Delicious Scottish Shortbread: A Recipe for a Sweet Treat

Welcome, food lovers! Have you ever tried Scottish Shortbread? Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve heard of the delicious and buttery cookies that have been enjoyed for centuries. Scottish Shortbread is a traditional recipe passed down through generations in Scotland.

As a chef specializing in British cuisine, I can attest to the rich history and appreciation of this dessert. For me, Scottish Shortbread brings back fond memories of my childhood spent in Scotland with my grandparents. It has been a staple dish in many households and commonly enjoyed during the holiday season or with a nice cup of tea.

Butter, flour, and sugar are the key ingredients used to make this biscuit-like cookie. However, not all shortbread cookies are created equal. A good Scottish Shortbread is light, fluffy, and practically melts in your mouth.

In this article, I will share with you my traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe which is simple yet undeniably delicious. With just five ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, you can create a classic treat that everyone in your family will enjoy. Follow my step-by-step guide to mastering the perfect Scottish Shortbread!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Scottish Shortbread
Scottish Shortbread

If you’re a fan of all things sweet and buttery, then this Scottish Shortbread recipe is just what you need! With its authentic and old-fashioned flavors, it’s almost guaranteed to melt in your mouth and leave you craving for more.

First of all, who doesn’t love butter? A good Scottish Shortbread recipe has no shortage of it. That’s right; lots and lots of butter. And that’s not salted margarine we’re talking about here; I’m talking about good old-fashioned unsalted butter. The kind that gets soft but never greasy or slimy.

Butter aside, let’s talk about the texture! There’s something about the combination of the cornstarch and flour that gives this shortbread its ultra softness. The result is a biscuit with just enough snap to contrast with the slightly crumbly texture.

Now imagine dipping a piece of that shortbread into a hot cup of tea (or maybe even a drizzle of chocolate if you’re feeling indulgent). It almost makes your taste buds tingle! Not only is this Scottish Shortbread recipe easy to make, but it’s also adaptable to any occasion, whether it’s for holiday celebrations like Christmas or simply for an afternoon snack.

There’s nothing quite like authentic food to bring us back to the times when life was simpler, more wholesome, and flavorful. It’s a classic simple recipe with just six ingredients: flour, sugar, cornstarch baking powder, salt, and lots of butter—yet it remains one of the best traditional recipes even after centuries! Trust me when I say this Shortbread Recipe will immediately have you transported to Scotland from any corner of the world.

So give it a try, because once you do you may find yourself making these yummy treats all year round like the rest of the Scots do during their teatime.

Ingredient List

 A taste of the Scottish Highlands in every crumb.
A taste of the Scottish Highlands in every crumb.

Let’s take a look at what ingredients you’ll need to make traditional Scottish Shortbread. Don’t worry, they’re all easy to find and probably already in your pantry!


  • Butter (room temperature): 1 cup (2 sticks or 7 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Caster sugar (superfine sugar): 1/2 cup (or granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor for a few seconds)
  • All-purpose flour: 2 cups
  • Cornstarch or rice flour: 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon (optional but highly recommended)
  • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher salt)

That’s it! Only six simple ingredients that, when combined, create the perfect balance of sweet, savory and crumbly biscuit that melt in your mouth.

The Recipe How-To

 A decadent treat fit for a queen or a clan chieftain.
A decadent treat fit for a queen or a clan chieftain.

Now comes the exciting part where we get to make the Scottish Shortbread Cookies. Before we start, preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C). Be ready with an 8-inch cake pan or a shortbread mold that you would be using to bake the cookies.

Step 1: Combine the Dry Ingredients

In a bowl, combine two cups of all-purpose flour, one cup of cornstarch, ¾ cup of caster sugar, and ½ teaspoon of baking powder.

Step 2: Add Butter and Mix

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat one pound (4 sticks or 2 cups) of unsalted butter until it’s soft and light in color. Add in the dry ingredients mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands or an electric mixer on low speed.

Step 3: Flatten Dough and Move to Baking Pan

Flatten the dough on a clean work surface or in between two wax paper sheets until it’s about an inch thick, then remove any excess dough around the edges. Carefully lift and place it in the cake pan, prick all over with a fork before baking.

