These Classic Shortbread Cookies are rich, buttery, and made with just 5 simple ingredients. Perfect for the holidays or any time of year!

A group of shortbread cookies on top of an antique safety grater with other cookies and milk in the background.

Do you love shortbread cookies? I feel like they sometimes get a bad reputation for being too crunchy and dry. But I’m here to tell you that if you make them right, they can actually be delicious, buttery, and melt in your mouth. Just like today’s easy shortbread cookie recipe!

The great thing about this cookie dough is that it only requires five ingredients and that’s including the vanilla extract and salt. It also takes less than 10 minutes to mix together and it doesn’t require any dough chilling.

All you have to do is mix up the cookie dough, scoop it out, roll it into balls, flatten them, and bake your cookies. You could even add a simple glaze on top to really add a little something extra to these cookies!

Ingredients in This Recipe 

Butter shortbread cookies couldn’t be simpler to make! Here’s all you’ll need to make these classic cookies: 

  • Butter: As with all of my other cookie recipes, I suggest using unsalted butter since the amount of salt in salted butter can vary quite a bit between brands. By using unsalted butter, you can control the amount of salt in your recipe.
  • Powdered sugar: I prefer to use powdered sugar in my shortbread cookies because it helps to prevent them from spreading too much in the oven. 
  • Vanilla extract: You can leave out the vanilla if you don’t have any on hand, but I really love the flavor it adds. You could even swap out the vanilla extract for another extract that you love, just be sure to adjust the amount if needed.
  • All-purpose flour: Make sure to spoon and level it into your measuring cup. Scooping the flour from the container can cause the flour to become packed inside the cup, leaving you with far too much flour in your recipe and super crumbly cookie dough.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavor of the dough and balances out the sweetness. 

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

To make these cookies, you will start out with some butter and powdered sugar. There’s only 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in these cookies, so they’re not overly sweet.

You’ll cream together the butter and powdered sugar for 1 to 2 minutes or until they’re well combined like the picture above. Then, beat in some pure vanilla extract.

The final step is to mix in some all-purpose flour and salt. The cookie dough will be a little crumbly at first, but I promise as you keep mixing it will all come together.

A clear glass mixing bowl filled with shortbread cookie dough and a red and white napkin in the background.

Once you’ve mixed up the cookie dough, scoop it out and place the balls of cookie dough on a baking sheet. I prefer to use a one tablespoon measuring spoon or cookie scoop because it makes the perfect size cookies.

Then, just roll the cookie dough into balls and flatten them out. I used this cookie stamp to press mine down, but you can easily use the bottom of a cup or even the tines of a fork to flatten the cookies. I suggest flattening these cookies to the thickness you would like them to be before you bake them too.

The cookies will need to bake for about 12 to 15 minutes in the oven, you’ll know they are done when the tops are set and the bottoms are lightly golden brown.

Can I Make Cut Out Cookies With This Dough? 

Yes, you should be fine to roll out the shortbread dough to make cut-out cookies. You can also follow my recipe for Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies, if desired. 

Storage & Freezing Instructions 

Butter shortbread cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies will also freeze well for up to 3 months, simply thaw to room temperature before serving. You may also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. 

A baking sheet covered in parchment paper topped with shortbread cookies right out of the oven.

Baking Tips

  • When measuring your flour for these cookies, avoid scooping it from the container. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
  • The cookie dough will be a little crumbly as you mix in the dry ingredients, but keep on mixing and it will come together.
  • Be sure to flatten the cookies with either a cookie stamp, the bottom of a cup, or the tines of a fork before you bake them. It’s also best to coat whatever you use in some powdered sugar before you press down on the cookies so they don’t stick to it.
  • If you want to top these cookies with an icing that hardens, you can use my easy sugar cookie icing.

More Easy Cookie Recipes to Try! 

A group of shortbread cookies piled onto an antique safety grater.

Shortbread Cookies

5 from 4 ratings
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
Total Time: 27 mins
These Classic Shortbread Cookies are soft, buttery, and made with just 5 simple ingredients. Perfect for the holidays or any time of year!

Ingredients

Servings: 32 cookies
  • 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the butter and powdered sugar together for 1-2 minutes or until well combined. Then, mix in the pure vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour and salt and continue mixing until fully combined. The cookie dough will be a little crumbly at first but it will come together as you continue mixing.
  • Measure out 1-tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough and place on the baking sheets. Roll each piece of cookie dough into a ball, leaving a little space between each one. Then, dip a cookie stamp (or the bottom of a cup or the tines of a fork) in some powdered sugar and flatten each ball of cookie dough.
  • Bake in separate batches at 350°F (177°C) for 11-13 minutes or until the top of the cookies are set and the bottoms are lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Storage instructions: Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Freezing instructions: Cookie dough will freeze well for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Cookies will also freeze well for up to 3 months, thaw to room temperature before serving. 
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Danielle
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