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All Butter Irish Shortbread


This All Butter Irish Shortbread recipe is a 3 ingredient Shortbread recipe, making it easy, quick, and in my personal opinion -the best! All butter Shortbread is moist with crumbly tenderness, buttery deliciousness and it will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth without being overly sweet. This is a 321 Shortbread recipe. This means the proportions of the 3 ingredients are set, so it’s easy to increase or decrease the yield.

Shortbread is that cookie that everyone recognizes but nobody bakes. Maybe they didn’t have a good recipe – now they do! File this traditional, rustic Shortbread recipe, in your recipe collection under ‘new favorite cookie.’

Are Shortbread cookies hard to make? Absolutely not – this easy Shortbread recipe is baked in a round pan / tin and then cut into rounded triangles. There’s no kneading, rolling out or cutting. It’s quick too – from start to finish it takes me 5-10 minutes every time.

I am known far and wide as the ‘Shortbread Lady.’ I’m fine with that!

  • It only uses 3 ingredients, that are easy to purchase, store and work with.
  • Just use a food processor, or complete the recipe by hand (however, this will take longer.)
  • In the ‘Tip From Me’ section below, there is advice how to make this Shortbread recipe even easier and how to get the best result – scroll down ⬇️.
  • There’s more than one use for Shortbread (scroll down), don’t just save it for your morning coffee.
  • The step by step instructions, complete with pictures, mean you can’t go wrong!
  • Use this All Butter Irish Shortbread recipe as a launchpad for alternative flavors, styles and ingredient substitutions.
  • Includes a recipe how to make the Shortbread in a ceramic Shortbread mold.

Why Are Shortbread Cookies Called Shortbread?

The ‘short’ in Shortbread is an old but technical term, it means ‘having a crumbly texture’. This happens when the fat (the butter) hinders the formation of long strands of protein in the gluten found in the flour. Lengthening gluten strands is the goal when kneading bread. It will not occur if there is a high content of fat, which there is, in Shortbread. The term ‘short’ is also used when making shortcrust pastry.

Are Shortbread And Butter Cookies The Same?

Absolutely not. I have been comparing Shortbread and butter cookies for years and here are my two cents’ worth:

  • Butter cookies typically contain more than 3 ingredients. Additional ingredients are usually vanilla, eggs and possibly milk and even sprinkles. These additional ingredients change the flavor and texture of the cookies.
  • Butter cookies usually have a different presentation than Shortbread. Shortbread is recognizable , when it appears as little discs, fingers or petticoat tails (the way I present my Shortbread.) I have seen many butter cookies created from a cookie press.

3 Ingredient Shortbread Recipe

And the 3 ingredients used?… drumroll please….

This is a 321 recipe for All Butter Irish Shortbread. 3 stands for the proportion of flour used, 2 is for the Irish butter and 1 is for sugar.

  • Salted Butter: I recommend using Irish grass fed butter for a superior flavor. Kerrygold is usually easy to get. Use any salted butter if grass fed is not an option.
  • Sugar: white, granulated.
  • Flour: white all purpose (plain flour.)

Instructions How Shortbread is Made

This is an easy Shortbread recipe, using 3 ingredients and a food processor.

Cut up room temperature Irish butter into chunks and add them to the food processor bowl.

Add the sugar. Close the lid.

Pulse for a minute or two until the 2 ingredients become creamy. (As it turns in the bowl, it looks ‘ropey.’)

Add the flour, just dump it in! Replace the lid.

Pulse again for a minute or two until a dough ball starts to form. Don’t try to get all of it in a ball of dough. Stop once you see the dough ball form.

Prepare your pan of choice. Use a 8 or 9 inch pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides well with butter. See the section ‘Shortbread Recipe For a Shortbread Mold’ for more information if you are using a Shortbread Mold instead of a pan.

Empty the contents of the food processor bowl into the greased pan.

With a floured hand, even out the Shortbread in the pan.

Use the heal of your hand to ensure the surface of the Shortbread is even.

With a fork, mark ridges along the edges, and fork prints across the surface. This will take care of any air bubbles that might form.

With all the fork prints made, place the Shortbread in a preheated 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C for about 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven when it takes on a little color. Allow to cool before cutting. Sprinkle on a little granulated sugar.

Flexibility with Irish Shortbread

Substitute the white granulated sugar with powdered (icing) sugar instead. This affects the texture creating a finer closer crumb in the biscuits (cookies).

Natural sugar substitutes can also be included. Read the instructions on their packaging how to successfully swap out the sugar for the sugar substitute.

I would not recommend using self raising flour. The presence of the baking powder will encourage the biscuit dough to rise and that is exactly what you don’t want to happen.

Sometimes cornflour (cornstarch) is used in addition to the flour, with the cornstarch not exceeding 25% of the entire quantity of flour needed. The cornstarch works just like the powdered sugar producing a finer crumb.

