Scottish shortbread recipe

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So, I’ve mentioned before that my maternal grandmother was the first member of her family born in this country. Her family hailed from Scotland. Along with the necessities, they brought with them was a recipe for Scottish shortbread. This recipe has been passed down through generations. The area that my grandmother’s family settled was in a little steel mill town in Pennsylvania where other Scottish immigrants had settled. There were so many in the area, that the Presbyterian Church that my grandmother attended served shortbread at communion instead of wafers. Now THAT is Scottish. I can’t remember a Christmas growing up where we didn’t have shortbread. Now you, too, can channel your inner Highlander!

Sidenote: if you own a Kitchen Aid Mixer like myself, you’re going to be one happy camper because this will be a breeze. If you do not, prepare for some tired arms!

Scottish Shortbread

  • 6 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb. butter, softened a day in advance
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (pinch)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Cream sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat in egg. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder (I use a whisk for this) in a separate bowl.

3. If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, put on your bread kneading attachment and slowly add flour mixture on lowest setting until ingredients are evenly combined. You will have a very dense, mound of dough when mixer is done. If you do not have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, you will need to add the flour mixture by hand. Do not attempt to use a hand mixer or lesser mixer to add the flour, it WILL burn out the motor (Since I’ve been making this, I have officially murdered 4 hand mixers and one Sunbeam stand mixer, so thank goodness I got a Kitchen Aid last year–my reign of terror over small appliances has ended). Add the entire flour mixture into the large bowl with the other ingredients and use hands to combine. Rub the butter mixture into the flour using both hands until the dough resembles coarse meal Start squeezing and punching the dough to force it to stick together. Once the dough starts to stick, knead the dough until it forms a very stiff, dense ball (about 40 times—yes, you read that correctly). Think about how everything was combined using only hands for centuries and don’t feel so bad.

4. Divide the dough in half, place in two 7×11-inch pans. Take a fork and pierce the dough in rows, careful not to press fork too deeply (should go about 1/2 way down).

5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Shortbread will be very light, almost white with barely golden edges when done. Remove from oven, cut immediately with a sharp knife into rectangles, or “fingers” (I prefer to cut off all the edges first). Cool in pan.

Enjoy with tea or coffee and get your Scott on!


  • krista

    Lives in the middle of nowhere with her amazing hubby and two codependent dogs that love to hate each other. She enjoys dance parties of one and last minute road trips, prays for Angela Lansbury's immortality and can never own enough blush. She averages one "Silence of the Lambs" quote a week and feels no shame over this. Perhaps she should. skin tone: NW15 skin type: sensitive/oily favorite beauty product: Blush, lots and lots of blush


  1. Married to an Englishmen makes me somewhat of an authority on all things tea. And can I just say, shortbreads are the absolute best cookie to eat with a nice cuppa. Sadly, I am the world’s worst baker. So, I have to beg friends like Krista to make these for me.

  2. Yum – these cookies sound delicious! I am a huge fan of shortbread cookies – I always buy a pack of two at Starbucks but they are just so-so. I need to try and make my own. Thanks for the recipe Krista!

    PS Hey Santa! I’m still waiting for that Kitchen Aid mixer!
    .-= Tyna´s last blog ..Bath & Body Works – True Blue Naked Summer Touch Body Wash =-.

  3. I love shortbread cookies, especially when they are super soft and kind of melt in your mouth. I don’t think I have the man power to make these beauties myself though. I have no Kitchen Aide mixer and my arms are puny. So I will have to salivate over the picture. *wipes mouth* :)

  4. Tyna-You just need to occasionally check to see if they have any specials on their Kitchen Aid mixers…I ended up getting my 6 quart for $100 off the regular qvc price and w/ 5 easy pays, so it wasn’t horrible. Best Purchase Ever.
    Cori-You SO could still make this even if you have puny arms. My mother’s Scottish grandma was a tiny little thing and she made this recipe all the time. I recommend making it when you have some aggression you need to work out, it’s very therapeutic.
    Stef-I know what you’re getting for Christmas :)

  5. I’m having a tea party for my daughter’s birthday party on Saturday. Krista will you make a batch and send them to me? :) These would be perfect! That’s not a problem right??? All jokes aside, these sound so yummy and I’m definitely printing up this recipe. Krista you amaze me once again with your talent!

