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.
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.
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!
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.
Holiday alert: Make a batch of these shortbread bites with festive sprinkles to add to all your cookie plates!
Here’s all you need to make the very best shortbread cookies recipe:
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
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 1. 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.
STEP 2. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes but preferably about 2 hours. I’ve even kept it in the fridge overnight.
STEP 3. 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!
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.
Tips and Tricks
- 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
- Brookie Cookies
- Strawberry Streusel Bars – with a shortbread crust!
- Puppy Chow
- Ricotta Cookies
- Kolachky Cookies
- No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
- Peanut Butter Granola Bars
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!