Vegan shortbread cookies, Scottish style, made with just 3 ingredients. All you need is flour, a good vegan butter, and sugar to make perfect shortbread! This is a long time favourite to make around the holidays and it's so easy that it can be made any time you want a sweet treat.
Scottish shortbread is traditionally made with only 3 ingredients, but I've listed several add-in options below.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Butter: use a good quality vegan butter in block or stick form. The spreadable type is too soft for vegan shortbread. I like Miyoko's.
- Flour: plain white flour. You can substitute a good gluten-free flour blend if needed.
- Sugar: icing sugar, sometimes called powdered or confectioner's sugar. You can make your own in a food processor or dry-safe blender by blending plain white sugar until it's powdered.
How to Make Vegan Shortbread
Step 1: add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: mix with an electric beater to combine.
Step 3: press into a lined square tin and prick all over with a fork.
Step 4: bake until lightly golden, for about half an hour.
- Choose a good quality butter: it's the main taste in this recipe, so it needs to be flavourful and not too high in liquid oils. Look for something that includes ingredients like shea or cacao butter.
- Use two pieces of parchment: two pieces of paper crossing over each other will make for much neater edges on the cookies than one piece, crumpled up in the corners.
- Make cut-outs instead: if you prefer round shortbread, roll the dough out to a half-inch thick and cut it into shapes instead. Bake for about 13-15 minutes but this will depend on size.
How to Store
Storage: keep in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freezing: transfer fully cooled shortbread to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
Shortbread is traditionally plain, but you can mix in any number of additions to suit your tastes. Try some of these:
- Vanilla: add it in with everything else (about a teaspoon). A quarter teaspoon of almond extract is nice too, as is a teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Crystallized ginger: finely chopped crystallized ginger and/or candied orange peel can be added for a spicy twist.
- Dried cranberries: this can make shortbread a little harder to cut, but tastes good. Chop the cranberries before adding.
- Lavender: a sprinkle of food grade lavender adds a nice floral twist. Blend it into the sugar in a food processor or dry-safe blender.
- Citrus: grate the zest of an orange, lemon, or other citrus fruit into the ingredients.
- Whole grain flour: replace up to half of the plain flour with something like red fife or sifted einkorn for a nutty flavour.
- Chocolate: dip half of the shortbread cookie in tempered chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts.
What shape should shortbread be?
You see examples of both fingers and rounds in historical examples, so either is good! It comes down to what you prefer.
Why does shortbread need holes?
Shortbread shouldn't rise while baking, and poking holes in it prevents the dough from puffing up in the oven.
Why is my shortbread crumbly?
Shortbread should be crumbly! Short means that the crumb is 'short' or in other words, very high in fat. This makes for a crumbly cookie that melts in the mouth. If it's so crumbly that it can't be sliced, it's probably due to reducing the butter content.
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- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing bowl
- Electric beaters
- 8-inch square tin 20 cm
- Parchment paper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vegan butter softened
- ½ cup icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with two pieces of overlapping parchment paper.
- Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix until just combined, using electric beaters on low speed.2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup vegan butter, ½ cup icing sugar
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly golden and fairly firm to the touch. Cool fully in the tin and slice into fingers once cool.
- Alternatively, chill the dough for two hours and then roll it out to ½ inch thick. Cut into rounds and bake at 325°F (160°C) for about 13-15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.