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Scottish Shortbread

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Buttery, crisp and just barely sweet, this Scottish shortbread is simple to make with ingredients that are always on hand.

scottish shortbread

Buttery, crisp, and mildly sweet, shortbread is simple to make with ingredients that are always on hand. Baked in large rounds to resemble the sun and cut into wedges, shortbread is traditionally served in Scotland on winter solstice, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. It’s wonderful with coffee or tea any time of day — and since it’s appealingly plain, kids love it as much as grown-ups.

What you’ll need to make Scottish Shortbread


Since shortbread is made with so few ingredients, there’s not a lot of variation in shortbread recipes. This recipe from King Arthur Flour, however, is unique in that it calls for confectioners sugar instead of granulated sugar, which makes the cookies extra tender. It also calls for almond extract in addition to vanilla — I love this flavor combination.

How to make Scottish Shortbread


Begin by whisking together the flour and salt, then set aside.


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract.


Beat until smooth and creamy.


Add the flour mixture.


Mix on low speed until combined into a stiff dough.


Divide the dough in half and place each half in a greased cake pan.


Dust your fingers with flour and press each dough ball into an even layer.


To smooth the surface, place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and smooth with your fingers.


Use a fork to prick the dough — this allows steam to escape while the shortbread bakes.


Bake the shortbread until it’s a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.


Remove the pans from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface.


Using a sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. It’s important to do this while the shortbread is still warm, otherwise, it will crumble when cut.


Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool.


Serve and enjoy!


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Scottish Shortbread

Buttery, crisp and just barely sweet, this Scottish shortbread is simple to make with ingredients that are always on hand.

Servings: 24 wedges
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two round 9-in cake pans with butter. (If you worry about the shortbread sticking in your particular pans, line them with parchment rounds, and then butter the parchment.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat until smooth, creamy and well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until you have an evenly mixed, stiff dough.
  4. Divide the dough in half (if you have a scale, each half will weigh about 10.5 oz), and press each half into an even layer in the prepared pans, dusting your fingers with flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking. To smooth the surface, place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and smooth with your fingers. Use a fork to prick the dough all over in 1-in intervals to allow steam to escape while the shortbread bakes.
  5. Bake the shortbread until it's a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.
  6. Remove the pans from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface. Using a sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; otherwise, it won't cut easily and will crumble.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Shape the dough into 2 disks, wrap each securely in plastic wrap, and place them in a sealable bag. When ready to bake, remove the disks from the freezer and place each one in a buttered 9-inch cake pan. When the dough is soft enough to press out and cover the bottom of each pan, proceed with the recipe as directed. To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 wedge
  • Calories: 126
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 50 mg
  • Cholesterol: 20 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Hello! I’ve made this several times and it’s so good…perfectly buttery, slightly sweet and I love the touch of almond. Thanks for sharing a delightful recipe 🙂

    • — Heather on March 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Honestly it is better with no other flavouring than the butter which should be what you taste with a shortbread so I left those out. It really turns out crisper than I prefer with powdered sugar (it should tender rather than crisp) but since caster sugar which is what is used in the original is nearly impossible to find in stores in the US it is a passable substitute.

    • — Jeanne (J R) Tomlin on December 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • The shortbread recipe is delicious and came out perfectly. This is a keeper and could easily be one that I make for the neighbors as a Christmas treat. I think the almond is perfect and a great touch. Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

    • — Sandra Wheatley on December 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • My parents were born in Scotland and we had shortbread in the house at all times, not just holidays! My mother’s recipe was flour, sugar, and butter and maybe salt. Can’t say I ever ate much of my mother’s, but I like your recipe much more!

    • — Janet on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Could I successfully cut this recipe in half?
    Thanks, Ally in NJ

    • — Ally O'Connor on March 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Definitely — hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 3, 2021
      • Reply
    • Thanks!!

