My Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies are the perfect festive treat. This is a recipe of my Great Aunt Edie’s, that has successfully been converted to gluten-free. The shortbread is rich, buttery, and melt-in-the-mouth delicious as it should be. It contains just four ingredients and is so simple to prepare. These cookies are the perfect addition to your Christmas Cookie Box!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Traditionally, Shortbread is an unleavened Scottish Biscuit/Cookie which contains just three ingredients: butter, sugar and flour, in a ratio of one part white sugar, two parts butter and 3 parts flour.
This recipe adds a small amount of cornflour to give the biscuits a tender, buttery texture. It is a deceptively simple recipe yet achieves great flavour.
I have adapted my Great Aunt Edie’s recipe to make the most delicious Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies.
You will love these Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies because:
- They are made from simple ingredients, all of which are readily available or you may already have on hand.
- They are easy to make and are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
- By placing them in a pretty box or tin – they make a beautiful gift at Christmas time.
- This delicious, sweet treat is proof that the adage “less is more” is true. In this case, simple is most definitely best.
- The Shortbread is gluten-free, egg-free and nut-free, making it suitable for many people with dietary restrictions.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Butter – use good quality butter. I have used unsalted butter as I find that good quality butter provides sufficient flavour, as well as contributes to the richness of the shortbread.
Caster/superfine sugar – dissolves more rapidly than granulated sugar, giving a finer texture to the Gluten-Free Shortbread. If you don’t have any caster/superfine sugar, just add some granulated sugar to a blender and pulse a few times until the sugar granules are reduced in size. Just don’t take it too far, or you will end up with icing/powdered sugar.
Gluten-free plain/all-purpose flour – I have used a commercial gluten-free flour which is made from a blend of naturally occurring gluten-free flours. Our gluten-free flour blends contain either xanthan or guar gum to stabilise and provide structure to our recipes.
Cornflour/corn starch – cornflour is also known as corn starch in the USA. It is finely ground to an ultra-fine, powdery consistency. As the name suggests, it is most frequently made from corn, but not always. To keep the recipe gluten-free, check that it is not made from wheat.
How to Make Gluten-Free Shortbread:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
1 – Cream the butter and sugar:
Using hand-held electric beaters, or your stand mixer, add the butter and sugar to the bowl. Using medium speed, cream them together until the mixture is pale and creamy.
2 – Gradually add in the flour:
Gradually add the flour to the butter and sugar and use the lowest speed to combine.
Turn onto cling wrap and bring the mixture together, forming a square of approximately 15 cm (6 inches). Cover and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
3 – Cut out the cookies:
Remove the dough from the fridge and place between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to roll. Roll the dough to about 1 cm (¼ inch) thick.
Cut shapes of your choice – we have used a star cutter.
4 – Place on a baking tray:
Using a large palette knife or spatula, carefully lift the cookies onto the prepared trays, sprinkle with additional caster/superfine sugar and chill for 30 minutes. This helps the biscuits to hold their shape.
Place the trays in the preheated oven and bake the shortbread for 40 minutes.
Tips for success and FAQs:
With so few ingredients, to achieve the best flavour, it is essential that they all be good quality. In this recipe, butter is an important part of the flavour – use the best quality you can.
Tradtionally, shortbread is known as just that, shortbread, but I have included the terms “cookies” or “biscuits” as many people will be more familiar with this.
In Australia, we commonly use the British term “biscuit” for the sweet treat we enjoy with tea or coffee. However, in the USA, a biscuit is closer to what we call a scone, and their sweet treat, which may accompany tea, coffee or a glass of milk, is a “cookie”. So, whilst in Australia, we may say that a biscuit is a cookie, in the USA a cookie is not a biscuit. We aim to avoid confusion.
It is called shortbread because of the high ratio of butter to sugar. The high-fat content gives the dough a “short” quality, making it tender, crumbly and melt in the mouth.
No leavening agent is used in our Gluten-Free Shortbread.
Yes, it re-rolls very well, with no discernible difference between the first and second rolls.
For about seven days when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry location. If the weather is hot, it may be preferable to freeze some, as outlined below.
Yes, you can. After they have completely cooled, freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. When frozen, transfer them to an airtight container for up to 1 month. Separate the layers with baking paper. To thaw, remove them from their container and place on a plate at room temperature. Be sure to label and date the freezer container as frozen items can be difficult to identify.
