Let me teach you how to make buttery shortbread wedge cookies using this simple 6 ingredient dough. There’s no chilling necessary and the cookies will never over-spread because you’re baking them in round pans. Keep the cookies vanilla flavored or spruce up the dough with add-ins such as cinnamon, pecans, sprinkles, peppermint extract, chocolate chips, and more.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the word “wedges” while putting this recipe together. But it’s been so many times that I’ve accidentally typed “shortbread wedgies” at least twice now. Anyway, let me tell you about these shortbread WEDGES!
These are my perfect shortbread wedge cookies flavored virtually however you’d like, baked in a cake pan, and cut into triangles/wedges. With no add-ins, they’re pleasantly sweet with rich butter and vanilla flavors. You’ll divide the dough in half to make 2 pans of cookies, so you can flavor each half of dough different ways. Creativity is welcome here!
You Will Love This Shortbread Recipe:
- 6 ingredient dough with lots of optional add-ins
- no rolling pin, no cookie cutters
- 1 mixing bowl
- no dough chilling – ready in under an hour, making it the perfect recipe to tackle while waiting for your other Christmas cookies to chill!
- cookies will never over-spread
- another egg-free baking recipe
- delicious alongside coffee, tea, & hot chocolate
- texture: crumbly, yet tender
- flavor: buttery, vanilla, mildly sweet
Traditional shortbread recipes are 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour. Sometimes there’s vanilla and salt, but there’s no egg and no leavening. Delicious– for sure– but I’ve been making shortbread cookies with a slightly different ratio. Some of my favorite recipes include these flavored cherry almond shortbread, brown sugar shortbread that’s sweeter than other recipes, pecan shortbread that’s icebox/slice & bake style, and sweet & salty chocolate pistachio shortbread. I also make chocolate cashew shortbread wedges, a recipe you can find in my cookbook along with a few other variations!
6 Ingredient Shortbread Dough
- Unsalted Butter: As the base of nearly all shortbread recipes, butter supplies these classic cookies with flavor and softness. Make sure you use room temperature butter that’s still cool to the touch. If it’s too warm, the butter and sugar cannot properly cream and the cookies will taste dense. Many shortbread recipes call for cold butter worked into the dry ingredients and that gives you a wonderfully flaky cookie but if not mixed properly, the results can be inconsistent. I usually stick with creamed room temperature butter.
- Granulated Sugar: I go back and forth between confectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar in shortbread recipes. Confectioners’ sugar keeps the cookies light and tender, but you often need more of it to get the same amount of sweetness. (And then an adjustment to butter or flour is ideal.) I’ve been using granulated sugar in these shortbread wedge cookies and I replace some flour with cornstarch, which helps give us that light texture again. By the way, this recipe is a great place to use homemade vanilla sugar because the vanilla flavor can really shine!
- Vanilla: 1 and 1/2 teaspoons gives us substantial vanilla flavor, especially if you use homemade vanilla extract. Feel free to add the beans scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean.
- Salt: 1/4 teaspoon of regular salt keeps the flavor balanced and the cookies are pleasantly sweet. If you like a little more salt flavor, increase the amount to 1/2 teaspoon.
- All-Purpose Flour: I test varying amounts of flour in shortbread recipes regularly and find 2 cups of spoon & leveled flour paired with 1/4 cup cornstarch produces sturdy, yet terrifically tender shortbread wedge cookies.
- Cornstarch: Again, cornstarch really is the “secret” to texture success here. Cornstarch provides the shortbread with structure, but its biggest job is keeping the cookies extra soft, tender, and light. I love adding a small amount to chocolate chip cookies too.
- Optional Coarse Sugar Topping: For an optional sparkly crunch on your shortbread wedges, add a sprinkle of coarse sugar before baking. I usually reach for white “sparkling sugar” sold as sprinkles in the baking aisle.
Overview: How to Make These Shortbread Cookies
These shortbread wedge cookies are great for beginners because the prepwork is fairly simple and the dough comes together in just 1 bowl.
The video tutorial and full printable recipe are below, but let me walk you through the basics with step photos so you know what to expect. Start by creaming the butter and sugar together, and then add the vanilla and salt. Finally, mix in the flour and cornstarch. Beat on low speed to begin bringing all of the ingredients together. The dough will be very crumbly at first, but then clump up when you turn up the speed. Let me show you the difference.
Below, left: Dough is crumbly and dry at first. Below, right: Dough finally clumps together.
Divide the dough in half and press into 2 lined 8-inch cake pans. If you’re shopping for new pans, I use and love these cake pans and these cake pans. If you use 9-inch cake pans instead, the cookies will be quite thin unless you add an add-in such as nuts, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips.
Now you’ll have 2 pans of pressed dough. Top with optional coarse sugar and dock with a fork so steam can escape these butter-heavy treats. And whoops… my hand got a little heavy with the coarse sugar here. You don’t need quite as much unless you love the sweet crunch!
Bake, cool, and then slice into 8 large, 12 medium, or 16 small wedges.
Can I Use This Dough for Other Shortbread Cookies?
Yes! Let me detail the specifics for you:
- Shortbread Bars: Instead of wedges, bake this dough as shortbread bars in 2 8-inch square baking pans. Or bake the dough in 1 9×13 inch baking pan. The bars baked in a 9×13 inch pan will be quite thin unless you add an add-in such as chocolate chips or nuts. The bake time for bars in either size pan is about the same as below, but begin checking at 25 minutes. They’re done when the tops and edges are very lightly browned.