      • — Ally O'Connor on March 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love this recipe–reviewed it ages ago. I made a batch this afternoon with a few tweaks:

    * omitted the extracts but used the grated zest of 1 Navel orange–I incorporated the zest after the butter and sugar combo were creamed/mixed together, but before the flour was added

    * reduced the flour to 1.5 cups, but added .5 cup of corn starch to make a more tender cookie (flour, corn starch and salt were sieved together several times to ensure even distribution)

    * used my old standby: two-piece 10″ metal tart tin; cut dough into 20 cookies (a little over half an inch thick and used a small wooden skewer to mark holes)

    They are parcelled up now, and delivered to my favourite neighbours. Gosh they’re yummy–thank you Jenn.

    (N.B. I do not use parchment paper for these cookies, nor do I butter/spray the tart tin–they release beautifully. I do take considerable care to mark off the 20 sections pre-bake; make the cuts within 15 minutes of removing them from the oven; wait another 10 minutes to remove outer rim of tin, then separate the 20 pieces and allow to cool).

    • — Elaine Brown on February 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! and the almond took these cookies to new heights!
    I don’t have cake pans so used a 9×13 baking pan and followed all baking instructions. They came out perfectly – just square!

    • — Julie on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am wondering if I could make this shortbread to use for the crust in your amazing Coconut Cream Pie? The recommended shortbread cookies (Walker’s) are hard to find and expensive on Amazon. I have a scale so I would use the weight measurement rather than the number of cookies required. By the way, the pie was amazing!

    • Sure, Denise – that should work well!

  • Another great recipe, Jenn. Deceivingly delicious cookies despite being super easy to make with simple ingredients! The almond extract is the star ingredient for me – it adds such a great depth of flavor.

  • Instead of doing two round pans could I use a 13×9 glass pan? I’m not much of a baker so I thought I would ask before I tried doing it. Thank you!

    • I haven’t tried them this way, but I suspect it should work. They will be a little thicker, so they may take a touch longer in the oven. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • Thank you for your quick response! I just made them this weekend and I decided to just use the two round pans. They were perfect. My boyfriend loved them. I will definitely be making them again soon.

  • These turned out great. Made them for a Burns night gathering, and they were gobbled up.

  • I think I forgot to add the stars!!!

  • I love the simplicity of shortbread: few ingredients, minimal handling, use a high quality butter and let it shine. I love this recipe (but omit both extracts) and bake the entire quantity in a two-piece 10-inch metal tart pan with a removable bottom. It makes for a thicker shortbread. I divide it into 16 pieces (petticoat tail style) and it is heaven.

    A few helpful hints: I refrigerate the dough after it has been patted evenly into the tart pan. It makes it easier (and less messy) to gently mark off the 16 sections that I will later cut. Once the 16 sections are delineated, I then use a fork and a thin wooden skewer to create an attractive pattern of “vent holes”. I bake @ 300 for about 35-40 minutes, reduce oven temp to 275 and leave it for 10-12 more minutes. I find it needs to cool for about 15-20 minutes before I do the final cuts as these cookies are very fragile. Shortbread is a classic cookie, and this recipe is delicious.

  • I absolutely love this recipe! Nice and easy. I have made it for the holidays for the last 3 years and it always impresses. Lovely texture and great taste.

  • I have made the shortbread a couple of times but I still haven’t reached the point of total crispness. I used parchment paper on the bottom of my tins but as soon as I flipped the shortbread out I knew I should have kept them in a little longer – the underside was mottled golden with some areas being pale. The topside looked lightly golden and the edges darker. Do you think it is because I used parchment on the bottom or is it my mixing or simply my timing is off. I find with my oven I am keeping them in longer than the recipe states so I get a bit nervous that the bottom is burning. The edges are crisp but the rest is ever so slightly “cakey” Still delicious though:) I cut back the vanilla to half the amount, Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Hi Kathy, It sounds like your oven just runs a little cool and that they may need a tiny bit more time in there. 🙂

      • Thanks for responding so quickly, I will be a bit more daring next time. I must admit I am more of a cook than a baker so I always feel a bit intimidated when baking. In saying that, I am sitting right now with a cup of tea and one of your pecan squares……perfection!

