Grandma's Shortbread

24 servings
25 min

Take a bite into these melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies! Grandma's Shortbread recipe has only four ingredients and no chilling required. An easy recipe for your holiday Christmas baking tray!

Shortbread cookies with red and green sprinkles on red plate.

this recipe!

These tender shortbread cookies are well-loved in our household. Sprinkled with sanding sugar, they take on a festive appearance the minute they come out of the oven.

These are sturdy enough that you could package them up in a pretty holiday box for gift-giving.

Shortbread cookies with red and green sprinkles on two-tiered cookie plate.
Ingredients for shortbread cookies with text overlay.
  • butter - since butter is one of the main ingredients in this recipe, use the best quality that you can find for best results. Butter should be softened at room temperature.
  • powdered sugar
  • all-purpose flour
  • cornstarch - be sure to check the best before date!
  • Christmas coloured sanding sugar or sprinkles

step-by-step instructions

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

The secret to the best texture in these shortbread cookies is to make sure that your hands are not too warm. The warmer they are and the more the you handle the dough, the softer the dough will be. This will change the texture and cause the cookies to spread.

Work quickly and with cool hands! This is such an easy recipe and you will love the simplicity and lovely texture of these cookies.

Dry ingredients and butter in mixing bowl with wooden spoon.

Start by sifting together all-purpose flour, cornstarch and powdered sugar. If you don't have a sifter, place the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give it a really good whisk or mix with wooden spoon.

Dough for shortbread cookies gathered into a ball in mixing bowl.

Using a wooden spoon, or with clean hands, blend in the butter until a soft dough forms. Do not overwork the dough. As soon as the dough forms, shape it into a ball.

Unbaked shortbread dough rolled into balls on cookie sheet with parchment paper.

I like to divide the dough into four equal portions and know that I am getting six cookies out of each section for a total of 24 cookies.

Shape dough into one inch balls and place a few inches apart on baking sheet. They will spread a little as you flatten them with a fork.

Unbaked cookies that have been pressed down lightly with fork and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

Press down lightly on each cookie with a floured fork. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles. I have really been enjoying Ann Clark's sanding sugar. It is very light and has a beautiful sparkle.

Bake in 300°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. I took my cookies out in 17 minutes and let them sit on the cookie sheet for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack and that was perfect.

storage instructions

Store shortbread in airtight container for up to four weeks.

Shortbread may be frozen between layers or parchment paper in a freezer safe container. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Shortbread cookies with red and green sprinkles on red plate.

Don't forget to pin this recipe to your Christmas Baking board!

Shortbread cookies on red plate with evergreen boughs in background and text overlay.

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Recipe details
  • 24  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 25 min
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  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • Sanding sugar or sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, sift together cornstarch, powdered sugar and all-purpose flour.
Use a wooden spoon, or clean hands to blend in butter until a soft dough forms.
Divide dough into four equal portions. Shape dough into  1-inch  balls.
Place rolled balls on cookie sheets, 1 and ½ inches apart.  Press down lightly with a floured fork.
Sprinkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles
Bake in 300°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
Transfer to cooling rack.
  • Recipe adapted from Canada Cornstarch.
Sandra - She's Not Cookin'
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  • Mavis Mavis on Nov 16, 2022

    I have been making these shortbread cookies for many years, I do some with coloured sugars, some with Skor bits, and some plain.

    Everyone loves them at Christmas Time or any time.

    Great recipe that can be adapted however a person likes, add bits

    of chocolate, nuts, or whatever you desire. They always turn out great, just be sure not to overbake them, take them out of the oven

    when just teh bottom edges are slighly golden.

  • Bam30088332 Bam30088332 on Dec 06, 2022

    What does the cornstarch do to the cookie recipe?

    • See 1 previous
    • Annie Bannany Annie Bannany on Dec 07, 2022

      The cornstarch is what makes these melt when you eat them. They are amazing! I end up chilling the balls once I flatten them, I'm not quick enough to have them finished while still cold