  6. Krista these sound so good!! I went to Scotland when I was 13 and became addicted to shortbread from then on!!! I’ve never tried to make it but now I will.. and Stef, if it’s good I’ll bring some to you and Der!!! :)

    I’m certain it’s delicious…Krista every recipe you’ve passed on here ROCKS!
    I wish I was your neighbor!!

  7. *blushes* Aw, shucks. T’weren’t nothin’…
    Tiffany—you will love these! They really melt in your mouth. I will make one recommendation with the butter and that is use Land O’ Lakes—it really makes a better shortbread. My mother always swore by it and oddly, you can tell a slight difference in the quality of the butter. Probably because it’s the main ingredient :)

  8. Oh, thanks Krista! Part of my heritage is English-Scot and I’ve been meaning to look up recipes from my UK roots. I bake Spritz cookies from a family recipe every year for Christmas as we’re mainly German but I have French-Oneida and English-Scot roots as well. It’s nice to have a family tradition that happens every year no matter where we are!

    I think I have a kneading attachment on Ye Olde Blender & Mixer from Germany, I think. If not, a Kitchen Aide Mixer is going on the Christmas List…after House, MD seasons 2-5.

  9. Krista, this sounds sooo good! But I’ll have to wait to make them because I JUST started a hardcore diet this week! Boo.

  10. My heritage is english-scot too but i guess its my italian side that just doesn’t let me jive with short bread. There’s not enough sugar in them. Is it anything like irish soda bread? I always remember that being around in March and i hated it! Just like chopped liver, everyone thought their grandmother made the best, everytime i got fooled! But i’m sure these are good, instead of coffee you should dip them in booze like a real Scot would! LOL!

  11. I kind of love these in the Fall and Winter. I’ll have them with hot cocoa or spiced cider if I want a break from tea. They really are fabulous with any hot beverage. I’ve had other people’s short bread and I have to say that every family probably has its own variation of this. The nice thing about this is that if you’re really careful to not overbake it, it can be a little moist and it’s not a super crunchy shortbread, so soft-cookie-loving-me is still happy.
    I may have to try dipping these in booze. You know, for the sake of science and all that.

  12. Bronwen – in my experience shortbread is much sweeter then Irish Soda bread – more cookie like, no? Krista?
    .-= Tyna´s last blog ..Skyn Iceland – review =-.

  13. Yeah, shortbread is more cookie that’s been cut into bar form and soda bread is like a very slightly sweet breakfasty type bread (like an actual loaf that you slice) that usually has raisins in it. Two completely different things. I’m not really a fan of the soda bread. Probably because I hate raisins more than Lindsay Lohan’s leggings. Yes, THAT much.

  14. I have a quick question. What type of sugar are you using?

  15. Regular white granulated sugar. Some recipes use powdered sugar, but not this one. Hope that helps!


  17. hi there,
    I am super happy i found your recipe for scottish shortbread! it turned out super tasty. i did have one question though.. you do not say how thin to roll the dough out before placing it in the oven. i did about a 1/4 of an inch and it worked quite well.. but do you have another mesurment?
    thanks again!!

  18. Hey, Kinsey–glad you enjoyed the recipe! There’s actually no rolling involved, you just divide the dough in 1/2 and press each half into its own 7×11 inch pan until it’s evenly distributed in the pan (not a cookie sheet, more like a small rectangular cake pan). I hope that helps! :)

  19. Krista,
    I haven’t tried your recipe yet but I’m looking forward to making it. The recipe looks like it makes a lot of cookies. How do you store them? Can they be frozen? Thanks

  20. Whenever I make this, it’s usually for the holidays, and it never lasts long enough to be frozen. I think the longest it’s lasted was about one week and it tasted just as good as day one. I usually keep these in a standard cookie tin, nothing fancy. I’m assuming they can be frozen, because most cookies can, but I’ve never had enough left over to freeze :)

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