These buttery shortbread cookies are everything you love about shortbread cookies — soft, buttery, melts in your mouth. They’re a breeze to make too. Follow this no-fail recipe for a perfect batch of cookies every time.
(Love simple, no-fuss cookies? Bake some lengua de gato – Filipino butter cookies that are thin, crispy, buttery and super easy to make! And if you’re a fan of shortbread, you’ll love these lavender shortbread cookies.)
What is it about buttery shortbread cookies that scream Christmas? I can make them any time but find myself only making them around the holidays.
I might as well call them Christmas shortbread cookies.
If you’re adding them to your cookie tray this year or giving them away as presents, you can jazz them up with red and green finishing sugar or dip them in chocolate.
Personally, I leave them be. I love them the way they are. Tender, buttery, uncomplicated. And so easy to make too.
This buttery shortbread cookies recipe involves no chilling and no kneading. You don’t have to worry about your cookies spreading too little or too much.
And all you need are simple, pantry ingredients.
To make this shortbread cookie recipe, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- Confectioner’s sugar (also called powdered sugar or icing sugar)
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- All purpose flour
- Rice flour (not glutinous rice flour or sweet rice flour, more on this below)
Other things you’ll need include stuff you already have in your kitchen like:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Fine mesh sieve
- Fork (yes, just a regular fork)
- Knife or bench scraper
Let’s get baking!
Traditional shortbread recipe (with photos)
1 PREHEAT. First, preheat your oven to 375F. Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan and set aside.
2 BUTTER. In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer or using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
3 SUGARS. Then add your confectioner’s sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating until fluffy (2-3 minutes). You’ll want to start slow and work your way up to medium speed. Remember to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl with a spatula.
4 VANILLA. Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
5 DRY INGREDIENTS. Sift your dry ingredients (all purpose flour, rice flour, salt) directly into your bowl and stir until evenly blended.
6 COOKIE DOUGH. Transfer the cookie dough into your prepared pan and firmly and evenly press the dough onto the bottom using your fingers. The dough will be a little crumbly but should be fairly easy to handle. If your fingers get a little sticky, wet them with a little water or dust your fingers with a little flour.
7 PRICK OR DOCK. To prevent your shortbread from puffing up and to allow the dough to cook evenly, prick or pierce (also known as docking) the dough with a skewer or a small fork. Dock the dough evenly, at about 1-inch intervals. I also like to lightly score my dough with my bench scraper so I know where to cut them once they’re baked, but it’s not necessary.
8 BAKE. Bake your shortbread for 20-25 minutes or until the edges turn a light brown (do not over bake, shortbread should be pale and light).
9 COOL AND ENJOY. Allow the shortbread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then cut into rectangles or squares or triangles, up to you! To store, place the completely cool cookies in an airtight container on the counter. They should keep for up to 2 weeks.
Expert baking tips
This cookie recipe is simple and straightforward. And while that’s great, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Use quality butter. For recipes like this, I always try and spring for the best ingredients I can find. There’s really nowhere to hide behind so if you use good, quality butter, it will show.
- Beat butter thoroughly. Speaking of butter, make sure to beat it thoroughly before adding the sugar. This ensures you get light, melt-in-your-mouth, soft shortbread cookies.
- Use the correct rice flour. When buying rice flour, pay attention to the label — make sure you’re not buying glutinous rice flour or sometimes called sweet rice flour (it will say right on the packaging). Rice flour is closer to wheat flour and yields a cake-like consistency. Glutinous rice flour yields a sticky and chewy texture used for dumplings or foods that don’t require much structure.
- Dock the shortbread properly. When you’re docking your dough, make sure you reach the bottom of the pan. I like using a small fork so I get 4 holes at once!
- Weigh ingredients. I always use a kitchen scale when baking. This results to more consistent results.
- Use an oven thermometer. Using an oven thermometer ensures you’re baking at the right temperature every time.
Whether it’s for your December cookie swap or yearly bake sale; or simply to enjoy with your afternoon tea, you can’t go wrong with these buttery shortbread cookies.
Buttery Shortbread Cookies – Easy No-Fail Recipe
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan and set aside.
- Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
- Transfer cookie dough into your prepared pan and firmly and evenly press the dough onto the bottom using your fingers (see notes).
- To prevent your shortbread from puffing up and to allow the cookie to cook evenly, dock the dough with a skewer or a small fork. Dock the dough evenly, at about 1-inch intervals (see notes).
- Bake your shortbread for 20-25 minutes or until the edges turn a light brown (do not over bake, shortbread should be pale and light).
- Allow the shortbread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then cut into rectangles or squares or triangles, up to you! To store, place the completely cool cookies in an airtight container on the counter. They should keep for up to 2 weeks.
- The yield/number of cookies depends on how big/small and what shape you cut your cookies.
- The cookie dough will be a little crumbly but should be fairly easy to handle. If your fingers get a little sticky when pressing it onto the pan, wet your fingers with a little water or dust them with a little flour.
- In addition to docking, I also like to lightly score my dough with my bench scraper so I know where to cut them once they’re baked, but it’s not necessary.
- See the post for more baking tips and the complete step-by-step photos.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
Looking for more cookie recipes for your holiday baking? Check these out:
Chewy M&M cookies are the best kind of chocolate cookies — soft and chewy, so chocolatey and a breeze to make! Use red and green M&Ms and you’ll have cookies that will be the star of your Christmas cookie tray.
Snickers cookies are soft, chewy and packed with pieces of Snickers candy bar in every bite. Perfect for Halloween, Christmas or to satisfy your daily cookie cravings!
Baking these chewy ginger molasses cookies will make your home smell like Christmas. They’re delicious too! Bake a batch and get into the holiday spirit.
Meringue cornflake cookies are delightfully chewy, filled with crunchy cornflakes and bursting with bits of chocolate chips. It’s the kind of cookie you’d love to eat on a cold winter day, sitting by the fire, sipping hot chocolate or warm milk.
Did you make this classic shortbread recipe? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.