This Scottish Shortbread Recipe is very easy to follow and so delicious – follow my tips for making the perfect buttery, crumbly Shortbread. This is old fashioned home baking that will never go out of style.
I have always loved Shortbread but I didn’t attempt to make it myself until my late twenties.
It took me a while to achieve that perfect balance of light yet crumbly and crisp Shortbread, but I’m pleased to say I’ve found a keeper recipe that I can share with you!
While the method of making Shortbread remains the same, the ingredients can slightly differ.
Some recipes use cornflour and icing sugar to make a feather light melt in the mouth Shortbread.
Other recipes use a small amount of rice flour, ground rice or semolina for a slightly coarser, crumbly Shortbread.
There is no right or wrong here – use whatever you prefer. I love both kinds of Shortbread, but if I’m making Shortbread fingers or Queen Mary of Scots favourite (allegedly) petticoat tails, I tend to use rice flour.
If I’m using cornflour/icing sugar, I prefer to roll out the dough and cut it into shapes.
ingredients you’ll need to make scottish shortbread
- Plain Flour
- Caster Sugar or Icing Sugar. While using caster sugar is more traditional, the icing sugar will give it a slightly lighter, soft texture. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one to use!
- Rice Flour or Corn Flour (corn starch) – Using rice flour will give you a slightly grainy, crunchy shortbread. Corn Flour will give the shortbread a soft, melt in the mouth texture. Both are delicious!
- Salted Butter. I’m not a fan of using unsalted butter in shortbread – I really think you need the salt to give the shortbread a “lift” in taste. In addition to using salted butter, I also add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients. If you would rather not add extra salt, its fine to leave it out.
How TO MAKE Scottish Shortbread
(Ingredient amounts and detailed instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!)
- Place the flour, sugar, rice flour or cornflour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
- Using a wooden spoon or your hands (I find it easier to use my hands if I’m honest) work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture turns into a dough.
- Place the dough in a greased and lined 23cm Square tin. Using your hands, press the dough into the tin, trying to make it as even as possible.
- Using the tip of a sharp knife, lightly mark out 20 squares of shortbread, then using a fork, prick the dough all over, making sure you go right through the dough.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the shortbread is light golden brown around the edges. When it’s ready, you will smell it!
- Remove the shortbread from the oven and sprinkle with caster (superfine) sugar. Leave the shortbread in the tin – if you attempt to remove it it will Crumble and break into small pieces.
- After about 20 minutes, cut the shortbread into fingers, using the lines you made as a guide.
You could also bake the Shortbread in two 18cm round tins to make “petticoat tails” , just like the picture below!
If you prefer, you could also roll out the dough and cut it into shapes of your choice. However, please keep in mind that the baking time will differ depending on the size of your cookie cutters. As as rough guide, I would check your shortbead shapes after 15-20 minutes.
My tips on how to make perfect Shortbread
- A simple recipe like this needs the best quality ingredients you can find – if you use good butter and flour, you will be able to taste it in the shortbread.
- It’s important that the butter is the correct consistency – it must be at room temperature. You definitely don’t want it fridge cold or so soft that it is beginning to melt. It should be soft enough to just spread on a piece of bread without tearing it, but certainly not so soft that it’s oily.
- A little kneading is necessary to bring the dough together, but don’t overwork the mixture – if you do then this will activate the gluten in the flour and your shortbread will be tough.
- Cut the Shortbread into fingers while it is still a little warm, but don’t attempt to lift it from the tray until it is completely cold.
- Don’t worry if your shortbread crumbles and breaks a little – as you can see in the photo below, mine often does! The taste is what really matters – and this is home baking, it’s not meant to look like it’s been made in a factory.
want to see more scottish recipes?
Did you make this Scottish Shortbread recipe? Leave a comment and let me know how you got on with it, or if you have any questions or need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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- 250G/8oz Plain Flour
- 100G/4oz Rice Flour or Corn Flour (See Recipe notes below)
- 100G/4oz Caster Sugar or Icing Sugar (See Recipe Notes Below)
- 250G/8oz Salted Butter, at Room Temperature (See recipe notes below)
- Pinch of Salt (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a square 23cm tin, making sure the baking paper comes above the tin by a couple of centimetres so it's easy to lift out of the tin later.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, rice flour or corn flour and caster sugar or icing sugar.
- Using a wooden spoon or your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until you have a smooth dough. It might take a little while to come together, but it will eventually - so keep going! However, try not to overwork the dough or your shortbread will be tough.
- Press the dough in the lined baking tin, coaxing it into the corners and trying to make it an even thickness all over. Using the tip of a sharp knife, lightly mark out twenty even sized pieces. Prick the shortbread all over with a fork, making sure you go right through the dough. Alternatively, you can roll the shortbread out on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes.
- Place the shortbread in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the shortbread is lightly tinged golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar. Leave for 20-30 minutes before carefully cutting the shortbread into fingers, using the lines you marked out as a guide (if you cut the shortbread when it is very cold it will shatter and crumble very easily.) Leave the shortbread to cool completely before placing in an airtight tin.
For the best shortbread, the butter should be at room temperature before beating into the butter. It should be soft but not too soft!
Using icing sugar instead of caster sugar will result in a slighty finer textured shortbread. Both ways are delicious! There's no right or wrong here - why not try the recipe both ways to see which one you prefer?
Rice flour will give the shortbread a slightly crunchy texture. Cornflour will give soft, melt in your mouth shortbread, Again, both ways are divine!
I use salted butter and I also add a small pinch of salt to the dough, but you can omit the extra salt if you prefer.
If you are cutting the dough into shapes, please note that the shortbread will take less time to bake - around 15-20 minutes.
Nutrition InformationYield 20 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 210Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 24mgSodium 80mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 1gSugar 12gProtein 2g