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Irish Shortbread Cookie Recipe

This Irish Shortbread cookie recipe is so easy to make. But there are a few secrets that you need to know.


We made Irish shortbread for St. Patrick’s day, served on Irish Belleek china with Assam tea, a tea commonly served in Ireland. The perfect thing for catching a leprechaun.

Irish Shortbread is a type of biscuit originating from the Scotland that has become popular around the world. It is made up of three simple ingredients; butter, flour, and sugar. The combination of these ingredients produces a soft, crumbly textured biscuit that melts in your mouth. The history of Irish Shortbread dates back to the 12th century as a type of bread-like cake. During the 13th century it began to be cut into triangular shaped pieces and eventually evolved into the finger shaped design we are familiar with today. Irish Shortbread is widely enjoyed during the Christmas holiday season and is often handmade as part of traditional holiday baking. In Ireland it has become a popular treat during special occasions like Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.

This is a popular cookie in England, Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland, there is a version called Petticoat Tails that are named this because they are baked in a circle and look like a petticoat when a wedge is cut from the circle. We used a tart pan to achieve the scalloped edges of the cookies so they would look like petticoats.


Shortbread requires only a few ingredients and comes together in minutes, so it is really easy to make. But the method and ingredients are a bit different from cookies that start by creaming butter and sugar together. They are made using what is called a “reverse creaming” method, and then baked in a round pan on a lower temperature for a long time.

  • Use the best Ingredients – we list the brands in the recipe for a reason.
  • Corn starch is added because it decreases the amount of protein in the dry ingredients and makes the cookies more tender.
  • They are made using a method similar to making a pie crust, also called a reverse creaming method – the dry ingredients are mixed together and then the butter is added cold.
  • Measure all the ingredients by weight – it’s more accurate and much easier.
  • Use a tart pan with a removable bottom to give the cookies shape and make it easier to remove them from the pan once they are cooled.
  • Use a cake pan to flatten the cookies before baking.
  • Remove the center by placing a cookie cutter in the center and poke holes in them to let them bake more evenly.
  • Bake the cookies for a longer time at a lower temperature, just until they start to brown.
  • Allow them to cool completely before unmolding them.


To make great cookies, it is important to understand a little of the science of making them. They are small, so there is less room for error, which is why measuring accurately is so necessary. And they have very few ingredients, so each ingredient has a key roll, and using the best of each ingredient will make a big difference.


Using the brands we have listed will ensure that you make great cookies every time. These brands not only taste better, but production of each is tightly controlled so the product is consistent. The size of the sugar crystal, the amount of protein in the flour, the shape of the salt – all these things will affect the way the cookies bake. Cookies are so small that little differences in the ingredients can lead to a big difference in the cookies. Some of these brands cost more than other available products, but it’s worth it. For some, we include a link to their official websites so you can buy direct and in bulk and often reduce the price.


LA TOURANGELLE – Nut oil is a great substitute for butter. The flavor of nuts works well in cookies, and the oil gives the cookies a fudgy center and crisp edges. La Tourangelle offers a number of different oils, already roasted for added flavor – pecan, pistachio, walnut, hazelnut, almond. Nut oils contain no water, and butter does, so a substitution would be about 3 parts oil for 4 parts butter. We buy some in bulk to save money, but are careful to buy only what we will use in a few months and keep it refrigerated.


GOLD MEDAL UNBLEACHED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR – has a lower protein amount than some all purpose flours – 10.5 percent protein. This is a good flour for baking cookies, since it makes them more tender. In addition, the company ensures that the protein content is carefully calibrated, so you get consistent results. Also, it is important to use the unbleached flour, since bleaching can give cookies an off taste or have unpredictable results.

KING ARTHUR UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR – has a slightly higher protein amount than Gold Medal – 11.7 percent protein. It is good for baking cookies, especially those that are a little more hearty and need some substance. King Arthur is an employee-owned company that responsibly sources the wheat for their flours, and it pays off in the taste and quality. They have a “never bleached” guarantee, which means their flours don’t have an off taste or unpredictable results that can be caused by bleaching. They also carefully calibrate the protein content, which means the flour gives you the same results, every time you bake.


WHOLESOME ORGANIC SUGAR – produced from sugar cane fields that are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Burning sugar cane fields contributes to air pollution and climate change, and is a major cause of the destruction of the rainforest. Buying sugar from fields that are green cut helps prevent this destruction. The sugar also has a better taste because of how it is produced. It is more expensive than buying the standard brands, but the difference is only a few cents per recipe, so it’s worth it. We also save money by buying this in bulk direct from the company and storing it in jars in the pantry.


