How To Make Simple Shortbread With 5 Variations

The recipe we are going for today involves making shortbread. Shortbread really is super simple, however fear not as you do have a wide ways to spice the standard recipe up! Now I love baking shortbread and found that once you have a base recipe, well you can totally get experiment and change it up as much as you would like.

To start our shortbread journey firstly we need to find out what is shortbread because if we don’t know what it is we cant possibly make it. Shortbread is a traditional Scottish biscuit made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. Of course it’s always good practice to add a portion of salt.

A Brief History Of Shortbread

Shortbread originated in Scotland, with the first printed recipe, in 1736, from a Scotswoman named Mrs McLintock. Shortbread is widely associated with Christmas because of it’s rich luxury taste. You don’t have to wait for Christmas it can be enjoyed all year around.

Shortbread Variety’s & 5 Add On’s To Shortbread

To take the standard shortbread and turn into something unique and special is super easy too! I have highlighted some of my top 5 variations that you may want to try:

  1. Herbs:

    A wide selection of herbs can be used in shortbread. For me Rosemary is a firm favourite. Thyme works wonders here too! Just because its Savoury Shortbread is can still be a sweet treat. – Chop 1 tbsp of your favourite herb and add to the dough at the bread crumbs stage.

  2. Getting Zesty: 

    What about adding some citrus? Grate the zest into your shortbread. Some zesty options include; Lemon, Orange & Lime. My choice would be orange because it works wonders when combined with chocolate. Just goes to show you can even get fruity on the route to shortbread delight. – Zest your fruity choice into the dough at the bread crumbs stage.

  3. Cocoa: 

    Who doesn’t like getting chocolatey? Simply swap a couple of tablespoons of your flour for coca powder and you have chocolate shortbread. You don’t have to stop with just the cocoa, remember the orange zest from getting zesty? Chocolate Orange Shortbread! – Take away 4 tbsp of flour & replace with 4 tbsp cocoa powder to create chocolate shortbread.

  4. Chocolate Chips: 

    Chocolate works wonders we know this so why not grab some chocolate chips and throw them in? It’s going to be delicious and you know it! Try picking your favourite chocolate bar and cutting into fine chunks too, or mix white and milk chocolate! The list really is endless.  – Add 50 g of chocolate chips once the dough is together and kneed in.

  5. Toppings:

    Does it just have to be about filings? Of course not, We can top shortbread with all kinds of delights. From a standard sugar topping to the chocolate dip. So many choices to make your shortbread sing. – Place 100 g of chocolate in a microwave bowl. Use 30 second burst in the microwave to melt mixing between each burst. Dip the shortbread to give a half / half chocolate effect.

Shortbread Shapes

So the list really is endless as to how you can shape your shortbread. The recipe here says to cut into 2 cm fingers. You could use any cookie dough cutter you like. Below you can see I have a few different shapes with my tea, I like a little variety in life. The only key to remember is to make sure to prick the shortbread all over.

Why Prick Holes In Shortbread

The main reason we would prick holes in shortbread is that it allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes.

shortbread and a cup of tea
Shortbread shape variety’s

How To Store Shortbread

Usually keeping shortbread longer than 5 minuets in my house is impossible, so many little fingers all reaching for the freshly baked joy. However if you are planning on making shortbread and want to save some then they keep really well in a biscuit tin. Perfect if you have self-control and can hold on to biscuits.

You can even freeze shortbread! If you are trying to get mega ahead for Christmas you could go wild and bake a ton of shortbread. Simply wrap the shortbread tightly in cling film and place in the freezer for up to 1 month.

The Standard Shortbread Recipe

A little brief on the recipe then. I have given you the inspiration for making your shortbread sing above so here I just wanted to get the basic recipe down. Most times I make shortbread it really is with a tbsp of chopped fresh Rosemary Its amazing. Vanilla works super well to and probably should have been in the list above!

Standard simple shortbread recipe

Prep Time23 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time53 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: scotish
Keyword: shortbread
Servings: 24 If everyone has just 1
Author: @mrjay_thehomecook


  • 225 g plain flour extra for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • 75 g caster sugar extra for coating
  • 150 g butter at room temperature and cubed


  • Preheat the oven to 150°c fan, Line a baking tray with baking paper
  • Add the flour, salt and sugar in to a large bowl and mix well. rub in the butter using your finer tips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. at this point bring together by squeezing and then turn out onto a floured surface. Kneed the mixture until its well combined and smooth with no wrinkles or cracks.
  • Cut the dough in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface to a 12 x 12 cm square around 1 cm thick. cut in 2 cm slices and then cut the slices in half to create 12 fingers. Repeat with the other dough to give 24 fingers
  • Place on a baking tray and prick all over with a fork. Bake in the oven for 30 minuets until the shortbread is golden and looks well risen.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm then leave to cool on a baking rack

To Conclude The Food

Simply done shortbread. You really can get creative with those variations. So remember, the key to finding the ultimate flavour combination is to get experimental! Happy Baking.




Homecooking | Baking | Recipe Sharing N.Wales UK

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