This is the BEST recipe for buttery shortbread cookies, made even better with 4 delicious flavor variations!
This recipe is sponsored by Challenge Dairy.
Traditional shortbread is a cookie made with lots of butter, some sugar, and flour. It’s delicious just as it is, with crisp edges, rich flavor, and a melt-in-your mouth crumbly texture. Plus, shortbread is actually really easy to make, with only 5 ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen!
1 Recipe, 4 Variations
While I usually agree that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing, I don’t think that applies to shortbread. And you’re going to love these 4 flavor combinations— dark chocolate espresso, nutty cinnamon, white chocolate and toasted coconut, and cranberry orange.
You can choose to leave the shortbread plain (still delicious!), try all 4 variations, or choose just a few.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s everything you’ll need for the shortbread cookie dough:
- Challenge Butter— you can use unsalted or salted, but I prefer the additional flavor from salted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
For the optional mix-ins you’ll also need:
- Dark chocolate
- White chocolate
- Sweetened coconut flakes
- Nuts like pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or a combination
- Ground cinnamon
- Instant espresso powder
- Dried cranberries
- Candied orange peel
Why I Bake with Challenge Butter
Butter is undeniably the most important ingredient in shortbread, and one way to ensure that these cookies turn out their best is to use high quality butter. And that’s why I bake with Challenge Butter! It’s churned daily from the freshest cream from family-owned dairies, and ready to be shipped to the supermarket within just 24 hours of milking.
Not only is the butter super fresh, but it also comes from happy cows not treated with growth hormones, and it’s free of artificial preservatives, fillers or dyes. Challenge Butter tastes better, and that flavor comes through to help these shortbread cookies shine.
How to Make Shortbread Cookies
Let’s get baking, shall we?
1. Prepare shortbread dough. Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat longer until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until dough comes together. It will be quite shaggy but hold together when pressed.
2. Add mix-ins of choice. Divide dough into 4 bowls and add mix-ins. If you only want to make a only few of the flavor variations, divide dough accordingly.
3. Form dough into a log. Incorporate the mix-ins throughout the dough and work with your hands to press it together into a log about 4 inches in diameter. Wrap with plastic wrap, and while the dough should hold together, the plastic wrap can be helpful in keeping it all together.
4. Chill. Place wrapped shortbread dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week. Shortbread dough can also be frozen for a month or more (add another layer of plastic wrap or put in a ziplock bag).
5. Bake. Use a sharp knife to slice shortbread dough into ¼-inch rounds and place on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies at 350°F for 13-15 minutes just until the bottoms start to brown. For a crisper cookie, bake until edges start to turn brown.
If you’d like to add a little extra flair to these shortbread cookies, here are a few suggestions:
- Melted white or dark chocolate— drizzle over the top of cooled cookies, or dip a corner of the cookie. Place on parchment or wax paper to set up.
- Coarse sugar— sprinkle on cookies right when they come from the oven.
- Flaky salt— for a great sweet-and-salty vibe, sprinkle on cookies while they’re still hot.
Tips for this Recipe
- Starting with butter at the right temperature is key! Butter should be soft enough that a pressed finger will leave an indent, but not soft enough that your finger can press all the way through. If it’s shiny or melty at all, the butter is too warm and your cookies may spread.
- If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment as that’s the best tool for creaming butter and sugar.
- Be sure to measure flour correctly! All of my recipes are tested using the spoon and level method (more info through that link). Too much flour and cookie dough won’t hold together.
- These pre-cut parchment sheets are perfect for cookie baking.
- Shortbread keeps really well! The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for a month or more. Baked cookies can also be frozen— wrap individual cookies with plastic wrap or in a single layer in a ziplock bag.
- These cookies are also great for gifting and shipping, see my tips for how to package and ship cookies.
Shop Tools for this Recipe
4-in-1 Shortbread Cookies
- 1 ½ cup Salted Challenge Butter , at room temperature (3 sticks, 340 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (390 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies:
- ¼ cup chopped bittersweet or dark chocolate
- ¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder
For Nutty Cinnamon Cookies:
- ¼ cup chopped nuts , like pecans, walnuts, etc.
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For White Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Cookies:
- ¼ cup chopped white chocolate
- ¼ cup toasted coconut
For Cranberry Orange Cookies:
- ¼ cup chopped dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons candied orange peel
- Melted white or dark chocolate
- Coarse sugar
- Flaky salt
To Make the Shortbread Cookie Dough:
- Beat butter until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the bowl a few times as needed.
- Add flour and salt and mix until dough comes together. It will be dry and shaggy but should hold together when pressed.
To Make Flavor Variations:
- Divide shortbread dough into 4 bowls and add mix-ins to the bowls (see Notes).
- Use your hands to work the mix-ins into the dough and press it together into a log about 4 inches wide. Wrap each in plastic wrap, using the plastic wrap if needed to encourage the dough together.
- Chill in the fridge for 1 at least hour, and up to 1 week.
To Bake Cookies:
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F.
- Use a sharp knife to slice cookie dough log into ¼-inch rounds. Place rounds on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake cookies until they appear dry and set, about 12-15 minutes. The bottoms should be lightly browned underneath (lift a test cookie with a spatula to check). For crisper cookies, bake until bottom edges appear lightly browned.
- If adding coarse sugar or flaky salt, sprinkle over cookies when they are hot from the oven. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- If adding melted white or dark chocolate, drizzle over the top of cooled cookies, or dip a corner of the cookie. Place on parchment or wax paper to set up.
- The basic shortbread recipe is delicious if you don’t want to try the variations.
- Feel free to try all 4 flavor variations or just a few. The mix-in quantities above are intended to be combined with ¼ of the shortbread cookie dough. If you’re not making all 4 variations, adjust quantities accordingly (double, quadruple, etc.).
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Challenge Dairy, Inc. Thank you for supporting partnerships with brands I love and believe in, which make Completely Delicious possible. All opinions are always 100% my own. To learn more about Challenge Dairy, you can visit their website here. You can also find them on facebook, instagram, youtube, and pinterest.