These Vanilla Shortbread Cookies are crisp and buttery. They make the ideal sidekick for a cup of hot tea or coffee for any time of day sweet fix.
Easy Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Recipe
I've been a lifelong fan of Scottish shortbread. It's one of those "keep it simple" type of sweets to make. The bonus is not only the sweet buttery flavor but, I always have the ingredients on hand. To basic shortbread, you can add citrus zest, nuts, any flavor of baking chips or use different extracts to easily change the flavor profile.
How to Make the Best Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- Ingredients you'll need to make homemade Vanilla Shortbread Cookies: Butter, all purpose flour, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and turbinado sugar for the tops. (Sugar in the raw)
- Kitchen gadgets you'll need: A hand mixer or stand mixer, mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a sharp knife and pastry mat or non stick surface for rolling. You'll also need a sheet pan for baking.
- Start with butter that's been allowed to soften so that it's easier to incorporate with the sugar.
- There's no need to be concerned about over whipping the butter when creaming with the sugar. Allow a couple of minutes of whipping to get it right.
- Shortbread has no leavening included which means the dough expands less while baking. That said, do leave space between to avoid touching.
- When measuring the flour for this or any recipe, remember to always spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level. Never scoop, or it can become packed.
- Before baking, it's important to chill the dough to give the softened butter time to solidify after incorporating with the flour. Otherwise, it will melt too quickly in the oven and affect the end result.
- Classic shortbread is often pricked with a fork on top before baking. This has a purpose, it's meant to keep the butter from bubbling up while baking. I don't typically do that with this recipe, but you can, if you'd like to.
- I always shape this shortbread into squares. That said, this shortbread can be cut into any shape you like. If you prefer round cookies, form the dough into a cylinder and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. This can be done up to 2 days in advance and kept well chilled in the refrigerator. Slice, then sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake per the recipe.
- Store leftover Vanilla Shortbread Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
More Southern Style Cookie Recipes to Make
Whether you choose to whip-up a batch of these easy shortbread cookies or bake a pan of loaded cookies with lots of mix-ins, they're forever a favorite for kids of all ages to eat.
Other recipes you may like to try:
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are a classic that everyone loves.
- Easy Peanut Butter Cookies are the very first cookies I ever made.
- Turtle Cookies filled with pecans, melted chocolate and topped with a caramel drizzle.
- Loaded Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies are rich and buttery.
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are a holiday must make.
- Lemon Crinkle Cookies from Lauren's Latest.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp sugar in the raw or coarse sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla for 2 minutes, or until fluffy.
- Lower speed of mixer adding flour ½ cup at a time. Beat on medium speed until fully combined and a soft dough forms.
- Turn dough out onto plastic wrap. Knead gently just until smooth. Form into a disc and chill for 30 minutes.
- On a non stick surface roll dough into roughly an 8 x 8 square, ⅓-1/2 inch thick. (Lay a piece of wax paper on top to prevent it sticking to the rolling pin, if needed.)
- Cut into 2 inch squares. Place onto pan, at least 1 inch apart. Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. (You can also cut into 2 x 1 inch rectangles or use cookie cutters to make into any shape you wish.)
- Bake for 22-25 minutes until the bottoms are very lightly golden. Cool on the pan for a few minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Instead of rolling the dough could I just refrigerate the dough and slice into rounds?
From the narrative: I always shape this shortbread into squares. That said, this shortbread can be cut into any shape you like. If you prefer round cookies, form the dough into a cylinder and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. This can be done up to 2 days in advance and kept well chilled in the refrigerator. Slice, then sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake per the recipe.
dough is in the fridge!! So, excited! I will say after using a whole bunch of online cooking websites/forums. I am impressed by a couple of things from yours...1) you respond to people with thoughtful and real responses. Amazing! 2) you put all the ingredients and the basic form of instructions in one easy to get to spot!!for these reasons alone you are now at the top of my website list. If the cookies are good you'll be number 1.
Thank you so much for such a kind comment. I hope you find many recipes to enjoy!
Wow. I have tried many shortbread cookies and have been somewhat disappointed, so I halved this recipe to avoid wasting ingredients if I didn’t like them. Mistake … these cookies are absolutely delicious! They will now be my go to recipes for shortbread cookies. Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi Dee, I love these cookies, I'm so happy you did too! The dough freezes beautifully if you want to bake a half batch next time.
Anxious to try shortbread cookies.. made apple desert in crockpot.. delicious
I'm glad you enjoyed the Crockpot Apple Dump Cake, too!
Does this recipe need to be changed for Colorado-more flour, less flour?
If you need to make those adjustments with other cookie recipes then, you would likely need to apply the same rule to this one. High altitude baking does require tweaking of ingredients, baking temperature and time. If you try it, come back and let us know what you did and how it worked for you.
Can you substitute almond extract for the vanilla?
You can use almond extract. I wouldn't recommend using 2 tsp, in fact 1/2 tsp may be enough it's a very intense flavoring.