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Crisp, buttery Shortbread Cookies have a lightly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes them hard to stop eating. These cookies are easily made gluten-free and are perfect alongside a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk.
Delicious Details at a Glance
Cuisine Inspiration: Scottish
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: Gluten-free, Nut-free, Egg-free
Skill Level: Easy
For tender, buttery shortbread cookies look no further than my gluten-free version. This is the only gf shortbread cookie recipe you’ll need, and it is the best! The secret to an incredibly smooth dough is powdered sugar, which blends effortlessly into the butter and flour. This creates an irresistible little cookie that can be eaten plain or topped with your favorite frosting or a drizzle of melted chocolate.
Why You’ll Love These Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread cookies are one of those cookies that seem so plain yet when you take a bite the buttery flavor bursts into your mouth and you absolutely can’t stop at just one. Here’s why you’ll love these gluten free shortbread cookies:
- Just 5 ingredients are needed. A glance at the ingredients list will show you that these are unfussy cookies. They’ll need just 5 ingredients to pull the dough together!
- A classic for a reason. The melt-in-your-mouth texture of shortbread cookies is why they’ve become a beloved staple.
- Easily made gluten-free. Shortbread cookies are easily transformed into being gluten-free. You’ll just need to use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend and you’ll be all set.
- Perfect for edible gifts. I love tucking gf shortbread into holiday cookie tins or packaging them up and giving them away to friends as edible holiday gifts.
Shortbread Ingredients and Substitutions
You need just a few ingredients to make these wonderfully tender cookies! Here’s a rundown of everything needed for the recipe. Don’t forget to check the recipe card at the end of this post for the full ingredient amounts.
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar sweetens the shortbread dough without any of the graininess that could come from granulated sugar.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter in my baking so that it doesn’t overpower the sweetness of the cookies. You can use vegan butter.
- Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract will give the best flavor and will give the cookies a hint of flavor to balance out the sweetness.
- Gluten-Free Flour Blend: You can use your preferred blend of gluten-free flour. I used King Arthur Measure for Measure.
- Salt: Fine-grain sea or table salt works well.
Variations and Additions
- Dress them up with frosting. Shortbread cookies are perfectly wonderful when they’re enjoyed plain, but it’s fun to add frosting to them! Try my Lemon Buttercream Frosting or Homemade Chocolate Frosting on top.
- Add a drizzle of melted chocolate. Melt 4 tablespoons of semisweet chocolate and then drizzle the tops of the cookies evenly with melted chocolate.
- Stir in some lemon zest. To make lemon-scented shortbread cookies, stir in the zest of one lemon into the dough. You can also try this with lime or orange zest.
Simple ingredients and a simple method yield incredible results. Follow along with my method for gluten free shortbread cookies below:
- Make the dough. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla. Beat in the flour and salt until a thick dough forms.
- Chill dough. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, press in the dough, and refrigerate.
- Prepare. Preheat the oven to 300℉. Remove the dough from the fridge and prick the surface all over with a fork.
- Bake. Bake the shortbread for 20 minutes, then score the shortbread quickly and return to the oven to bake until the edges are golden.
- Cool. Cool in the pan then cut into pieces.
- Bring the butter to room temperature. Take your butter out of the fridge so that it can come to room temperature before you start putting together the cookie dough. Softened butter will better incorporate into the batter, making for an even better cookie. I’ve got an entire article that gives your tips and methods for how to soften butter.
- Make sure to chill the dough. While you want softer butter when you make the dough, it’s important to chill the dough thoroughly afterward. If you bake the cookies right after you make the dough, the softness of the butter will cause the cookies to spread out too much while they’re baking. Resting the dough in the fridge will let the butter solidify and then bake up into a more structured cookie.
- Prepare the dough in advance. You can store the dough, tightly wrapped, in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 1 month. If you freeze it, you’ll need to defrost the dough in the fridge before you plan to bake it.
Before baking, you want to prick your shortbread with a fork. The holes allow steam to escape. This ensures even cooking and the crumbly texture you are looking to achieve and prevents the cookies from buckling in the pan.
The edges will be golden and the center will be set and no longer wet-looking. You do not want it to appear raw. This means it will likely stick when trying to remove it.
No, for this recipe you do not want cold butter. Make sure it is softened to room temperature so that it better incorporates into the dough. However, it is essential to chill the dough to firm it up again before baking to keep it from spreading too much.
Shortbread cookies keep well. Here’s how to store them:
- Counter – Store your shortbread cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 7 days.
- Fridge – Shortbread will keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
- Freezer – To freeze gluten free shortbread cookies, place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container or freezer bag and place them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the cookies in the fridge and then bring them to room temperature before eating.
How to Enjoy Shortbread
There’s nothing wrong with simply dunking your shortbread in a cup of tea, or adding it to a cookie platter. But you have other options too.
- Make a crust. Follow the instructions for a graham cracker crust to make a cookie crust for pies and cheesecakes.
- Use in desserts. Try it in place of ladyfingers in Tiramisu or in place of the vanilla wafers in Banana Pudding. Or just layer it up with your favorite pudding and some whipped cream to make a trifle.
- Serve with dips. They are a nice, blank canvas for scooping up Cheesecake Dip or even just some Fudge Sauce or Caramel Sauce.
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar / 80 grams
- 10 tablespoons butter / 142 grams, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cup gluten free flour blend / 222 grams (I used King Arthur Measure for Measure)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat for about 30 seconds more. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the gluten free flour and salt. Stir together on low speed until it is combined into a thick dough and all of the dry ingredients are incorporated
- Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.Remove the dough from the bowl and press it into the baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300℉.
- Remove the shortbread dough from the refrigerator and dock the top with a skewer or fork tines. You can also mark the top with lines for cutting later.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and quickly score the shortbread with a sharp knife. Return to the oven for another 25 minutes until the edges are golden and the center is no longer wet looking.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then turn out onto a flat surface, like a cutting board. If needed, cut the shortbread again at the score marks. Allow to cool completely before serving.