Short Bread Cookie Recipe

I used to think a short bread cookie recipe was pretty straight forward, and it is if you have proper directions. That was not the case the first time I made them though. One of my very best friends came to visit for the weekend and we decided to try our hand at my family’s age-old recipe only to find our efforts had quickly gone awry.

My friend and I are both quick to call ourselves home-cooks but baking is a different story. Let’s just say we didn’t know how to interpret and read between the lines. In the end, the cookies tasted delicious though, and that’s all that really matters.

You see, the family recipe card we were going off of listed all the ingredients then simply said “Mix well.” Well anyone who has baked a batch of cookies before knows that you’re supposed to mix ingredients in stages and there is a precise order to how they are combined.

We didn’t know this. As our biceps were aching from stirring a powdery bowl full of floury mess for way too long we decided to consult the all-knowing internet. It confirmed our suspicions that there was a better way. After some quick-on-our-feet thinking we placed our metal mixing bowl over low-heat which was enough to melt the butter and allow the ingredients to mix properly.

Our bellies were aching from laughter at how incompetent we must have appeared and how generations of women were laughing at us. This was just about the time my Mom came home from work and shamed us even further. Then she spilled the beans that her grandmother had given her the recipe and that she made the same mistake the first time she made short bread cookies!

I guess it was a right of passage but I’ll be sure to spare you the troubleshooting in my short bread cookie recipe. All details are disclosed here!

Short Bread Cookie Recipe


  • 1 pound of unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 5 cups of flour
  • pinch of salt


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together. All this means is that you mix the very soft butter with the sugar until it becomes the consistency of wet sand.
  2. Slowly add the flour, a little bit at a time while you continue to stir the mixture. It helps if you have two people for this. This sounds simple but actually takes quite a bit of mixing so be prepared.
  3. Once your cookie dough is the consistency of, well...cookie have an option. You can either press it flat into a bar pan or cookie sheet with edges, ungreased is fine because there is so much butter in the recipe. Then prick it all over with a fork. This is the traditional Scottish way of making short bread. It will come out in a sheet which you then break off into squares.

    Or you can roll the dough out using a floured rolling pin to ¼ inch thickness and use cookie cutters to make fun holiday shapes. (Sprinkles tend to be more commonly used on sugar cookies but I don’t see why they should have all the fun so I sprinkled away on my short bread cookies.)

  4. Once you have your cookies on your cookie sheet, pop them in the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 250°.
  5. Bake the cookies until you can smell them and they start to look golden on top which should take about 30 minutes or so. Keep an eye on them as they near the end because overcooking can dry them out and make them tough and hard.

I hope these directions are thorough enough for you and that the first time you try out a short bread cookie recipe it's an easier and more enjoyable process than when I tried it. With this as a guideline I'm sure your baking adventures will turn out perfectly every time!

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