Shortbread Cookies

The classic cookie that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face! These Shortbread Cookies show that the best cookies are sometimes the simplest. You’ll love these butter cookies.

Round tin of shortbread cookies with parchment paper.

Shortbread Cookies

Enjoyed plain or treated as a canvas for dipping in all kinds of frostings, candies and chocolate, Shortbread Cookies need to be in your baking repertoire.

The best shortbread cookies are extremely buttery with a light crunch. They’re typically made with a much higher ratio of butter and sugar to flour than other types of butter cookies.

I’m sure every family with generations of home bakers has their own idea of the BEST shortbread cookie recipe. The recipe I’m sharing today is my very favorite version that I’ve been making for years!!

Instead of granulated white sugar like other butter cookie recipes, this one uses powdered sugar. That gives the crumb of these cookies the perfect texture–crisp bite that begins to melt in your mouth as you eat it.

It’s crumbly, sweet, buttery perfection.

Black wire rack on marble surface with plain shortbread cookies cooked.

Since I first posted this recipe years ago, I’ve come back to these shortbread cookies over and over. Dozens of variations on it have appeared on this site over the years and I adore them all!

From Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies to White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread Sticks, I’ve never met a shortbread I didn’t like.

This recipe though? This is the standard. The classic. The original. The best.

Enjoyed after a meal or served at tea time, Shortbread Cookies will never steer you wrong.

Best of all? They’re very easy to make. It only takes FIVE ingredients and enough time to let the dough chill in the fridge.

What you’ll Need

Stack of shortbread cookies on marble surface.

Here’s all you need to make the very best shortbread cookies recipe:

  • Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Flour
  • Salt

Really. That’s it. Shortbread isn’t intended to rise or puff when baking so you don’t need any baking soda or baking powder like other kinds of cookies.

You also don’t need any eggs meaning it’s a great naturally egg-free cookie choice for those with egg allergies

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

Step by step photos for making shortbread cookies.

First, cream the softened butter and sugar together. You can use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a spoon for this!

After you add the vanilla, flour and powdered sugar, you’ll need to switch to using your hands to mix the dough. It’ll become very crumbly at this stage; don’t panic, that’s what’s supposed to happen with shortbread!

Continue mixing with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and mold it into a log shape.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes but preferably about 2 hours. I’ve even kept it in the fridge overnight.

Slice the dough very thin, about ¼ inch (or less). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-13 minutes until just turning brown on edges. Remove and cool.

Decorate the cookies or eat just the way they are!

Butter Cookies

By now, I’ve probably made thousands of shortbread cookies in my life! Many have been great successes but a few have been flops. The cookies I’ve made with this recipe have always turned out delicious.

Parchment paper lined baking sheet with cooked cookies.

A few tips and tricks for making the best butter cookies:

  • Use soft butter. Cold butter will be hard to work into the dough and the cookie texture will be off. Did you forget to put your butter out at room temperature in advance? You can soften it with a few seconds in the microwave at 50% power!
  • This recipe makes cookies that are lightly crispy and crumbly. That means you’re going to take them out of the oven before they’re browned. If you want a crunchier cookie, feel free to leave the cookies in the oven for another minute or two. Just keep a close eye on them! They can burn quickly.
  • Don’t forget to chill! This dough needs ample time in the refrigerator to set. This is a requirement for achieving the crumbly texture and to keep the dough together. Set aside at least 30 minutes for this step, preferably an hour or two.
  • Let them cool completely. Before you store the cookies in a container or ziploc bag, be sure they’ve cooled completely. Put them in while they’re still warm and the steam will soften the cookies quite a bit.

Can you freeze cookie dough?

Because shortbread dough is high in fat content it holds up wonderfully in the freezer! You can prep the dough in advance and pop the plastic-wrapped dough in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Then, when you’re in the mood for shortbread cookies just thaw, slice and bake!

The baked cookies also freeze beautifully so don’t be afraid to bake more than you think you can eat! It never hurts to have a freezer stocked full of cookies, right?

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What kind of butter to use

I prefer unsalted butter for baking as a general rule. However, you can certainly make shortbread cookies with salted butter. Just leave out the added salt in the recipe.

More Easy Desserts

Yield: 30 cookies

Shortbread Cookies

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Chill Time 30 minutes
Total Time 53 minutes

The classic cookie that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face! These Shortbread Cookies show that the best cookies are sometimes the simplest. You'll love these butter cookies.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract


    1. Cream butter and powdered sugar together in a large bowl.
    2. Add flour, salt and vanilla. It becomes very crumbly. Use your hands to finish mixing it until it becomes a ball.
    3. Wrap in saran wrap, roll into a log shape and refrigerate for about 30 minutes (or longer). Slice very thin, about ¼ inch (or less).
    4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-13 minutes until just turning brown on edges. Remove and cool. Decorate or eat just the way they are! Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Recipe originally published March 15, 2011. Photos updated in 2020.

Nibble on these cookies with a cup of coffee, give a box of them to a friend in need of cheering or hand them out to the kids as an after school treat. You’re going to love Shortbread Cookies!


About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on March 3, 2020

Comments & Reviews

  1. Hi Aimee–(sigh) doc told me to cut out sugar and carbs till my labs tests look better. (double sigh) Do you have any low-carb/low-sugar recipes? i tried just substituting a sugar substitute for cane sugar–ugh. thanks,

  2. I am looking for your homemade jingle cookie recipe. I cannot find it on your website. Do you have it posted anywhere? Thank you

  3. All of your variations sound extremely good. A combo of those cookies would make a delicious gift. Thanks for linking these up.

  4. Thank you so much for adding to this week’s Recipe linky party on my blog!
    I hope you will join us every week!

    they look sooooo yummy!

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