Buttery 3-Ingredient Shortbread Cookies

Total Time

Prep: 10 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling


16 cookies

Updated: Jan. 01, 2024
With only a few ingredients, these butter shortbread cookies are so simple to prepare. —Pattie Prescott, Manchester, New Hampshire


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Confectioners' sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Gradually beat in flour. Press dough into an ungreased 9-in. square baking pan. Prick with a fork.
  2. Bake until light brown, 30-35 minutes. Cut into squares while warm. Cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar.
Shortbread Cookies Tips

Should you sift flour when making shortbread cookies?

We recommend sifting flour when making all kinds of baked goods to break up any clumps. It’s especially a good idea in a recipe that has only three ingredients, like this one. If you don’t have a sifter, use an electric mixer, balloon whisk or strainer to sift. Check out our guide on how to sift without a sifter for more tips.

What kind of butter should you use to make shortbread cookies?

With shortbread more than any other cookie, the flavor of the butter determines the flavor, so quality is key. This is the time to splurge on the best butter you can find, including European-style butters with their higher butterfat content. (If you’re not sure which you prefer, check out our Test Kitchen taste test!). This recipe calls for unsalted butter. You can use salted butter instead, but beware—because there’s no other salt in the recipe, you have no power to adjust the saltiness. Although, the salt will not affect the texture, just the taste—so this is largely a personal preference. Find out more about when to use salted vs. unsalted butter. Whichever butter you choose, make sure it’s properly softened. You want it to be soft, but not to the point that the surface is oily or greasy. Over-soft butter may result in a dense, tough shortbread.

Why are my shortbread cookies too soft?

Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, try chilling the cookies before baking. This will allow the butter to harden.

Why do you fork shortbread?

Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling. Pricking your shortbread also gives it that signature shortbread cookie design!

How can you tell when shortbread cookies are done?

Shortbread cookies have a tight window of doneness. They can be doughy and chewy if not done enough, or too hard and brittle if overdone. Start checking your cookies at the lower end of the the bake time. Since these cookies are cooked in a pan, you won’t be able to check the bottoms, which is the easiest way. Instead, look for a light brown color across the top, with just a slight darkening at the edges of the pan. If you’re looking for a classic shortbread cookie that’s cut before it’s baked, try Scottish shortbread instead.

How should I store shortbread cookies?

Because shortbreads have a high fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers. Shortbreads will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. For longer storage (up to 3 months), pop the cookies in the freezer and follow these cookie freezing tips!

Hazel Wheaton, Taste of Home Book Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 183 calories, 12g fat (7g saturated fat), 31mg cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.