Irish Shortbread Cookies

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Easy Irish shortbread cookies are made with just 5 ingredients and take only 15 minutes to prep. These delicious buttery cookies are the perfect tea time treat.

A plate with shamrocks on it has a stack of homemade Irish shortbread cookies cut into rectangles.

Tea time on Mother's Day in Limerick with friends may just be one of my most favorite memories from our trip to Ireland.

Sharing a cup of hot tea with some buttery sweet treats is the very best way to spend a chilly, rainy afternoon.

Now that I know how easy it is to make homemade Irish shortbread cookies in under 15 minutes of prep, these delicious buttery cookies are going to be a staple in our kitchen!

Why This is the Best Recipe

When we spent a week in Dublin during the chilly early spring near St. Patrick's Day, my favorite foods to eat in Ireland were the sweet afternoon tea treats that came with the steaming pot of tea.

I think this is the best Irish shortbread cookie recipe because:

  1. Classic Buttery Goodness: These aren't just the best Irish shortbread cookies, they are the best shortbread cookies period. Perfect texture, perfect sweet-and-salty buttery taste.
  2. Easy to Make: With just a few ingredients and a few minutes of hands-on time, you'll have a baking pan filled with cookies in a flash.
  3. Sturdy and Travel Well: Take these cookies to a potluck party or cookie exchange, they'll hold up perfectly! Keep them in a cookie tin at home and they'll be gone before you know it.

Ingredients

The ingredients to make homemade shortbread are on the counter.

To make homemade Irish shortbread cookies, all you need is:

  • Butter: I used a high-quality salted butter. To be truly Irish, you should use Kerry Gold.
  • Superfine Sugar: This is not the same as regular sugar and it is not at all like powdered sugar. It is a quick-dissolve sugar that has been ground to a smaller grain than traditional table sugar. You'll find it in the sugar aisle at the grocery store.
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Vanilla
  • Kosher Salt
  • Regular Table Sugar: This is used to just dust the tops of the cookies.

Make the Shortbread Dough

Preheat the oven to just 300°F. Set out a 9x13-inch baking pan.

Add the softened butter and superfine sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat them together until well mixed. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure no sugar is caught at the bottom.

Continue to beat the butter and sugar on HIGH speed for 10 minutes. Scrape the bowl about 5 minutes in to make sure everything is getting mixed well.

Add the vanilla and beat it into the sugar.

The step by step photos show how to prepare the shortbread cookie dough.

Combine the flour and salt in a separate mixing bowl before pouring them into the butter mixture, beat until well combined.

Scrape the dough into the baking pan and smooth it out into an even layer.

The shortbread cookie dough has been patted into place in a 9x13-inch baking pan.

You'll find that the dough is quite sticky. It helps to slightly dampen your hands and use your fingers to gently pat it into place.

Sprinkle the table sugar over the top.

Baking Instructions

Bake the shortbread for 1 hour at 300°F.

The cookies are done when they've turned a slight golden brown color.

How to Cut the Shortbread Cookies

Let the shortbread cool for 3 - 4 minutes before you attempt to slice them so that you don't shred the cookie dough.

Use a paring knife to slice the shortbread into thirds along the long edge like this:

The pan of baked shortbread has two slices dividing it lengthwise into thirds.

Then use your knife to slice the shortbread in half down the middle of the pan like this:

The pan of shortbread cookies has a perpendicular cut half way down the pan.

This helps give you an even line for spacing the rest of your cookies.

Working from the middle cut out towards the edge of the pan, slice the shortbread into 1-inch strips like this:

The shortbread cookies have been sliced on half the pan neat and evenly.

Repeat the cuts on the other half.

Finally, use a fork to gently press indentations on the surface of all the cookie pieces in neat rows like this:

The pan of shortbread has been neatly pricked with a fork to make a pretty pattern.

Make Ahead Tips

Irish shortbread cookies will keep well in an airtight container on your counter for up to one week.

If you want to bake them farther in advance, they will freeze extremely well.

Store them in a sturdy airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.

Let them thaw on the counter before serving, at least one hour.

Serving Suggestions

A shamrock plate has several rectangular Irish Shortbread cookies.

Irish shortbread cookies make a fun and uniquely festive treat for St. Patrick's Day.

They would be right at home during tea time alongside some fancy finger sandwiches on a tiered platter.

Serve them for an elegant Mother's Day brunch or Easter brunch.

They'd also be an excellent choice for a Christmas cookies exchange or party!

More Irish Recipes

Traveling to Ireland has inspired me to make many of my favorite dishes here at home. If you want to try more Irish delicacies, I recommend:

If you love to bake cookies for holidays and parties as much as I do, you won't want to miss these other family favorite recipes:

📖 Recipe

A plate with shamrocks on it has a stack of homemade Irish shortbread cookies cut into rectangles.

Irish Shortbread Cookies

5 from 1 vote
Buttery Irish shortbread cookies are the perfect tea time treat. Bake a batch to share with friends during the holiday season, they travel well and can be stored in a cookie tin for up to a week.
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 15 minutes
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 1 hour
YIELD 30 cookies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter softened, Irish Kerry Gold butter would be an ideal choice
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar for dusting the top of the shortbread

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F. Set out a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  • Add the softened butter and superfine sugar to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat them together and scraped down the sides of the bowl to make sure they are well mixed. Then increase the speed to high and beat for 10 minutes, scraping the bowl again half way through. This adds lots of air to the butter.
  • Add the vanilla and beat it into the butter and sugar.
  • Combine the flour and salt in a separate mixing bowl before pouring them into the butter mixture. Beat them in until well combined.
  • Press the prepared dough into the baking pan. The dough will be quite sticky so it helps to slightly dampen your hands and pat it into place.
  • Sprinkle the last 2 tablespoons of regular table sugar over the top of the shortbread.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until the cookies have turned lightly golden brown.
  • Give the shortbread 3 - 4 minutes to cool and then use a paring knife to score the dough into cookie finger shapes. Slice the dough into 3 long equal strips (2 cuts each 1/3 of the way into the width of the dough, see photos in post above for visual reference.) Then slice the dough crosswise so each shortbread cookie is about 1-inch wide. You'll make about 10 cuts which will form 33 long, rectangular cookies.
  • Once the cookies have been sliced, use the tines of a fork to gently poke holes in the surface of each cookie in an even pattern. See photos above.
  • Be sure to let the shortbread cool completely in the pan before serving or the buttery cookies will crumble when you try to life them out.
COURSEDessert
CUISINEIrish

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The photo collage shows a shamrock plate of shortbread cookies next to a photo of the shortbread in a baking pan fresh from the oven.

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