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Shortbread Cookies Recipe (5 Ingredients)

With only five ingredients, this homemade shortbread cookies recipe comes together incredibly fast and results in the perfect crunchy, buttery cookie bite.

Fill a platter for a coffee bar, make a batch for your next afternoon tea, or just have them in the cookie jar for a fun snack after school. However you use this staple cookie recipe, you will be creating memories for your family.

A closeup image of Christmas Short Bread Cookies on a plate - Hostess At Heart
Traditional Shortbread Cookie Buttons

This is a buttery cookie that has a tender texture and slightly crisp. You’ll love how this particular shortbread cookies recipe practically melts in your mouth when you bite into it.

Why You’ll Love This Shortbread Cookies Recipe

  • Only 5 ingredients. One of the best things about this cookie recipe is that you will almost always have everything you need in your kitchen pantry because it uses five common ingredients to make something special.
  • Perfect for holiday platters or gifting. These cookies are not delicate, sticky, messy, or likely to get stale fast so they make the perfect cookie to fill a gift box for neighbors or friends.
  • A special treat in the kids lunchbox. Give your kids something to dip in their milk or add a little dipping cup of Nutella to lunch.
  • Make ahead and freeze. If you are someone who likes to be prepared, make up several batches of these cookies for the freezer. Pull out a plateful when you find out about unexpected guests or need a quick last minute snack.
  • You can make these any shape. Let the kiddos help for a fun family activity. Come up with your family’s own unique and special shape for shortbread cookies. No need to stick with tradition. Make your own new one!

Ingredients For Your Shortbread Cookies

Butter, salt, flour, sugar and vanilla on a baking sheet. Hostess At Heart
  • Butter. Real butter. The flavor of this cookie comes from this one ingredient, so substitutions really do not work.
  • Powdered Sugar. Confectioners’ sugar gives these cookies their sweetness and crunch.
  • Vanilla Extract. Use the real deal for the best results. With only five ingredients the flavor and freshness of each ingredient matter.
  • All-Purpose Flour. Did you know that flour can expire? Stale flour does not make good cookies.
  • Salt. Needed to create chemistry for this recipe. Do not eliminate.

Tools You’ll Need For Shortbread Cookies

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  • Baking sheets. Good quality sheet pans are ideal.
  • Parchment paper. Keep crumbs and mess down to a minimum. Just throw away the parchment when you are finished.
  • Cooling racks. I like to have two or three of these so that all of the cookies can cool thoroughly.
  • Rolling Pin. I’m old-school. Nothing fancy about the rolling pin I use.

Please note, that the recipe card has more complete instructions. This is intended as an overview.

How To Make Shortbread Cookies

A mixing dough showing thick short bread batter. Hostess At Heart
Thick Shortbread Cookie batter

Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar.

Use a stand mixer and beat these two ingredients together until they are creamy.

Step 2: Add sugar.

Add the powdered sugar and salt and mix until combined.

Step 3: Add flour.

Scrape the bowl down and add flour while beating on low. Scrape the bowl once more and mix until combined.

Step 4: Refrigerate.

A log of cookie dough wrapped in plastic wrap on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. - Hostess At Heart

Shape the dough into a rectangular log, wrap it in plastic, and chill until firm. At least an hour. When you are almost ready to take out the dough, preheat the oven.

Step 5: Cut and poke the shortbread cookies.

Cookies cut to resemble square buttons on a baking sheet. Hostess At Heart

Use a sharp knife to cut ½ inch thick slices and space at least an inch apart onto a prepared baking sheet. Use a fork or skewer to indent a pattern onto the top. This is a traditional button pattern.

Step 6: Bake and cool.

Bake for about 10 minutes rotating the baking sheet in the oven halfway through.

Popular Variations & Additions

  • Add crushed nuts. Pecans or walnuts would be my choice.
  • Dust the tops with white sugar for a delicate crunch. Use colored sugar or sprinkles for Christmas.
  • Replace the vanilla extract with 1⁄2 tsp of lemon, orange, or peppermint extract.
  • Add 1 tsp cinnamon to the dough.
  • Dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate or white chocolate and then add sprinkles if you like sprinkles. This results in a cute cookie with added sweetness.
Close-up side view of shortbread Christmas cookies on a plate. Hostess At Heart

How To Store Shortbread Cookies

Best Way To Store Leftover Short Bread Cookies

You really don’t have to do anything special to store leftover shortbread cookies. I recommend keeping them on a plate with plastic wrap over them, or putting them in an airtight container. Keep them at room temperature for up to five days.

How Long Will Shortbread Cookies Last In the Fridge?

You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to seven days. However, they may absorb flavors and become bitter. It would be better to freeze the cookies and thaw them when you need them.

Can I Freeze Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Yes! In fact, shortbread cookies freeze really well in an airtight container and will last for up to three months this way.

Top down view of short bread cookies cut into small squares to look like rustic buttons on a cooling rack - Hostess At Heart

Recipe for Shortbread Cookies FAQ

Is this a traditional shortbread recipe?

