them on the menu— Spoke in Somerville, MA— served with a 6 month manchego and cherry-apple jam. Soooo good. I just pestered a recipe out of them recently, so I feel like I cannot ask for this one, at least until it falls off of the menu, which was my excuse for needing the last one.
These were SO GOOD and so easy. I don’t have an 8″ cake pan so I did them in my 8″ pyrex (which I was worried about – I didn’t know if the glass would make a difference) and I am happy to report it did not make a difference and they were deeelish.
The back of a wooden skewer?? Does this possibly mean the bottom of the skewer, opposite the point? Why is there not a picture of THIS?
Yep, that’s the recipe. I got this same one, 45 years ago, from a friend whose mother was Scottish. It’s not too sweet. I have made endless variations of this (try adding candied ginger) and have also used cookie cutters.
Simply the best.
I love shortbread, and have discovered that weighing really is the secret to good results. This recipe is perfect. Add a bit of decorticated cardamom if you are like I am and can’t get enough of that flavor.
I think this sentence requires a caveat:
“To use granulated, superfine, or caster sugar instead of powdered sugar, use half as much.”
Wouldn’t that only apply to the volume measurement, rather than the weight measurement?
I found this to be too dry. The recipe reminded me of Christmas butter cookies, so I searched this site and found bakery-style butter cookies. Sure enough, that recipe called for 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of flour, not 2 1/4 cups.
Try less flour if you agree that this shortbread is too dry.
Did you play around with swapping in some ground nuts (ie: pistachio) for flour? Or do you have any recommendations?
I only played around with swapping some semolina flour, not nuts. But I’m sure you could do the same. Do it by weight, not volume.
This looks awesome! I was looking for a recipe for hazelnut shortbread and I want to do this shape and texture, but add hazelnuts somehow. Do you think I can sub in some hazelnut flour or chopped hazelnuts? Thank you Deb.
I have a ABC cookie mold pan. Can these be pressed into that pan?
I think so!
I have both a stand mixer and a food processor. Is one method preferred over the other? Excited to try these. My British husband loves shortbread.
I am a little confused about what you mean when you say to use half the amount if you use granulated sugar. Do you mean half by volume?
Since I asked a question before about modifying the recipe, I figured I should share my results- I made this and subbed 30% of the flour by weight for ground hazelnuts, and it turned out fantastic. Truly it was very good, one of the best shortbreads I’ve ever had.
Just made them this afternoon…absolutely delicious!! Thanks so much!!
Thank you so much for this recipe! I looked at many and had the best of intentions to do a practice run before my office dessert contest but ran out of time. Thanks to you, these came out perfectly even with my el cheapo butter and flour from Aldi!
Could you double this for a 9×13?
I don’t see the note on flavors? Assuming you are referring to vanilla extract or almond, etc?
This is the perfect recipe for classic Scottish shortbread. I’ve made this recipe twice – the second time I used one and a half times the ingredients for a 9 x 13 pan. Your directions are spot on. I make many different kinds of shortbread but this caught my eye and can be whipped up in no time. And the flavour is wonderful. For me it’s a keeper!
Made these last week. They were very good, but they’re gone now. Thinking of making again this weekend, but would convection be better?
These are amazing and surprisingly easy to get right. My cuts didn’t look as pretty as yours but I think that was due to using a chopstick not a skewer. Will be making many variations of this recipe!
Deb, just made these for the second year in in a row with great success! I wanted to share my even easier hack for scoring. I cut my skewer to fit the size of my pan. I set it on top and gently pushed it into the dough. It kept my lines straight as well. Worked like a charm for the indents, then I cut with the pairing knife. Thanks for always sharing your hard work and endless knowledge and good humor!
I was wondering if anyone has tried baking these in a shortbread mold. I got gifted a ceramic shortbread mold and my first result was a total disaster. These cookies look so good, I want to try just baking them as is!
I think this will be just fine in a mold.
