A classic shortbread cookie with their buttery taste and flaky texture they just melt in your mouth. This recipe is the Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe ever hands down.
With only 3 ingredients you would think shortbread cookies are easy to make and they are but there are certainly a few tricks. So in this post I am going to share the tips and tricks to making the flakiest and best shortbread cookie recipe you will ever taste!
My grandmother McFeeters has now passed but one of the best days with her ever was a day we spent baking together. That day she passed down a century worth of recipes and tricks to making perfect baked goods. No gadgets, just old school baking!
My grandmother was about 90 at the time but still full of energy and on the day of my visit. She had handwritten cards with all the family recipes waiting for me and today I am passing on some of the learnings to you.
Here are some of the other recipes she taught me the tricks to:
Shortbread Cookies can be a little finicky but follow these instructions and pay attention to the pictures and they will work out great.
How To Make the best Shortbread cookies
First, the butter needs to be at room temperature. Now, this does not mean put it in the microwave to soften. That won’t work and will ruin your shortbread. You need to take your pound of unsalted butter and let it sit on the counter and naturally soften. You can’t rush a masterpiece!
In a large bowl add 1/2 lb of room temperature unsalted butter. Put a large sieve over the bowl and add 2 1/2 cups of pastry flour and 1/2 a cup of icing sugar to the sieve.
Sieve the flour onto the butter so to ensure the flour and sugar are evenly blended and all lumps are gone.
Now from here, you could use a pastry cutter but again sometimes old school is better. Time to get your hands dirty! Use your thumb against your fingers and blend the flour mixture into the butter. Hard to explain in writing but in both hands pick up a handful of butter and flour and rub through your thumb and fingers kind of like you were sprinkling salt. The idea is you want to blend the butter and flour together but only until the mixture starts to look like oatmeal.
In the end, the goal is to create ripples of butter through the dough. This is what gives the shortbread it’s flakiness. This is key!
Now knead the mixture until it forms a ball of dough. Do this but pushing down on the dough and pushing the dough together until it forms a ball. The heat of your hands will help bring the dough together.
Once done sprinkle your clean counter with flour and a little on your rolling pin and gently roll the dough out to about a 1/2″ thickness. Cut with a round cookie cutter or any shape you like. You can add sprinkles now or ice later when completely cooled if you wish.
Bake at 300ºF for about 10 minutes or until they are firm to the touch and only just starting to brown on the bottom. Remove from the pan to a cooling rack.
Alternatively, you can also bake shortbread in an 8 X 8 glass dish. Just pat the shortbread dough down evenly and puncture throughout with a fork all over about 1″ apart. No need to grease the dish.
This method takes about 25-30 minutes for them to bake but keep an eye out… when the bottom starts to turn a light golden brown and the top looks flaky they are done. I like to use a glass baking dish for shortbread because it allows you to see how the bottom of the shortbread is cooking.
Cut into squares when warm with a sharp knife and then let completely cool before taking them out of the pan.
what type of flour is best for shortbread?
I recommend pastry flour. If you want light and flaky shortbread cookies you need to use pastry flour. Pastry flour is a lower-protein flour that produces lighter and flakier cookies than all-purpose flour. If you only have all-purpose flour you can use it instead of the pastry flour but the measurements for the flour will be different. 1 cup of pastry flour = 1 cup less 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour. Here is a great article about flour in baking and reasonable substitutions from How Stuff Works.
how do you store shortbread cookies?
Shortbread cookies are best completely cooled. Once they are completely cooled store them in an airtight tin lined with wax paper for up to two weeks. The longer they sit the better they taste.
Can you freeze shortbread cookies?
Yes. After the shortbread cookies have completely cooled place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to one month. Thaw completely before serving or if you can’t wait they taste really really good cold.
Now that you have the basics let’s talk about how to decorate them or make this recipe your own.
WAYS TO jazz up your SHORTBREAD!
- Cut them into unique shapes using a cookie cutter
- Decorate by rolling edges in sprinkles or coloured sugar
- Dip them into melted chocolate
- Go old school and bake them in a square 8 X 8 pan
- Add ingredients like rosemary, lemon zest, dried cranberries etc. Once you have the base you can make these your own!
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- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
- 2 1/2 cups pastry flour
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- Sprinkles optional
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- In a large bowl add butter cubed
- Place large sieve over the bowl and add flour and icing sugar to sieve
- Run flour and icing sugar through sieve to ensure well blended and no lumps
- Blend by hand the icing sugar and flour into the butter until it forms an oatmeal like texture
- Knead mixture to form a large ball
- Roll out until about 1/2″ thickness
- Cut with round cookie cutter
- Add sprinkles as desired
- Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are firm to the touch and only just starting to brown on the bottom
- Remove cookies from oven and to a cooling rack