        • I thought I would chime in here because the first time I made this recipe, I did not use parchment paper, and it came out perfect except for the fact that some of it got stuck to the pan. My next batch I used parchment paper, and it came out as you described. In fact, once it cooled, it was so hard, the shortbread was nearly inedible. I didn’t think the parchment was the culprit and thought it was because I hadn’t mixed the ingredients very well with my hand mixer. So I made a third batch using my standing mixture and the dough was much better (looked like the picture). I lined my pans with parchment again and the results were the same. I use parchment paper all the time (mostly for cookies), but if I think it about it, the cookies definitely cook faster without the parchment paper. All three times I made the shortbread, I baked it for 40 minutes, so I guess I need to increase the time to 45 minutes next time around OR not use parchment paper and live with some of the shortbread getting stuck to the pan.

          • — Courtney Jorstad
          • Reply
  • This recipe is so good! I went into it with no expectations because I don’t think I’ve ever made Scottish Shortbread before, and I made it exactly as written and would not make any changes. However, the one thing I learned is that I will definitely be lining my cake pans with parchment paper next time around because they did get stuck on the pan even though I used plenty of butter.

  • I made these last night. Unfortunately, I only have 8″ pans so I cooked them for an extra 10 minutes and they were PERFECT! I too left out the almond extract as I wanted a more pure Scottish shortbread flavour. Wonderful recipe! Thank you, Jen.

  • Could you use this shortbread recipe as the base for chocolate caramel slice ? Thank you.

    • Hi Jane, I had to look up a chocolate caramel slice to see exactly what they were and they sound very much like a recipe I have on the blog. You can find it here. If you want to make your own version, I’d go with the shortbread crust from that recipe. Hope that helps!

  • Absolutely delicious. I’ve made it twice now even though each time, I baked it for 45 minutes cos it barely looked done at the recommended 35 minute mark. It came out perfectly each time so no complaints here.

  • hi i wanna try this but can i also make chocolate version? if yes, how to make it? please help thanks

    • Hi Aya, I don’t think these could easily be converted to chocolate without several tweaks in the recipe. You may want to look specifically for a chocolate shortbread recipe, or you could dip a portion of the cut shortbread into some chocolate like in this macaroon recipe. Hope that helps!

  • Super easy and just delicious. I followed it exactly. Thank you!

  • Delish and super easy thank you!

  • What a lovely recipe – taste and smell are amazing! I baked mine for several mins longer, as I wanted a very crunchy cookie. I have not made shortbread in some time, and I far prefer this recipe over the ones I made in years past. I particularly liked the way the cookies are pricked with a fork and cut into wedges.

    This recipe is a keeper!

  • Wonderful. I’m a Scottish shortbread junkie and have tried many recipes but the texture of these cannot be beat. I used regular flour but will splurge for king Arthur next time to see if it makes a difference. I agree with another reviewer below that inclusion of the almond extract may mask the flavor of the vanilla so next time I’ll leave it out but the flavor was wonderful nevertheless. Sinful, buttery goodness.

  • I plan to make this recipe for this Easter. Knowing that my daughter favorite thing in the whole world is the twix bar. I tested out the recipe last night. I cooked the shortbread in a square pan for the shortbread tradition shape. cooled them for awhile added the melted carmels and then the chocolate. they were teriffic. I am sure they will be a big hit at Easter,

  • Oh my goodness – I just finished baking these, and cannot stop eating!
    I became vegan 4 years ago, and I tried a “vegan” shortbread recipe that was not – how shall I say – very tasty. (I think I ended up throwing it out!) Shortbread relies on the flavour of butter, and there is no vegan substitute.
    But this recipe! Absolutely scrumptious, and I can once again eat delicious shortbread!
    My pre-vegan go-to recipe had no flavouring other than the butter, and was excellent, but this is a fantastic substitute. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • PS: I used Becel brand vegan margarine, and while it’s very very good, it’s not butter. And thanks to you, it doesn’t have to be:)

  • I love shortbread. This is one of the best recipes I have seen. The only thing I do differently is to make it thicker. Yes, you get fewer servings, but who is counting servings? It’s all for me anyway LOL.

    Easy to make, wonderful to eat. I love it!!

