Traditional All-Butter Scottish Shortbread Recipe

Luxury Scottish all butter shortbread fingers on tartan tea towel
All Butter Shortbread. Diana Miller / Getty Images
  • 45 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 12 servings
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Look no further for a quick, irresistible, and delicious Scottish Shortbread recipe. Shortbread is one of the most famous Scottish cookies eaten traditionally around Christmas and as an essential part of a traditional Scottish New Year (​Hogmanay). But let's be honest, this tasty treat is far too good for once a year, so why not eat it year-round?

The success of a "shortie"—a nickname for shortbread—is to handle the dough with care and as little as possible. Do not pound or knead heavily and make sure your hands and the dishes you use are cold. The resulting shortbread will then be light and crumbly with a dense buttery taste otherwise, the crumb will not be the same. 

Choose the method you prefer for "rolling" out the dough. You can use a rolling pin and cut out shapes, press it into a baking pan and cut after it's baked or, for a lovely pattern, press it into a shortbread mold if you have one.

What You'll Need

  • 8 ounces/225 g butter
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup/110 g superfine sugar (caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 2 cups/225 g  all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 3 1/2 ounces/100 g cornstarch

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F/170 C.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color. This can take at least 10 minutes. You don't have to do this by hand, you can use an electric mixer if you have one and this will be much quicker.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch and sieve into the bowl of butter and sugar. Mix quickly and thoroughly to bring all the ingredients together but do not over mix as you will risk the danger of making the shortbread warm and thus it will have a poor crumb.
  1. Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly and quickly to form a loose dough. 
  2. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/4-inch/1-cm thick. Prick the surface all over with a fork. Cut into desired shape or rounds using cookie cutters.
  3. Place the Scottish shortbreads on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until pale brown and crisp. Sprinkle the warm Scottish shortbreads with superfine sugar and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Store in an airtight tin or box.

Baking Variation

  • Grease a 13x9 inch/33x23 cm pan with butter. Press the dough evenly into the pan and prick it all over with a fork. Bake in the heated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • With the shortbread still in the pan, cut into squares or fingers and let cool for 15 minutes before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight tin or box.