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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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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23 Comments / Reviews

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  • Emiko

    Thanks for this lovely recipe! (And all of your other ones as well.) These are a perfect paring for my lemon ice cream. As a note for those who hate to roll dough, as I do, this recipe worked perfectly well for slice and bake. Instead of two discs, I formed a single long log about 2.5 in. wide and wrapped in wax paper. After a night in the fridge, I sliced about 0.25 inch thick and baked. Not as pretty as shapes, but much less messy.

  • Jean

    Hi, thanks for this recipe! I just have one question: where did you buy you heart cookie cutters and how big are they?

    Oh my gosh, I made these such a long time ago that I don’t remember either where I got the cookie cutters or their size. I have lots of sizes in my collection. I’m sure you can find the cookie cutters online. Look for metal ones, they’ll work better than plastic. ~Elise

  • jaclyn505

    this was simple to make, the dough was pliable…when I baked them they were soft…but I didn’t like the taste a lil too tart!! Wondering if I can subsitute the lemon juice for anything?? Or leave it out with the same results?

    You can leave out the lemon juice. Or just reduce it to a teaspoon. ~Elise

  • AV

    This dough was perfect – I believe the ratio of the flour (3 cups) to the butter (2 sticks) is just right. Other recipes seem to have less butter or less sugar etc. Cookies turned out great – made me feel like a real chef…:)

  • Mary

    The dough turned out perfect for me! I didn’t have any many problems with crumbly dough. For me, I think what helped was pressing the dough flatter once it was in a ball in the plastic wrap. The cookies themselves look absolutely lovely, and taste delicious.

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Shortbread Cookies