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How to Make Traditional Scottish Shortbread

With only 4 simple ingredients, this recipe for traditional Scottish Shortbread comes together so easily. Buttery, flaky, and sweet, this shortbread recipe will become a family favorite to be enjoyed throughout the year!

Many of my childhood memories stem back to my grandmother. During our winter breaks from school growing up, my brothers and I would spend every day sitting in her kitchen, playing games and enjoying her delicious treats.

One recipe that stands out from the rest, however, was the staple of her kitchen: Scottish Shortbread. These sweet, buttery treats were essential at Christmastime and birthdays too. This shortbread brings back some of my fondest memories of her, my family and my childhood. I was lucky enough to have inherited her recipe, and today I am sharing it with you.

Why You’ll Love Scottish Shortbread

  • Uses 4 simple ingredients that you probably have on hand.
  • A buttery, flaky, sweet cookie
  • Versatile and perfect for all occasions
  • Shortbread stays fresh for up to two weeks and freezes well.
photo of vintage recipe card with measuring cup and bowl filled with dry ingredients

Traditional Scottish Shortbread Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners (10x) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups flour
  • Optional: granulated sugar – to sprinkle on top of the shortbread pieces

How to Make Shortbread

  • Begin by setting out a 1/2 pound of butter to soften. 
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Sift together a 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, a 1/2 tsp. cornstarch, and 2 cups of flour. Then combine this mixture with the butter.
  • Now, comes the fun part: mixing the dough by hand. My children loved to help when they were young, and since there is no raw egg, I wouldn’t worry if some of the dough made its way into their mouths, as it inevitably did!
  • Prepare your baking sheet/pan with parchment paper.
  • Shape the dough so that it is about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.
  • Bake in a slow oven at 300 degrees for about a half hour until the dough turns to a light brown.
Shortbread dough rolled with embossed rolling pin and shortbread dough being cut with biscuit cutter

How to Shape the Dough

You want to shape the dough, keeping it about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Resist the urge to roll it thinner.

My grandmother always formed circles that she would cut into triangles. Then she would sprinkle a little granulated sugar on the top before baking.

Or, place the dough in a parchment paper lined jellyroll pan or square baking dish, again ensuring it is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rectangles. Using a fork, you can prick the top of the shortbread for an authentic look.

shortbread cookies on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, ready to be baked

Other ideas are to roll the dough and cut out the cookies. I used this decorative snowflake embossed rolling pin and then used this biscuit cutter set to cut out the shortbread cookies.

Don’t forget to sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top of the shortbread before baking!

Does shortbread dough need to be chilled before baking?

No, there is no need to chill the dough before baking.

stack of round shortbread cookies with blue and white towels in background.

How long will shortbread keep?

Store your baked shortbread in a sealed container, tin, or plastic bag. It should keep for up to two weeks. If you are planning on keeping it for longer than that, you can freeze it.

stack of round shortbread cookies with blue and white towels in background.

Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope you give this shortbread recipe a try! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

I would love to connect with you on FacebookInstagramPinterest, or here on the blog! 

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stack of round shortbread cookies with blue and white towels in background.

How to Make Traditional Scottish Shortbread

With only 4 simple ingredients, this recipe for traditional Scottish Shortbread comes together so easily. Buttery, flaky, and sweet, this shortbread recipe will become a family favorite to be enjoyed throughout the year!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 18 cookies

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound butter unsalted, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners (10x) powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch sifted
  • 2 cups flour sifted
  • granulated sugar optional for sprinkling on top

Instructions
 

  • Begin by setting out a 1/2 pound of butter to soften.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Sift together a 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, a 1/2 tsp. cornstarch, and 2 cups of flour. 
  • Then combine this mixture with the butter.
  • Mixing the dough by hand. 
  • Prepare your baking sheet/pan with parchment paper. Shape the dough so that it is about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.
  • Bake in a slow oven at 300 degrees for about a half hour until the dough turns to a light brown.

Notes

You want to shape the dough, keeping it about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Resist the urge to roll it thinner.
My grandmother always formed circles that she would cut into triangles. Then she would sprinkle a little granulated sugar on the top before baking.
Or, place the dough in a parchment paper lined jellyroll pan or square baking dish, again ensuring it is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rectangles. Using a fork, you can prick the top of the shortbread for an authentic look.
The number of shortbread pieces this yields depends on the shape and size of the cookies you make.
Store your baked shortbread in a sealed container, tin, or plastic bag. It should keep for up to two weeks. If you are planning on keeping it for longer than that, you can freeze it.
Keyword how to make Scottish shortbread, shortbread, shortbread cookies

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11 Comments

  1. I will certainly be making these shortbread cookies! Shortbread is one of my very favorites! My grandmother used to bake something similar but they were definitely thinner than these, actually no bigger than 1/4 inch. I may even make them tomorrow if I can find a minute for myself!
    One question though…do I use regular flour or all purpose?
    I think this would make a difference.
    I love that you made them fancy with the snowflakes and cookie cutter! I actually have both and look forward to trying this!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Shirley! Isn’t it wonderful to enjoy our grandmother’s recipes?! 🙂 I usually use King Arthur All Purpose Flour for baking. I hope this helps. Please let me know how this recipe works for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do!!

  2. Libbie Burling says:

    Lynn,

    I love shortbread, so I pinned this for my next baking weekend. It looks scrumptious!

    1. Thank you so much, Libbie! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does! Have a wonderful day!

  3. 5 stars
    These look so pretty! My husband loves shortbread and my son does too 🙂 Making shortbread cookies has always intimidated me, but your post has me thinking that I can maybe give them a go!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! You can definitely make this, Marie! It is so simple and I am sure your son will love to help. Happy New Year, my friend!

  4. This recipe sounds amazing, i plan to make a batch of “small rounds “for a cousin whos having an operation they will be a handy treat along side her cup of tea.. Thanku for sharing.. I will post once ive baked

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Susan! I hope your cousin recovers well and enjoys the homemade treat. 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for coming by and joining the party! These cookies look so delicious, perfect for a holiday gift! Love the rolled snowflake design on top. I’m sharing this post Monday evening on All About Home!!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing them on All About Home! I appreciate it! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! xo

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