Variations and substitutions:
We have used a star cutter, but you could use any Christmas shape you prefer. At other times of the year, use plain shapes.
To make slice-and-bake biscuits, place a large piece of cling wrap on your bench. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the plastic wrap. Shape the dough firmly into a log about 4 cm (1 ½ inch) in diameter. Use the cling wrap to help roll the dough. Place it in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. The dough needs to be firm enough to cut without it losing its shape. At this time, you can cut it and bake, or leave in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Whilst Shortbread is traditionally not iced or decorated, as a lovely finishing touch, you could drizzle them with some melted chocolate.
Some ways to enjoy this delicious Gluten-Free Shortbread are:
- Serve for an elegant morning or afternoon tea.
- Package some in a pretty tin or box. Like my Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf, it is the perfect Christmas gift for family or friends.
- Enjoy with a soft dessert such as our No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream. The Shortbread adds lovely textural contrast.
I hope you’ll love these special, delicious Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies as much as we do. I would love to hear from you in the comments below when you have given them a try!
Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
- star cookie cutter – 8 cm (3 ¼ inches) from point to point
For accuracy, when weights are provided, we recommend weighing your ingredients. This will produce the best results.
- 125 g (½ cup) unsalted butter – cubed, at cool room temperature See Note 1
- 65 g (¼ cup + 1 tsp) caster/superfine sugar
- 200 g (1 ⅓ cups) all-purpose/plain gluten-free flour See Note 2
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free corn flour See Note 3
- 2 tablespoon caster/superfine sugar
- Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Ensure you have room in your fridge for the trays.When you are ready to bake: preheat your oven to 150 degrees C (300 F).
- Add the flours to a small bowl and stir well to combine.
- Add the cubed butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, and using medium speed, cream them together until the mixture is pale and creamy – about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice, as necessary. Do not overbeat – you don’t want to incorporate too much air into the mixture.
- Add the flours to the butter and sugar, about ¼ of a cup at a time, and use the lowest speed to combine.
- Turn the mixture onto some clingwrap and bring the mixture together, forming a square of approximately 15 cm (6 inches). Cover and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and place the dough between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to roll.
- Roll the dough to about 1 cm (¼ inch) thick. As you roll, lift the paper occasionally and then return it to the surface of the dough. Doing this helps to roll it evenly and keep it from sticking to the baking paper.If you find that the dough is too cold and cracks as you’re rolling, just wait a few minutes and try again. Likewise, if you find it too warm, return it to the fridge for a few minutes.
- Using a star cutter, cut out the cookies – I usually get 6-8 to begin with. Gather the remaining dough together and repeat the process of rolling and cutting until all the dough is used. Dip the cutter in flour if necessary to prevent the dough sticking.
- Using a large palette knife or spatula, carefully lift the shapes onto the prepared tray.If you find that the shapes have a few cracks, just gently push them together with your fingers to smooth. Sprinkle with the additional caster/superfine sugar and put the trays in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. This helps the biscuits to hold their shape.Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C (300 F).
- Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake the shortbread for approximately 40 minutes, turning the trays around at the 20 minute mark.Traditionally, shortbread is kept pale and not coloured, and this is achieved by cooking at a low temperature.
- Once cooked, remove the trays from the oven and leave the shortbread to cool for 10 minutes before carefully lifting to a cooling rack.
- Butter: if you are making the cookies on a hot day, do not leave the butter out of the fridge for too long – you don’t want it melted. It should be spreadable but still cool. Room temperature for butter is around 18 degrees C (65 F) which may be much cooler than your kitchen in summer.
- All-Purpose Flour: we use a good quality commercial gluten-free flour which is made from a blend of naturally occurring gluten-free flours. Ensure the flour blend you use contains either xanthan or guar gum to stabilise and provide structure to the recipe. We use and recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1 for 1, Orgran and Well Good Flour.
- Tablespoon: we use a standard Australian tablespoon which is 20 ml (4 teaspoons).
- Storage: place cookies in an air-tight container and store in a cool, dry location. The cookies will last for up to 7 days.
- Freezing: after the cookies have cooled completely, freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Once frozen, transfer them to an airtight container for up to 1 month. Separate the layers with baking paper. To thaw, remove them from their container and place the cookies on a plate at room temperature.
The nutritional information is an estimate only, and is derived from online calculators. For accurate results, we recommend calculating the nutritional information based on the ingredients and brands you use.