Scottish Shortbread

Total Time

Prep: 15 min. + chilling Bake: 20 min./batch + cooling


4 dozen

Updated: Sep. 01, 2023
My mother, who is of Scottish heritage, passed this shortbread recipe, along with other favorite recipes, on to me. When I entered this treat at our local fair, it won a red ribbon. —Rose Mabee, Selkirk, Manitoba


  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add 3-3/4 cups flour; mix well. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead for 5 minutes, adding enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. On a sheet of parchment, roll dough to a 16x9-inch rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet, and cut into 3x1-in. strips. Prick each cookie multiple times with a fork. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. Separate cookies and place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until cookies are lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • For slices that are even and smooth, cut the shortbread while it is still warm.
  • See all our shortbread tips.
  • Scottish Shortbread Tips

    Are shortbread and butter cookies the same?

    While both have a higher proportion of butter in their recipes, butter cookies contain more sugar and flour, are baked at a higher temperature and tend to hold their shape when baked. Shortbread typically has a higher ratio of butter to flour, is baked at a lower temperature and has a dry, crumbly melt-in-your-mouth quality. Learn more about the difference between shortbread and butter cookies.

    Should I chill my shortbread dough?

    Chilling the dough is our #1 secret to making the best shortbread! Chilling allows the dough to rest and hydrate. It also firms up the butter, making the dough easy to slice into rectangles prior to baking. We recommend chilling the dough in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Why do you poke holes in shortbread?

    As the shortbread bakes, the butter in the dough melts and releases steam. To keep the shortbread from puffing up in the oven (and retain its dense texture), holes are poked into the dough prior to baking to allow the steam to escape.

    What's the difference between Scottish shortbread and regular shortbread?

    Historically, Scottish shortbread only varied from traditional shortbread in that it was originally made with remnants of bread dough, oatmeal and yeast, resulting in a dry, biscuit-like cookie. Over the centuries, the recipe has evolved into the much tastier, buttery treat we know it to be today. Scottish shortbread should not be confused with Scottish cookies, which contain butter and shortening and are not as crumbly as shortbread.

    Nutrition Facts

    1 cookie: 123 calories, 8g fat (5g saturated fat), 20mg cholesterol, 62mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.