7 Recipes for Classic Shortbread Lovers
Shortbread is a timeless dessert that even our oldest relatives grew up enjoying. It’s hard not to love a biscuit that is made of butter, sugar, and flour, as it doesn’t get more sweet or traditional than that. While more new cookie recipes are cropping up this holiday season, make sure you don’t forget about the classics. Check out these 7 shortbread recipes that remind us just how good — and easy — the traditional treat is.
1. Classic Shortbread
Here’s a classic shortbread recipe from Martha Stewart. Rest assured that Martha knows her shortbread, and this formula couldn’t be easier. There are four ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, and salt; you’re about to have fresh shortbread cookies on your hands in just an hour of baking. Your grandmother would be proud.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together flour and salt into a medium bowl. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add sugar gradually, beating between additions; continue to beat until mixture is very pale, about 2 minutes total. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
Press dough evenly into a parchment-lined 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Cut dough in eighths lengthwise, then quarters crosswise, making 32 rectangles. Evenly pierce all over with a skewer.
Bake until shortbread is firm in center and golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; immediately recut rectangles with a paring knife. Let shortbread cool completely in pan.
2. Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Our next recipe, from Food & Wine, has five ingredients that facilitate shortbread success. Enter: Chocolate Shortbread Cookies and get ready to never turn back. Traditional shortbread cookies are good, but you can’t go wrong when you step it up a notch with chocolate.
- 2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup Dutch-process cocoa
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla, then beat in the cocoa on low speed. Beat in the flour and salt; the dough will be very soft.
Divide the dough in half and place each half between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick and transfer to two baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Working with one piece of dough at a time, remove the top sheet of parchment and invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; remove the second sheet of parchment. Using a floured 3-inch cookie cutter, stamp out cookies as close together as possible. Transfer the cookies to parchment paper-lined baking sheets and bake for about 14 minutes, or until firm.
Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Reroll the scraps and stamp out more cookies, chilling the scraps between batches.
3. Shortbread Brownies
Shortbread can also be turned into brownies; Better Homes and Garden shows us how. These sweet treats are the best of both dessert worlds, with a shortbread crust and a top brownie layer. The recipe calls for more than a handful of ingredients, but rest assured that you’ll be eating the fruits of your labor.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
- 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ½ cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with foil; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup flour and the brown sugar. Cut in the ½ cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the ¼ cup chocolate pieces. Press into prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together granulated sugar, ¾ cup flour, the cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, melted butter, and vanilla; beat by hand until smooth. Stir in the ½ cup chocolate pieces. Carefully spread over crust in pan.
Bake 40 minutes more. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack. Lift brownies out of pan by lifting up on foil. Cut into bars. Makes 24 bars.
4. Shortbread Sandwiches
If you’re interested in making a sandwich out of your shortbread, try this dessert recipe from Serious Eats. We can guarantee these are the most decadent sandwiches you’ll ever indulge in. Bake your shortbread and then sandwich the two cookies together with a filling of your choice: jam, Nutella, peanut butter, or chocolate. With just five ingredients enlisted in this recipe, you really can do no wrong.
- 2 cups (about 10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (about 2½ ounces) sugar
- ¼ cup jam, Nutella, peanut butter, or chocolate ganache
Directions: Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, process butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and pulse for 1 minute. Add flour mixture and pulse just until dough comes together.
Divide dough into two equal portions. Press one half of dough into bottom of prepared pan until even. Spread with filling of choice, leaving ⅓-inch border at edge of pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll second half of dough out into 8-inch circle. Transfer to pan and place on top of filling. Gently press down on edge of dough to seal. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.
Let cookies rest in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. When cool, cut into wedges or squares.
5. Strawberry Lemon Shortbread Bars
Here’s another sweet twist on traditional shortbread from Betty Crocker. These Strawberry Lemon Shortbread Bars are decadent and delightful. The star of the dessert is still the buttery shortbread, but this time, strawberry and lemon flavors also play key roles. The addition of cream cheese doesn’t hurt, either.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ teaspoon grated lemon peel
- ¾ cup cold butter
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup strawberry preserves
- Sweetened whipped cream, if desired
- Fresh strawberry slices, if desired
Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 13-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray. In bowl, mix flour, powdered sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the lemon peel. Cut in butter, using pastry blender (or pulling two table knives through mixture in opposite directions), until crumbly. Press in bottom of pan. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until light brown.
Meanwhile, in bowl, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir in lemon juice and remaining ¼ teaspoon lemon peel, beating well. Spread preserves over shortbread. Pour cream cheese mixture over preserves, spreading to edges.
Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on cooling rack 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours. Cut into 8 rows by 6 rows; garnish with whipped cream and strawberries. Store any remaining bars covered in refrigerator.
6. Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies
You also have the option of sticking with traditional shortbread cookies and taking them up a notch by dipping them in chocolate. It sounds simple, but it’s a game changer. Chocolate pairs perfectly with buttery shortbread, and it also adds aesthetic appeal. This recipe from Epicurious calls for 6 ingredients.
- 2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
In electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt at medium speed just until smooth. Add flour and mix at low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and shape into two disks.
On lightly floured work surface, roll out a piece of dough to ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Using fluted pastry wheel or large knife, cut into 2-by-1-inch rectangles. Transfer cookies to baking sheets, spacing 1½ inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
Prick each cookie several times with tines of fork, then chill 10 minutes. Bake until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on pans 5 minutes, then transfer to racks and cool completely.
To decorate – Line baking sheet with clean parchment or wax paper. In medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, melt half chocolate. Add remaining chocolate, remove bowl from heat, and stir occasionally until smooth. Pour into small bowl.
Dip each cookie halfway into chocolate, let excess drip off, and place on baking sheet. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
7. Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Lastly, Food & Wine takes it up one nutty notch by introducing these Pecan Shortbread Cookies, combining salty and sweet. Yielding 2½ dozen cookies, this recipe yields a lot of sweet treats and feeds a crowd. The chopped pecans go right into the cookie batter, giving way to a crunchy and extra-crispy cookie, and they take only 20 minutes to bake.
- ¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons demerara sugar
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the chopped pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, vanilla extract, and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour in three batches, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the pecans. Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into a 1½-inch-thick log. Wrap the log in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerate for about 1 hour, until chilled.
Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the demerara sugar on a platter. Brush the log with the egg yolk and roll in the sugar. Slice the log into ½-inch-thick rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.
Bake the shortbread cookies for about 20 minutes, until the edges are golden; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let stand until cooled completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.