Scottish Shortbread, Recipe for Delicious

Scottish Shortbread
Scottish Shortbread in my Test Kitchen

I’ve written a companion cookbook to Love Inherited, but before it’s published in October, I’ll blog a few of the recipes. The cookbook is written for American and British cooks in US and UK measurements.

Let’s start with something sweet!


The perfect bit of something to go along with your tea or coffee, this traditional Scottish Shortbread isn’t too sweet but sweet enough. Sure, you can buy Scottish Shortbread off the grocery shelf—look for the red tartan box—but there’s something satisfying about making your own.

INGREDIENTS—makes about 15 rounds

1 1/3 cups (166g) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch (cornflour)

1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup (56g) granulated (caster) sugar

optional—1-2 teaspoons flavored extract

3-4 tablespoons cold water (including any extract added)


Preheat oven to 325˚F (165˚C, Gas Mark 3).

Sift (sieve) flour and cornstarch together into a bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar together until creamy. Add flavored extract or zest if desired.

Add flour to butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Treat this dough just like a pie crust. Add water, a little at a time, until dough starts to come together. Do not overwork or knead.

Pat dough into a ball and chill 10 minutes.

Liberally dust work surface with flour and turn dough out onto work surface. Dust top of dough and pat a little flatter. Or place dough between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Roll dough out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Prick dough all over with a fork and cut into rounds. Or cut into 1-inch x 3-inch fingers. Keep gathering up the offcuts and reshaping until all dough is used up.

Place shortbread cookies onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 25-45 minutes or until done to a pale brown around the edges.

Shake a little sugar on top immediately after removing from oven. Cool thoroughly on a rack before storing in an airtight container.

NOTES: Make the recipe your own; add any extract or citrus zest; substitute a bit of cornmeal or rice flour for the flour; substitute brown sugar for some of the sugar. 

Try lavender. To flavor with lavender, place the buds of two lavender flowers (English lavender is the sweetest) in a coffee grinder with 2-3 tablespoons of the sugar from the recipe. Grind together until fine, breaking apart the buds and releasing the essential oils. If using dried lavender, use less, as the flavor is more potent than fresh. Culinary grade lavender is recommended.

You’ll notice there’s quite a range for baking time. Baking time will vary depending on your preference for the thickness and desired crispness of the cookie. Some recipes call for an oven temperature of 350˚F, but most heat to 325˚F, so that’s what I stuck with—and I checked for doneness and added time as necessary.

The texture and taste of this recipe is a little different from the shortbread I’m used to, having only eaten the commercial variety. It’s not as grainy, not as sweet, and the cornstarch gives a hint of flavor. At first bite, the cookie crumbles in your mouth, then it melts into buttery, sugary cookie pleasure.

Adapted from recipe at Rampant Scotland.

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