Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (2024)

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By Janice Pattie 33 Comments

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Scottish Shortbread Biscuits are classic Scottish biscuits. These buttery, crumbly biscuits (cookies) are simple to make and need only three ingredients to produce the very best sweet treat you can enjoy.

Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (1)

Why should I make Scottish Shortbread Biscuits?

This traditional recipe is one that has been handed down to me by my Mum. These cookies melt in your mouth and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love them. Homemade shortbread biscuits are one of my top bakes for Christmas and the Holidays. They are perfect to serve to family and friends and they make a great gift too.

The history of shortbread goes back to Medieval times and it has evolved from a hard-baked bread to the crumbly, buttery bake we know today. It is said that Mary Queen of Scots enjoyed shortbread and that her French court influenced the cuisine of Scotland.

Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (2)

Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) Essentials

Shortbread is one of the essential bakes for our Christmas and New Year holidays in Scotland. in times past shortbread was an expensive luxury for ordinary people and so it became associated with special occasions. The tradition of eating shortbread at New Year is said to come from the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun.

A ‘first foot’ favourite

A First Footer is the first person to step over the threshold on New Year’s Day usually just after midnight. Shortbread and Black Bun are two of the traditional bakes offered to “first footers” at New Year.

What ingredients do I need to make Scottish Shortbread Biscuits?

You only need three ingredients to make this Scottish Shortbread:

  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugar

What equipment do I need?

You will need simple baking equipment, there are no fancy gadgets required:

  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • 8 cm round cookie cutter
  • Baking parchment or a non-stick baking mat
  • 2 flat baking sheets
  • Wire cooling tray

What kind of flour should I use for shortbread?

Use plain (all-purpose) flour to make the shortbread biscuits. These biscuits don’t need any raising agent so good quality plain white flour is all that is needed.

Should I add rice flour to the Scottish Shortbread Biscuits?

I only use plain wheat flour in this recipe. I know that some people like to add rice flour or semolina to shortbread to make it crisper. I’ve never had a problem getting these biscuits to be crisp so I like to keep it simple.

What kind of butter should I use?

I use standard salted butter because that is what I have in the fridge. If you prefer you can use unsalted butter however, you may then need to add a pinch of salt to the flour. Take the butter out of the fridge for a few hours to soften as this will make it easier to work into the flour.

Can I substitute non-dairy spread for the butter?

I make this recipe with butter as it is key to the flavour of the shortbread biscuits. I have not tested the recipe with a dairy-free spread.

What kind of sugar should I use in the shortbread?

Use caster or superfine white sugar for this recipe. The fine granules of sugar mean that they melt quickly into the mixture and there is no grittiness. Use the same fine sugar to dust over the biscuits before they cool.

Is it difficult to make the dough?

It’s really very simple and it only takes a few minutes of kneading the butter into the flour. Then suddenly you will find that the dough has come together. All the butter will have merged with the flour, sugar and you will have a pliable dough.

Do I need to chill the shortbread dough?

There is no need to chill the dough, in fact, chilling will make it more difficult to roll out. You can make your shortbread straight away.

Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and press down the dough, then roll it out gently until it is about 1/2 cm thick.

How many biscuits (cookies) does this recipe make?

This recipe makes about 15 x 8 cm (3 in) biscuits. I can get nine biscuits on each baking sheet. If you use a smaller cutter you will get more shortbread biscuits. Shortbread doesn’t really spread so you can place them quite close together.

How do I store Shortbread?

Shortbread will keep fresh in an airtight tin or plastic box for 2 or 3 weeks.

Can I freeze Shortbread biscuits?

You can freeze the shortbread biscuits for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature on a wire rack. If you know you will freeze the biscuits don’t dredge with sugar. This means you can refresh the biscuits in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes then dust with the caster sugar.


There are only three ingredients in this recipe: flour, butter and sugar, therefore they are suitable for a vegetarian diet. As the shortbread contains butter it is not suitable for a dairy-free or vegan diet.

Gluten Free

This recipe contains wheat flour and therefore it is not suitable for a gluten-free diet. As an alternative, try this Gluten Free Almond Shortbread from the Gluten Free Alchemist.

How do I serve Scottish Shortbread Biscuits?