Unbelievably delicious. I decided to weigh the flour and semolina instead of relying on measuring cups. I used the gram measurements in the recipe and translated those into ounces so that I could use my food scale. I was very surprised that the grams to ounces flour measurement was substantially less than what’s indicated in the recipe. (2-1/4 c.) I don’t know if my math was screwed up, but the result was out of this world.
I have spent the pandemic making shortbread when life got a bit too much…resulting in a rapidly increased waistline. I found that mini quiche pans are GREAT for making shortbread….little round, thick, pillows of heaven! Love the idea of vanilla paste and will try that next time. My achilles heel is that I found that one can make as small a batch as one wants with this recipe…sometimes I will just make four after dinner, much to my husband’s displeasure because he wants more. What do you think of using brown sugar? It gives the cookies a wonderful caramelized flavor.
If you use a shortbread mold, you can make beautifully “stamped” cookies. A company called Brown Bag Designs makes these: https://shortbreadpan.com/product-category/shortbread-pans/
What is the “flavoring of choice”
I looked at the note as guided but it only says to watch instragram or tiktok
You could use citrus zest (lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit), vanilla bean, almond extract, etc.
Thank you! I have experimented but didn’t come up with a fully acceptable option yet so I’m excited to try this recipe. I scanned the comments and it seems like I may be the only one who can’t quite picture using “the back of a wooden skewer” to make the indentations? Are we talking about a wooden skewer used for kabobs? If so, would it just be pressing this into the dough? Thanks for any clarification!
Watching a video demo might help: https://www.instagram.com/reel/COwLqPZpSoY/
Should the butter be cold or room temp?
Cold is fine
There doesnt seem to be a “note” for flavoring suggestions.
The note is above the recipe:
I followed the directions with no alterations and made two batches — one with lemon zest, which was fabulous — and one with freshly picked and finely chopped rosemary, which was fantastic. I know it sounds like it wouldn’t work, but the rosemary is just the right tiny touch of savory. Hmmmm, maybe the next batch will be lemon zest AND rosemary!!
Thanks for the inspiration, Deb!
These are easy and delicious! I used the semolina which made them tender and the European butter which made them so flavorful. The crumb was perfect and they turned out exactly like the picture.
Thank you for sharing your recipe! I have semolina flour. Should I use the same amount as if I were using the AP flour?
Swap it by weight, and I only did it as a partial swap. Here’s the note from above the recipe:
Oh man, that is JUST the thing to make before we watch the 3rd season of TL this weekend. Thank you – those look so scrumptious! Quick question – if I manage to find semolina, is it better than all-purpose? And I’m assuming the weight is the same as APF? If you don’t answer, that’s fine – I’ll make a double batch and sulk while I’m eating it. Seriously, I can’t wait to try this!
It has a gentle sturdiness to it. I’m perfectly happy with just a/p but it’s a nice alternative if you want to try it.
Great recipe! So easy and quick to pull together. We will enjoy these while watching Ted Lasso. Thank you for sharing.
I have a 9″ round terracotta cookie mold pan. Should I cook the full time and let cool in the pan? Since it is divided, I’m hoping I can just unmold the cooled cookies and they will easily break into the 8 wedges with designs.
I haven’t tested it in a terracotta mold, so I’m not sure what adjustments are needed. Did it come with a recipe? I wonder if you’d want to bake it at a lower temperature for longer.
Since I know that your recipes are the BEST I would love to scale this for a large event at our church. Can I do a straight line increase or should we do individual batches? We need about 200 cookies.
What size pan do you have in mind?
These are the perfect mix of crisp, soft, savory and sweet. The perfect shortbread. Thanks so much!
I totally trust your recipe but curious… many similar recipes insist on dough spending time in fridge before baking. Thoughts?
I tested everything, did not find it necessary.
Was pleasantly surprised and extremely happy with the result of these even on my first try! This receipe has been worked out to perfection. It came together quickly and easily in my food processor, and baking in the oven was a cinch. Needed about 10 less total minutes on my oven.
Watching Ted Lasso show finale tonight😢. Made these to ease the pain. Came out lovely!