If you can't wait another few months for the Girl Scouts to sell their popular Trefoils --- and you are craving some classic shortbread cookies --- the good news is that you can easily make them at home. A classic shortbread cookie recipe only has a few base ingredients, but depending on your personal taste, there are a few unique things you can add to spice things up.

Shortbread cookies are a traditional Scottish treat that have a basic "1-2-3" recipe of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oat flour. However, there are dozens of variations out there that add everything from cornstarch to chocolate.

Since these cookies are also a popular dessert during the holidays, it's a good idea to find the shortbread recipe that works for you and add it to your holiday baking lineup. Whether you choose to go classic or add a modern twist, there is definitely a shortbread recipe out there that will work for you.

My Scottish Grandma's Recipe

shortbread cookies

Being Scottish, my grandmother's recipe for shortbread cookies has been in my family for years. If you want to add delicious flavor to your shortbread cookies, try this recipe that adds a unique ingredient, but gives the cookies incredible flavor.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse it a few times to make sure it is blended together well.
  • Cut your butter into large chunks and add it into the dough, along with the almond extract. Then, whiz it for one minute. The dough will start to clump together and have a sandy appearance.
  • Next, pour your mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan and spread it out into an even layer (A good trick is to use a flat-bottomed glass to press the dough down and make sure it is as smooth as possible).
  • Lightly score the dough with a knife, making four rows one way and eight rows the other, for 32 shortbread pieces.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until the shortbread has a light brown color.
  • Once you remove it from the oven and while it is still hot, use a knife to cut the shortbread on the lines you scored before baking. Then, allow it to cool after you cut it. Once cooled, the pieces should break apart easily.

Quick note -- you can substitute the zest of one lemon for the almond extract to give it a different flavor.


classic shortbread cookies

Traditionally, shortbread cookies have a sinfully buttery taste. But, if you would like to try something different, there are many recipes that will give you multiple flavor options.


You can either cook chocolate or cocoa into the cookie, add chocolate chips, or try a dipped-in chocolate version. Either way, it will result in a tasty buttery-chocolate dessert.


Start with your basic recipe and then add cinnamon sugar, vanilla, nuts, or crystalized ginger. Either one of these variations will make your shortbread cookies sinfully sweet. Also, you can add icing and use cookie cutters if you want to get really creative.


If you prefer a citrusy dessert, there are also recipes that feature lemon poppy seeds, coconut lime, or orange. OMGChocolateDesserts also has a version with lemons and white chocolate. When you grate citrus skin, it releases oils and adds flavor to the cookie recipe without adding extra moisture. You can even do citrus during the holidays with a rosemary-lemon version.


If a savory cookie is what you are looking for during the holidays, try adding parmesan, olive oil, and rosemary or black pepper to the classic recipe.


rock recipes shortbread with cherries

You can also add different colorful decorations to your classic recipe by adding a glace or maraschino cherry or baking gum to the center before baking. Adding the red cherry color definitely makes this version a perfect addition to the Christmas holiday.

Whatever your personal taste preference is, with just a few simple ingredients, you can make a delicious shortbread cookie in your own kitchen that will melt in your mouth. They can also be a nice addition to your holiday baking plans, and when you cook them, your house will smell amazing!

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