Shortbread cookies are a favorite of mine because they are so simple to make. Classic shortbread recipes contain only three ingredients– butter, sugar, and flour.
Of course, the variations are endless. You can swap the white sugar out for powdered sugar, for a finer crumb. This seems to be the standard in most modern shortbread recipes, and this is the version you’ll find in this blog post. Some recipes will use lower-gluten cake flour, or swap a little bit of flour for cornstarch or tapioca starch, which results in a crumblier, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Flavorings include vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon or orange zest, chopped nuts and even dried lavender flowers.
Shortbreads tend to be a holiday cookie in the US, but they also pair well with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee.
The recipe below has just three ingredients and comes together very quickly. I find that the cookies keep for up to a month (even two!) stored in an airtight container kept in a cool spot on the counter.
Classic Shortbread Cookies
Simple three-ingredient shortbread cookies.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until evenly combined. Mix in the flour. The mixture might be crumbly– knead by hand until it comes together to form a smooth dough.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Cut it into 2-inch pieces, either using a cookie cutter, or slicing it into rectangles with a knife or pizza cutter.
- Transfer the cookies to the baking sheet, placing them at least one inch apart. Prick the cookies with a fork, to prevent the shortbread from bubbling or puffing up during baking.
- Bake at 300 F for 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden brown.