Classic shortbread is one of the most delicious and easiest recipes to make. Buttery and soft, classic shortbread will melt in your mouth!

scottish shortbread

Classic Shortbread Fingers with an afternoon “cuppa”.


Shortbread is one of the first things I remember making as a kid. Three simple ingredients. So easy, yet so delicious! Shortbread at its purest contains nothing but butter, flour, sugar and a pinch of salt.

This recipe comes from our Glaswegian neighbor who used confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar.

The resulting shortbread is crisp and buttery, yet melts in your mouth.  Shortbread is equally at home with a cup of tea as it is during holiday baking.

(This recipe for shortbread was originally published on January 10th, 2102. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases.)

Scottish shortbread Queen Elizabeth Coronation Plate.

This commemorative plate was from Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953.

Short dough is the basis for many cookie recipes.

I know that I’ve written about shortbread before, but that was Lavender shortbread, or Rose Scented Shortbread, flowery and for a special occasion.

Want something a little richer?

How about Brown Sugar Walnut Shortbread?

I’ve also made a savory version, like this Rosemary Cheddar Shortbread!

Maybe it’s the Scottish blood, coursing through my veins, on both sides, that makes my pulse race at the sound of bag pipes. It makes my eyes tear when listening to Auld Lang Syne, making me weak in the knees hearing a Glaswegian man’s accent. So, not surprisingly, shortbread is my favorite of all cookies.

Classic Scottish Shortbread

Fingers or thistle rounds? I usually make a few of both!

Cookie or Biscuit?

While Americans would consider a piece of shortbread a “cookie”, it’s considered a “biscuit” outside of the US. This can be confusing since Americans consider a “biscuit’ something similar to a British scone. There are cookies in Britain, like these, but they tend to be softer and filled. What ever you call Shortbread, I just call it delicious!

Making Classic Shortbread

Pat the shortbread into a sheet pan to get square sides.

making classic shortbread

Trim and pat excess pieces to get it as square as possible. You can also use a lightly floured rolling pin and roll to 1/4′- 1/2″ thickness. I usually make them somewhere in between.

pricking classic shortbread dough

Use a knife and cut into rectangles. Prick each rectangle three times. They don’t have to be perfect. Chilling the dough at this point makes it easier to remove the shortbread from the baking sheet, but it’s not necessary.

Classic Scottish Shortbread

Transfer the shortbread onto a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet.  After baking, dust with sanding sugar if desired.

Classic Scottish Shortbread

I always make some fingers and some with my Scottish thistle mold.

 Shortbread stays fresh in a tin for up to a week. 

Some of the items used in this post are available here for your convenience, at no additional cost.

scottish shortbread on a tartan napkin

Scottish Shortbread

Classic Scottish Shortbread.

Classic Shortbread Recipe

4.75 from 8 votes
Classic Scottish Shortbread

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Traditional Scottish Shortbread. Note: if it's a particularly warm day, you might need to chill the dough for 15-20 minutes before baking.  

Course: Cookie
Cuisine: British
Servings: 36
Calories: 82 kcal
Author: Cynthia McCloud Woodman
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar. some recipes call for granulated sugar..some call for cornstarch. Confectioner's sugar is both mixed together
  • 2 Tablespoons sanding sugar optional, for dusting on cooked shortbread
  1. Cream butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly add sugar, scraping down sides.
  3. Mix flour and salt together. Add flour all at once, mix just until incorporated. Do not over-mix!
  4. Using your hands, pat into a cookie sheet, about 1/3" to 1/2" thick.
  5. Trim edges to make neat sides. Using a knife slice into rectangles about 2"x1 1/2". Prick with a fork three times on each rectangle. Put rectangles on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325* F. The shortbread should be pale and light golden. Dust with sanding sugar if desired.

  7. Makes about 3 dozen.
Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 82 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 13mg4%
Sodium 125mg5%
Potassium 8mg0%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Sugar 3g3%
Vitamin A 160IU3%
Calcium 3mg0%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.