Shortbread Cookies

Buttery, crisp, and mildly sweet, shortbread is simple to make with ingredients that are always on hand. Baked in large rounds to resemble the sun and cut into wedges, shortbread is traditionally served in Scotland on winter solstice, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. It’s wonderful with coffee or tea any time of day — and since it’s appealingly plain, kids love it as much as grown-ups. Since shortbread is made with so few ingredients, there’s not a lot of variation in shortbread recipes. This recipe from King Arthur Flour, however, is unique in that it calls for confectioners sugar instead of granulated sugar, which makes the cookies extra tender. It also calls for almond extract in addition to vanilla — I love this flavor combination.

What you’ll need to make Shortbread Cookies

ingredients for shortbread cookies

Step-by-Step Instructions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract.

butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and almond extract in mixing bowl Beat until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

creamy butter and sugar mixture for shortbread cookiesAdd the flour.

adding the flour to the butter mixture Beat on low speed until the dough comes together in a cohesive mass.

shortbread dough in mixing bowlDivide the dough in half (if you have a scale, each half will weigh about 10.5 oz) and place each in a greased, parchment-lined, 8-inch round cake pan.

shortbread dough in cake pans

Dust your hands with flour and press each half into an even layer in the prepared pans, dusting your hands with more flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking. To smooth the surface, place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and smooth with your hands. Use a fork to prick the dough all over in 1-in intervals to allow steam to escape while the shortbread bakes.

shortbread dough pressed into cake pans and ready to bakeBake the shortbread until it’s a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven, and let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.

shortbread rounds cooling on rack in pansRun a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the shortbread, and then carefully turn each round out of the pans, using your hand to gently lower the shortbread onto a cutting board.

shortbread round on cutting boardUsing a sharp knife, cut each round into 8 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; otherwise, it won’t cut easily and will crumble.)

cutting the shortbread

Let the shortbread cool on the cutting board, and then store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Freeze for longer storage.

How To Freeze Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread can be frozen before or after baking. To freeze before baking, shape the dough into 2 disks, wrap each securely in plastic wrap, and place them in a sealable bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight before baking. To freeze the shortbread cookies after baking, store them in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and thaw at room temperature before serving.

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