Scottish Shortbread Cookies are melt in your mouth good! Buttery and delicious, these simple cookies are the talk of my cookie plate!
When it comes to Christmas cookies, there is one cookie that has my heart above the rest. Shortbread Cookies. These buttery little bites of happiness have been a fixation for me for YEARS. I used to buy bags of Walker’s shortbread from the store all the time. But now that I know how easy shortbread cookies are to make at home, there’s no going back for me.
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I was lucky enough to have my friend Christine share her cookie recipe with me a couple years ago after Mike tried it at the annual Daughters of Scotia Burns Night Dinner. Mike’s been nagged me to make them ever since. Let me tell you guys, her shortbread cookies did not disappoint. It’s hands down the best shortbread cookie recipe I’ve ever had! I have been known to add some sprinkles on top around the holidays to make shortbread Christmas cookies, but you totally don’t need them. These shortbread cookies are perfect just the way they are.
Personal moment interjection! I don’t usually talk too much about behind the scenes around here, but Mike and I are both drummers in a Scottish bagpipe band – Phoenix Pipe Band. Mike’s been playing for, gosh, about 18 years in various bands, and I’ve been in this band with him for 4 years. It’s seriously the best time! Through the band, going to highland games, and learning about my family history thanks to my grandpa…I found out I’m part of Clan Macpherson. (Yes, I know I’m wearing a MacGregor tartan. It’s our band’s tartan.) And Christine who I mentioned above is part of Clan Campbell, so her recipe is legit Scottish shortbread. If you ever find yourself at highland games, visit the clan tents and say hi. It’s fairly common for them to have some homemade shortbread on hand.
So what’s the deal with shortbread cookies? They’re a 3-ingredient wonder made from flour, sugar, and salted butter. They have a soft, crumbly texture with a taste that’ll make you moan. Not even kidding. But the real trick to a beautiful shortbread cookie is getting it just the right thickness, scoring it to the right size (about two-bites), and adding those signature holes in the top. Don’t fly through this recipe. Do it right. It doesn’t take very much time to double check yourself and have perfect shortbread cookies.
How to Make Shortbread Cookies
- Beat together sugar and butter until fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes.
- Sift flour, and slowly add to butter mixture. Beat together until just combined before adding more flour.
- Transfer the dough to a baking sheet. Press the dough into the baking dish, score the dough to outline the cookies, and then prick the tops with a fork.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and score the cookies again. Let cool to room temperature.
This recipe makes a BUNCH of cookies! With one batch I made a 9-inch pie plate, a 9-inch x 9-inch pan, and a 9-inch x 13-inch pan of shortbread. I could have easily just made two 9 x 13 pans instead, but variety makes me happy. Next time. I usually cut my shortbread according to the pan it’s in. The square pan & rectangle pans get rectangle pieces and the pie plate gets wedges. If I only use 9 x 13 pans, I get about 72 cookies (6 dozen), but this all varies with how big you cut your cookies. This is a great recipe that’s meant to be shared!!
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Scottish Shortbread Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar for about 1 minute.
- Sift the flour. Then add 4 cups of flour to the butter mixture in 4 additions. Mix until the flour is just incorporated after each addition. Add more flour a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together in big clumps and has a silky texture. (You can add up to 1 cup more flour. See note)
- Turn dough out onto a pastry mat and knead for a minute. Divide dough into 4 balls, and place 2 balls each into two 9-inch x 13-inch pans.
- Use hands to spread dough into an even layer. The dough should NOT be more than 1/2-inch thick. (Check this with a ruler, seriously!)
- Place a piece of waxed paper over the cookie dough. Use a rolling pin or the back of a measuring cup to smooth the handprints from the top of the cookies by pressing on the dough over the waxed paper. Repeat with the other pan.
- Use a sharp knife to score the dough into rectangles. (I get 36 cookies per pan = 6 rows and 6 columns.) Then use a fork to prick the top of the cookies 3 times each.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the cookies are set and the edges are just turning golden.
- Remove from the oven to a cooling rack. Use the same knife to score the cookies again following the same lines. Allow to cool in pan completely before serving.
- If you don't have salted butter on hand, you can substitute unsalted butter + 1 teaspoon salt. (1/4 teaspoon salt per 1/2 cup butter = 1 stick)
- The first time I made this recipe the dough had a sandy texture and was super crumbly. The second time I made it (the exact same way) it was spot on. I recommend starting with less flour and adding more until the dough has the right consistency. The weather, heat of your kitchen, altitude, and other variables can affect the cookie dough. While it's a simple recipe it can be finicky.