Baking margarine or shortening can replace the butter, but to be honest it’s not worth it. The attraction of this Shortbread is due to the butter! That’s why I like to use grass fed butter like Kerrygold.

Non salted butter is a substitution candidate, but I would not recommend foregoing the salt. Use non salted butter if you want to control the amount of salt you want added, or perhaps you want to use a Celtic sea salt or other type of salt.

All Butter Irish Shortbread can be kneaded on a floured board and rolled out. Use a knife to cut long rectangles of Shortbread. These are known as Shortbread fingers. A cookie cutter can also be used to cut out individual Shortbread biscuits (cookies). My recipe has a no knead approach. The dough is placed directly into the round baking pan. Once baked, it is cut into wedges sometimes referred to as petticoat tails. Petticoat tails is the common presentation for Scottish shortbread.

Shortbread Variations

This recipe is for a traditional Shortbread, however adaptations can be made to this recipe to make variations of this Shortbread, such as:

  • Almond shortbread cookies: these are considered Danish where the plain / all purpose flour is substituted for almond meal / flour. Add almond essence for an added flavor boost. Use the 3 ingredient Shortbread biscuit (cookies) recipe to have an almond flour Shortbread recipe.
  • Almond cherry: Make the almond Shortbread and add 2 oz / 55g of dried cherries to the dough.
  • Cranberry orange: Shortbread recipe + 1 tbsp of orange zest and 2 oz / 55g of craisins (dried cranberries.)
  • Chocolate Shortbread: Shortbread recipe + 4 oz (110g) of milk or dark chocolate shavings, chips or chunks.
  • Earl Grey Shortbread cookies: Shortbread recipe + 4 tbsp of fresh, loose Earl Grey tea leaves.
  • Lemon Shortbread: Shortbread recipe + 2 tbsp of lemon zest.
  • Shortbread fingers: are a style of cutting the Shortbread into rectangles rather than in wedges like I did.
  • Shortbread bits or bites: cut Shortbread dough into small squares or diamonds to make bite size cookies.

All add in ingredients, should not be placed in the food processor unless you want them pulverized to form a ‘fleck’ in the Shortbread. Instead add them to the ready formed dough.

A variation of this All Butter Irish Shortbread recipe is the 3 ingredient brown sugar Shortbread recipe. Simply substitute the white sugar with brown on a one to one ratio. The end result will be a Shortbread with a darker color and a slight flavor of molasses.

Another recipe is 3 ingredients vegan Shortbread. With this recipe substitute the butter with your favorite vegan spread or shortening. The goal is to match the fat content of butter, which is 80%.

Use a Shortbread crust for cheesecakes, such as Cranberry and Eggnog Cheesecake and non pastry based pies such as Banoffee Pie.

All Butter Irish Shortbread is a superior base for Millionaire shortbread bars. Make the recipe on this post except place the uncooked Shortbread in a square pan and bake it in the oven. When it has cooled, pour a can of Dulce de Leche on top, then melt 12 oz / 340g of chocolate chips (your choice of semi sweet or milk chocolate and pour over the layer of Dulce de Leche. Chill to allow the chocolate to harden, then cut into bars.

Also lemon squares with a shortbread base just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Make dipped shortbread by emerging Shortbread triangles or fingers into melted dark, milk or white chocolate. Allow the chocolate to harden and then serve.

4 Ingredient All Butter Irish Shortbread

The most common ingredients added to this 3 ingredient All Butter Irish Shortbread, is vanilla or cornstarch. A teaspoon is usually all that is added to the unbaked dough. This adds flavor. In my opinion, keep the vanilla extract in the pantry and allow the flavor of the butter to shine through.

Cornstarch can also be added in a small quantity. Its presence gives the Shortbread structure. It also plays a role in keeping the cookies soft and tender. Again, after all the years of making Shortbread, I have had success without the addition of cornstarch.

For a 5 ingredient Shortbread recipe, use both vanilla and cornstarch. Additional ingredients include sprinkles, icing and course sugar used as a topping.

Shortbread Recipe For a Shortbread Mold.

Ceramic Shortbread Molds produce beautiful imprints on the surface of the Shortbread. Different imprints are available, I, of course, chose the one with Shamrocks!

As this is a 321 ratio for All Butter Shortbread, the quantity of each of the 3 ingredients is scaled down as the ceramic pan is smaller in diameter and not as deep as a typical metal pan. The quantity needed for a ceramic shortbread pan is 8oz (225g) of flour, 5.3oz (150g) of butter and finally 2.7oz (75g) of sugar. The instructions are the same, only the quantity of the ingredients differ.

Not only is it important to reduce the quantity of the ingredients but the most important thing that I learned when using it, is to grease the mold with oil not butter!

Equipment Used To Make All Butter Irish Shortbread

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A Tip From Me

Use room temperature soft butter. You’ll thank me. Soft butter will blend easily and quickly with the sugar.

