How to make perfect Scottish Shortbread, only 4 ingredients this is one of the easiest dessert recipes around. Easy to double or triple so a perfect dessert for a crowd. Brown Butter Shortbread is perfect for a party or cuddled up with tea!
Growing up my mom always made treats for our teachers. One of the more frequent desserts she made was Scottish Shortbread. This is something so symbolic of my childhood and Christmas time. Only because we ALWAYS have it at Christmas but many other times throughout the year as well. We also have Yorkshire Puddings every Christmas.
Shortbread is so simple. Butter, sugar, flour & a pinch of salt. I am pretty sure you already have those ingredients in your house, am I right? While my mom's Scottish Shortbread Recipe doesn't call for browned butter, I had to try. Can't leave well enough alone, can I?
If you love British recipes make sure to check out my Shepherd's Pie Recipe.
*The recipe quantities have been adjusted as I have had a few people have results with extra crumbly bars, keep in mind shortbread is a crumblier cookie bar to begin with*
You're welcome. The brown butter addition was SOOO amazing. Luckily I made a small batch in a 9X13 pan, normally we make a jelly roll pan or baking sheet pan. Since I am no longer working at the restaurant I am trying to not bake as much as I used to. Fewer people to go around means I eat more. And my yoga pants are getting tighter!
Shortbread is thick, crumbly, buttery, sandy, not too sweet and snaps. I use my stand mixer but a good 'ole bowl works perfectly as well. Dump everything in the bowl and mix until the butter is pea-sized. The only difference here is you need cold browned butter so it's not as easy as grabbing the butter out of the fridge. Luckily for me, a friend gave me a load of this Black & Bolyard Brown Butter , while it's great to already have it, I also brown a big batch of butter and keep it in the fridge to use in recipes that call for cold browned butter.
So for those of you that want to make your own brown butter for this recipe, I suggest you make it the night before, you could also make it the day of- just needs time to chill. For me, I love prepping things the night before like cinnamon rolls or cheesecake.
Let's get to the recipe.
You only need a few things:
- All-Purpose Flour. Make sure you measure your flour properly. I highly suggest using a scale to measure the flour by weight as opposed to volume in a measuring cup. If you are going to measure with a cup then use a spoon to add flour to the cup then use a knife to scrape the top of the cup so that there is a full, but not overly-full cup.
- Cold Browned Butter. This measurement is the amount of cold butter you are putting into the shortbread. You need the full 8oz, so brown more than 8oz of butter since browning butter causes some of the liquid to evaporate.
- Granulated Sugar. You'll use the sugar in the shortbread recipe twice. In the actual cookie batter and again on top after the shortbread has baked.
- Salt. Just a bit helps enhance the other ingredient's flavors.
Baking is a science and to really achieve the best results I highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale. This OXO Kitchen Scale is the one I use and is also the number one recommended kitchen scale by Cook's Illustrated. Think about it -what one person scoops into a "cup" is completely different from what someone else scoops!
How do you make brown butter
If you want to see step-by-step photos on how to make brown butter check out this post dedicated to the art of browning butter.
Keep in mind the butter foams up while cooking so you will need a fairly large pot, the more butter you add the bigger the pot you will need. For this recipe you need 8oz, or 1 cup, of brown butter. Also keep in mind some of the butter evaporates while cooking so you'll want to account for 1oz per 4oz stick evaporating. So for this recipe brown 10oz of butter.
Sometimes I just make one really large batch of brown butter and use a huge pot then keep it in the fridge and it's ready to go.
Add the butter to a heavy bottom saucepan and cook it over medium heat. DO NOT WALK AWAY! Once the butter burns there ain't no going back. Use a wooden spoon or whisk and mix the butter constantly. The butter will melt, foam up, and then begin to brown, and when it's browning it will go quiet and you will start to smell a nutty aroma. You will see flecks- those flecks are the money!
As soon as you see the flecks take the butter off OR if you want to push the limits and get more brown flecks then turn the heat down and keep stirring a little bit longer. Pout into a heat-proof container to cool then cover and chill. The butter needs to resolidify before you can make the shortbread.
I prefer to stir the butter once every 15-25 minutes or so while its chilling in the fridge to keep the brown bits mixed throughout, otherwise they all sink to the bottom.
How do you make shortbread
Start by preheating your oven to 350F/180C and get a 9X13 pan out- no need to grease it- there will be plenty of butter in the dough!
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a regular medium-sized bowl add the flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Mix on low/medium speed or use your clean hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is mixed in and pea-size pieces.
Transfer the dough to pan and press down evenly. Use a rolling pin or in a pinch I've used a wine bottle 😂 to roll the shortbread dough to ensure its tightly in the pan. Using a butter knife score the shortbread into whichever size pieces you want. Scoring up and down and across. Scoring is basically just marking the shortbread, you are not slicing all the way through.
Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges. Once baked cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Sprinkle sugar on top and shake pan side to side to distribute the sugar evenly. Cut on the previously scored marks and let cool completely then store in an airtight container. The shortbread lasts for up to a week. But it's never lasted more than 2 days in my house!
Check out this post on my Cookie Baking Tips
Tea party recipes
This Brown Butter Shortbread is the perfect treat for a cup of tea but is also perfect to bring to a party. I often make my Curried Chicken Salad Recipe, Mini English Sherry Trifles, Real Clotted Cream, English Scones and Egg Salad for tea parties as well. The Brown Butter Shortbread can sit at the table uncovered and not lose any of its spectacular-ness!
This brown butter shortbread is also perfect for homemade gifts, especially at Christmas time! If you want multiple homemade gifts try making my Amaretti Cookies.
★★★★★ Please let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a star rating and comment below!
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- 469 grams (3 ¾ Cups) All-Purpose Flour/ Plain Flour
- 175 grams (Scant 1 Cup) Granulated Sugar/ Caster Sugar
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 12oz (1 ½ Cups) Cold Browned Butter, previously browned and chilled**
- 3-5 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar, for sprinkling on top
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C and get a 9"X13" pan out- no need to grease it.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a regular medium-sized bowl add the flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Mix on low/medium speed until the butter is mixed in and pea-size pieces of butter are left OR mix by using your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. If you grab a handful of the dough you should be able to squeeze it in your hand into one piece.
- Transfer the dough to the pan and press down evenly. Use a rolling pin or glass to roll the shortbread dough to ensure it's tightly in the pan. Using a butter knife score the shortbread, basically marking the shortbread - you are not cutting all the way through, into whichever size pieces you want. Scoring up, down, and across. Prick all over with a fork. If your fork sticks and pulls some of the shortbread up then gently use your clean finger next to the fork as you press down to kind of hold the shortbread in place.
- Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown on edges. Once baked cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Sprinkle sugar on top and shake pan side to side to distribute evenly. Cut on the previously scored marks and store them in an airtight container. Last for up to a week.
Brown 15oz of butter to get 12oz of browned butter for the recipe
Double Recipe for Jelly Roll Pan (12X8X1)- bake for 20ish minutes/until golden brown on edges
Triple Recipe for USA Baking Sheet(18X13X1)- bake for 25ish minutes/until golden brown on the edges
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 35
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: english dessert recipes, Scottish shortbread
Recipe courtesy of my amazing Mom