Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Shortbread Cookies Recipe Recipe

There are lots of shortbread cookies impostors out there. You know, shortbread cookies that aren’t as tender or delicate or buttery or spectacularly simple as classic shortbread cookies that call for just flour, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Rest assured, this easy recipe makes the real deal.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC What Folks Are Saying About This Recipe Note

“The easiest cookie recipe you will ever make.” “Precious.” ” I loved these!” “These delightful cookies are delicious and only take 4 ingredients and need no mixer!” “The flavor is very simple and met the ‘is this what shortbread tastes like?’ test with my English friends.” This is what folks are saying about this shortbread cookies recipe.

Special Equipment: 2-inch star cookie cutter (or substitute another size or shape cutter)

Shortbread Cookies Recipe Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 18 to 24 stars


  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery), plus more for the work surface
  • 2 drops vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt (optional)


  • 1. Dump the flour in a large bowl, add the butter, and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Fold in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, if using, and work the mixture with your hands until it forms small clumps. Continue kneading the cookie dough until it’s smooth and the sides of the bowl are clean. It’s okay if the cookie dough is a little crumbly. (You can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to several hours but you’ll need to let it warm at room temperature before you’re able to roll it.)
  • 2. Roll out the dough between a couple sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to a thickness between 1/4 and 1/2 inch (1/2 to 1 1/4 centimeters). Transfer the dough to the refrigerator or freezer for at least 15 minutes. (The time spent in the fridge may test your patience, but it helps set the dough so it doesn’t spread during baking. If you’re impatient and bake the dough without chilling, chances are you’ll end up with amorphous starfish rather than linear stars.) It may be necessary to let the dough thaw at room temperature for a little while prior to being able to roll it out.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 275°F (130°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • 4. Using a star cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer them to the baking sheet. Roll the scraps and cut out as many more cookies as you can. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 22 to 30 minutes, until very pale gold in color.
  • 5. Remove the cookies from the oven, let them cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then sprinkle with superfine sugar while still warm.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Mardi Michels

Nov 29, 2015

I made these for a holiday party at the last minute, and they turned out very well. They were simple to make, and the dough is fairly easy to work with—great for getting kids in the kitchen over the holidays. I was able to roll out my dough immediately after making it—it was fairly pliable, but I rolled it between 2 sheets of parchment paper and had no trouble with it, even on the fourth re-roll of the scraps. My dough was rolled out to the thickness of my cutter, which was 1/2 inch high. My star cutter was 2 inches across (measuring from the tips of the widest points), and this recipe made 24 stars of that size. I loved these—I dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled them with holiday-colored sprinkles. And you could, presumably, make a lot of these and freeze the stars to bake up when you need them, no? I thought they could have used a touch of salt, either from salted butter or a pinch added to the dough.

Testers Choice
Carrie S.

Nov 29, 2015

These delightful shortbread cookies are delicious and only take 4 ingredients and need no mixer! I prefer baking recipes with metric measurements since I find them easier and more precise. The dough isn't too sticky to put in between sheets of plastic or parchment and roll out right away but putting the rolled-out dough in the freezer for at least 15 minutes will help make it easier to cut out the stars. When the dough is too soft, you don't get the sharp lines of the stars and the cookies look more like starfish. I ended up leaving the dough in the freezer for a couple hours, so it ended up freezing solid. It took about 1 hour for the dough to get to a temperature that I could roll the dough. (If I was in a hurry, I'd roll the dough into a log and put it in the freezer for the required hour and then slice the dough into circles. It wouldn't be as pretty as stars but would still taste delicious!) Using a star cookie cutter and sprinkling superfine sugar on top really added an elegance to this simple cookie.

Testers Choice
Linda Pacchiano

Nov 29, 2015

This shortbread cookies recipe is the easiest cookie recipe you will ever make. This makes classic shortbread—buttery and crisp and hard to eat just one! I used a 2 1/2-inch cutter, and the yield was 20 cookies When a recipe specifies softened butter, it really mean that the butter has been out of the refrigerator for a while, and there's a bit of "give" when it's pressed. It doesn't mean completely soft. That said, the softness of the butter will determine whether or not you can roll out the dough right away (between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or 2 sheets of parchment paper) or need to refrigerate the dough. I put my dough disk in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, and it rolled out very easily. Rather than using superfine sugar to decorate the cookies after they were baked, I used coarse red and clear sanding sugar crystals to give them more of a holiday look. I brushed the cookies with a little water after they baked for 15 minutes, sprinkled on the sugar, and then baked them for another 15 minutes.

Testers Choice
Irene Seales

Nov 29, 2015

These were very precious little shortbread cookies. The flavor is very simple and met the ”is this what shortbread tastes like?” test with my English friends and spouse. It also gets the approval of those who don’t want nuts or other things to interfere with their cookie experience. This recipe could be made even easier if you roll the dough inside a resealable plastic bag. (If you want super thin cookies, roll the dough inside a gallon bag. For thicker cookies a smaller size bag would work.) I used an old-fashioned pastry cutter to blend in my butter, just out of habit. For future batches I may use the food processor, although a small batch of cookies doesn’t take long to do by hand. The dough seemed crumbly and fragile, so I kept the stars small (I used a 1-1/2-inch cutter). After your first go, take the trims and gently press them together in the bag and re-roll. These will be more likely to have tiny cracks, but don’t worry because they should be fine once cooked and, if you're like me, you hate to waste dough. The dusting of fine sugar after baking seemed superfluous, and after testing it on a couple, I skipped it.

I had to try a green tea version. Not only did that batch have a lovely color that was perfect for the holidays, with a bit of ginger powder plus the matcha, it had a nice flavor begging for a cuppa tea. I added 1 tablespoon matcha and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. The mixture of plain and green tea shortbread cookies made a nice plate of cookies for a holiday gathering.

Testers Choice
Linda M.

Nov 29, 2015

These are delicious, easy shortbread cookies. The texture and taste are light and airy, almost as if they were made with confectioners' sugar. I was worried about the 2 drops of vanilla not mixing in but the cookies tasted fine. I refrigerated the dough for 1 hour and then left it out on my granite countertop for about 20 minutes before rolling it out. The dough was easy to work with and baked up as advertised in 30 minutes. I sprinkled the cookies with sanding sugar after they cooled for about 2 minutes as I was concerned that the sugar wouldn't adhere if I let them cool for too long. They were beautiful stars with a little shimmer!

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