Thyme, Lemon, and Sea Salt Shortbread

These thyme, lemon, and sea-salt shortbread are savory butter cookies that are infused with lemon and thyme and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt. Excellent with wine and cocktails.

A stack of five lemon, thyme, and sea-salt shortbreads on a wooden board with a dish of sea salt and a lemon beside them.

Less sweet than savory, these thyme, lemon and sea salt shortbread are really quite terrific in their own right although we find them to be more so with cocktails and wine of any and all sorts.–Renee Schettler

Thyme, Lemon, and Sea-Salt Shortbread

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • Makes 28 shortbread
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Savory Baking cookbook

Want it? Click it.



In a large bowl, stir the flour, salt, lemon peel, and thyme together. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until a coarse, crumbly mixture forms.

In a small bowl, blend the lightly beaten egg, egg yolks, and water together. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture for brushing.

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.

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. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a larger 10-by-7-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

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.

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. Originally published October 13, 2009.

Print RecipeBuy the Savory Baking cookbook

Want it? Click it.


    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    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 to make this shortbread dough. (Did I say tiny kitchen? My mixer and processor are never out on the counter ready to go.) 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 a fruit plate.

    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.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. We loved these cookies. They’re effortless to make and handy to have in the freezer when you’re looking for something other than bread or rolls to have with a bowl of soup, a glass of wine, to add to a charcuterie board, etc, The crumb is tender and buttery and the seasonings are well balanced. I used the weight measures and didn’t chill the dough before rolling. The only change I made to the recipe was to replace 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with rice flour. I trimmed the edges of the rectangle, saved the scraps, and kneaded them together for the final roll. The cookies that were rolled from the scraps were as tender as those where the dough was only rolled once. Definitely 5 star!

    2. 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.

    3. 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.


    4. 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?

      1. 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.

    5. 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.

    Have something to say?

    Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

    Rate this recipe!

    Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

    Upload a picture of your dish