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Basic Shortbread

This buttery cookie gets better with age: It can be stored up to a month, and over that time its flavor deepens. Dip the tips of the cookies in melted chocolate for a decorative touch.

  • Yield: Makes 36 bars
Basic Shortbread

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television


  • 1 1/3 cups (2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan, and line bottom with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until just combined.

  2. Press dough into prepared pan, leveling and smoothing the top. Using a dough scraper or the back of a knife, cut dough lengthwise into nine strips, each slightly less than 1 inch wide. Cut the strips crosswise into thirty-six 3-inch bars. Using the tines of a fork or a wooden skewer, create a decorative pattern on the surface.

  3. Bake shortbread until evenly pale golden, but not browned, 70 to 85 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Invert pan, and remove parchment. Turn shortbread over, and carefully break, or cut with a serrated knife, into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Reviews (35)

  • Julia Deutsch 4 Jan, 2013

    Best shortbread ever! One of my husband's favorite treats. They really do get better with each passing day. I have made these many times and have never tweaked the recipe. After reading other comments I will definitely try the orange zest in the next batch!

  • Kathy Stone 23 Dec, 2012

    making now i hope they tasate yummy?Wish me luck?

  • PhotoJennie 11 Feb, 2010

    Simple enough. It's in the oven now. I added orange zest and homegrown dried lavender buds just for grins. It smells amazing. I should get snowed in more often! ;)

  • BonneMaman 1 May, 2009

    Never saw a shortbread recipe that whipped the butter and sugar before. I have always cut the butter in. Can hardly wait to try this.

  • lindastratford 16 Nov, 2008

    Is regular granulated sugar used? I usually use Fruit Sugar when I make shortbread. Thanks Linda

  • mellie08 15 Sep, 2008

    This shortbread is so easy!! Made a batch for my college-aged girls - they pack and mail easily, and the girls love them. Definitely will make them again.

  • rsvoboda 26 Aug, 2008

    Anyone know why these recipes aren't printer friendly? If they were smart they would format them to 3x5 cards like the Food Network does.

  • holycook 5 Aug, 2008

    Perhaps someone on the site can answer - per previous postings - why do these bake at such a low temperature (vs 350o) for so long? I tried to take them out after 70 mins and they seemed too soft, so I kept them in for 12 mins more. However, since they harden a bit as they cool, I'd do them for 70 mins next time, since the longer baking time makes them harder when they cool. What's the reason for a slow temp and long baking time rather than the usual process?

  • holycook 5 Aug, 2008

    Perhaps someone on the site can answer - per previous postings - why do these bake at such a low temperature (vs 350o) for so long? I tried to take them out after 70 mins and they seemed too soft, so I kept them in for 12 mins more. However, since they harden a bit as they cool, I'd do them for 70 mins next time, since the longer baking time makes them harder when they cool. What's the reason for a slow temp and long baking time rather than the usual process?

  • MWetzel 3 Aug, 2008

    Try tossing these cookies in some powdered sugar after they cool.If possible this makes them MORE AWESOME, your welcome ; )

  • sitisaleem 2 Aug, 2008

    I used Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil. The texture was very smooth. The results were melt in your mouth goodness. The older the cookie the more firm they become. Gingerhead, I too would like to use Splenda, but Splenda does not do well with heat. The small amount of sugar is nothing compared to the butter. Happy Dieting!

  • sbklak 25 Jul, 2008

    I think my comment may be related to maychin's comment. I baked them at 275 for 70 min. They taste great but are very crumbly and break easily into small pieces. I can't see how they would ship well as Christmas cookies. Any suggestions to prevent them from being so crumbly?

  • maychin 25 Jul, 2008

    Is the recipe correct - bake 70 -85 mins or is there a mistake?

  • gingerhead 22 Jul, 2008

    How do you adjust these to use Splenda? I'm dieting and love to take "treats" when we go camping. I take these, impress the socks off everyone, and not blow my diet.

  • kengin 22 Jul, 2008

    can i put lavender flowers in a container of sugar and use in the future instead of milling the lavender flowers

  • pilie 21 Jul, 2008

    How deeply should the cookies be cut before baked? All the way through or just half way?

  • 1Toffy 21 Jul, 2008

    Great tip on the Lavender Sugar. Thanks tons...

  • juneyg 21 Jul, 2008

    Spydyrgrrl, you can just take about 2 Tbsp. of dried lavender blossoms, stems removed. Process in a mini food processor until powdery. Add about 1 cup of granulated sugar. Process until well-blended. Store in airtight container.

