These buttery cookies can be made with mix-ins such as orange or lemon zest, dried cranberries or apricots, pistachios or peanut butter chocolate chips.

Everyday Food, December 2004

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Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

prep:
25 mins
total:
1 hr 45 mins
Yield:
Makes 36
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms. Stir in desired mix-ins.

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  • Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of floured waxed or parchment paper. With floured hands, gently roll each into a 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Dividing evenly, sprinkle logs with desired coating if using, rolling log (to help coating adhere) and pressing in gently. Wrap logs tightly in the paper, and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (To store longer, wrap log and paper tightly with plastic wrap.)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs; with a serrated knife, slice dough 3/8 inch thick (if dough crumbles, leave at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes). Arrange slices, about 1 inch apart, on baking sheets.

  • Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cook's Notes

This recipe makes 2 logs of dough. The logs can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months (thaw before slicing and baking). To make 2 flavors with one recipe, divide the dough in half in step 1 before adding mix-ins (and use half the amounts given).

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Reviews (34)

198 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 52
  • 4 star values: 55
  • 3 star values: 60
  • 2 star values: 27
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: 5 stars
01/05/2019
I'm not sure why this recipe doesn't have a higher overall rating. It's super simple and makes a great little cookie! I make a couple of batches at once, vary the mix-ins, bake off one log, and freeze the rest when I need a little sweet to bring somewhere. They aren't too sweet, are perfect with a cup of tea or glass of wine. I use williams-sonoma dusting sugars on the outside for festive touches. Mix in mini chips, crushed peppermint, pistachios and orange zest, lemon zest... options are endless.
Rating: 5 stars
12/01/2018
I make these with the orange zest and dried cranberries, and I add pink peppercorns. They are absolutely delicious!
Rating: 5 stars
12/26/2017
Absolutely perfect just using the basic recipe! My new favourite biscuit and look forward to trying the variations. An added bonus is being able to freeze the logs!
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Rating: 5 stars
12/22/2017
It is my most requested cookie... we love all the variations of cookies you can make!
Rating: 5 stars
03/31/2017
This recipe is delicious and simple, basically, 1 bar of butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of flour! I roll the dough when I have time and bake whenever I want to. All of my friends loved it. Thank you, this is my fav!!
Rating: Unrated
03/14/2017
My new favorite cookie recipe.
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Rating: 5 stars
12/19/2013
Great recipe for even "bad" bakers like me. A note for fellow novices: the softness of the butter can dramatically affect the texture of the dough. Don't worry if your dough seems too soft to possibly roll or cut; the fridge is the great equalizer and all will come out well. Trust the recipe!
Rating: Unrated
02/22/2013
Thanks andyhp. These are wonderful shortbread cookies - good to know I can make lots at once.
Rating: Unrated
02/21/2013
I've made these for years and have doubled and tripled it and they always come out just fine.
Rating: Unrated
02/02/2013
Does this recipe work well if doubled? Has anyone tried?
Rating: Unrated
08/15/2012
I made these with chopped candied cherries and they were just like we used to buy at our favourite, now gone, bakery. Mmmm good!!
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2011
I make these every year. Ginger is my favorite. I also make the apricot pistachio. Very easy and very festive.
Rating: Unrated
09/25/2010
We do these every year, and everyone loves them. We do always end up making one roll of double pistachio (inside and out), and at least two with mini-chocolate chips and a good peppermint extract. I think I'm going to try dried strawberries and mini-white chocolate chips this year as well.
Rating: Unrated
02/21/2010
This could even be easier by one step...no need to roll out dough. Just drop into your wrapping medium and use it to form into log. Save a surface! We raided our maraschino bottle for cherries to chop, and the juice to substitute for vanilla. Happy birthday President Washington!
Rating: Unrated
12/06/2009
We love this recipe. Our favorite combo is mini chocolate chips mixed in and the outside rolled in crushed candy cane.
Rating: Unrated
02/20/2009
i've also tried pressing the dough into shaped molds - works well.
Rating: Unrated
02/20/2009
this is an easy, tasty and versatile recipe - lovely for the holidays.
Rating: Unrated
01/09/2009
These cookies really melt in your mouth nicely.
Rating: Unrated
12/06/2008
THis is such a great receipe ; I always go back to it when I want to create my own variations; tender cookies every time!
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2008
Thank You my G-ma made cookies for my boys when they were little to have with their milk coffee. I never got the recipe
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2008
I added these to our Christmas cookie list last year. They're fantastic!
Rating: Unrated
03/24/2008
Super and great shortbread recipe. Not dry at all - very moist. I made and froze and just pulled out over weekend to bake. Made 4 different logs. Dried fruit was a big hit and log with chocolate chips and nuts were super. Will definitely make again and keep in freezer for those last-minute emergencies.
Rating: Unrated
12/23/2007
I made these cookies (one batch with add ins of mini chocolate chips and one with grated (meyers) lemon rind and poppy seeds. I also made an older recipe of Martha's for basic shortbread with the ends dipped in semi sweet chocolate. They were a big hit at the cookie exchange that I went to and believe me I had a lot of competition. I have added these to my Christmas cookie menu.
Rating: Unrated
12/20/2007
These were so quick and easy and they have a fabulous flavor - I made the chocolate chip and also the cranberry-orange. Will definitely make them again!
Rating: Unrated
12/11/2007
First I made with poppy seed it was excellent but I think my poppy seed was not fresh enough and today Apricot
Rating: Unrated
12/08/2007
YUM!!!
Rating: Unrated
12/07/2007
These are so easy, and very tasty!!
Rating: Unrated
12/06/2007
Fayth, it's really pretty easy to fix. you just need to add Xanthum Gum. The proportions are 1/2 t per 1 cup of gluten free flour. happy baking!
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2007
Fayth - go to www.nearlynormalcooking.com and check out Jules Sheperd's new book. She also has a gluten-free baking mix. I wish Martha would have Jules on her show!
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2007
Fayth, try adding some extra gluten free flour (about 1/4 cup) and 1 tbs fiber, like physillum or potatofibers. Good luck!
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2007
I would LOVE this recipe BUT I need it to be Gluten free. It is really hard as a Mom trying to bake for all the school holiday parties, to find a good shortbread recipe. I have replaced the flour with Gluten free flour but the cookies are too crumbly...Any suggestions? Thanks
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2007
You can also roll the dough into 1 inch balls, dip in egg white, roll into chopped walnuts bake for about 10 minutes then take them out place your thumbprint into each, continue baking until lightly brown, when they're cool put whatever jam or jelly you like into the depression. Be sure to grease the pan.
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2007
We're having a cookie exchange at the office, and this recipe will make it easy for me to shop and make several different selections for the plates! Thanks for the idea!
Rating: Unrated
12/04/2007
these are simple and have the feel of days gone by. Really enjoyed them. with an English background these are the types we used to have
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