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Scottish Shortbread. 4 ingredients to buttery perfection.

With only 4 ingredients these buttery Scottish shortbread cookies are one of the best examples of simple perfection. Maybe even more perfect with chocolate.

Scottish Shortbread stacked on a red plate surrounded by christmas decorations

Scottish Shortbread

Originally published Nov 2016. 

Last week we featured “Melting Moments“, the lightest shortbread that I had ever sampled. Today we have my personal favourite, Scottish shortbread.

Scottish Shortbread when well made is a great example of simple perfection. With only 4 ingredients it barely qualifies as a recipe but it is very rich and delicious just the same.

It is what my mom would call the perfect “cuppa tea bickie”!

Scottish Shortbread ready for the oven.

Scottish Shortbread ready for the oven.

Real dairy butter is an absolute must; this is not the time to substitute margarine. Proper vanilla extract and not artificial vanilla flavouring is also essential. The scraped out sticky interior of a large vanilla bean is even better.

Dark Chocolate Chips, to melt and dip the biscotti

Dark Chocolate Chips at 50% cocoa is my favourite for melting and dipping.

We usually chocolate dip half of what we make to have both versions on hand. This also qualifies as a terrific gift item as well.

There has to be more than a couple of people on any gift list who would really enjoy receiving these.

Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Shortbread close up photo of finished shortbreads on a white platter

Chocolate Dipped Scottish Shortbread

Looking for more Christmas cookie ideas?

If you liked this recipe you many want to check out this great collection of No Bake Cookies that was incredibly popular during our last Holiday season.

No Bake Christmas Cookies Collage with title text for Pinterest

Like this Scottish Shortbread recipe?

Be sure to browse the photo index of over 200 cookie and cookie bar recipes is in our expansive Cookies Category.

Scottish Shortbread on a red plate with title text added for Pinterest

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Scottish Shortbread stacked on a red plate surrounded by christmas decorations
Yield: 36 servings

Scottish Shortbread

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

With only 4 ingredients, these easy, buttery, shortbread cookies are one of the best examples ever of simple perfection.


  • 2 cups salted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour


  1. Cream the butter and sugar very well until light colored and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. Fold in the flour until a soft dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  4. Roll in balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour or roll out and cut into shapes as desired.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes until edges are golden brown. Allow longer baking time if you are baking the large rectangles of dough to be cut in fingers.
  6. These are simple perfection as they are but are also fantastic dipped in melted chocolate.
  7. See note for further instructions on shortbread fingers as shown.


Total time reflects chilling time for the dough.

NOTE: If you want to make the shortbread fingers as shown. A half batch of the dough fits perfectly into a parchment lined 8x8 inch pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan and smooth the surface.
Score the surface of the dough with a sharp knife to outline 16 fingers (4x1 inches each)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the edges brown. Leave the oven on, but cool in the pan for 20 minutes before lifting the entire batch out of the pan and cutting along the score marks into 16 fingers using a serrated knife in a sawing action. Be careful, they will still be warm and fragile.
Use an egg turner to transfer them to a cookie sheet and then turn off the oven and put them back in the warm oven for 20 minutes or so to crisp up a bit more.
Cool completely on a wire rack before storing them in an airtight container or cookie tin.
Take a wooden skewer and poke a half dozen holes in each finger, right to the bottom.
If you want to dip your shortbread in chocolate, simple melt together 1 cup chocolate chips and 3 tbsp whipping cream. Dip the shortbreads and lay them on a parchment paper covered tray until the chocolate sets. Put layers of parchment paper between layers of cookie if you are freezing them.

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Rock Recipes a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Our product recommendations are almost exclusively for those we currently use or have used in the past.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

36 servings

Amount Per Serving Calories 159Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 27mgSodium 81mgCarbohydrates 15gFiber 0gSugar 4gProtein 2g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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Bonnie S Davis

Friday 24th of December 2021

I'm having lots of trouble making this dough turn into a soft ball. It stays very crumbly. What am I doing wrong?


Wednesday 13th of January 2021

I am sure this comes out delicious but defiantly not authentic Scottish shortbread. Both my grandparents came over in the early 1900’s. I learned to make shortbread as a child. No salted butter and no vanilla ever.

Cindy Purchase/van der Graaf

Thursday 17th of December 2020

Merry Christmas Barry,,,

I have been receiving you recipes for more than a year,,,they are great,,i have tried numerous savoury dishes, I should have commented sooner,,I have been living in the Netherlands (Homebase) and other countries for about 15 years,,a lonely place at times for a Newfoundlander!,,especially how we love to cook and bake! My husband is Dutch,,took some time to get him used to my Sunday Dinner,,or I still call it my Homesick Dinner,,chicken with savoury stuffing, (Mount Scio)(sent by my sister in CBS,,when i am getting in a bit low). ,,and all the veggies,,and listen to this,,my Peas Pudding,,I use some bacon to offset not having salt beef! And also my big fat Yorkies,,,compliments of The famous Mary Berry,, ,He,,,loves it all,,I guess no matter how far away we are,,I still keep Newfoundland traditions sacred,,right down to the table linens,,Newfoundland Tartan,,and now at Christmas,,,Our Famous Mummers,,we nearly have them all and they are soon to be displayed!

Today I am trying out your Cream Cheese Pound Cake With Marachino Cherries and Orange Zest,,normally I make my mother’s Cream Cheese Apricot/Raisin Cake,,for my Husband’s two Aunties at Christmastime,,who are widowed and living in a home,,a small cake each in my new 7 inch Wilton Tube Pans,, and a bit extra for us in a small tin?

The taste of the batter is (Lekker) Dutch,,super tasty,,,with the orange zest,,the little cakes will be great,,,so the sought after Marachinos will be worth the effort,,each AUNTIE (one is 92 and the other is 86) both with sound mind,, will get a small bottle of Champagne,,and a box of Belgian Chocolates,,along with your lovely Cake in a nice basket,,personally delivered by us,,the staff will tell them,,,even though we are not allowed inside,,we are on a serious lockdown since Tuesday 15,,

Thanks so much for coming into my house every day with your great recipes,,always feels like Home when I check my e-mail!!! And puts a smile on my face,,

p.s. your daughter is lovely and her videos are great!

Cheers,,, Cindy Purchase/van der Graaf


Tuesday 15th of December 2020

Barry, I have just been told that I must eat gluten free (and right before Christmas too!). Is it possible to substitute g.f. flour in this and any other recipe? I do love a good shortbread cookie!


Tuesday 15th of December 2020

Barry----just read this and wonder----are you saying that the holes are poked in the AFTER baking? If so, won't that crack them? Plus, the photo of your unbaked fingers have holes in them. Clarification??

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