Step 4: Bake for 40-45 minutes

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until set but not browned. The shortbread should be firm to touch with golden edges.

Step 5: Cut; Let It Cool; Enjoy!

Before removing from pan, cut shortbread into wedges and let it cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Served warm or cold, Scottish Shortbread is perfect with milk or tea at any time of day!

Substitutions and Variations

 The buttery goodness of Scottish shortbread is simply irresistible.
The buttery goodness of Scottish shortbread is simply irresistible.

While the traditional Scottish shortbread recipe is simple and perfect as it is, you can always experiment with different ingredients for a unique twist. Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try:

1. Gluten-free option: Replace the all-purpose flour with rice flour or almond flour to make this recipe gluten-free.

2. Brown sugar: Substituting some of the caster sugar with brown sugar will add a slight molasses flavor and also give the shortbread a darker color.

3. Chocolate chips: Fold in chocolate chips to the buttery dough to add decadence and a luscious texture to the shortbread.

4. Ground spices: Add ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger for a touch of warm spice that pairs perfectly with tea.

5. Lemon or orange zest: Add a teaspoon or two of lemon or orange zest to bring a bright, citrusy flavor to the cookies.

6. Vanilla extract: To enhance the flavor profile, add a bit more vanilla extract – which already features in the traditional Scottish recipe – than called for.

7. Incorporating nuts: You could also fold in almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts into dough for added crunchiness although typically authentic shortbread has no such acoutrement

Keep in mind that these variations may change the texture and taste of the shortbread, but they can be delightful nonetheless!

Remember to use high-quality ingredients and do not be afraid to get creative with flavors – without sacrificing authenticity however!

Serving and Pairing

 Crunchy and buttery, this shortbread is pure heaven.
Crunchy and buttery, this shortbread is pure heaven.

It’s hard to resist the buttery, crumbly goodness of Scottish shortbread cookies. They are perfect for any time of day, whether it’s a quick snack or a sweet treat after dinner. But how do you serve these heavenly delights?

The traditional way to serve Scottish shortbread is with a cup of hot tea, which pairs perfectly with the slightly sweet and rich flavor of the cookie. The buttery goodness melts in your mouth, while the warmth of the tea soothes your soul.

If you want to take it up a notch and impress your guests, try serving your Scottish shortbread with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This transforms these simple cookies into a delightful dessert that everyone will love.

For a fun twist on tradition, try dipping your shortbread in chocolate or drizzling chocolate sauce over them. The combination of rich buttery cookies and sweet chocolate is divine.

Scottish shortbread cookies also make great homemade gifts during Christmas time. Stack them up in a cute tin or box, tie them up with holiday ribbon and voila! You have the perfect gift for your friends and family.

No matter how you choose to serve them, Scottish shortbread cookies are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. With their authentic old-fashioned taste and melt-in-your-mouth texture, they are the perfect treat for any occasion.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A simple and classic recipe that never goes out of style.
A simple and classic recipe that never goes out of style.

Now that your Scottish shortbread cookies are baked and ready to serve, you may be wondering how best to store them. The good news is that this buttery treat will last for several days and can also be made ahead of time – perfect for those busy days leading up to Christmas.

To store your shortbread, let them cool completely before placing them in an airtight container lined with parchment paper. If you plan on stacking the cookies, place a sheet of parchment paper between each layer to prevent them from sticking together. Shortbread can also be frozen for up to a month if stored properly.

When reheating shortbread, it’s best to avoid using the microwave as it can cause the cookies to become soggy. Instead, reheat them in the oven at a low temperature (around 300°F) for no more than 5 minutes. This will ensure that the cookies retain their crispness and delicious texture.

Remember that shortbread tastes best when accompanied by a warm cup of tea, so why not make yourself a pot and enjoy this traditional Scottish favorite?

Tips for Perfect Results

 Savor the rich flavors of Scotland in every bite.
Savor the rich flavors of Scotland in every bite.

When it comes to making Scottish shortbread, there are a few key tips that can help ensure perfect results every time. Here are some of my tried-and-true techniques for making the best traditional Scottish shortbread:

1. Use high-quality butter: Shortbread is a buttery, rich treat, so it’s important to use the best quality butter you can find. I recommend using unsalted butter that is fresh and at room temperature. This will ensure a smooth and creamy texture for your shortbread.

