No winter holiday is complete without shortbread. Use this recipe as a blank canvas; straight-up butter shortbread is delicious, but can also be flavoured with citrus zest, warm spices or even tea.

Classic Shortbread Recipe


1 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar or 3/4 cup icing sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add flour, cornstarch and salt and stir until dough comes together.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Alternatively, shape dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. Then, on a floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4-inch thick, cut into shapes and press down on each with a cookie stamp or the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.

Cool on the pan or transfer to a wire rack.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

(Photo: Kevin Clark)

The Variations

Turtle Stuffed Shortbread Take a small piece of dough and wrap it around a chocolate Turtle, enclosing it completely. Bake for 20 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.

London Fog Shortbread Put 1 tbsp loose Earl Grey tea leaves into a small dish and pour just enough boiling water over them to cover (about a tablespoon or two); set aside for a few minutes, then pour off the water. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the butter, sugar and softened tea leaves until well blended and creamy. Add the flour, salt and constarch and pulse until dough comes together. Bake as directed.

Whipped Shortbread Use ¾ cup icing sugar and beat it with the butter for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale and light. Replace ¾ cup of the flour with cornstarch (omit the extra 2 tbsp). Roll into balls and press with a cookie stamp, or use a cookie press to shape the dough before baking.

Scottish Oat Shortbread Wedges Reduce flour to 1½ cups and add 1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats. Divide the dough in half and press each into the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan. Press down around the edge with the tines of a fork and prick it a few times on top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges. Cut into wedges while still warm, then cool on a wire rack.

Keep on baking! Read More: 5 Cookie Doughs, 24 Variations