I serve a large plate of shortbread biscuits, gingerbread men, Christmas Cake and Black Bun Traybake to my visitors. They are delicious with tea and coffee and also go very well with a dram of Scotch Whisky or a Sherry.

Serve small rounds of shortbread with soft desserts like syllabub or mousse. They add texture and can be used to scoop up some of the delicious desserts too.

The perfect gift!

I love to give and receive homemade biscuits (cookies) and these shortbread biscuits are always well received. I simply pop the biscuits into a bag and tie it with a ribbon then they are ready for gifting.

More Shortbread Recipes from Farmersgirl Kitchen

Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (10)

Chocolate Orange Scottish Shortbread brings a classic flavour combination to this traditional biscuit. The acidity of the oranges helps to cut through the richness of the sweet shortbread and enhances the flavour of the dark chocolate.

Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (11)

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies are made simply by adding chopped dark chocolate to a basic flour, butter, and sugar shortbread recipe.

Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (12)

Hot Cross Shortbread Cookiesare shortbread cookies with all the citrus and spicy flavours of a Hot Cross Bun. It’s the perfect recipe for your cookie jar all year round, but when you dress up these cookies with a piped cross, they make a great addition to your Easter tea table.

Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (13)

Shortbread makes the ideal biscuit for a Strawberry Shortbread Ice Cream Sandwich. Bite through the crisp buttery cookie to reach the sweet, creamy ice cream centre.

Air Fryer Shortbread Round – Petticoat Tails is a traditional Scottish bake that I have updated to make in your air fryer. This buttery, crumbly biscuit (cookie) is baked in a large round and then divided into individual triangular wedges. Once you’ve tasted homemade shortbread you’ll never want to buy it again.

More Buttery Biscuits


Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (16)

Shortbread Biscuits (Cookies)

Janice Pattie

Buttery, crumbly Scottish Shortbread Biscuits, just three ingredients for the best biscuits of all.

4.87 from 15 votes

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Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 8 minutes mins

Total Time 18 minutes mins

Course Baking

Cuisine British, Scottish

Servings 15

Calories 194 kcal


  • 300 grams (2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 100 grams (½ cups) caster sugar superfine
  • 200 grams (1 cups) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) caster sugar for dredging


  • 300 grams plain (all purpose) flour, 100 grams caster sugar

    Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in sugar.

    Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (17)

  • 200 grams butter

    Keep the butter in one piece and gradually work it into the flour and sugar withyour fingertips until it comes together into a dough. Knead well

    Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (18)

  • Dust the work surface with a little flour then pat the dough down and use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1/2 cm (1/8 in). You may have to keep pushing the dough back together again as it is very crumbly.

    Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (19)

  • Cut out the biscuits (cookies) with a cookie cutter. Slide the cut biscuits off the work surface with a knife and onto a baking sheet.

    Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (20)

  • Roll out the remaining dough and keep cutting until all the dough is used.

  • Bake in the oven at 180/170C Fan/ 325F for about 8 minutes until firm and pale golden brown.

    Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (21)

  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

    Lift onto a cooling tray with a spatula and use a sieve or tea strainer to dust the biscutis with caster (superfine) sugar.

    Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (22)

  • Once cool store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Calories: 194kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 2gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 96mgPotassium: 25mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 333IUCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg

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First published in December 2009, updated 2021.


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Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (23)

Reader Interactions


  1. Wendy says

    Oh, I'm having a baking day on Saturday… all this talk of delicious shortbread… and people making gingerbread… I just want to bake!


  2. Angelnorth says

    That all looks scrumptious Janice! Is the cranberry relish intended as a sweet thing or to have with your roast?


    • Outlander says

      A relish is always served with savoury dishes, it’s usually to ‘aid digestion’ of rich or fatty foods.


  3. Janice says

    I made it for the Turkey, but Uma also recommends it with Brie on little croute thingies.


  4. Chow and Chatter says

    wow great relish and perfect shortbread


  5. Marie says

    oh your shortbread biscuits look fabulous! That cranberry relish sounds really tasty as well! I bet it's fab with turkey!


  6. Choclette says

    By the way, how do you keep your shortbread fresh when giving it away as presents?


  7. Choclette says

    It's all looking lovely and Christmasy, but it's scaring me. All my best laid plans have gone out the window and I don't know if I'll have time to make anything now – aghhhh!


