Classic Scottish Shortbread

Classic Scottish Shortbread

I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about my love for Classic Scottish Shortbread here, before. Simple, buttery melt in your mouth Shortbread. Ok, so it’s not my Bill’s  Chocolate Chip Cookie, but other than that, Classic Scottish Shortbread is everything.

Classic Scottish Shortbread

Classic Scottish Shortbread

So, I’m telling you, if you don’t get this, you haven’t had a really good shortbread and you need to get this in your mouth, stat. It’s that good. It’s enough to make a Scotsman weep, good. Seriously, make it A.S.A.P. and maybe spread it with this gorgeous Lemon Curd. (How can anything so lovely as Lemon Curd have such a strange name?! But I digress!) By the way, if this is near the holidays, beautifully packaged shortbread along with some homemade lemon curd might be a welcome homemade gift.

Classic Lemon Curd from Martha Stewart

Classic Lemon Curd from Martha Stewart

About Classic Scottish Shortbread:

Shortbread is three simple ingredients: an epic amount of butter, sugar (some use a combo of confectioner’s sugar and plain old white sugar) and flour. Different flours can sometimes be used to add texture. I add a touch of salt & every now and then I’ll go *wild* and add an extract. Vanilla or Almond, usually. I know what you’re thinking: If I’m that wild now, what was like in my younger days! You don’t wanna know *cough cough.*

Classic Scottish Shortbread is super simple. It’s how those three basic ingredients are treated that makes the difference between a shortbread that’s sublime or one that’s mediocre.

Even if you’ve never made it, I’ll walk you through with details, so yours will be extraordinary. You’ll love serving these and watching your friends and family react. Yeah, you’ll get kudos for sure. (OK maybe not “brownie” points, but kudus are good!) One hint: use a good, heavy pan to bake the shortbread in, so read on, friend.

Classic Scottish Shortbread

Classic Scottish Shortbread – I want you to see the multiple layers of butter and flour that make the Shortbread so tender

Saving Time on Classic Scottish Shortbread:

Shortbread is easy enough to make by hand but my best is always been in the food processor. Avoid the mixer for this one if you can. One little trick that helps keep the food processor from heating up and getting the butter too warm (that can make the shortbread “greasy”) is to divide the recipe in two and do half at a time.

And yes, I remember the first time I made my Classic Scottish Shortbread in the food processor – I was so worried the food processor might make it tough. No worries, though, it turns out just beautifully, and I’d even say even a little better than my “by hand” instructions. Both methods are in the recipe.

Classic Scottish Shortbread

Classic Scottish Shortbread

Saving Money on Classic Scottish Shortbread:

Speaking of the simple ingredients, I make my shortbread with grocery store butter because, well, this is a frugal blog and I’m frugal. If you ever were to spring for some good, imported butter, here’s the place to do it.

The butter is the only pricey ingredient, so If you have an Aldi, pick it up there for $1.99 a package through April 2nd (Aldi also has Kerrygold) or check Costco, or watch your grocery store sales.

This time of year (right before Easter as I type this) is one of the best time to stock up on baking ingredients. Butter keeps for literally months in the freezer so buy as much as reasonable at the sale prices.


Classic Scottish Shortbread

Serve with Lemon Curd, as an accompaniment to another dessert, crumbled in trifles or cruts for pies or cheesecakes or on its own. The Classic Scottish Shortbread needs no adornment, but a drizzle of chocolate never hurt!

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 - 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 + minutes
  • Yield: varies


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (see note)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pound cold butter, cubed (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1 teaspoon extract, vanilla or almond is nice, optional


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

If making by hand:

Add flour and sugar to a large bowl and mix. Add butter(along with salt and/or extract if using). Using hands, a pastry cutter or two knives, break butter down into very small crumb-like pieces. Working with fingers, continue to mix and knead together until a dough forms and the majority of the crumbs are incorporated. Some crumbs are fine. Keep at it and it will come together.

If making in food processor:

Work with half of dough at a time. Measure half of the flour and sugar into a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times. Add half the butter (along with 1/2 of salt and/or extract if using) and pulse briefly three or four times to coat butter with flour. Continue to pulse in 8 second increments until the mixture begins to clump together. Remove to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

After both halves are combined, continue to work with hands until the majority of the crumbs are incorporated.

For both methods:

Spread dough onto a rimmed cookie sheet, 15x10x1″, breaking up dough clumps if necessary. To get as even as possible (it won’t and shouldn’t be perfect) use a butter wrapper or piece of lightly oiled parchment between your hand or the bottom of a glass or other utensil to lightly even and flatten the shortbread.

Dock about 1 1/2 inches apart in rows. A larger serving fork works well for this.

Place in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the shortbread has turned a very light golden color. Watch the edges and remove when edges pick up just a hint of golden brown color. The shortbread will be very pale.

Cut into bars while still warm. Most traditional bars are rectangles, longer than they are wide.


Measure flour by stirring to lighten then gently spoon into measuring cup and level off.

Butter should be very cold. Cut into chunks, quartering each butter quarter the long way, then cutting across into 1/2″ pieces. If using food processor method, divide butter into two before cutting. If time allows, place in freezer for 10 minutes before continuing with the recipe. Save a wrapper to smooth the dough.

Shortbread will be softer and more crumbly when first baked, but will crisp more after it cools completely and sits for awhile.

Did you make this recipe?

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I’ll be posting the marvelous Classic Scottish Shortbread at Fiesta Friday #217, hosted by Angie and Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl. There are already a number of gorgeous posts & more will be added through the weekend! Have yourself a happy holiday!

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I love Classic Scottish Shortbread. Simple buttery melt in your mouth Shortbread. Ok, it's no Chocolate Chip Cookie, but other than that Classic Scottish Shortbread is everything. This recipe is so good, it will make a Scotsman Weep. #Shortbread #ClassicShortbread #ClassicScottishShortbread

38 thoughts on “Classic Scottish Shortbread

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Hilary – I hope he loves these then! They’re really my favorite cookie…well my Chocolate Chip ranks right up there, too! And congrats!

  1. It just goes to show you that sometimes the simple things really are the best. It is hard to beat a good shortbread. I’ll have to try making it in the food processor next time!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I love the way it turns out! I used to always use my mixer but I do think the food processor is what makes it so good!

  2. Mollie these look so delicious. My boys love shortbread and I have a recipe pinned to the board in the kitchen! I’ll check yours against mine when I get home! Thanks for bringing them over to Fiesta Friday! 😀 x

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Get in line, then, behind me, lol! 🙂 Thanks much. I haven’t made shortbread in a couple of years, so I enjoyed it very much!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks Loretta, and it’s so true isn’t it? It makes me wonder who made the first one and why they even thought it might be good. I’m so glad whoever it was, was right.

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