scottish shortbread

This simple recipe is my favourite. It's easy and traditional, mixed by hand and cooked slowly. Personally, I much prefer this grainy short texture of the rice flour & fineness of the caster sugar to other versions using icing sugar or an egg yolk added. The only moisture here should be butter. And perhaps citrus rind if you can't resist adding some with a tablespoon of poppyseeds for a modern take.

Traditional Shortbread


225 grams plain flour (with a pinch of salt added during sifting) ❤ 225 grams good quality unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)  ❤ 115 grams rice flour  ❤ 115 grams caster sugar

(citrus rind, poppyseeds, caraway seeds - all possible, optional additions to the mix)

Method + Tips

Preheat oven to slow 150°C (300°F)

Sieve flour, rice flour & sugar into a bowl.  Mix the butter in by rubbing it with your fingertips until it comes together. Takes a little time but worth the effort. Otherwise you could use a dough hook in your mixer.

Knead it a little while until a smooth paste forms. Place it onto a floured board or benchtop and roll out. Don't roll your dough out too thin.  They are lovely a little thicker rather than too thin. Make shapes, rounds or triangles as desired. Prick with a fork. Transfer to greased cold tray with a knife underneath them and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a slow oven until very pale golden. Never brown.


I'm often caught, trying to resist adding poppyseeds, citrus rind, candied peel or whatever fancy to the traditional shortbread dough. I was thrilled to discover that in the beginning, Mary Queen of Scots flavoured hers with caraway seeds. Who can argue with 16th century wisdom. I'm definitely going to try that next batch. Please let me know if you've tried it.

 In times past, Shortbread was considered an expensive treat, reserved as a luxury for special occasions like Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve) and weddings. We are so lucky nowadays that top quality local butter is inexpensive. The quality of the butter is paramount. Shortening is what this biscuit is all about.

Don't wait till XMAS, New Year or January 6 (National Shortbread Day)!  Thaw your butter to room temp & go for it!  It does get even better with some time so try not to eat it straight out of the oven. Give the butter time to rest & settle. Wait a day or two at least. Boil the kettle & bite in.