  8. Choclette says

    Thanks for your reply Janice. I guess I was meaning how do you present it as presents if it could be a few days between making and giving or giving and opening? I've never made biscuits as presents because I'm never quite sure what to do. You were talking about giving a box of shortbread?????


  9. Weekend Carnivore says

    Both look really good. I am going to have a go at making my own cranberry sauce this year but I can't decide on a recipe. I am thinking of making one a head and freezing it and then heating it up on Christmas morning to save time. I just have to figure out which recipe will work best for that and taste good too.


  10. LDH says

    Oh, yes, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas at your place. A yummy Christmas at that.

    I am posting a shortbread cookie tomorrow from my participation with Cooking With Dorie.

    They are similar to yours.

    Pretty Cranberry Relish too!


  11. Velva says

    You have your Christmas decor up, you baked shortbread cookies and prepared a delightful cranberry relish. If I bring a big pot of tea and coffee, can I join you to enjoy the decorations and the holiday treats?Happy Holidays to you!


  12. Uma says

    Thanks for road testing my relish Janice! Delighted it gets the thumbs up. I'm about to make another batch


  13. The imPerfect Housewife says

    YUMMMMMM – and yes, definitely real butter! I need to figure out those measurements though. I'm not sure what spiced cranberry relish is but if you can eat it on a biscuit, then I'm there! If you call cookies biscuits, then what do you call biscuits (like what we think of biscuits)? I just love it here ~ ♥


    • Outlander says

      In the UK a biscuit is crisp whereas cookies are chewy – a generalisation but all I can say is English & American are not the same language ! But then in Scotland a Cookie is a large yeasted bun (filled with cream and jam then dusted with icing sugar) whereas the same item in England is a Devonshire split.

      As our American cousins would say ‘go figure “?


  14. Margaret says

    I absolutely love the vibrancy of the relish!
    Shortbread biscuits look lovely too.


  15. Choclette says

    Thanks for the tip Janice. I had been thinking along those lines, but wasn't sure where to get the bags from.


  16. Giles says

    Your festive treats look lovely 🙂

    Will be making my Shortbread Biscuits for christmas too – think they were my second post on my blog!


  17. Bread and Jam says

    I would love to sample some of that shortbread. 🙂 Looks wonderful. Your post has me in the mood for holiday baking. Cute blog!


  18. Colleen says

    Love the pic of the relish, I make it almost the same but never thought to put it over cheese mmmm! Thanks for the inspiration!


  19. Cat says

    Just made these and they are absolutely delicious! So easy to make and so buttery and tasty. I will definitely be making these again – and soon! The best shortbread I’ve ever had.


    • Janice Pattie says

      Thank you for letting me know. It’s great to know that you like them as much as I do!


  20. Chloe Edges says

    I’m very easily led so I copied Cat (😂) and made a batch of these other day. I put orange zest in half and both batches are an absolute triumph – I can’t stop myself grabbing one everytime I go in the kitchen. Whoops!


    • Janice Pattie says

      Yessss! They are the most moreish shortbread biscuits. Thank you for letting me know how much you are enjoying them.


  21. Barry Edges says

    Lovely biscuits, very easy to make. Added some cocoa powder for choccy ones or some orange zest for a bit of a citrus kick. Best shortbread recipe I’ve ever used.


    • Janice Pattie says

      Thank you, Barry. Your variations sound delicious, I’ll definitely be trying the chocolate shortbread.


  22. Amie says

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter? Thanks, Amie. x


    • Janice Pattie says

      Hi Annie
      You can use either. I tend to use salted because that’s what I usually have in the house.


  23. Barry Edges says

    Made these, used baking marg instead of butter and they came out fine.
    Also made a batch of chocolate ones, substituted 40g of the flour with cocoa powder and they were great too.
    really nice and short with a lovely soft texture. Great recipe and very simple to do.


    • Janice Pattie says

      Thanks, Barry. It is a simple recipe and I’m glad you were able to adapt it with success.


  24. Sophie says

    I made these into festive shapes for my nephews to decorate with some simple icing. They had a great time and the shortbread was delicious!


    • Janice Pattie says

      I’m so glad they enjoyed decorating the biscuits.


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Scottish Shortbread Biscuits Recipe (2024)


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