3-Ingredient Shortbread Recipe

Three Ingredient Shortbread Photo (c) by Carroll Pellegrinelli, licensed to About.com
Three Ingredient Shortbread. Three Ingredient Shortbread Photo (c) by Carroll Pellegrinelli, licensed to About.com
  • 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 16-20 servings
Ratings (28)

Want to make cookies, but you don't have any eggs? Looking for a simple recipe? Try this 3-ingredient shortbread recipe. It may only have a few ingredients, but they go together flawlessly for a tasty cookie with excellent texture. 

Traditional shortbread recipes only included three ingredients: Flour, sugar, and butter. In modern times, recipes often call for powdered and granulated sugar, though traditional shortbread recipes used only granulated sugar. Today, people may substitute in alternative sweeteners.

Shortbread is typically associated with Scotland, where its origins are said to be. It was derived from a twice-baked biscuit bread that originally included yeast instead of butter. As butter became popular, it replaced the yeast and became one of the three ingredients. (Fun fact: Mary, Queen of Scots is credited with refining shortbread into its triangular form, which was cut into triangles and flavored with caraway seeds.)

What You'll Need

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 cup butter (cold and cut into cubes)

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place flour and sugar in large bowl. Mix with a wire whisk.
  3. Add pieces of cut-up cold butter. Use a pastry blender, your fingers or food processor to blend butter into flour/sugar mixture. It should be crumbly due to the cold butter but well combined.
  4. Dump the mixed ingredients into a 9- by 13-inch pan. Press down with your fingers and to level out the batter. 
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until it is lightly brown on top.
  1. Remove the shortbread from the oven. Cut the shortbread into squares and then into triangles while the shortbread is still warm. (Or use cookie cutters to create shapes if you desire). 
  2. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  3. Cool completely in pan.

The Evolution of Shortbread

Today, shortbread is still served in a biscuit or triangle shape, but it is also baked into a round cookie form or can be served as a bar. The cookies are versatile because they can be served plain or with other toppings.

Flavored shortbreads include other ingredients, such as chocolate chip, cinnamon or brown sugar, and have also gained popularity. It is also served rolled in sugar or topped with sugar. Some varieties of shortbread feature a blob of fruit jam inside or on top.

Shortbread sandwich cookies are also popular, and can be made by using the three-ingredient shortbread recipe to form cookies that sandwich an ingredient in between them. Some people enjoy plain shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate, which is then cooked so it sets as a coating on the cookie.