Shortbread Cookies

Valentine's DayCookie

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

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 / Reviews

  • 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!

  • Scott D.

    Sounds great! Will this recipe work for cooking like brownies, all in one piece, about half an inch or so thick?

  • deb

    These are so adorable! I’m glad something good came out of that mess. In fact, I’d completely forgotten but I did exactly this, too, with some leftover scraps and remembered that they browned a bit more on the edges than I’d expected, and it was a very delicious thing. There are few things I love more than a simple shortbread cookie.

  • Donna A.

    It looks great! The pie crust with cinnamon sugar and butter was how we ate it. Sure brought back memories.
    Donna A.

  • Christina at Ramble Magazine

    What a great dough this is. It can be used for all sorts of things. Well, at least I think it’s the same I grew up with. If it is, a little too much tends to end up in my mouth before baking … and my American friends scream, “It has raw egg!!”

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Shortbread Cookies