No, traditional shortbread cookies have two parts butter to 1 part sugar. I took liberty with this recipe by bumping up the butter a little bit.

Are shortbread cookies and sugar cookies the same thing?

No, they’re not. Sugar Cookies usually contain eggs in the recipe making them a little sweeter and softer. Shortbread cookies are a little crispier and buttery.

Why do shortbread cookies have holes?

This thick, dense cookie dough will not cook evenly or cook all the way through unless you put holes in the cookies. Otherwise, you will end up with cookies that are dry and crumbly in some areas and undercooked and doughy in other sections.

How do you know when shortbread is done?

They will ever-so-slightly turn golden on the edges and as soon as that happens you need to pull them from the oven. These cookies are very easy to overbake because they do not darken like a traditional cookie with eggs.

Once you pull them from the oven, leave them on the baking sheet until they set and hold their shape.

Tips for the perfect Shortbread Cookies Recipe

  • Cream the butter until it’s light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. This will help create a tender cookie. If the butter becomes gritty or greasy you’ve overdone it and need to start over.
  • Chill the dough in the shape that you want to slice the cookies in. Then you only have to slice and bake.
  • Thoroughly chilled dough will help make clean slices. If the dough becomes difficult to slice, you can warm up the knife and then dry it off before your next slice. You can also try dusting it with a little powdered sugar.
  • If your cookie wants to crack when you slice it, let it warm just a touch and try again.
  • Leaving the cookies on the warm baking sheet too long can dry these
    cookies out.
  • These shortbread cookies can be cut in any shape you desire. The number of cookies that this recipe makes depends on how big you cut them out.
Short bread cookies on a plate in front of a rack of baked cookies - hostess at heart

What to Pair with your Short Bread Cookies

Homemade shortbread cookies are fantastic on their own, unlike their dry and crumbly store-bought counterparts. However, our delicious buttery shortbread cookies are also fabulous for dipping and pairing. Here are a few things you can have with your short bread cookies that will make your day.

  • Coffee. Try them with a Pumpkin Spice Latte or cold brew!
  • Hot Tea.
  • Hot Chocolate.
  • Chocolate Milk.
  • Strawberry Milk.
  • Espresso.
  • Frosting. Yes, you can dip shortbread cookies in leftover frosting. Try different flavors like peppermint frosting, lemon frosting, or cream cheese frosting.
  • Melted Chocolate.
  • Sweet Dip. Yogurt dip or any sweet dessert dip.

Don’t Forget To Come Back And Let Me Know How Your Shortbread Cookies Turned Out!

Top down view of little square cookies that look like dice on a plate - Hostess At Heart

Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Author: Julie Menghini
With only five ingredients, this homemade shortbread cookie recipe comes together incredibly fast and results in the perfect crunchy, buttery cookie bite.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Chill time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword: Christmas Cookies, Cookies, Cutout Cookies, Shortbread, Shortbread Cookies
Servings: 24 Cookies

Ingredients
 
 

  • 10 tbsp butter room temperature
  • ½ c powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ c AP flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and vanilla extract until creamy.
  • Add powdered sugar and salt then mix until combined.
  • Scrape bowl down and add flour while beating on low. Scrape bowl once more and mix until combined.
  • Shape the dough into a rectangular log, wrap in plastic and chill until firm. At least an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F and line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut ½ inch thick slices and space at least an inch apart onto a prepared baking sheet.
  • Use a fork or skewer to indent a pattern onto the top.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet in the oven halfway through.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Notes

These shortbread cookies can be cut in any shape you desire. The number of cookies that this recipe makes depends on how big you cut them out.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 97kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 195mgPotassium: 20mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 146IUCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

This shortbread recipe is sweet and delicious but what’s even sweeter is that this recipe was made for the Sweetest Season Cookie cookie exchange event called the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fundraiser.

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A stack of shortbread cookies that look like dice sitting on a plate. The title is on the photo for Pinterest - Hostess At Heart
Recipe Rating




Kathleen

Thursday 29th of December 2022

Shortbread cookies are always my favorite! These were so crisp and buttery!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 31st of December 2022

They're a great contrast to the other sweet cookies so I've always got to have them on my holiday trays.

Eliza

Thursday 29th of December 2022

These cookies are soooo buttery and delicious. Love the button pattern!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 31st of December 2022

I love the button pattern too. They're so cute on a tray or for gifting. Thank you!

Lynn

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

Needed oneeee last recipe for Christmas and this one did not disappoint!

Julie Menghini

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

Thank you, Lynn! My family gobbled this one up.

Erin

Wednesday 14th of December 2022

These shortbread cookies are just utterly perfect and soooooo buttery and delicious! We'll be making these year-round, but I really want to roll them in some colorful sugar for the Christmas season.

Thanks, again, for participating and making this year's Sweetest Season the best yet, Julie!

Julie Menghini

Thursday 15th of December 2022

Thank you, Erin! Always an honor.