Cookies Holidays

Tender Shortbread Cookies (pan-style)

shortbread biscuits with sugar
shortbread in a pan

Shortbread has many aficionados, but like all intense passions, there is a great divide among enthusiasts about principle and purpose. Many fanatics argue over whether to work the butter into the flour toward the end of mixing, or cream butter and sugar together initially. In this version I use the latter method, and bake my shortbread in a pan for crisp, golden shortbread rectangles, or fingers as they are sometimes called.

After testing the recipe at several different temperatures, I found I liked the “low and slow” method best. I bake these at 300F [150C] until golden brown for a rich, crisp shortbread.

How this recipe differs from others:

I bake my shortbread a little longer, so it is golden brown, because I like it crisp, which is why I give a large baking time range in the directions. It does turn dark golden quickly, especially on the edges, so keep an eye on it if you are letting it bake a little longer. 

I like to use both granulated and confectioners’ sugar and a good bit of salt, and also add an egg yolk to add both a little color and richness.

if you’re looking to make circular type shortbread cookies, I have this buttery vanilla version, chocolate shortbread, and thin and crisp shortbread.

Important Tips For Making Shortbread Cookies:

Butter is the major ingredient here, so make sure to use a brand of butter that you love.

I prefer to use unsalted butter so I can control how much salt I put into the cookie, but if you have a salted butter you love, you can use that instead; taste the finished dough before adding more salt. Make sure that the dough is completely combined, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixer.

shortbread cookies in a pan
shortbread biscuits in a pan
shortbread in a pan

Tender Shortbread Cookies (pan-style)

Servings: 12 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
This shortbread is crisp and buttery, with plenty of vanilla flavor and a dusting of granulated sugar on top. The dough is pressed into a pan to make things easy and cut into long rectangles when finished baking.
Sarah Kieffer
5 from 7 votes
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup [130 g] granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup [40 g] confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups [284 g] all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300F [150C]. Grease and line a 9 in [23 cm] square baking pan, see note.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on low speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and confectioners' sugar and salt, and beat again until creamy and combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix again until combined, one minute. Add the flour and and mix on low until completely combined.
  • Move the dough to the prepared pan, and spread the dough into an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Spreading a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the dough helps with moving it and keeping it from sticking. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.
  • Place the shortbread in the oven and bake until the shortbread is pale golden and firm to the touch, 35 to 50 minutes (see notes). Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the top with more granulated sugar if desired. Let the shortbread cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Use the parchment sling to carefully remove the shortbread, then cut the warm shortbread into rectangle pieces. I cut the piece in half horizontally, and then cut each half into 6 rectangles. Let the shortbread cool for several hours. Shortbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.

Notes

*For extra crisp shortbread, use a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] baking pan. The shortbread bakes up much thinner, and and it takes a little more work to spread it in an even layer in the pan, but is still delicious. 
*I bake my shortbread a little longer, so it is golden brown, because I like it crisp, which is why I give a large baking time range in the directions. It does turn dark golden quickly, so keep an eye on it if you are letting it bake a little longer. Traditionally shortbread should not be too golden. 
*Throughout my recipes posted on this website, 1 cup of flour equals 142g. Please note that 1 cup of flour can range anywhere from 120g to 142g, depending on the baker or website. I found that after weighting many cups of flour and averaging the total, mine always ended up around this number. Weighing your flour instead of using cup measurements is the surest way to get the result I intended when developing the recipe.
Different brands of flour have varying levels of protein, ranging from low to high, which can result in very different outcomes when baking. I’ve found Gold Medal all-purpose unbleached flour to be the best option for many of my recipes; I use it in all the baked goods that don’t use yeast.
  • Reply
    Dawn
    Monday, January 15, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe twice, once as written and the second adding lemon peel and lemon extract.

  • Reply
    Varnamala
    Friday, January 12, 2024 at 8:40 am

    5 stars
    Perfect shortbread cookies! Much easier and better texture than my usual recipe. This is now my new go to! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Maria
    Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 11:22 am

    5 stars
    I only had an 8 X 8 pan, so mine ended up baking a little thicker (which was fine with me.) Another delicious cookie recipe. I love shortbread and this is the first time I used both types of sugar. Perfect with a cup of tea. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 7:06 pm

    5 stars
    nice shortbread dish, and pan style is nice too, thank you!

  • Reply
    Cindy Orosco-Wright
    Friday, December 22, 2023 at 3:35 pm

    Can you add extras without changing the basic recipe? I was thinking dried cranberries and orange zest.

  • Reply
    Harmony
    Friday, December 22, 2023 at 11:40 am

    5 stars
    If using a 9 inch square pan, is it better to use glass or metal for this recipe? I might add chopped crystalized ginger.

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Friday, December 22, 2023 at 12:14 pm

      Metal! Glass does not conduct heat well and the edges will be hard.

  • Reply
    Heather Baylis
    Monday, December 11, 2023 at 1:32 pm

    You didn’t mention in your recipe how much flour is in tender shortbread recipe!!!!

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Monday, December 11, 2023 at 1:56 pm

      I’m so sorry about that! It is now added: 2 cups [284 g] all-purpose flour.

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