    • — Elizabeth Short
    • Reply
  • I used to bake all the time. I’ve become disabled and I don’t bake as much as I used to. I always had King Arthur Flour, as well as regular white flour on hand. Recently, I told my husband to toss them and we’d buy some each week to makes were what we had was fresh. He mentioned my Shortbread, which he loves, and I have only white flour on hand. I always used the King Arthur recipe and didn’t know if it would work if I used the regular flour. Now I know! Thank you so much! I’m going to make it in a few minutes!

    • — Kathleen G Maher
    • Reply
    • Hope you enjoy!

  • This is outstanding. I used the Trader Joe’s salted cultured butter from Brittany (did not add additional salt) and it was heavenly–this recipe is all about the butter! I made the entire thing in a single 9×13 and cut it into fingers rather than wedges. Finally, I melted some semi sweet baking chocolate on a plate and dipped some of the fingers in, and then froze them briefly to set the chocolate.

  • Made these twice now. Easy and delicious. Can these be made ahead and frozen?

    • — Veronica Rubin
    • Reply
    • Glad you like them! Yes, I think these should freeze nicely.

  • Can I use the shortbread mould for this recipe- it is a square nordic pan with fluted edges and design in each square – would not be able to use the parchment paper but can liberally grease the pan .

    • Hi Priya, I think it should work. I’d love to know how it turns out!

  • This shortbread recipe is really wonderful and authentic, and is especially beautiful as part of a tea (darjeeling pairs particularly well with it). The cookies look invitingly rustic when made as the recipe specifies, or you can press the dough into a pan specific to shortbread, as seen here: :https://www.amazon.com/Brown-Bag-Thistle-Shortbread-Cookie/dp/B0028Y5TNY
    Either way, there is no substitute for pure butter, although I somtimes omit the almond extract as the flavor can hide the butter and vanilla. Using a rolling pizza cutter makes for very even, neat edges when the warm shortbread is cut. Outstanding, basic recipe worth mastering!

  • My question is, is confectioners sugar, the every day sugar or is it the powder sugar?

    • Confectioner’s sugar is the same as powdered sugar :).

  • Several years ago, I requested a recipe for shortbreads similar to Walker’s and you directed me to King Arthur Flour’s recipe. I have been baking them ever since. For many years prior, finding the perfect shortbread recipe was a mission for me…they are my husband and daughter’s absolute favorite. You have never lead me in the wrong direction, your recipes are spot on and require no modification and because of your shortbread recipe suggestion, my mission to find the perfect shortbread recipe has ended. These shortbreads are requested frequently. Thank you for your wonderful blog, your personal responses and I’m looking forward to your cookbook!

  • I made this last week and for some reason they came out very hard and were difficult to eat… any idea what I did wrong? The only thing I did differently was to substitute 2 Tbs corn starch / cup of flour to make cake flour because I had read somewhere that doing that makes better shortbread… do you think my cleverness sabotaged my efforts? 🙂 The taste/flavor was awesome though… we still ate them all.

    • Hi John, I don’t think the cornstarch/flour would cause the problem. Shortbread should be crisp, but not hard. They may have baked for a bit too long, or is there a chance that you could’ve made a measuring mistake?

      • There is always that chance 🙂 I’ll try them again since the recipe resurfaced in your emails. Thanks so much for those by the way… they provide some wonderful ideas!

  • Delicious. I did skip the almond extract as my British husband wanted traditional shortbread. I also prefer using my food processor to mix the dough. Caster sugar is traditional so powdered sugar was a bit of a gamble. It paid off though. For tea and biscuits, I’ll stick to the tried-and-true as I’ve become accustomed to the slightly gritty texture of regular sugar in them. However, this recipe offers me an alternative for mince pie “crusts” so in the recipe box it goes.

  • I really appreciate a crisp, not overly sweet cookie. This one definitely delivers 🙂

  • I made this recipe exactly as written. They were rich and buttery. My husband loves shortbread and thought these were the best ones he’s ever had. I will make these for the holidays and give away as gifts as they’re very easy to make!