Grease the baking pan well with butter. Line it too with parchment paper. Once the Shortbread has been baked, allow it to cool and then remove from the pan. A pan with a little flexibility is the best! If the Shortbread isn’t budging, set the pan of baked Shortbread in a hot water bath, this will soften the butter and allow the Shortbread to slip out.

A thin metal knife is the best tool to cut Shortbread with. Start in the middle to slice and work your way to the outside.

Do not make the recipe printed on the ceramic mold packaging. That recipe had less butter in it, the end result was a firmer, sweeter, less rich version of this Shortbread recipe.

Got Questions?

I’ve got answers – hopefully!

Are Shortbread cookies healthy?

Quick answer – no! Sorry I couldn’t sugar coat it.

Are Shortbread cookies soft?

Homemade Shortbread cookies tend to be softer due to their higher fat content than the store bought ones.

Can Shortbread cookies be frozen?

Yes, I prefer to freeze them, uncut, in the baking pan they were made in. Freeze All Butter Shortbread biscuits (UK for cookies) for up to 3 months, defrost overnight in the refrigerator , cut into wedges and serve.

Can Shortbread cookie dough be frozen?

Shortbread dough freezes well. Place the dough in an airtight container and place in the freezer. Pull off any amount of dough you want, shape it into a ‘finger’ or round and bake from frozen. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven.

Is Walkers brand of Shortbread any good?

Yes, I believe they are the best brand of store bought Shortbread.

Rustic style all butter Irish shortbread with 3 pieces pulled away from the other pieces.

All Butter Irish Shortbread

This All Butter Irish Shortbread recipe is a 3 ingredient Shortbread recipe, making it easy, quick, and in my personal opinion -the best! All butter Shortbread is moist with crumbly tenderness, buttery deliciousness and it will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth without being overly sweet.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Afternoon Tea, Baking, Coffee Treat
Cuisine Irish
Servings 12
Calories 275 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

321 recipe: Use a measuring jug for these quantities. For the metal 9 inch pan.

  • 12 oz all purpose flour
  • 8 oz butter 2 sticks
  • 4 oz sugar

321 recipe: by weight on a digital scale. For the metal 9 inch pan

  • 8 oz all purpose flour
  • 8 oz butter
  • 4 oz sugar

321 recipe: Use a measuring jug for these quantities. For the ceramic shortbread mold

  • 8 oz all purpose flour
  • 5.3 oz butter
  • 2.7 oz sugar

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your pan of choice. Use a 8 or 9 inch pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides well with butter. See the section 'Shortbread Recipe For a Shortbread Mold' for more information if you are using a Shortbread Mold instead of a pan.
  • Cut up room temperature Irish butter into chunks and add them to the food processor bowl. Add the sugar. Close the lid.
  • Pulse for a minute or two until the 2 ingredients become creamy. (As it turns in the bowl, it looks 'ropey.')
  • Add the flour, and replace the lid.
  • Pulse again for a minute or two until a dough ball starts to form.
  • Empty the contents of the food processor bowl into the greased pan.
  • With a floured hand, even out the Shortbread in the pan using the heal of your hand.
  • With a fork, mark ridges along the edges, and fork prints across the surface.
  • Place the Shortbread in a preheated 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C for about 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven when it takes on a little color. Allow to cool before cutting. Sprinkle on a little granulated sugar.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 3gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 122mgPotassium: 35mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 472IUCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg
Keyword 3 ingredients, butter, Kerrygold
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Comments

12 Replies to “All Butter Irish Shortbread”

  • galaxy_cm
    March 21, 2024
    This shortbread is melt in the mouth delicious! Always a hit. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
    1. Gillian
      Gillian
      March 21, 2024
      Thank you for your kind comment!
  • Veronica R
    March 21, 2024
    I haven’t made it yet, but I tried yours! It was very yummy!! I will definitely want to try this myself.
    1. Gillian
      Gillian
      March 21, 2024
      Thanks Veronica, as you can see, it's easy to make, so I do hope you make it sometime!
  • Amy
    March 22, 2024
    Soo yummy! Can't wait to make it myself 😋
    1. Gillian
      Gillian
      March 22, 2024
      You won't be disappointed Amy!
  • Kristin
    March 22, 2024
    I haven't tried making it myself, but I have tasted it. The shortbread is so rich, buttery, and delicious.
    1. Gillian
      Gillian
      March 22, 2024
      I'm so glad you enjoy it!
  • Gianne
    March 25, 2024
    So delicious and can be used in so many ways!
    1. Gillian
      Gillian
      March 25, 2024
      I agree, it's a very versatile recipe. I use it as the base for my Banoffee Pies! Thanks Gianne!
  • Becky
    March 28, 2024
    This is dangerous information for me to have. 😅
    1. Gillian
      Gillian
      March 28, 2024
      I won't tell if you don't! Enjoy!!

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