Scottish Shortbreads {Recipe} – Virtual Cookie Exchange

It’s that time of year. Time for decorating, shopping, attending holiday parties, and, of course, COOKIES!! Like many of you, I bake a lot of cookies during the holiday season. So I was excited to once again get invited to my friend Di’s second annual Virtual Cookie Exchange.

Given the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I thought I would choose a really easy recipe. After looking around a bit, I settled on a Scottish Shortbread recipe by my friend and baking mentor, Nick Malgieri.

When I say these cookies are easy, I’m not kidding. There are only three ingredients — butter, sugar, and flour — and they go from mixing to the oven to baked in no time.

Since the only binder is butter, the dough is quite crumbly. But a little kneading and pressing brought it together quite nicely.

After dividing the dough, I pressed it out by hand (no rolling needed), then cut the cookies with a 2 1/2-inch fluted cutter.

The cookies baked up nice and crisp and had that wonderful, buttery shortbread flavor. As simple as it was, this was definitely a winning recipe, and one I’m sure to repeat often. And not just during the holiday season.

Nick’s recipe for Scottish Shortbread can be found here, along with a lot of other wonderful recipes. I’ve also reprinted the shortbread recipe below.

Scottish Shortbread

Makes about 40 cookies, depending on the size of the cutter used

  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans lined with parchment or foil

  1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until very soft and light, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and incorporate the flour by hand, using a large rubber spatula.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it over on itself 2 or 3 times to makes sure it is completely smooth. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 pieces.
  5. Lightly flour the work surface and gently pat the dough with the palm of you hand until it is about 1/4-inch thick (The dough is much too soft for a rolling pin.)
  6. Run a large knife or spatula under the dough to make sure it isn’t stuck to the work surface.
  7. Use a 2 1/2- to 3-inch fluted cutter to cut out the shortbreads. Place them in the prepared pans about 1 inch apart on all sides as they are cut.
  8. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  9. After you have used all the dough, gently knead the scraps together, then press the dough and cut it again. You may continue to do so until there are no scraps left as long as you don’t use too much flour under or on the dough, which will toughen the shortbreads.
  10. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until they are light golden. Change the position of the pans from upper to lower rack and vice versa, also turning them back to front at least once during baking. If your oven gives strong bottom heat, stack 2 pans together for baking on the bottom rack to provide extra insulation against burning the shortbreads.
  11. Slide the papers from the pans to racks to cool the shortbreads.


  1. May 1, 2012 at 7:40 am

    […] Dorie — Baking with Julia was a new twist on an old favorite for me. I’m a big fan of shortbread cookies and love to try different versions of them (Nick Malgieri’s macadamia shortbreads were […]

  2. March 12, 2012 at 8:08 am

    […] classic Scottish shortbread recipe uses three ingredients: butter, sugar, and flour. This recipe adds baking powder and, of course, […]

  3. January 16, 2012 at 8:08 am

    […] sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and flour, all mixed together to a soft, silky texture reminiscent of Scottish shortbread dough. I pressed 3/4 of the dough into the pan for the bottom crust. I put the pan in the […]

  4. teaandscones said,

    January 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    LOVE shortbread. HAVE to try this one!!! So buttery delicious and so easy.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      I’m looking forward to making these again. Maybe we can Twitterbake them next time.

  5. Renee said,

    December 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Oh I’d love to give these a try!! Bookmarking!!! My sis-in-law is Scottish. Maybe I’ll see what a real Scot thinks of them.

    • gaaarp said,

      December 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      She’ll probably lift her kilt in salute!

  6. December 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Lovely substantial cookie with a pretty fluted edge! I’m in!

  7. Kayte said,

    December 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    They look so pretty with their scallop edges and the color you got on them. Sometimes the most simple things are just so utterly tasty and comforting. I think these might be one of those things. Thanks for choosing this one.

    • gaaarp said,

      December 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      I absolute love shortbread. I was surprised the first time I made them that they are so simple. Leave it to the Scots.

  8. nancyo said,

    December 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Scottish shortbread is a traditional cookie in our house; I love how you cut yours with a fluted cutter – so festive. Just perfect for a cookie exchange. I’d take one for each hand!!

    • gaaarp said,

      December 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks! They were so good, and so easy. And I think they’d travel well, too.

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