If a recipe calls for brown sugar, we use white, granulated Wholesome Organic sugar and add a small amount of sorghum syrup instead. Brown sugar is just white, granulated sugar with molasses added. Sorghum syrup tastes very similar to molasses. We actually prefer the milder taste of the sorghum syrup. This saves money, since brown sugar is usually more expensive than white sugar, and it saves storage. We don’t make brown sugar by mixing the sorghum syrup and sugar because they don’t mix well, and the syrup is easy to add to a recipe. Also important, sorghum does not come from sugar cane. It is grown more sustainably in colder climates without burning and without cutting down tropical rain forests.

organic sugar and sorghum syrup for making brown sugar


Superfine sugar, also known as caster sugar or baker’s sugar, is just white, granulated sugar that has been ground fine so that it dissolves quickly. It is often much more expensive than granulated sugar, so instead of buying super fine sugar, we make it ourselves and save money. We put the Wholesome organic sugar in the food processor and grind it fine, which takes about a minute, and store it in jars in the pantry.


Powdered sugar, or confectioner’s sugar is just white, granulated sugar ground to a fine powder with some cornstarch added to keep it from clumping. We tried to make it ourselves, but could not grind it fine enough or evenly, so we buy Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar in bulk and store it in jars. Buying in bulk saves money and it stores well in a jar with a lid.


HEILALA VANILLA – the best tasting vanilla we have ever tried. Plus, it is ethically produced. We double the amount of vanilla usually called for to add extra flavor. Vanilla extract is usually half alcohol and half water, so the extra vanilla will add some liquid.

Heilala vanilla
Heilala vanilla


VALRHONA CHOCOLATE – Using a high quality chocolate makes a really big difference. We use Valrhona because of the quality and because it’s an ethical choice.

Valrhona milk chocolate,
Valrhona milk chocolate,


DIAMOND CRYSTAL KOSHER SALT – pure salt without additives or iodine taste. The weight and structure of salt varies between brands so it is important to choose a salt and stick with it to be consistent.


  • Oven Thermometer
  • Instant read thermometer
  • timer
  • Accurate measuring spoons
  • Medium to heavy-weight, light-colored aluminum cookie sheets – dark or thin sheets may burn the bottom of the cookies
  • stand mixer
  • food processor
  • silicone baking mat – much less expensive than parchment paper in the long run
  • silicone heat resistant spatula for scraping the bowl. All one piece is easier to clean and doesn’t come apart
  • thin metal spatula for moving the hot cookies – the thin metal won’t break the cookies
  • cooling rack with a gridded frame – the grid prevents the cookies from falli
  • digital kitchen scale
  • medium wire whisk
  • microplane zester and grater
  • cookie scoops with squeeze release handles
  • fine mesh strainer for sifting


UNDERSTAND THE METHOD – our cookie recipes are made with one of three methods:

  1. BATTER – used for drop, rolled, cut out or formed cookies. Create a batter by stirring the wet ingredients together (nut oil, sugar, eggs, flavorings), then adding the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda). This is easiest method for making cookies and works best in a bowl, stirring by hand.
  2. IRON – creating a thin batter that is stirred together and then fried or baked in an iron. This requires special equipment such as a waffle iron, rosette iron, pizzelle maker, or krumkake iron.
  3. MERINGUE – creating a meringue with egg whites and sugar, sometimes with a flour made of ground nuts. The cookies made this way are often gluten free. This is easiest and works best in a stand mixer, but a food processor is the easiest way to make the nut flour. It can also be done with a hand mixer or whisking by hand, but it would take much longer. There are three types of meringues – French, Italian, and Swiss.
    • French meringue is the easiest and most common type of meringue and is often used in baked goods, since the egg whites are not cooked. It is made with egg whites and sugar that are whipped together until they form stiff peaks. The mixture is can be baked at a low temperature until it dries out and becomes crispy, or it can be mixed with other ingredients to make various types of cookies.
    • Italian meringue is a more complex type of meringue that requires a bit more skill to make. It is made by whipping egg whites and adding a hot sugar syrup then whipping them together until they form a glossy, stable mixture. The hot sugar syrup cooks the egg whites, making the meringue safe to eat. Italian meringue is commonly used in recipes such as buttercream frosting and French macarons. It is denser than French meringue and has a slight sweetness to it.
    • Swiss meringue is made by whisking egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler until the sugar dissolves. It is then whipped until stiff peaks form, resulting in a glossy, shiny meringue. Swiss meringue is often used in recipes such as mousses and buttercream frosting. It has a silky texture and a buttery flavor that is perfect for a variety of desserts. Swiss meringue is also more stable than French meringue, making it a great option for decorating cakes and pastries.


