Thyme, Lemon, and Sea-Salt Shortbread

Thyme, Lemon, and Sea-Salt Shortbread Recipe

Tender and crisp, packed with delicate herbal and aromatic lemon flavors, these thyme-lemon shortbread cookies accented with a little sea salt are easy to prepare, versatile, and delicious.–Mary Cech

LC Sweet or Savory or Does it Even Matter? Note

Less sweet than savory, these lemon-inflected shortbread are really quite terrific in their own right—and even more so with cocktails of all sorts.

Thyme, Lemon, and Sea-Salt Shortbread Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • Makes 28 shortbread

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Directions

  • 1. Stir the flour, salt, lemon peel, and thyme together in a medium bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until a coarse, crumbly mixture forms. Blend the lightly beaten egg, egg yolks, and water together. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture for brushing.
  • 2. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the remaining egg mixture and blend together with your hands without kneading the dough together; the dough will look a bit crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough together once or twice, just until it sticks together. Press the dough into a 1-inch-thick disc, wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate until firm, about 1/2 hour.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Remove the shortbread dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place it on a floured work surface. Press the dough into a 6-by-5-inch rectangle. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a larger 10-by-7-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.
  • 4. Cut the shortbread dough in half, forming two 5-by-7-inch pieces. Using a pizza wheel or sharp paring knife, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Carefully place the shortbreads on the prepared baking sheet leaving a little room between each cookie. Brush the tops with the reserved egg mixture and sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on top. Gently press the salt into the surface of each shortbread so it does not fall off.
  • 5. Bake until the shortbreads are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store the shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Chiyo Ueyama

Oct 13, 2009

When I read “. . . with your fingertips,” and” . . . with your hands,” I was sold. Anyone who cooks and bakes in a tiny kitchen would know what I mean. You won’t need a fancy stand mixer (I don’t have one) or a food processor (Did I say tiny kitchen? Mine is never out on the counter ready to go.) to make this shortbread dough. Just get your big bowl out and wash your hands, and in minutes the dough comes together so easily. And it’s workable—not sticky at all—after 30 minutes in the fridge. The finished shortbread is light and tender, and the sea salt is nice with the refreshing lemon and thyme flavors. These shortbreads would be great with a salad of buttery lettuces or with a fruit plate.

Testers Choice
Duane DeMello

Oct 13, 2009

These shortbread went fast! Served warm, the cookies were wonderfully tasty. Obviously, with such few ingredients, the lemon and thyme provided the bulk of the taste. This recipe will be made again many times over in my home.

Testers Choice
Brenda Carleton

Oct 13, 2009

As a shortbread addict I love this recipe. I’m always trying to come up with shortbread variations and very much enjoyed this one. The lemon and thyme offer a subtle delectable flavour.

Testers Choice
Cindi Kruth

Oct 13, 2009

I was a little surprised by what a hit these shortbread were. I loved the salt hit on the first bite, but would have liked a slightly stronger herb flavor. Next time I’ll use a bit more thyme and lemon. These shortbread are perfect to serve with soup or as addition to a cheese plate or just as a snack by themselves.

Testers Choice
Annie Leslie

Oct 13, 2009

This recipe is extremely easy, and it makes such a light shortbread. I will make these again for sure!

Testers Choice
Emiko Taki

Oct 13, 2009

I could taste the combination of flavors just by looking at the name of this shortbread recipe, and it was as good as I imagined. The thyme gave an aromatic, herbal flavor while the lemon added slightly bitter, citrusy flavors.

Testers Choice
Michelle Massey

Oct 13, 2009

These shortbread were really good! They reminded me of cheese twists or a rough puff pastry. Very buttery and addictive. The sea salt added a nice crunch. I did try the recipe twice, making the second batch into tiny tart shells to hold a savoury filling, the pastry held up very well, not too crumbly. These would be lovely as a hostess gift for the upcoming holiday season.

Testers Choice
Karen Taylor

Oct 13, 2009

Simple, straightforward, and tasty. I even made the shortbread from ingredients I had on hand and didn’t have to go to the grocery store—a rarity for my tiny apartment kitchen. Loved this and can see it being just as tasty with coarse sugar instead of salt. I even liked how the recipe instructed the shortbread to be cut into sticks, so they came out sort of like breadsticks. If I had to change anything, I might add just a touch of rice flour or corn starch to get that nice delicate shortbread crumb.

Testers Choice
Maria Peplowski

Oct 13, 2009

These shortbread were very easy to make and tasted wonderful, light, and lemony-thyme-y. I may add a bit more thyme next time, as I really like it. We loved these with a glass of wine…a perfect little nibble.

Comments
Comments
  1. Selmelier says:

    Nothing will make that shortbread come alive like a good salt! The Bretons in France are masters of the salted shortbread, and the beautiful, mineral flavors of a Brittany fleur de sel would really make this recipe sing.

  2. JennEm says:

    The combination of lemon, thyme and sea salt in a melt-in-mouth shortbread sounds divine. Wonder whether you can freeze the pastry? Would be very convenient if so for advance prep. Or to bake and freeze? Can anyone advise me?

    • Tamiko says:

      Absolutely. I would freeze the dough, but not the cookie as there is usually a change in texture when baked and then frozen which doesn’t happen with the unbaked dough. Another plus if you freeze the dough, you’ll always have fresh cookies minutes away! You may need to bake them a bit longer from the frozen state, though.

  3. Cindi Kruth, LC Recipe Tester says:

    A belated response to be sure, but if you are still wondering and haven’t already just given it a try, shortbread dough, like most cookies and pie crust dough, freezes beautifully. Wrap it tightly so it doesn’t pick up either moisture or other odors. It should maintain its best quality for 2 months. I usually defrost it, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator, but it can also be done at room temperature if you are in a hurry and will be baking it right after defrosting.

    Cindi

  4. O. says:

    Make two batches of these because your guests will forego all other appetizers you offer! The buttery texture and exotic flavor pairing of lemon and thyme makes them unique and irresistible with cocktails.

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