Thyme, Lemon, and Sea-Salt Shortbread

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


  • 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


  • 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.
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