Buttery Shortbread Cookies

When anyone mentions dessert, we tend to think of ooey-gooey concoctions dripping in chocolate, filled with creamy frosting, or drizzled in caramel. “Plain” old shortbread doesn’t usually come to mind. Well, these cookies are here to change all that. They are bursting with the flavor of butter, the aroma of vanilla, and a nice hint of background saltiness. When you bite into one, it crumbles beautifully in your mouth and then melts away as you chew.

These cookies are the perfect vehicle for jam. Or, like in the first picture, lemon curd. Or you can just smother it in frosting. But I feel like that would overwhelm the shortbread as a unique and delicious flavor all on its own. These are a great ending to a nice meal. Serve with coffee for dipping!

Adapted from Ming Tsai

Buttery Shortbread Cookies

makes 20 cookies

1 stick (8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
Scant 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2/3 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk
3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Beat in flour in 2 batches just until incorporated. Dough will be crumbly.
  4. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper about 12×12″. Turn dough out onto center of paper. Roll up into an even log, twist the ends, and chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 weeks.
  5. When dough is ready, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  6. Unwrap the log and cut into 20 cookies, about 1/2″ each. Dip one side of each cookie in granulated sugar and set on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or a baking mat 2″ apart.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest on cookie sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

The dough will be crumbly, but it comes together well and chilling helps keep it together.

One way to create a log is just to fold the parchment over and then roll until the dough cooperates.

This can be a little tricky. You can also use your cookie sheet. Hold down the edge of the folded parchment while pushing away from you and towards the dough with the side of your cookie sheet. You want to apply enough pressure to the dough to force it to fill the parchment. This method will get you a more even log.


Now wrap those ends up and throw it in the fridge!

After it’s chilled, cut the dough quickly. If it gets warm and mushy, it’s impossible to cut neat little circles.

Dip those suckers in sugar and place them on the sheet sugar-side-up.

There! Exactly 20 cookies! I made the one on the bottom left by mushing together the two pieces I cut off the ends of the log. They were all misshapen and gross, but I rescued them.

Bake until golden around the edges. These are perfectly cooked – dry enough to be crumbly – but not so much that you need a huge glass of milk to wash them down with. As a matter of fact, I prefer them with espresso or black coffee.

The light dusting of sugar is excellent — just enough to bring out the buttery, salty, vanilla-ey flavor of these cookies.

Leave a comment


  1. Lovely blog! Thanks for the useful information.

    This looks really tasty… I think I’m going to make it too!

  2. Thnaks Laura! Glad to hear you like it.

  3. I love this recipe too – although I tend to make a big batch and freeze the dough rolls. I found a really nice variation you might like – if you mix a little chai tea powder with the sugar and dip the dough rounds in that, you end up with a wonderfully exotic flavoured cookie!

    Cheers, Celia

    • Oh wow Celia, that sounds delicious! Thanks so much for the tip. I might just make a batch of it today 🙂

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