This Shortbread Cookie Bar Recipe is made with just five ingredients and comes together in minutes! Buttery sweet shortbread is the perfect treat for any occasion!

Best Shortbread Recipe bars stacked on each other with striped cloth in the background.

The best shortbread cookie bar recipe is right here and only has five ingredients! This simple treat comes together fast and is seriously delicious.

If you love shortbread desserts, be sure to check out my Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars or these layered Pineapple Bars with a shortbread bottom. If you love simple desserts with a few ingredients, be sure to this 3-ingredient Italian Sponge Cake or 5-ingredient Torta Caprese!

Why You Need to Make this Shortbread!

This Shortbread Cookie Bar recipe is the only shortbread recipe you’ll ever need! It’s perfectly sweetened and so easy to make.

Here, I keep the ingredients simple and the effort minimal. Truly, you just mix together the five ingredients, press into a baking pan and you’re done.

Shortbread is a slightly dense and crumbly cookie bar that’s perfectly sweetened and great for any occasion. This is a great treat to have on hand for parties, holidays, or just to snack on.

I like to make these bars because they are butter and sweet without a lot of effort. Plus, they are naturally egg-free and great for anyone with an egg allergy.

Shortbread is also a great base for toppings. You can drizzle on chocolate, caramel, or even frost and add sprinkles on top.

If you’ve never had shortbread before, it’s similar to a thick sugar cookie that’s slightly less sweet and more crumbly. You can cut them into the squares or serve them in the traditional rectangle shape.

With only five ingredients and no special equipment required, this is one recipe you should definitely try. You’re going to love it!

Ingredients

ingredients needed to make recipe including butter, flour, salt, vanilla, and sugar.
  • All purpose flour: it helps to sift the flour before adding to the batter.
  • Butter: use room temperature unsalted butter. If using salted butter, omit the additional salt in the recipe.
  • Granulated sugar: sprinkle the top with additional sugar when the bars come out of the oven.
  • Vanilla: not a traditional ingredient but it adds a nice flavor to the shortbread cookie bar recipe.
  • Kosher salt: omit additional salt if using salted butter.

To make this shortbread cookie bar recipe, start by preheating your oven. Then, coat a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment; set aside.

process shots showing how to make recipe including creaming the butter, adding in the sugar, vanilla and flour, and pressing it into a square baking pan.

Step 1: stir the butter

Firstly, in a large bowl add in the two sticks of room temperature butter. Use a spoon to mix the butter until resembles the consistency of mayo.

Step 2: add in the sugar, vanilla and salt

To the butter, add in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix until it’s well combined. There is no need to use a hand mixer here; a spoon is sufficient.

Step 3: add in the flour

Lastly, mix the flour into the batter. The mixture will be coarse and crumbly.

Step 4: press into pan and bake

Pour the shortbread mixture into the lined baking pan. Then, use a spatula or clean hands to press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Shortbread cookie bar on a wood cutting board cut into squares with sugar sprinkled on top.

Lastly, when the bars are hot from the oven, sprinkle on about a tablespoon of sugar. Let the shortbread cool completely then remove from the pan using the parchment. Cut into squares or rectangles.

Recipe Tips

  • Use room temperature butter. Forgot to leave out the butter? See this guide on How to Soften Butter Quickly.
  • If you are using salted butter, just omit the additional salt in the recipe.
  • The vanilla is not traditionally used in shortbread. Feel free to omit it if you’d like.
  • Weigh out your flour for the most accurate amounts.
  • Lining the baking pan with parchment will allow you to lift the bars out of the pan to cut.
  • Store leftover bars in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days. For best results, refrigerate for up to a week.
  • This shortbread cookie bar recipe is delicious served with a sprinkle of sugar on top. You can also add a chocolate drizzle or frosting with sprinkles.
Shortbread cookie bars stacked on each other on a wood cutting board.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I soften butter fast?

If you forgot to bring your butter to room temperature, no worries. You can soften butter fast with this easy method. Pour hot water into a ceramic or glass bowl or cup. After a few minutes, dump out the water from the vessel and quickly cover your butter. The heat from the cup will soften the butter in just a few minutes.

Does shortbread contain eggs?

Shortbread is a great recipe for those who can’t eat eggs. The standard shortbread cookie bar recipe contains just butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour.

Are there leavening agents in shortbread?

Shortbread does not contain any leavening agents such as baking powder, baking soda, or yeast. Instead it is a more dense butter bar without a lot of rise.

Do you need to chill shortbread dough before baking?

It is common to press the shortbread dough into the pan and chill at least 2 hours before baking. This will help to solidify the butter and keep the bars dense. Whether you chose to do this a matter of preference.

Shortbread cookie bar recipe stacked on each other on a wood cutting board with a striped napkin in the background.

Similar Recipes

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or review in the comments section further down the page.

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Shortbread Cookie Bar Recipe

Shortbread Cookie Bar Recipe

One bite and you'll agree this is truly the best shortbread cookie bar recipe, and it's made with only five ingredients! Be sure you are using room temperature butter for best results.
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16 squares
Calories: 192kcal

Equipment

  • 9 x 9 inch baking pan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (two sticks)
  • cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (270 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (for sprinkling) (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, add in the softened butter and use a spoon to stir it until it is smooth in consistency. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix until combined. Add in the flour and stir until mixture is combined and resembles a coarse crumble.
  • Press the mixture into the lined baking pan using a spatula or your hands. Bake on center rack in oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar (optional). Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Notes

  • Use room temperature butter. 
  • If you are using salted butter, just omit the additional salt in the recipe.
  • The vanilla is not traditionally used in shortbread. Feel free to omit it if you’d like.
  • Weigh out your flour for the most accurate amounts.
  • Lining the baking pan with parchment will allow you to lift the bars out of the pan to cut.
  • Store leftover bars in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days. For best results, refrigerate for up to a week.
  • This shortbread cookie bar recipe is delicious served with a sprinkle of sugar on top. You can also add a chocolate drizzle or frosting with sprinkles.

Nutrition

Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 75mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Growing up, we always got my dad Walker’s Shortbread for Christmas. I made these for my dad for Christmas, and he LOVED them. I kept a few pieces for myself and really enjoyed them too! (I thought they were way better than Walker’s, LOL!) I’ll definitely make these more frequently than Christmas. Easy and delicious.

  2. 5 stars
    These are fabulous. Such great flavour and super easy to make. And no cookies to cut out! Might be my new go to for Christmas. Thanks for a terrific recipe.

  3. These look delicious and easy to make. Do you think that I could double it and use a 9×13 pan? I know the bars would be a bit thicker which would require a longer bake. I’m just wondering if they would be a little dry because of that.

    1. You could try that. They would be thick and need about an extra 10 minutes or so of cooking time.

    2. These are delicious! What kind of pan did you use? I’m having a really hard time getting the bottom and center to cook fully in my glass container.

      1. Hi Lex! I always bake in an aluminum non-stick pan. I save my glass pans for casseroles as they don’t seem to handle baked goods as well. So glad you enjoyed them either way 🙂