2. Don’t overwork the dough: Once you’ve mixed your ingredients together, it’s important not to overwork the dough. This can lead to tough and crumbly shortbread. Instead, mix until just combined and then press into your baking pan.

3. Chill the dough: After you’ve pressed the dough into your pan, place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before baking. This will help the dough firm up and hold its shape during baking.

4. Use cornstarch: Adding cornstarch to your shortbread recipe helps create a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth texture that is characteristic of Scottish shortbread.

5. Use caster sugar: Caster sugar is finer and dissolves more easily than granulated sugar, which makes it ideal for shortbread recipes. It helps create a tender crumb and adds a subtle sweetness to the cookies.

6. Cut it right: When cutting your shortbread into individual pieces, use a sharp knife or pizza cutter and take care not to drag or tear the edges of the cookie.

By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to making the best traditional Scottish shortbread around!


Before we wrap up this Scottish Shortbread Recipe article, let’s take a moment to address some frequently asked questions so you can move forward with confidence in your baking. I understand that when it comes to shortbread, there may be doubts and uncertainties, but fear not – I’ve got you covered. Read on to find answers to some common queries and tips for troubleshooting any issues that might arise.

What is the difference between Scottish shortbread and shortbread?

Scottish cookies have a unique texture and taste due to their use of vegetable shortening or a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, which sets them apart from Walkers shortbread cookies that primarily use butter. The result is a cookie that is crunchy, firmer, and crisper in texture.

What is the secret to good shortbread?

If you want to make impeccable British cuisine, you must begin with high-quality butter. Although any real butter brand will do, selecting the finest will produce a superior texture and taste. The ingredients should be kept simple with few additions to avoid detracting from the butter’s rich flavor. Adding unique tastes will enhance the recipe, and one most not excessively overwork the dough. For the ideal shape, take special care with the dough when handling it. Then, chill the dough before baking to prevent it from becoming flattened or shapeless. Bake the pastry until it achieves a golden hue. Lastly, use finishing touches to give your dish an extra touch of refinement.

What is traditional Scottish shortbread made from?

Shortbread, a classic Scottish treat, typically includes sugar, butter, and flour as its main ingredients. Interestingly, unlike most other baked goods, shortbread doesn’t incorporate any leavening agents.

Why is Scottish shortbread so good?

To make a delicious Scottish shortbread, you don’t require any elaborate components or seasonings. The secret behind its mesmerizing taste is the quality of the butter used, as it adds flavor to the shortbread which solely depends on it.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Scottish Shortbread recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves traditional and authentic British cuisine. Its melt-in-your-mouth texture and buttery goodness will transport you to the heart of Scotland with every bite. With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow steps, it’s also a perfect recipe to introduce to beginners who want to try their hand at making some classic shortbread cookies. Whether enjoyed plain or paired with a good cup of tea, this recipe is far too good to miss out on.

So, gather up your supplies, preheat your oven, and get baking! You won’t regret giving this traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe a go. Just remember to use high-quality unsalted butter at room temperature, and follow the tips and tricks outlined in this article for the best results. And if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to experiment with different variations and substitutions to create your perfect batch of shortbread. Happy baking!

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread Recipe

This recipe was the signature sweet treat of a neighbor, who has sadly passed on now. But we think of her every time we make this recipe! They are delicious, light bites, perfect for tea parties or other get-togethers. The yield is an approximation - I tend to cut them larger without paying attention, because they are so darn delicious!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Scottish
Keyword < 60 Mins, Cookie and Brownie, Dessert, Easy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 50 squares
Calories 81.2kcal


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus some extra to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 lb butter, melted


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a 9x9" or 7x11" baking pan.
  • Combine flour, sugar, and cornstarch, mixing well.
  • Slowly stir flour mixture into the melted butter, until well combined.
  • Gently press dough into pan with knuckles.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Immediately cut into 1" squares and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  • Allow shortbread to cool before removing from pan.


Serving: 776g | Calories: 81.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.2g | Protein: 0.7g | Fat: 5.6g | Saturated Fat: 3.5g | Cholesterol: 14.6mg | Sodium: 48.8mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 2g

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