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Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies originated in Scotland and have a high proportion of butter in the dough. When dough has a high proportion of fat to flour, the dough is said to be “short.” This type of dough typically has a crumbly texture because the fat inhibits gluten development. These Shortbread Cookies taste rich and have a crumbly texture that melts on your tongue. They are truly incredible!

These cookies are a great alternative to sugar cookies if you’re looking for a cut out recipe for decorating cookies as well. The Shortbread cookies don’t spread in the oven because there isn’t any leavening agent in the recipe.

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Ingredients for Shortbread Cookies

Equipment: 

Making Shortbread Cookie Dough

Creaming butter and sugar with vanilla paste

Put the butter in a stand mixer and mix the butter on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment.  Add the sugar and salt and cream on medium-low speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Next, add the vanilla paste and mix on low for about 30 seconds to incorporate.

Making Shortbread Cookie Dough

Add the flour in 2 additions and mix after each addition until just combined.  This will help to not overmix the dough and to make sure flour doesn’t explode onto all of your kitchen’s surfaces.   Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.  The dough will be crumbly at this stage.

Pile the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and fold it over, using the plastic wrap to knead the dough into a rectangular block.  Wrap the block in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Baking Shortbread Cookies

Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

Rolling out Shortbread Cookie Dough

Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a half sheet pan (i.e., baking sheet) or use these pre-cut sheets (link) that are super convenient.  Place the dough between plastic wrap and parchment paper on the counter and roll out the block of refrigerated dough until it is in an even sheet approximately ¼ of an inch thick.  Try to keep the dough in a square or rectangular shape while rolling.  

If the dough has softened (i.e., it is not cool to the touch), put the pan in the fridge until the dough is firm enough to be cut.

Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into a rectangle/square with straight sides.  You can re-roll the cut edges to get a few more cookies if you have a lot of extra dough. 

To get same sized cookies, use a ruler to measure the length and the width of your dough.  Determine the size you need to make rectangle-shaped cookies.  I made cookies that were 1” x 3⅓”.  Use a toothpick to prick a few holes in the top of the cookie. These holes are primarily decorative as the cookies shouldn’t puff while baking since there are no leavening agents in the dough.

Baking Shortbread Cookies

Use an offset spatula to move the cookies to the baking sheet.  The shortbread cookies will not spread while baking, but still leave a little space around each cookie so they will bake evenly.    

Sprinkle some granulated sugar over the tops of the cookies for a little extra crunch and sweetness.  This is not a necessary step, but I like it.  

Shortbread Cookies

Bake the cookies in the oven for about 18 minutes (or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown).  

Cooling and Storing Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

Remove the cookies from the oven and cool them on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes.  The cookies are very delicate when hot, so moving them too soon can result in broken cookies.  Then, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store these cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days at room temperature.

If you’d like to step up this shortbread recipe, check out my award-winning Caramel Nut Shortbread Cookies. They use this recipe as the base of the cookie and they are delicious as well.

Let me know in the comments below if you make this cookie and what your favorite way to eat it is. They are so versatile, you can decorate them, add a sugar topping, or simply get cozy and enjoy them with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

More Cookie Recipes:

Notes

This recipe was adapted from the “Shortbread” recipe in the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

Shortbread Cookies

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Cooling Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 28 mins
Course: Dessert

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment (OR hand mixer with a large bowl)
  • Digital scale (or dry measuring cups and measuring spoons)
  • Silicone spatula
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling Pin
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Sharp knife
  • Offset spatula
  • Toothpick
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Cooling rack

Ingredients

  • sticks (180g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (90g) granulated sugar
  • ½ + ⅛ tsp (2g) salt
  • 1 tsp (6g) vanilla paste
  • cups + 3 tbsp (270g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (24g) granulated sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

Making the Shortbread Cookie Dough

  • Put the butter in a stand mixer and mix the butter on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and cream on medium-low speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Next, add the vanilla paste and mix on low for about 30 seconds to incorporate.
  • Add the flour in 2 additions and mix after each addition until just combined. This will help to not overmix the dough and to make sure flour doesn’t explode onto all of your kitchen’s surfaces. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. The dough will be crumbly at this stage.
  • Pile the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and fold it over, using the plastic wrap to knead the dough into a rectangular block. Wrap the block in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Baking the Shortbread Cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the dough between plastic wrap and parchment paper on the counter and roll out the block of refrigerated dough until it is in an even sheet approximately ¼ of an inch thick. Try to keep the dough in a square or rectangular shape while rolling.
  • If the dough has softened (i.e., it is not cool to the touch), put the pan in the fridge until the dough is firm enough to be cut.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into a rectangle or square with straight sides. You can re-roll the cut edges to get a few more cookies if you have a lot of extra dough. To get same sized cookies, use a ruler to measure the length and the width of your dough. Determine the size you need to make rectangle-shaped cookies. I made cookies that were 1” x 3⅓”. Use a toothpick to prick a few holes in the top of the cookie. These holes are primarily decorative as the cookies shouldn’t puff while baking since there are no leavening agents in the dough.
  • Use an offset spatula to move the cookies to the baking sheet. The shortbread cookies will not spread while baking, but still leave a little space around each cookie so they will bake evenly.
  • Sprinkle some granulated sugar over the tops of the cookies for a little extra crunch and sweetness. This is not a necessary step, but I like it.
  • Bake the cookies in the oven for about 18 minutes (or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown).

Cooling and Storing Shortbread Cookies

  • Remove the cookies from the oven and cool them on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. The cookies are very delicate when hot, so moving them too soon can result in broken cookies. Then, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store these cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days at room temperature.

Notes

This recipe was adapted from the “Shortbread” recipe in the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

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