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Grandma’s Shortbread

Take a bite into this melt-in-your-mouth Grandma’s Shortbread recipe, that has only four ingredients and no chilling required.

An easy buttery shortbread recipe for your holiday Christmas baking tray! These really are the best old-fashioned shortbread cookies, just like your grandma made.


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We love making classic cookies that instantly take you back to your grandma or your mom in the kitchen baking up a batch of cookies with love to share with the family.

This is another must-bake holiday cookie shortbread, that brings back the nostalgia of the many great memories of Thanksgiving and Christmases gone by.

These buttery tender shortbread cookies are well-loved in our family and are always a tradition on our dessert holiday baking tray.

Sprinkled with sanding sugar, these best butter shortbread cookies take on a festive holiday appearance the minute they come out of the oven.

These are sturdy enough that you could package them up in a pretty holiday box for gift-giving. If you can keep this shortbread cornstarch recipe on the cookie platter long enough before they are gone that is!

For shortbread lovers try our whipped chocolate chip shortbread or our festive checkerboard shortbread cookies.

  • Easy to make shortbread cookies with only 4 ingredients
  • Tried and true family shortbread recipe your Grandma made
  • Easy to customize by rolling them out to cut into holiday shapes
  • Able to make ahead and freeze to help during busy holiday season
  • Must bake holiday feel good recipe


Grandma’s shortbread ingredients

Ingredients for shortbread cookies with text overlay.
  • Butter – since butter is one of the main ingredients in this recipe, use the best quality that you can find for best results. Butter should be softened at room temperature.
  • Powdered sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch – be sure to check the best before date!
  • Christmas coloured sanding sugar or sprinkles

Step by step instructions for making grandma’s shortbread cookies with cornstarch recipe

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

The secret to the best texture in these shortbread cookies is to make sure that your hands are not too warm. The warmer they are and the more the you handle the dough, the softer the dough will be. This will change the texture and cause the cookies to spread.

Work quickly and with cool hands! This is such an easy recipe and you will love the simplicity and lovely texture of these cookies.

Dry ingredients and butter in mixing bowl with wooden spoon.

Start by sifting together all-purpose flour, cornstarch and powdered sugar. If you don’t have a sifter, place the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give it a really good whisk or mix with wooden spoon.

Dough for shortbread cookies gathered into a ball in mixing bowl.

Using a wooden spoon, or with clean hands, blend in the butter until a soft dough forms. Do not overwork the dough. As soon as the dough forms, shape it into a ball.

Unbaked shortbread dough rolled into balls on cookie sheet with parchment paper.

I like to divide the dough into four equal portions and know that I am getting six cookies out of each section for a total of 24 cookies.

Shape dough into one inch balls and place a few inches apart on baking sheet. They will spread a little as you flatten them with a fork.

Unbaked cookies that have been pressed down lightly with fork and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

Press down lightly on each cookie with a floured fork. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles. I have really been enjoying Ann Clark’s sanding sugar. It is very light and has a beautiful sparkle.

Bake in 300°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. I took my cookies out in 17 minutes and let them sit on the cookie sheet for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack and that was perfect.

Variations for grandma’s shortbread recipes

By changing up the colour of the sanding sugar you use on top, your able to customize this shortbread cookie recipe to suit your holiday theme like Easter Shortbread Cookies or Halloween Shortbread Cookies.

You can also roll the dough out and cut into your favorite holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Decorate with your favorite sprinkles or sanding sugar.

Change it up by adding a red or green glacé cherries to the middle of the cookie to give it even more a of festive holiday appearance.

Sandra’s top tips for making the best shortbread cookies

  • I do not recommend any substitutions for this shortbread recipe
  • Use a good quality room temperature butter for best shortbread baking results
  • Line the baking sheet with pieces of parchment paper is a good idea
  • Measure the flour correctly by using the scoop and level off method is important to not making the dough too dry and having the shortbread crumble too much
  • If the forks gets sticky when using it to press down the cookie balls for baking, dip it in flour
  • Work quickly with cool hands
  • To help make sure your shortbread cookies do not spread too much, make sure your hands do not get too warm and do not overwork the dough

What is the secret to making good shortbread cookies?

Use a good quality butter and do not overwork the dough!

Make sure your hands are not too warm when working the dough, as this can cause the dough to become too soft and change the texture of your shortbread cookies.

What does cornstarch do in shortbread cookies?

Cornstarch helps gives a structure to cornstarch shortbread cookies and also help to deliver that melt-in-mouth goodness we love in shortbreads.

Storage and freezing instructions for shortbread cookies

Storing shortbread cookies

Store shortbread in an airtight container for 7 to 10 days. Using parchment paper to separate the shortbread cookies layers is a good thing to do for easy serving.

Can you freeze shortbread cookies?

Yes you can! Cooled shortbread cookies may be frozen between layers or parchment paper in a freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months.

Thaw at room temperature or the fridge before serving.

Yes you can! Place the unbaked cookie dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Place the baking sheet in the freezer to flash freeze shortbread cookie dough balls until they are frozen.

Place frozen cookie dough balls in zippered freezer bag or freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months.

Thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use. Place thawed cookie dough balls on cookie sheet and press down with a fork, adding the sanding sugar and bake.

You may also enjoy these melt in your mouth cookies

Easy Bite Sized Christmas Shortbread

Empire Cookies Shortbread

Mint Chocolate Chip Whipped Shortbread

Lemon Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Best Butter Pecan Meltaways

Classic Holiday Snowball Cookies

Print
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Grandma’s Shortbread


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sandra Flegg
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies

Description

Take a bite into this melt-in-your-mouth Grandma’s Shortbread recipe, that has only four ingredients and no chilling required.

An easy buttery shortbread recipe for your holiday Christmas baking tray! These really are the best old-fashioned shortbread cookies, just like your grandma made.


Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup butter

Sanding sugar in holiday colors


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Sift together all-purpose flour, cornstarch and powdered sugar. If you don’t have a sifter, place the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give it a really good whisk or mix with wooden spoon.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, or with clean hands, blend in the butter until a soft dough forms. Do not overwork the dough. As soon as the dough forms, shape it into a ball. 
  4. Shape dough into one inch balls and place a few inches apart on baking sheet. They will spread a little as you flatten them with a fork.
  5. Press down lightly on each cookie with a floured fork. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles. I have really been enjoying Ann Clark’s sanding sugar. It is very light and has a beautiful sparkle.

  6. Bake in 300°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. I took my cookies out in 17 minutes and let them sit on the cookie sheet for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack and that was perfect.

Notes

Storing shortbread cookies

Store shortbread in an airtight container for 7 to 10 days. Using parchment paper to separate the shortbread cookies layers is a good thing to do for easy serving.

Can you freeze shortbread cookies?

Yes you can! Cooled shortbread cookies may be frozen between layers or parchment paper in a freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months. 

Thaw at room temperature or the fridge before serving.

Yes you can! Place the unbaked cookie dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Place the baking sheet in the freezer to flash freeze shortbread cookie dough balls until they are frozen.

Place frozen cookie dough balls in zippered freezer bag or freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months.

Thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use. Place thawed cookie dough balls on cookie sheet and press down with a fork, adding the sanding sugar and bake.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 90
  • Sugar: 2.5 g
  • Sodium: 46 mg
  • Fat: 5.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.9 g
  • Fiber: 0.2 g
  • Protein: 0.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 15.3 mg

9 Comments

    1. Yes you can! From the top of the page hit the ‘jump to recipe’ button. Then choose ‘print recipe’. At the top of that, you will see an ‘options’ button. You can choose to omit things there. Enjoy!

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