This easy Scottish shortbread recipe is buttery and crumbly with a melt in the mouth texture. Made from just 5 simple ingredients, this classic biscuit is perfect as a simple accompaniment to a cup of coffee, or can be served as part of an elegant afternoon tea.
A classic British biscuit, Shortbread, along with other British sweet treats like bourbon biscuits, chocolate chip flapjacks and almond slice is always a popular addition to any morning tea or bake sale. Invented in Scotland, the name shortbread comes from the word ‘short’ that was given to it because of its short and crumbly texture.
Why we love this recipe
- The beautiful texture – this is a crumbly and tender shortbread based on classic Scottish shortbread.
- This traditional shortbread recipe is always popular, whether it is served at Christmas or throughout the year.
- Unlike many other biscuits and cookies, shortbread doesn’t contain any leaveners – so no baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, and this recipe is also egg free.
- It travels well, making it a great recipe to give as a gift, take on picnics, or to take to a bake sale.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Butter – as this is a buttery shortbread you need to use butter rather than margarine as you want that buttery taste. Use unsalted butter and then add a pinch of salt so you can control the saltiness of the shortbread.
- Plain flour – or all purpose flour.
- Cornflour – this helps create that short melt in the mouth texture of the shortbread. You can substitute corn flour with rice flour.
- Caster sugar – this is one of the ingredients that makes Scottish shortbread different to other shortbread recipes which use icing sugar / confectioners sugar. Caster sugar is finer than granulated sugar / white sugar and dissolves quicker in baking, leading to a finer and more delicate texture.
- Salt – a touch of salt enhances the flavours in the shortbread.
How to make these shortbread biscuits
For full detailed recipe please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. You can either do this by hand, with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment.
- Mix the flour with the cornflour, then add this to the butter mixture and combine. TIP: Don’t mix too much or the shortbread will be tough.
- Tip in to a square baking tin lined with baking paper or parchment paper and gently press the shortbread dough to the edges of the tin.
- Place in a preheated oven and bake until the shortbread is a very light golden brown.
- Cut in to squares with a sharp knife whilst still warm and sprinkle with caster sugar.
- Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.
Yes. Make sure your shortbread is completely cold, then wrap it well to help protect against freezer tastes and freeze for up to 1 month.
Yes it is quick and easy to make your own caster sugar! Just place your granulated / white sugar into a blender and pulse until the sugar crystals are fine (although stop before the sugar turns to powder!)
My recipe tips
- Don’t handle the dough too much to avoid tough shortbread. Once the dough has started to come together that’s enough, don’t knead it to a completely smooth dough.
- As when making shortcrust pastry, cool hands are best for a tender shortbread too – so best not hold them over a hot pan or radiator just before handling the dough!
- Don’t overcook the shortbread, if it becomes dark golden this can overpower the taste of the shortbread and make it bitter.
- Leave to cool completely in the tin as the shortbread dough is very fragile whilst still warm.
Store your shortbread biscuits in an airtight container for up to 1-2 weeks.
Freezer: You can also freeze baked shortbread. Cool completely then wrap well and freeze for up to 1 month, any longer than a month and I find it tends to take on strong flavours from the freezer such as onion and garlic.
- As part of an afternoon tea spread with egg and avocado sandwiches, cheese scones, and a zesty lemon drizzle cake.
- Dessert – I love to serve shortbread as dessert; whether topped with sweet fresh strawberries, or with yogurt or ice cream and berry compote drizzled over. Or sprinkle crushed up shortbread biscuits over ice cream.
- Shapes – Cut the shortbread in to rectangles to make shortbread fingers rather than squares, or cook in a round baking tin / cake pan and cut into wedges. Prick the shortbread dough with a fork in a row pattern before baking.
Flavourings – add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, or if you want to make orange or lemon shortbread biscuits, add the zest of a small orange or lemon and beat with the butter and sugar.
- Chocolate – because my family believe everything can be made even better with the addition of chocolate – or chocolate AND Smarties in the case of these Smarties cookies! Add a handful of chocolate chips after adding the flour, drizzle melted chocolate over the cooled cooked shortbread, or dip one end of the shortbread cookie in to melted chocolate.
More baking recipes for you
- 1 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square baking tin
- 175 g unsalted butter, at room temperature ($2.28 / £1.23)
- pinch salt ($0.01 / £0.01)
- 85g (⅓ c) caster sugar ($0.19 / £0.14)
- 200g (1 ⅓ c) plain flour or all purpose flour ($0.24 / £0.12)
- 50g (⅓ c) cornflour / corn starch ($0.23 / £0.28)
- ½ tablespoon caster sugar, for the top ($0.02 / £0.02)
- Preheat the oven to 150˚C fan / 170˚C / 300˚F convection / 340˚F.
- Line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square baking tin with baking paper / baking parchment.
- In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- In another bowl mix the flour with the corn flour and salt.
- Tip the flour into the butter and mix together with a spoon, taking care not to overmix.
- Tip into the lined tin and press the mixture to the edges of the tin gently with your hands.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly golden.
- Cut into squares whilst still warm and sprinkle over the ½ tablespoon caster sugar, then leave to cool completely in the tin.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or wrap well and freeze for up to 1 month.