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Simple Scottish Shortbread Cookies

If you’re looking for a lovely, quick shortbread, one packed with flavor, this is the recipe for you! 

What is Shortbread? 

Shortbread is a type of rich, crumbly, and buttery biscuit or cookie that originated in Scotland. Traditionally, it’s made from three basic ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter. Sometimes a pinch of salt is added for flavor. 

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

With so few ingredients you might think these are rather plain. You would be wrong! 

The ratio of these ingredients is crucial to achieving the desired texture: a delicate, crumbly biscuit that (literally) melts in your mouth. And talk about flavor! That brown sugar gives it a depth of flavor that everyone will enjoy. 

Shortbread Shapes

Shortbread can be formed into various shapes, often round or rectangular. This particular recipe calls for rectangular, but if you check out my Lemon Shortbread cookies you’ll find that they are round. 

Shortbread is often decorated with a pattern made by pressing with a fork before baking. You can skip this step if you like, but I loved the texture, which is amped up by the additional air that bakes in from these tiny holes. 

Shortbread is a true classic treat often enjoyed during holidays or with a cup of tea or coffee. You can easily dunk these into your favorite hot beverage. In fact, that’s what my daughter did with hers once I passed them along. More about that later! 

Scottish Shortbread Ingredients

These are such simple ingredients, y’all! You’ll find a full recipe card you can print at the bottom of this post but here’s a look at what you’ll need.

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box
  • 1 cups butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 to 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Prepare a work station. You can use a couple of sheets of waxed or parchment paper and some additional flour.

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream butter for 2 – 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Add brown sugar and continue to cream until lump-free.

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Slowly work in the flour until it all comes together. (At first it might have a crumbly texture but it will eventually form a cookie dough.)

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Place dough on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with more flour, and roll into large rectangle using a large rolling pin.

Poke with fork tines to add texture to your shortbread dough. (I didn’t drive the tines all the way through; just enough to add texture.)

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Place on a cookie sheet or other flat surface and put into the refrigerator for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once chilled, cut the dough into 3×1” rectangles. I used a pizza cutter but you could really cut these any way you like, including a sharp knife or your favorite cookie cutters.

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Separate and bake at 325 for 20 – 25 minutes. (Check out those shortbread fingers!)

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Remove and place on wire rack to cool.

Serve and enjoy.

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

Store leftovers in an airtight container. They should stay good up to a week. These cookies can be frozen to eat later on.

What to Expect from these Classic Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Scottish Shortbread from Out of the Box

I hardly know where to begin! I wasn’t sure I would find a simple cookie that I liked as much as my cut-out sugar cookies, but I was wrong! These are similar to those, but with one obvious difference: my sugar cookies have an egg in the mix.

The lack of egg in this recipe is what makes it flaky. And did I mention that brown sugar component? It adds a slight molasses flavor you just don’t find with white sugar.

These will be great for special occasions but I think they’re perfect for a mid-afternoon snack with a cup of hot cocoa, hot tea, or coffee. They’re lovely, no matter when or how you serve them. This is the best shortbread cookie recipe I’ve tried and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

There are a host of ways you can change these up, so let’s pause to talk about some of those. 

Variations on this Traditional Shortbread Recipe

Because shortbread is a simple “base” cookie, (a lovely buttery treat) you can change it up in a variety of ways with just a few tweaks. Here are some I plan to try: 

Lemon: I used this same recipe to make lemon shortbread and it turned out terrific. Just add lemon zest to the dough and then dunk in lemon icing sugar glaze (made with one cup powdered sugar and the juice of two lemons). 

Chocolate chips: Use the minis, if you decide to add chocolate. I think they would be delicious!

Maple: I love maple. It’s a favorite. Just add a teaspoon of maple extract to the dough and then coat in maple glaze. 

Pecan shortbread: Add a cup of finely chopped pecans to this recipe. I have a similar Pecan Sandies recipe already on this blog, and it calls for rolling into a tube and then slicing.

Melted chocolate: Dip the bottoms (or tops) of the cookies into melted chocolate. (Delicious!) 

Caramel: Top with melted caramel. (You can use my Caramel from Sweetened Condensed Milk recipe if you like.) 

Christmas Cookies: Bake these as directed, but drizzle with red and green royal icing and then toss on some Christmas sprinkles. Perfection!

Other Cookies from Out of the Box Baking

Pecan Toffee Cookies with Salted Caramel: If you’re looking for an amazing brown sugar cookie loaded with crunch and depth of flavor, this is the recipe for you! These delicious pecan toffee cookies are packed full of brown sugar, toffee bits, and pecans and they’re drizzled with salted caramel. 

Golden Girls Cheesecake Cookies: If you love a luscious, pillowy sugar cookie but you’re also a fan of cream cheese, this is the cookie for you. In this post I’m going to show you how to make these delicious Golden Girls Cheesecake Cookies.

Old-Fashioned Butter Cookies: If you’re looking for a light, crisp buttery cookie, you’ve come to the right place. In this post I’m going to teach you how to make traditional, old-fashioned butter cookies, just like Grandma used to make!

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies: If you’re looking for a fluffy, crisp, old-fashioned Sugar Cookie, do I have a treat for you! This is a simple sugar cookie recipe, packed full of flavor, and straight from Grandma’s cookbook!

That’s it for this post, friends!

I hope you enjoyed this traditional scottish shortbread recipe, friends. 

If you make these cookies and love them, don’t forget to leave a review and a comment below. And while you’re at it, go ahead and pin some photos to your Pinterest boards!

See this recipe at  

About the Author

Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 165 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page. 

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 24
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes

If you’re looking for a lovely, quick shortbread, one packed with flavor, this is the recipe for you!


  • 1 cups butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 to 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter
  3. Add sugar
  4. Add flour
  5. Roll into large rectangle on parchment paper
  6. Cut into 3x1” rectangles
  7. Poke with fork tines
  8. Chill for half hour
  9. Separate and bake at 325 for 20 – 25 minutes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 168Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

Jean |

Thursday 25th of April 2024

Wonderful! Just what I like with a nice cuppa tea! Isn't butter just the best flavor ever?


Saturday 27th of April 2024


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