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Buttery with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, easy shortbread cookies are simple to make with only 5 ingredients! Perfect for holiday gifting.

More favorite cookie recipes include butter cookies, ricotta cheese cookies and meringue cookies.

Shortbread cookies on a white plate.
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Easiest Shortbread Cookies

These easy shortbread cookies are the perfect recipe to make when you’re wanting to whip up last-minute Christmas cookies. They are so simple to prepare and I bet you already have all the ingredients on hand.

They have a rich buttery flavor and will literally melt in your mouth like Mexican wedding cookies or gooey butter cookies. They’re not overly sweet and you can keep them plain or customize with mix-ins or toppings. This Twix cookie recipe has a delicious shortbread base!

These traditional shortbread cookies are a classic cookie recipe for a Christmas dessert board or cookie exchanges!

Recipe Ingredients

With just a few ingredients shortbread is full of flavor and delicious! Each of these ingredients is known to be a pantry staple that will blend together perfectly. These are the best shortbread cookies!

Slicing shortbread cookies.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Butter: Soften the butter to room temperature before beating it together.
  • Sugar: You have to have a little sugar in cookie dough! This will add sweetness.
  • Vanilla extract: Always a favorite ingredient in cookie recipes.
  • Flour: Added for the texture and thickness of the shortbread cookie.
  • Sea salt: A sweet and savory cookie! Just a sprinkle will balance out the flavors.

Substitutions and Variations

Easy shortbread cookies taste delicious plain, but you could add frosting, glaze, lemon, chocolate drizzle, nuts, chocolate chips, or rolled them in sprinkles like my Valentine’s Day cookies.

You could even add jam like in a thumbprint cookie or linzer cookie recipe!

For taste similar to almond cookies, add almond extract along with vanilla extract.

I love to double the recipe and make one batch plain and the other batch into cranberry orange shortbread cookies. They are so delicious!

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

This easy shortbread cookie recipe starts with 5 simple ingredients: butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. That’s it!

Showing how to make shortbread cookies in a 4 step collage.
  • Prep. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until creamy and fluffy.
  • Mix. Mix in the flour slowly and stir just until combined. Roll into a log and refrigerate.
  • Slice and bake. Slice the cookie dough into rectangles or stamp lightly into flour. I like to add holes with a toothpick on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottom is lightly golden.

Expert Tips

There is always a hidden secret when making the best recipe! This classic shortbread cookie recipe is easy to make but these tips will make them above the rest.

  • Make sure to use only real butter and vanilla in these shortbread cookies to get the best flavor.
  • Chill the dough for about an hour, or until it’s firm to the touch. This helps the butter solidify so that the cookies don’t spread while baking.
  • Bake them in the oven just until the bottoms are slightly golden. You don’t want to overcook these unless you like crunchy shortbread cookies.
  • A little tip if using cookie stamps or cookie cutters. Make sure to dip the stamp into flour BEFORE stamping (preferably after each stamp) to keep the dough from sticking.

Recipe FAQs

How do you know when shortbread is cooked?

Shortbread cookies are a light golden brown all around the cookie. The bottoms can be a little deeper golden brown and on the edges but not too dark.

Can you make dairy-free shortbread cookies?

Yes! Substitute the butter to coconut oil if you would like a different flavor.

Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter?

Absolutely! If you choose to use salted butter you can omit the extra salt. Unsalted butter is mainly used in baked dishes to help control how much salt is being added to the dessert since each brand of butter has its own amount of salt being added in.

What is the difference between easy shortbread cookies and sugar cookies?

Although similar ingredients, shortbread cookies are eggless and contain more butter than classic sugar cookies. This gives them a texture that’s dense and firm, while sugar cookies are usually on the softer side.

Sugar cookies also rise and spread a bit more than shortbread, giving them a bigger surface for decorating. If you love thick sugar cookies, try my Swig cookie recipe! It’s soft and chewy like a sugar cookie but the thicker texture may remind you more of a butter cookie or shortbread.

Shortbread cookies on a white plate.

Storing + Make Ahead

Store: These cookies will stay fresh for up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Freeze: You can also freeze cookies for about 3 months in the freezer.

Make ahead: Prepare the dough up to 1 week in advance. Shape into a log and then wrap tightly with saran wrap. Then store in the fridge until ready to bake.

5 star review

“Love how simple shortbread cookies are! And this is a great recipe to use as a base and then decorate as desired. We love them chocolate dipped over here!”

Shortbread cookies on a white plate.

Are you looking for more buttery cookies?! Try these cinnamon roll cookies, gooey butter cookies, or brown butter blondies.

More Easy Cookie Recipes

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shortbread cookies on plate

Shortbread Cookies

5 from 19 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
These shortbread cookies are so easy to make with only 5 ingredients, melt in your mouth, and turn out beautiful every time. They are perfect to make cut out, pressed or stamped shortbread cookies.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 18


  • 1 cup unsalted butter , 2 sticks at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar , or powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium speed 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Slowly mix in the flour and stir just until combined and the dough is smooth.
  • Shape the dough into a log and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour, or until firm.
  • Slice the cookie log into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices. Place on the baking sheet.
  • Using a toothpick, prick holes on the top of each cookie to create the look of a traditional shortbread cookie. You could also use a cookie stamp or keep plain if dipping in melted chocolate.
  • Bake 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are barely golden. You don’t want the tops or edges to brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.


Make ahead: This dough can be made up to a week in advance. Simply wrap the log in the wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Best ingredients: Make sure to use only real butter and vanilla in these shortbread cookies to get the best flavor.
Cookie stamps: A little tip if using cookie stamps or cookie cutters. Make sure to dip the stamp into flour BEFORE stamping (preferably after each stamp) to keep the dough from sticking.
Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. 


Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 315IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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