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Scottish Shortbread

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Scottish Shortbread

There are many different recipes for shortbread out there, and I have to say that I like most of them. Who could resist such a buttery treat? Walkers Shortbread is one of my favorites. I like the tender, but not crumbly, consistency of the shortbread and the way that it seems to melt in your mouth when you eat it. It is also very satisfying to eat for something so small. I wanted to make something as similar as possible to that classic Scottish shortbread at home and with the help of the ingredients list on the back of some of my favorite brands, I began to experiment.

This shortbread recipe is very simple and uses just flour, sugar, butter and a little bit of salt. I wanted the shortbread to have a tender, melt in your mouth texture and this recipe delivers exactly that. The shortbread have a wonderful consistency and a very buttery flavor, with just a hint of sweetness that makes them satisfying. The key to getting a sandy texture in the shortbread is to use quite a bit of butter and blend it into the flour very well, so only very tiny pieces remain. Unlike a pie crust, you don’t want your shortbread to be flaky. Instead, you want it to have a very uniform consistency. The best way to mix up the dough is in the food processor, but if you have a little patience you can also rub in the butter by hand.

Score the shortbread dough with a sharp knife before baking. You will need to cut it as soon as it comes out of the oven, while it is still hot, so you get clean slices. It is best to cut the shortbread into small pieces because it is rich and having smaller pieces will make it last longer. This shortbread keeps well can can be made in advance, and stored in an airtight container for at least a few days.

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (pref. European-style), chilled

Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to blend.
Cut butter into large chunks and add to food processor. Whiz for about 1 minute, until dough has a very sandy and starts to clump together. Pour into a 9-inch square pan and spread into an even layer. Use a flat-bottomed glass to press down the dough firmly, creating as smooth a surface as possible.
Score dough lightly with a knife, marking 4 rows by 8 rows of shortbread pieces. Dock the dough with a fork, if desired.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until shortbread is lightly browned all over.
While the shortbread is still hot, use a sharp knife to cut shortbread all the way through along the lines you scored prior to baking. Allow shortbread to cool completely once it has been cut.
When cool, shortbread pieces should break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 32 pieces.

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33 Comments
  • The Café Sucré Farine
    April 13, 2011

    Wow, I am such a sucker for shortbread and this looks fantastic. I have a favorite recipe that came form a Scottish woman my husband worked with years ago but it is much thinner – this looks very intriguing, a definite “must try”, thanks!

  • Erin Ward
    April 13, 2011

    I make your regular shortbread recipe all the time. Is this one a lot different from that one? Which one do you like better?

  • Nicole
    April 13, 2011

    Erin – Good question. They are different tasting and have different textures. This one is thicker, has a sandy (not crumbly) texture. These are also less crispy than thinner shortbreads. I like them both, not one more than the other, but it depends on personal preference.

  • Hamannde
    April 14, 2011

    Mmm! I just made these. They’re not cool yet but I’ve had 4 pieces already. It was super quick and easy. I live in Germany and the flour is different here, so for any others living in Germany, I used 2 cups of 550 and 1 cup of 405. This is the first time that shortbread actually worked for me. I really like the texture but I don’t know how to describe it. The one thing I know is that it’s not chalky and so I’m happy. 🙂 I’ll try next time with half whole wheat.

  • Lori @ Girl Meets Oven
    April 14, 2011

    I love recipes that use only a few simple ingredients like this one. I’ve never made shortbread before, but this makes me want to try it. Thanks for sharing.

  • La cuisinière
    April 15, 2011

    Hey, thanks for sharing this recipe. I am currently trying it and the shortbread is already in the oven. I hope it works out well and deliciously! 🙂

  • Michelle
    April 18, 2011

    Hi, I’d love to try this recipe. I don’t have a food processor so would a standing mixer work as well?

  • Fiona
    April 20, 2011

    Hello I’ve just baked a batch if these cookies and it’s great that they’re not sweet(: oh and the texture’s lovely too. I’m a huge fan of walkers too and kudos to you for attempting to replicate them! However, these do not taste like those of walkers as walkers have a distinct smell that’s really really good. Also, I’m wondering if adding vanilla extract would make a difference in the taste?? I tried doing that but they both taste similar to me. Oh and your blog’s really good for amateur bakers like myself

    Cheers,
    Fiona(:

  • Susan
    September 16, 2011

    I just made these today, thank you so much for the recipe! They are tender and sandy in texture, not crispy like Walker’s. but I think as they cool down they may become more so (of course, I ate mine still warm from the pan…soo….!) . I had no food processor so I cut the butter chunks into the dry mixture with my trusty old “pastry cutter,” just like my Mama used to. Next time I will try adding a little vanilla extract and perhaps try half white/half brown sugar for a slightly different take. 🙂

  • Melissa
    September 19, 2011

    I just made these, but CHOCOLATE! substituted 1/4c flour for 1/4c cocoa powder. DEVINE!

  • Amanda
    December 7, 2011

    Oh my. I adore shortbread! I will be trying this recipe today! Thank you so much.