  • Hi Jenn,

    They are baking as I type this. Just realized I only had 8 inch pans. How much longer should I bake? Thanks!

    • Hi Lisa, I think I’m probably too late with this response, but the shortbread would just take approximately 5 minutes longer. Hope you enjoyed it!

      • Thanks Jenn! I baked exactly 5 minutes more and they came out perfect!

  • Made these for our New Year’s day dessert. Simple ingredients and super easy. No problems getting them out of the pan. Husband and neighbors loved, so did I! Jenn, love your recipes.

  • Because I only have one of the round pans I cut the recipe in half, it was really easy and quick to make. This is delicious!!! My father who is as picky as they come with food said I should make this every week, that it was the best thing I ever baked- lol. Really, this is very delicious to the point that it’s addictive! Thank you so much for this!

  • Oh my! These are so good! Really easy to make — almost too easy. I see lots of these cookies in my future. My husband thought they were a little rich, but my teenage daughter said she wished she’d never tasted them because now she wants to eat them all. I cut them into smaller strips in hopes that I wouldn’t eat so much at once. Didn’t work. I did have a little trouble getting it out of my pan, and I was using a non stick pan that I buttered. Next time I’ll use parchment paper but I was able to eventually get it out in one piece. Wonderful and easy recipe.

  • I made these cookies with my sweet 12 yr old granddaughter this morning and they are so buttery and delicious. We are baking another batch to pack in cookie tins for the neighbors. Fabulous!

  • I just made this. The house smells heavenly!
    I only had one 9″ pan. That came out beautifully. The other was on a pie dish. It disintegrated.
    Am eating it as I write. It is delicious.
    I will certainly make it again. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

  • Hi!
    What does ‘cool at room temperature’ means? Does the butter not be mushy? Or it being soft but not too soft.

    • Hi Sarah, Yes it means soft but not too soft. I’ve changed it to just “room temp” to avoid confusion. Hope that helps!

  • The shortbread I’ve had from Scotland has always been much thicker than this. Are there different types?

    • Hi Liz, I’ve seen shortbread in all shapes and sizes – I prefer it thin (this one is about 1/4-inch thick) but it can be made in a smaller pan for a thicker cookie, if you like. You can also use this dough to make shortbread drop cookies (read the baker’s tips at the bottom of the King Arthur recipe here).

  • THIS is Scottish shortbread…1 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups flour. Nothing else.

    • Nancy.. I can’t wait to see your own blog!

    • Maybe the Scots have slightly different versions like us Italians do for making sauce 🙂 – This is my Scottish former mother-in-law’s grandmother’s recipe: 1 lb (yes, 4 sticks) salted good quality butter at room temp, 4 C flour (not packed), 3/4 C sugar and 1 egg yolk. Mix with wooden spoon (or hands-no mixer), spread in jelly roll pan, make crisis-cross pattern on top with fork prior to baking. Bake in 250 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours. When done, while still warm, lightly sprinkle sugar on top which settles in groves of fork pattern. Cut into squares. Store in tin if there is any left!

  • Call it shortbread if you must, but most definitely not authentic Scottish shortbread.

    • Marilyn, Could you possibly give us an example of authentic Scottish shortbread recipe if indeed this is not correct? I thought this particular recipe was spot on.

      – LMM

      • I haven’t tried making it yet, so I’m really not in a position to comment but that doesn’t always stop me! I doesn’t look like the shortbread I’m familiar with, but I’d need to taste it before commenting further. I’d be interesting in Marilyn’s reason for saying it’s not authentic Scottish shortbread.

    • True. Authentic Scottish Shortbread has nothing in it but flour, butter, and sugar. No flavourings of any kind, other than a pinch of salt. No vanilla, no chocolate chips, etc. It is also formed into either fingers, or in a wheel a little less than half an inch thick; with crimped edges to honour the sun. Some people call these petticoat tails. It is also not allowed to brown, but is taken out of the oven when a pale gold.

      • That’s actually not true, Shortbread cookies dates back to Mary Queen of Scots and
        there are many different recipes and regional variations.

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