Scottish Shortbread Cookies


These shortbread cookies are perfect. Buttery, slightly sweet, and a bit crumbly. Everything I ask for in a shortbread cookie. And shortbread cookies are so easy to make too! These are made with very few ingredients, just sprouted flour, coconut sugar or rapadura, butter (or coconut oil). It’s as simple and as good as that.

When I was making them I remembered shortbread cookies I had eaten when I was pregnant with Elena. I had gone through premature labor and was being kept at the hospital, though my labor had stopped. Living off of hospital food was not my favorite thing and one day my mom had brought up some shortbread cookies for me from Starbucks. There was something in those cookies I craved, and I suspect it was the healthy real butter they contained. And buttery they were! My mom started bringing me some every other day. So when I was making these, I was a little afraid that they wouldn’t be as good. But are they ever! So good.

While these cookies aren’t necessarily a Christmas cookie, they do make a great addition to a cookie platter……or they make a great single cookie! Perhaps with a Pumpkin Latte.

Here are some other cookies on this site.

The first time I made these, I was curious to see whether or not I could use coconut oil. I made the mistake of making a free formed shortbread cookie and they spread like crazy! So if you use coconut oil make sure that you use the method below of putting them in a 8 by 8 pan. I found that the coconut oil has a slightly “cleaner” taste, and obviously isn’t quite as buttery tasting. But it’s surprisingly good! Just make sure that you allow it to cool all the way. I’ve labeled this cookie recipe vegan and dairy free because if you use the coconut oil, it is.

You can buy sprouted flour (see my resource page) or make your own.

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

    1 cup plus two tablespoons of sprouted wheat or spelt flour
    2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
    1/4 cup of coconut sugar, rapadura, sucanat, or maple sugar
    1/2 cup of cold butter or hard, room temperature coconut oil (see note above)
    1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter or coconut oil)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set out an 8 by 8 pan.

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, arrowroot powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk a little to remove any lumps. Cut the butter or coconut oil into small pieces and then “cut” into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork. Do this until the dough resembles small crumbs. Then get ready to get your hands dirty!

Using your hands gently start forming this mixture into a ball. At first it will be really crumbly, but keep gathering it together and gently kneading it together. It should form a ball within a minute or two. If it absolutely will not stick together, you can sprinkle a little water over it. It’s better the drier you keep it though.

Then press it evenly into the ungreased pan. I used the bottom of a cup to remove any fingerprints by gently pressing it on the surface of the dough.

Then cut the shortbread into desired amount of squares (these are very rich, so I recommend you cut them small).

Bake for 24-30 minutes, or until the dough is set and the sides browning just very slightly. Remove from the oven. The cut lines will barely be distingishable with the butter shortbreads, recut them. I am assuming that the coconut oil ones may have completely disappeared, in that case just recut them. Let cool completely in the pan (they are too crumbly when warm and taste better cool anyways).


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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    These sound amazing!

    Sadly, we aren’t quite to the point of having access to sprouted flour just yet. How would I modify this recipe to make it with regular (whole wheat) flour OR can you point me to a good recipe that uses regular flour?

    • KimiHarris says

      You can use any type of flour in this recipe with good results, I think. 🙂 It’s just a basic recipe. I didn’t really change any of the proportions with using sprouted flour.

  2. Susie says

    You and I are on the same wavelength – I just made shortbread today!
    I’ve never seen arrowroot powder in a shortbread recipe; what is its purpose?
    Thanks for this and all your posts. Mmm, good!

    • KimiHarris says

      Good question! Arrowroot, cornstarch and rice flour is often added to shortbread to make it a little more soft and crumbly (because it doesn’t contain gluten). You don’t have to use it though and can replace it with another two tablespoons of sprouted flour.

      • Nancy Trask says

        I noticed on a package of King Arthur Cake Flour that it has unmodified cornstarch in it. The Joy of Cooking cookbook has a similar shortbread recipe using cake flour, so I’ll bet the cornstarch or arrowroot do have to do with the softness and crumb of the finished product.

  3. Mary P. says

    Thank you for sharing all these great recipes. These look great! Your generosity is much appreciated. Have a great holiday.

  4. says

    I have not used sprouted flour yet, but these look like an excellent reason to try it out! I have also not used coconut sugar or maple sugar yet….just maple syrup. I imagine date sugar would be too dark for these shortbread cookies…..
    Time to go shopping for some new ingredients!

  5. says

    These look awesome. I haven’t had really good shortbread cookies in years, but I always associate them with Starbucks as well. When I was in college I worked right below a Starbucks and would make a little trip upstairs too regularly for coffee and a cookie. 🙂 I will have to give these a try.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  6. Rachelle says

    Made some. They were delicious, but a little tough. I used soft wheat, figuring the lower gluten content and lighter flavor/color would be just right for cookies, and didn’t have arrowroot powder or anything like that. Think they just cooked too long?

    • KimiHarris says

      I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried it, but I bet it would! I’ve seen almond flour shortbread cookies before!

  7. Anne Marie says

    My son was recently diagnosed allergic to dairy so I’ve been researching dairy free options for him. Thanks for the coconut oil option.

    FYI-From my research/experience I’ve found that
    8 T (1/2 cup) butter = 6 T ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil + 2 T water

  8. Jamey says

    I tried this recipe using reg. flour and sugar and cornstarch instead of arrow root and it was fantastic!! We are making it again but doubling it as we gobbled it up! Thank you!

  9. jennifer says

    We have made this recipe several times and everyone loves it! The last time we added 1 heaping tablespoon of matcha green tea powder to the mix.This is such a simple recipe that there is so many ways to express your love to experiment! Try using cookie cutters and let the kids go for it!

  10. Ramona says

    These are amazingly delicious!!! I am brand new to gluten free baking & thought I would follow your direction with some substitutes. I used 2/3 white rice flour with 1/3 almond flour. Instead of sugars I used pure organic maple syrup, and I did use coconut oil as well. I baked them in an 8″ pan for 25 minutes & they turned out incredible! We topped them with homemade strawberry jam & voilà! Smiles all around!

  11. nancy barratt says

    I don’t see any liquid added (water) to the flour mix except for “sprinkling a little water” on the dough.


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