  • SARA
    December 10, 2011

    Can’t wait to try this recipe for my christmas baking! Do you now how well these would freeze?…Such a simple recipe fresh would be best I am sure!

  • Francoise
    August 11, 2012

    I discovered this wonderful site yesturday.
    I printed a copy of your shortbread today, and one For the Irish Oatmeal Shortbread.
    I noticed the comment from Erin Ward made the 13 of April 2011 regarding “your regular shortbread recipe”.
    I could not find it. Could you please tell me where you posted it ?
    Thank you very much in advance. I hope that I did not make any spelling mistakes, I am french and don’t express myself very well. If I did, please forgive me.

  • Ritz Badenhop
    December 13, 2012

    hi, my husband soooo loves this but he is diabetic, can you please teach me how i can make these with artificial sweeteners? The measurement and procedure for this please? Appreciate it … Thanks!

  • Jestep
    December 18, 2012

    We made these with a stand mixer since my food processor broke a while back. Mixed the dry ingredients first. Then chopped the butter as small as reasonably possible by hand. Put them in while mixing. We had to stop the mixer 2 times to manually break up some of the larger pieces. Once the flour gets slightly moist you can crank the mixer which cuts the butter just fine at a higher speed. Probably not quite as good as a processor, but the butter stays mostly unmelted, as desired, if you work quickly. End product was very good and I would have to see a side by side with the food processor version to be convinced it would be any better. Also added some real vanilla just before pouring in the pan. Yeah, this stuff works!

  • Sue
    December 23, 2012

    I made a double batch of this recipe & it turned out really well. I dont have a food processor or a big bowl mixer so i just cut up the butter as small as I could and then used my fingers to incorporate it into the flour. It did take time but the results were worth it…They melt in your mouth. Next time I will put the double batch into 2 separate pans, though, because the center took a long time to cook.

  • Dawn
    March 21, 2013

    My great grandmother came to America directly from Scotland and I have her shortbread recipe that my whole family grew up eating. This is exactly the same except she obviously did everything by hand. She also formed the dough into oval shaped cakes and baked them on a cookie sheet. Traditionally, she gave each family member 2 cakes on New Year’s Day.

  • Amna younus
    October 25, 2013

    Hurray,
    I’ve just made these cookies
    I’m so happy to get this recipie , these r my fav shortbread cookies
    Turned out perfect just the way i want it .
    Soooo easy to make no fancy ingredients
    Love it
    These r amaaaaazing

    Jazak Allah for sharing this recipie

  • Rebecca
    November 17, 2013

    This is exactly what I was looking for! I just made a pan of them and they are so good! Thank you!

  • Amna younus
    December 16, 2013

    I’ve a quick question
    Can i use home made unsalted butter instead of store bought one

  • magda
    December 19, 2013

    Hi I made these and they we’re delish ….. mmmmmmmm, That irresistable Taste.

    Oh and i was wondering if you can make these with out a food prosesor and still get the same effect

  • magda
    December 19, 2013

    Hi I made these and they we’re delish ….. mmmmmmmm, That irresistable Taste.

    Oh and i was wondering if you can make these with out a food prosesor and still get the same effect?

  • Melanie
    March 15, 2014

    I made these today, and they were great! Just the sort of shortbread I’ve been wanting to be able to make for myself. Hopefully I can avoid buying shortbread at the store now. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.

  • Sophie H
    May 14, 2014

    Hi! Could you roll out this mixture and cut the dough into shapes (before baking)?

  • Sara
    July 13, 2014

    I made these today. I used have of a batch and followed the directions exactly. Then I took the remaining half and split that in half. I added 1 T of lime juice to one quarter batch and then 1 T of lemon juice to the other quarter that was left. I used a mini muffin pan to bake the lemon and lime shortbreads. It only took 15 minutes to bake those. Everything turned out delicious, plain and flavored. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  • Saramcinky
    May 9, 2017

    If you do not have a food processor to incorporate the butter, put your butter in freezer for 4-8 hours and then grate it. Then use a mixer to make the dough. Crazy easy. I have added 2 tsp citrus zest of choice for amazing citrus kissed shortbreads. You can also use 1/2 of this recipe as the crust for a 6-8″ springform pan, as crust for cheesecake….just be sure to liberally poke the unbaked crust with fork tines, then bake at recipe’s temperature for 15-18 minutes (barely golden, the edges pressed up the wall are often a bit darker gold). If the crust puffs up just poke it with the fork, it will deflate. Outstanding crust, and fabulous shortbread treats!

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  • […] Scottish shortbread is known the world over.  That rich buttery melt in the mouth taste.  Just writing about it makes me want to go bake some right away.  I don’t know how long shortbread has been made for, but it was a favourite of Mary Queen of Scots.  Anything that is good enough for a Queen is good enough for me.  Nicole brings you a recipe that gives you all the taste and texture you would expect from shortbread, but makes it simple enough for anyone to make for themselves.  I can’t wait to make it myself. Scottish Shortbread @ Baking Bites […]

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