The best Scottish shortbread cookie recipe that tastes just like Walker’s is easy to make with just 3 ingredients! These are the perfect Christmas shortbread or anytime afternoon biscuit. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

A beautiful photo of traditional Scottish shortbread (like Walker's shortbread) cookies on a ceramic plate with tea cups in the background.

Growing up with Scottish and British family, we almost always had Cadbury Fingers and Walker’s Shortbread in the house. Buttery shortbread is still one of my favorite treats that I always indulge in at Christmastime. 

Scottish shortbread is easy to make and a beautiful cookie for afternoon tea or for giving to friends. 

What is Shortbread?

A traditional Scottish biscuit (cookie), Shortbread evolved from Medieval “biscuit bread,” which was the dried-out leftovers of bread dough. Biscuit translates to “twice baked,” just like the Italian version, Biscotti.

The Medieval rusk biscuits evolved with breadmaking practices and yeast was replaced with butter, transforming the biscuit bread into shortbread. This modern version of shortbread is often attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587). 

Shortbread was originally considered a luxury and reserved for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations, and still feels luxurious today. 

Shortbread is a delicious type of traditional Scottish cookie made with butter, flour, and sugar. Scottish shortbread cookies that taste just like Walker’s Shortbread are easy to make with just 3 ingredients! These are the perfect Christmas shortbread or anytime afternoon biscuit. 

The ingredients for 3-ingredient Shortbread cookies set on a marble counter: butter, flour, sugar, and salt.

How to Make Traditional Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients 

Traditional Scottish shortbread only requires three simple ingredients: butter, flour, and sugar. Because the butter flavor is the highlight of this cookie, it’s important to use good quality butter. You can use salted or unsalted, though if using unsalted you’ll need to add a pinch of salt. 

Shortbread Pan

Shortbread was traditionally made in three different shapes. One round cookie that was divided into rectangles resembling “petticoat tails”, individual round cookies, and “fingers” like in this recipe. 

I grew up making shortbread fingers, so I use a 9-inch square baking dish. There are some beautiful ceramic shortbread baking pans available, however, which would make special Christmas cookies. 

A square baking pan filled with shortbread cookies cut into rectangles. Another pile of cookies on a round ceramic plate with cups of tea on the side. A traditional Scottish cookie.

Vegan Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Can you make vegan shortbread cookies that taste the same? Yes! The traditional recipe doesn’t use eggs or milk, so the only swap you’ll need to make is to use vegan butter.

There are many great options these days from Earth Balance Baking Sticks to Miyoko’s. We tested this recipe with Miyoko’s and while the flavor was slightly different they turned out very well. 

A hand lifts a shortbread cookie off a plate.

FAQ

WHY IS IT CALLED SHORTBREAD? 

The high butter content is what makes shortbread short. This is a crumbly cookie without yeast or other leavening agents such as baking powder or eggs. Therefore, it remains “short” rather than rising or stretching. Similarly, Short Crust Pastry (pie crust) is made with just flour, butter, and water. 

WHO INVENTED SHORTBREAD? 

Mary, Queen of Scots is attributed to the modern version of shortbread cookies we see today. It’s said she loved petticoats, which is why the original cookies were shaped as petticoat tails. 

CAN YOU DECORATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES? 

While Scottish shortbread is traditionally plain or sprinkled with a dusting of sugar, you can decorate them. You can decorate shortbread by dipping one end into melted chocolate after they have baked and cooled. Kids might enjoy decorating them with icing and sprinkles for Christmas. 

HOW TO STORE SHORTBREAD

Stored shortbread in a dry environment in an airtight container at room temperature or refrigerator for about 7 days. 

CAN YOU FREEZE SHORTBREAD COOKIES? 

Yes, you can freeze shortbread cookies in an airtight container for up to three months. Bring to room temperature before serving. 

CAN DOGS EAT SHORTBREAD COOKIES? 

While my dogs shared one of these shortbread cookies and loved them, I don’t recommend making these for dogs. The sugar and fat content is not healthy for them, though it shouldn’t be toxic in small amounts. Here are some Dog Cookie and Dog Ice Cream recipes. 

More Cookies to Try 

Yield: 21 cookies

Scottish Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

These traditional Scottish shortbread cookies are a copycat of the favorite Walker's Shortbread and use the same ingredients - just flour, sugar, butter, and salt. They are a delicious not-too-sweet biscuit for tea or dessert.

A plate of Scottish shortbread (Walker's Shortbread Copycat) on a marble countertop.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (if using unsalted butter)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Butter and sugar are creamed together in a KitchenAid mixer.
  3. Slowly add the flour until completely incorporated. Flour is added to butter and sugar in a mixer.
  4. Press the dough into the prepared baking pan. Chill for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Scottish shortbread dough pressed into a 9-inch baking pan.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until just beginning to turn pale golden in color. Baked Scottish shortbread on a cooling wrack.
  6. Cut into 1x2 inch rectangles while still warm and let cool completely in the pan before removing. A square baking pan filled with Scottish shortbread that has been cut into 1x2" bars.

Notes

Shortbread cookies keep well. Store them in your cookie jar or airtight container for up to a week. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.

If you like your shortbread dry and crunchy (like Walker's) bake for 35 minutes until they are a deeper golden.

Vegan Shortbread: Feel free to use vegan butter such as Miyoko's or Earth Balance Baking Sticks.

Gluten-Free: I have not tested this recipe using gluten-free flour. Let us know if you try it.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 21 cookies Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.