- Thumbprints: You can use a variation of this dough to make thumbprint cookies. Substitute the cornstarch for the same amount (about 30g or 1/4 cup) of all-purpose flour. Chill the dough for 3 hours. This is exactly the recipe I use when making raspberry almond thumbprints— and I add a touch of almond extract to the dough. Follow the assembly/baking instructions from that recipe.
- As a Shortbread Crust: Press the dough into a 9×13 inch pan and use as the crust for lemon bars. Or you can halve all of the ingredients in the recipe below and use as the crust for lemon blueberry tart, raspberry streusel bars, or apple pie bars. Each of these 4 linked recipes call for melted butter in the crust, but using today’s recipe provides a slightly sturdier and flakier foundation. Follow each linked recipe as instructed (including pre-baking the crust if necessary), only swapping in today’s dough.
I do not recommend using this recipe for shaped/cookie cutter shortbread cookies. The butter-heavy dough loses shape in the oven. Instead, I recommend my regular sugar cookies or the buttery shortbread in my cookbook.
And finally, let’s add some goodies!
Flavors & Add-Ins
Add liquids/zest when you add the vanilla & beat in dry add-ins (such as nuts, sprinkles, or chocolate chips) on low speed after the dough is all mixed/clumped together. If adding spices such as cinnamon, add when you add the flour & cornstarch. *You can also divide the dough in half and beat half of these add-ins (including liquids/extracts if needed) into half of the dough.
- Plain: Keep the recipe as written below. Feel free to drizzle with salted caramel or melted chocolate or decorate with royal icing, this cookie icing, or vanilla buttercream. The pictured green cookies are decorated with vanilla buttercream tinted green to look like a Christmas tree! I used Wilton #32 piping tip.
- Peppermint: Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. After the cookies have cooled, drizzle 4 ounces (113g) of melted semi-sweet chocolate on top, and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
- Sprinkles: Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract and 1/3 cup (about 50g) of sprinkles. Instead of coarse sugar, sprinkle a few teaspoons of more sprinkles on top of the pressed dough before docking and baking.
- Chocolate Chip: Add 3/4 cup (135g) mini chocolate chips. I recommend mini size so you get more chocolate in each cookie. Keeping that in mind, feel free to use 1 cup (180g) regular size instead.
- Cinnamon Pecan: Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 cup (130g) chopped pecans. Instead of coarse sugar, sprinkle the pressed dough with a mixture of 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Other add-ins: 1 cup (about 130g) chopped any nut variety, 3/4 cup (about 115g) dried cranberries or raisins, 1 cup (about 180g) flavored morsels such as butterscotch or white chocolate, 1 teaspoon your favorite extract, 1 Tablespoon (15ml) citrus juice such as lemon or orange + 2 teaspoons zest, or 3/4 cup (about 115g) Heath Bar Bits O’ Brickle English Toffee. Feel free to combine add-ins such as citrus juice, zest, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. These are the add-ins I’ve tested, so let me know if you try others!
See Your Cookies!
Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂Print
Let me teach you how to make buttery shortbread wedge cookies using a simple 6 ingredient dough. There’s no chilling necessary and the cookies will never over-spread because you’re baking them in round pans. See above for optional flavors & add-ins.
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper leaving enough overhang around the sides to easily lift shortbread out. (Tip: Parchment is used so you can easily remove the shortbread and not cut it while it’s in the pan. I like to use a square of parchment and I cut a 1-inch slit in the center of each side. This helps reduce the amount of creases when lined in the pan.)
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add the flour and cornstarch and beat on low speed for 1 minute as the mixture begins to combine. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 1-3 minutes or until the dough clumps together. (It will eventually, just keep mixing it.) If you’re adding dry add-ins (see above), this is when you’ll add them.
- Divide dough in half. If you want to be totally accurate, weigh the halves to make sure they’re even. Recipe makes almost 1.5 lbs of plain dough (will weigh more if you added add-ins). Press each half of dough into a prepared cake pan. You want it nice and compact in the pans. Sprinkle with optional coarse sugar. Dock the surface all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles.
- Bake the shortbread for 28-30 minutes or until very lightly browned on top and around the edges.
- Remove from the oven, place pans on a wire rack, and cool shortbread for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the shortbread from the pans by picking it up with the parchment paper on the sides. Cut each into 8 large, 12 medium, or 16 small wedges. You want to make sure you cut the shortbread while it’s still warm. Enjoy warm or cool shortbread completely on wire racks.
- Cover and store shortbread at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you added a topping such as glaze, icing, buttercream, or melted chocolate, refrigerate after 2 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the shortbread dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 3. Baked shortbread freezes well for up to 3 months. Unbaked shortbread dough freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before continuing with step 3.
- Vanilla: Feel free to add the beans scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean in addition to the vanilla extract. Add when you add the vanilla extract. If you want to swap in vanilla bean paste, substitute it for the same amount of extract.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch can also be known as cornflour. (Not to be confused with cornmeal.) It keeps the cookies soft and tender. If you don’t have it, replace with the same amount of all-purpose flour.
- Pan Size: I recommend 8-inch round cake pans. If using 9-inch round cake pans, the cookies will be quite thin unless you added an add-in to the dough. Bake time will be slightly shorter if using 9-inch pans. Bake until tops and edges are very lightly browned. See post above for directions for shortbread bars in square or rectangle pans.
- Half Batch: You can halve this recipe to yield 1 pan of shortbread wedges. Same bake time.