Shortbread Cookies

This shortbread cookie recipe has such a light texture that it almost melts in your mouth.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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Several months ago we attempted a New York Times recipe for a lemon confit shortbread tart. Like fellow food-blogger Deb, we had a miserable experience with the recipe. It was just too tart to eat. However, I had some extra dough from making the pie crust and decided to roll it out, cut some cookies, and see how they were. I rolled the cookies out pretty thin, much thinner than what is more typical of shortbread, and pulled them out of the oven just as their edges started to brown. They were so light, they practically melted on the tongue. My parents insisted that I make another batch the next day. I made several dozen. All of the cookies were devoured within 36 hours and I was not permitted to give any of them away to friends. If you are looking for something nice to make for your mom for Mother’s Day, these cookies may just be the thing.

Shortbread Cookies Recipe



  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice


1 Combine flour, salt, butter, and sugar in a bowl. Mix with your fingers until it forms flaky crumbs and lumps. Mix in the egg, almond extract, and lemon juice. Continue to mix until it clumps; at first it may seem very dry. Shape into two balls, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, refrigerate at least an hour, preferably overnight.

2 Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

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3 Let the dough sit at temperature for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to work with it. The dough may be crumbly; if it falls apart, press it back together. Allow to relax enough to become somewhat pliable before rolling out. Roll out a disk, one at a time, between two sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper), to a 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness, depending on how thick or thin you would like your cookies to be.

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4 Dip the edges of one side of your cookie cutter into flour and cut out your cookie shapes. If the rolled-out dough becomes too soft to work with, place it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. Place on parchment paper or Silpat on a cookie sheet, with at least 1/2-inch distance between the cookie shapes.

5 Bake at 350°F for 8-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies, until the edges are just slightly golden brown. Remove from oven. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Makes 3-5 dozen cookies, depending on how thick, and the size of your cookie cutters.

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Showing 4 of 23 Comments

  • radish

    Like so many, I too tried to make the tart and it was a horrible disaster. I didn’t even blog about it, but I was so dismayed with the results, I even tossed the rest of the dough. These cookies, however, look delicious – I’ll have to try them!

  • Ana

    I just made these cookies tonight and they really are fantastic. Yes, I wish I could make them a little softer (but my oven is bad anyways…) I baked them on a flat pan over foil becaues I didn’t have the non-stick paper.

    But the lemon was a really great touch. It gives it such an edge. Thank you very much :)

  • natalie tierney

    I loved these cookies so much. Here’s a good treat to do with them : melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a bowl, then just dip the cookies in and eat! It’s very very good, and fun to eat with friends! :)

  • Nick

    I have my wife make these every year at Christmas out of the leftover pie dough(we even make extra dough for them). As to Elise’s question, you can roll them a little thicker to make them softer. The thinner and lower the baking temp, the more crispy they are. I brush them with a little milk then add the cinn/sugar before baking them. The only time ours has lemon is when the dough is made for my lemon meringue pie. Other than that it’s basically the same. I love them! Been eating them for over 40 years now.

  • Gabby Kunnet

    These cookies looked great, but they were too crumbly. I had to add water to the dough, which still did not help.

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Shortbread Cookies