USE A SCALE AND MEASURE IN GRAMS – Use a scale to measure most of the ingredients by weight. This is absolutely essential. The inaccuracies from using measuring cups can easily lead to failure when baking. Different brands of flour and sugar will be different when measured with measuring cups, and not all measuring cups are accurate. Measuring by weight is the same every time. It is also much easier – just put the mixing bowl on the scale, zero the scale, add an ingredient, zero the scale again, add the next ingredient, and so on. Measuring in grams is more accurate, and easier, than pounds and ounces. Since it is a smaller measurement, it is more precise. Also, grams are often easy numbers to remember, making it possible to make the cookies without looking at the written recipe and easy to compare recipes. Clean up is easier, since there will be fewer bowls and no measuring cups to wash. And cooking with children is easier because they quickly learn how to add ingredients until the scale reads the correct amount.

Best Dutch Oven Bread Recipe
Weigh the Ingredients

USE A SCALE TO MEASURE OUT EACH COOKIE – Use the scale to make sure the cookies are exactly the same size. Using a scoop for some cookies makes forming the cookies fast and easy and will also help maintain the same shape, but the scale will make them the same size.

chocolate chip cookies

REFRIGERATE THE DOUGH AT LEAST THREE HOURS OR OVERNIGHT – This allows the flour to absorb the liquid in the dough, making the cookies bake better. You can refrigerate the dough in the bowl covered with plastic wrap, measured out for drop cookies, as a flat square for rolled cookies, or as a log for sliced cookies.

VACUUM PACK AND FREEZE EXTRA DOUGH – After refrigerating the dough overnight, extra cookie dough can be frozen. Vacuum sealing keeps the dough fresher.

 freeze extra cookie dough as cookies in a vacuum packed container.
freeze extra cookie dough as cookies in a vacuum packed container

USE AN OVEN THERMOMETER – Use an accurate oven thermometer to check the oven temperature before putting the cookies in. The temperature of ovens vary, and may not be the temperature on the dial.

ALLOW THE COOKIES TO COOL ON A RACK – Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the pan, then transfer them to a rack to keep them from getting too dark on the bottom. The cookies will become more crisp as they cool on the rack, though we realize allowing them to cool before eating them is almost impossible.

No Affiliates Statement

We call this our “no affiliates” statement because we accept no advertising, have no affiliates and accept no payment. We are not paid to mention brands – we just love buying the best, sharing that information and saving the planet at the same time. The effort put into writing and photographing the blog is solely based on our dedication to the cause.

After the cookies are cooled, they can be decorated with powdered sugar sifted over a stencil for a more formal presentation.

Irish shortbread for St. Patrick’s day, served with Assam tea (Irish breakfast tea). Like we said – the perfect bait for the leprechaun trap.

Irish Shortbread Recipe


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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Irish
Servings: 8
Calories: 407kcal
Author: Lisa LeCoump
Traditional Irish shortbread cookies made with the best ingredients.


  • 1 food processor
  • 1 food scale
  • 1 tart pan with removable bottom 8 or 9 inch, but adjust the baking time – We used an 8 inch pan
  • 1 parchment paper
  • 1 cake pan
  • 1 skewer
  • 1 2 inch round cookie cutter


For certain products, the choice of brand will make a big difference in the outcome of the recipe and in your carbon footprint. So, for those products, we have listed the brand. We are not paid to mention a brand and have no affiliates.



  • Preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Place the mixing bowl on the scale and measure in the flour, corn starch, superfine sugar (see ingredients note), and salt by zeroing the scale after each ingredient is measured. Stir to mix.
  • Cut up the cold butter into cubes about 1/2 inch in size.
  • Stir the cold butter into the flour mixture.
  • Using the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, until the mixture looks like crumbs. Check for any remailing large pieces of butter and rub them together with your fingers to break them up.
  • Spread half the mixture into the tart pan. Using the bottom of the cake pan. press the mixture flat.
  • Spread the rest of the mixture into the pan. Using the bottom of the cake pan, flatten the mixture. Using the back of a fork, press the mixture around the edges into the scallops of the pan, keeping the dough as flat as possible. The fork will also add to the "petticoat" look.
  • Place the cookie cutter in the center, pushing it to the bottom.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 300°, and place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and into the oven.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the tart pan from the oven. Leave the cookie cutter in place, but remove the dough in the center. Use a sharp knife to score the round into 8 equal sized cookies. Use the skewer to carefully poke holes in each cookie.
  • Return the pan to the oven and bake for 30- 40 more minutes. The cookies should be just lightly browning.
  • Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely.
  • Check that the cookies are pulling away from the tart pan and remove the ring and the cookie cutter.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the cookies apart where they were scored.


Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 255mg | Potassium: 41mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 703IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg


Check out the chart on the blog post to see how food choices affect climate change. This recipe uses responsible brands and items that are lower on the chart and the production creates less greenhouse gas.
Tried this recipe?Show us on Instagram and Mention @tonyfitzgeraldphotography

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


We have listed the brands for some of the ingredients because ingredients are everything, especially in something small like cookies. We have found that these brands give superior results. And by eating a plant based diet and using brands that are ethically sourced and sustainable, we cut our carbon footprint in half and are helping to control climate change.

Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography

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