These classic shortbread cookies are made with just 5 ingredients butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt. A simple, perfect approach to a beloved Scottish tradition that’s a perfect Christmas cookie.
There are quite a lot of shortbread cookies impostors out there. You know, sugar cookies that are okay but aren’t as tender or delicate or buttery or spectacularly simple as classic shortbread that call for just flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Rest assured, this easy recipe is the real deal and, as such, is eminently giftable. Originally published November 29, 2015.–Renee Schettler Rossi
What Folks Are Saying About This Recipe...
“The easiest cookie recipe you will ever make.” “Precious.” ” I loved these!” “These delightful cookies are delicious and only take 5 ingredients and need no mixer!” “The flavor is very simple and met the ‘is this what shortbread tastes like?’ test with my English friends.” That’s what folks are saying about this shortbread cookies recipe. Sorta makes you want to try them, eh?
Classic Shortbread Cookies
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H
- Makes 18 to 24 stars
Special Equipment: 2-inch star cookie cutter (or substitute another size or shape cutter)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 1/2 oz), cubed and softened
- 1/4 cup 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 use your fingertips to rub them 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 although you’ll need to let it warm at room temperature before you’re able to roll it.)
- 2. Gently 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). The dough is a little more crumbly and dry than most roll-out cookie doughs, so don’t worry if it cracks or crumbles a little. Carefully 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 into blobs during baking. If you’re impatient and bake the dough without chilling, chances are you’ll end up with some 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, and then sprinkle with superfine sugar while still warm.