This Classic Shortbread Cookie Recipe always produces buttery, crisp, decadent, and sweet results. Give them away as delicious Christmas gifts or keep the batch for yourself. You can’t go wrong with the classic cookie or mix things up with the dark chocolate and cherry variation!Jump to Recipe
Originally posted on December 13, 2016 / Last updated on December 29, 2021
5-ingredient shortbread cookies
Who can say no to a Classic Shortbread Cookie Recipe? Simple, buttery, and decadent, these 5-ingredient cookies are a staple around Christmas time. Stick with the plain shortbread or add some flavor with my chocolate and cherry variation!
Shortbread cookies are the ultimate Christmas cookie because they’re:
- Made with simple ingredients.
- Customizable! Add in any mix-ins that you like.
- Buttery, crispy, and decadent.
There’s no arguing that Chocolate Chip Cookies are an amazing cookie but there’s no comparison to classic shortbread. All of the delicious butter, rice flour, and confectioner’s sugar in a shortbread recipe is what really makes this Christmas cookie special!
Classic shortbread cookie ingredients
- Flour – Using all purpose and rice flour in this shortbread recipe will produce a very delicate and crunchy cookie. Once you try making shortbread cookies with rice flour, you’ll never go back to plain all purpose flour!
- Unsalted butter – The quality of your butter matters. The better the quality, the more moist and tender your cookies will be. Lower quality butters have more water which will make your cookies too wet.
- Sea salt – Or you can use salted butter and omit the sea salt.
- Confectioner’s sugar – Or powdered sugar or icing sugar.
- Dark chocolate and dried cherries – To make the chocolate and cherry shortbread! Shave a dark chocolate bar with a knife or crush chocolate chips instead. I prefer to use dried dark bing cherries but any kind will do.
How to make classic shortbread cookies
Traditional shortbread is easy to make using a handful of ingredients. The classic variation is buttery and crisp, or keep scrolling for my chocolate cherry shortbread!
- Make the cookie dough.
Combine the flours and salt in a bowl and set it aside. Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer for 30 seconds before adding the confectioner’s sugar. Next, add the flour and beat everything together.
- Shape and wrap the dough.
Transfer the cookie dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a long log or ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Cutting shortbread cookies.
There are a few ways to cut shortbread dough: 1. Directly from the log (“slice and bake”), 2. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, or 3. Form cookie dough balls from the ball of chilled dough and press them down slightly with a fork (making a criss-cross pattern). Place the cookies on a baking sheet.
- Bake and enjoy!
Bake your shortbread cookies in the oven until the edges are lightly browned. Let them cool on a wire rack, then enjoy!
How to make dark chocolate cherry shortbread cookies
Make the cookie dough as normal. Place it on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle shaved chocolate and dried chopped cherries on top. Knead the dough to incorporate the mix-ins.
Once the mix-ins are evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough, form it into a log, wrap in plastic, and chill.
Shortbread cookie tips and tricks
- Don’t overwork the dough or else you’ll end up with tough and dense cookies. Instead, cream all of the ingredients together until they’re just combined.
- My favorite butter to use in shortbread cookies is European Kerrygold butter because it contains more fat than American brands.
- Let the butter sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so it’s soft. This will make for easier mixing and give you soft, crumbly cookies.
- Do not use melted butter!
- Instead of forming a log for slice-and-bake shortbread, press the cookie dough into the bottom of a square baking pan or round cake pan and score into rectangles before baking.
Shortbread flavor variations
- Chocolate cherry – Mix ½ cup each of dark chocolate shavings and dried bing cherries into the cookie dough.
- Pistachio orange – Mix 1 tablespoon of orange zest and ¼ cup of crushed pistachios into the dough.
- Lemon thyme – Add 1 tablespoon each of fresh thyme and lemon zest.
- Cranberry white chocolate – Mix in ½ cup each of shaved white chocolate and dried cranberries.
- Chocolate – Replace ¼ cup of all purpose flour with cocoa powder or you can dip one half of each classic cookie in melted chocolate.
Frequently asked questions
Shortbread cookies get their name because of the “short” development of the gluten. Most cookie recipes have an added liquid (like milk) to create a moist and soft texture but, since shortbread cookie dough doesn’t require a liquid, they turn out tender and crumbly.
Rice flour gives shortbread cookies a crumbly texture and slight crunch. If you don’t have rice flour, you can use cornstarch instead or replace it with more all purpose flour.
Make the cookie dough up to 4 days before baking. Wrap it up well in plastic and keep it in the fridge.
The well-wrapped dough can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost the frozen dough in the fridge overnight before slicing and baking. You can also freeze the baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 months
Looking for more holiday desserts?
- Apple Fritters with Vanilla Glaze
- Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
- Cherry, Almond, and Cardamom Galette
- Baked Gooey S’mores Bars
If you give this Classic Shortbread Cookie Recipe a try, let me know in the comments below. I love seeing your pictures too, so please tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog and use #lenaskitchenblog so I can share them on my page!
Classic Shortbread Cookie Recipe
Classic Shortbread Cookie Dough
- 3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup rice flour
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
Dark Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
- ½ cup dark chocolate 60% bar, finely shaved
- ½ cup dried bing cherries chopped or sub for cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, combine the two flours and salt. Mix to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until combined.
- In 2 batches add in the flour and mix on low until all combined.
- On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a wide log, cut into three equal pieces.
- You can now add flavors to the cookies. Each log can be different. Or triple the amount of filling if using one flavor.
- Add the Chocolate Cherry add-ins to the dough. Gently knead with your hands to incorporate. Roll into a log and wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill for 1 to 24 hours or until firm.
- Cut the roll of chilled dough into ¼-inch slices.
- Place slices 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
- Stack 5 cookies together and wrap in twine or ribbon give as a gift or enjoy at home. Or add to a bag and tie a ribbon to gift.
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