Light, crispy, and buttery, shortbread cookies are a classic offering around Christmas, but we like them any time of the year. Once you know how to make shortbread cookies with our basic recipe, you can make all sorts of flavor variations in endless shapes and sizes.

By Katlyn Moncada
June 09, 2015
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Shortbread cookies (or biscuits, if you go by its traditional Scottish name) are a simple, slightly sweet treat. They're always popular around the holidays, but shortbread's small ingredient list of pantry staples (flour, sugar, and butter) makes the cookies an excellent option for when you want to bake without running to the store. If you're craving the crumbly, buttery cookies, use our Test Kitchen's easy steps for making shortbread cookies at home. We'll start by showing you how to make a basic shortbread dough. From there, you'll easily be able to handle our many shortbread cookie recipes perfect for any occasion.

Credit: Andy Lyons
Get Our Favorite Shortbread Recipe

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

Most basic shortbreads are traditionally made with one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. Our shortbread recipe is a tried-and-true classic that's been around for years, so that's what we'll be referencing in this step-by-step guide. Use it to get the exact measurements.

Step 1: Preheat Oven and Combine Shortbread Ingredients

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl stir together all-purpose flour and granulated sugar. Using a pastry blender ($13, Target), cut butter into flour until mixture looks like coarse crumbs and just begins to stick together.

Step 2: Gently Knead Shortbread

Using your hands, shape the mixture into a ball. Gently knead the shortbread dough until smooth by squeezing it and pressing it against the sides of the bowl. Don't overwork the dough. For the most tender shortbread do the least amount of kneading necessary.

rolling pin shortbread cookies
Credit: Andy Lyons

Step 3: Roll Out the Shortbread Dough

On a lightly floured surface, roll the shortbread dough until ½-inch thick. To roll dough to a perfect thickness, you can lay two clean ½-inch-thick strips of wood on either side. Rest the rolling pin ($10, Walmart) on wood strips and roll dough.

cookie cutter shortbread cookies
Credit: Andy Lyons

Step 4: Cut Shortbread Dough

This part is up to you. You can use a cookie cutter or simply slice the shortbread dough (more detailed instructions on this below). If cutting shapes, cut cookies as close together as possible to get the most cookies out of each portion of dough. Reroll scraps as necessary.

Test Kitchen Tip: When you press dough scraps together, try not to toughen the dough by overhandling it. Continue cutting until all dough is used. Place circles 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet ($26, Target).

Step 5: Bake Shortbread Cookies

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms just start to brown. Transfer to a wire rack ($8, Walmart) and let cool.

knife cut cookie dough pieces
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

How to Cut Shortbread Strips

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 6x4-inch rectangle about ½-inch thick. Use a utility knife to cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then crosswise into equal pieces. Bake as directed for cookies. Alternatively, you can also roll the dough into an 8-inch circle to make shortbread cookie wedges.

Delicious Shortbread Recipe Variations

Get the Recipe

Once you've mastered how to make shortbread, our basic recipe already includes four delicious flavor options including butter-pecan, lemon-poppy seed, oatmeal, and spiced. Keep going with even more amazing shortbread cookie recipes such as a margarita-inspired take or BH&G's top-rated white chocolate-cherry shortbread recipe (pictured above).

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