  • tomahawkcook 21 Jul, 2008

    Spydyrgrrl, the lavender sugar sounds so wonderful, how do you make it? I grow a lot of herbs and mint, could I use those items?

  • gmanstickler 21 Jul, 2008

    Salted v Unsalted Butter

    Chefs on TV use unsalted butter so they can control the amount of salt in their recipes. Since salt is put into butter as a preservative it has a longer shelf life.

  • Henrie 21 Jul, 2008

    Can anyone tell me the difference between salted butter and unsalted butter for baking? I only buy the salted butter as I use it daily for toast, etc. I never have noticed a salty taste to anythng and have always used the regular amount of salt. Answer would be appreciated, thanks everyone

  • spydyrgrrl 21 Jul, 2008

    This is a great shortbread recipe! I like substituting flower sugars for the white sugar. My favorite is lavender sugar. While it may sound strange, it tastes fantastic!

  • amazgrac 21 Jul, 2008

    I am one of those who loves the occasional burst of salt flavor you get when eating shortbread. So, instead of using regular table salt in this recipe, I use the larger chunky sea salt. Thanks Martha, for this awesome recipe.

    Live would not be as full without shortbread cookies and Starbucks coffee :-)

    Peggy in Miami

  • ruckscrapper 21 Jul, 2008

    My recipe is very similar however I have a new twist that make s them even better. I use a stone to cook them in and I divide the recipe in half and put a filling in the middle at this time of year I use stawberry and rasberry jam, lemon spread is awesome too. In the summer it makes a delectable treat.

    Stephanie Ruckstuhl
    Woodstock NB

  • Marilyn13 21 Jul, 2008

    I make these every Christmas and dip them in chocolate. They store and ship very well and I never have leftovers. One neighbor said they were the best shortbread she has ever had. Needless to say she gets a batch every year!

  • MamaMarci 21 Jul, 2008

    Finally, one of my favorite cookies and i can make it myself, you rock Martha!!!

  • ejprior 21 Jul, 2008

    Martha's shortbread recipe is the best! I also adjusted it using Splenda for baking so my diabetic husband (who is addicted to these cookies) can enjoy them more. They are easy to make (forget storing them for a month -- they'll NEVER amke it that long!) and go well with everyone from a cup of tea to fruit to ice cream! Bake and enjoy!

  • Joeyannie1 18 Jul, 2008

    I omittied the vanilla I used salted butter (it's what I had) so omitted the salt. AWESOME! The texture of the finished cookie was just as great as the regular recipe.:D

  • Joeyannie1 18 Jul, 2008

    Then...I baked some for my DIABETIC husband using SPLENDA

  • Joeyannie1 18 Jul, 2008

    Deeeeewicious, as my 2 1/2 yr. old great-granddaughter says!! I loved the buttery taste too! I deviated a little and divided the dough into 3 equal pieces and refridgerated them. I took 1 roll at a time out to bake. I cut them into little circles while still firm and baked as directed.

  • JaniceDouglas 18 Apr, 2008

    I looked for years to find the ultimate shortbread recipe and this is it!! Even better than I'd hoped for. Caution...the chocolate is a wonderful touch but don't get too much on the bars. It can overwhelm the beautiful, buttery, delicate flavour of the shortbread. Milk chocolate dip is nice.

  • michellelee 18 Mar, 2008

    Great shortbread! Easy, crumbly and buttery! Will definitely bake it again.

  • inky86 4 Mar, 2008

    I felt that they needed more sugar.

  • tbenison 23 Dec, 2007

    Thank goodness for Martha's website. I was in a pinch to bake 'something' for Christmas this year -- not an easy feat for someone like me.

    I must say I was soooo very grateful with how well this recipe guided me on MY VERY FIRST attempt at making shortbread!!!! A HUGE THANK YOU from someone who is not talented in the art of baking -- or cooking anything for that matter. I must say these shortbread bars taste AWESOME that I can't believe I actually made them. Thanks Again!

  • plantitjanet 16 Dec, 2007

    i made these cookies last year and shipped them across the country to my family along with a mix of other holiday cookies. Not only were these the favorites for taste, but they also held up to the shipping process the best! Although i tried my best to protect the packages, some cookies arrived crumbled and in pieces, but not these! Plus, they still tasted fresh after the journey since i keep them in sealed containers as recommended.

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