Shortbread cookies are especially popular during the holidays, but are the perfect cookies to enjoy all year long! They will melt in your mouth with a rich buttery taste and are hard to resist. This delicious shortbread recipe has only 3 ingredients and is close to the same recipe as the traditional Christmas Scottish biscuits you have probably enjoyed.
What is shortbread?
Shortbread is a type of biscuit or cookie originating in Scotland where it is called shortbread biscuits or shorties. It is traditionally served at Christmas and New Year’s. Shortbread is usually made with approximately 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour. The recipe hasn’t changed much from its original form in the Middle Ages. Shortbread doesn’t contain any leavening, such as baking powder or baking soda and holds its shape because of the ratio of sugar, butter, and flour. The key to good shortbread is the quality of the butter.
Why you will love this recipe:
- It is simple and uses only 3 ingredients you probably already have
- It is egg-free
- You can change the butter to vegan butter
- Shortbread has a light, soft, buttery flavor that crumbles with every bite
Tools you will need:
- Measuring cup
- Mixing bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Parchment paper
- Air fryer
Ingredients you will need:
- Butter (salted, and at room temperature)
- Powdered sugar
How to make shortbread in the air fryer:
- PREHEAT the air fryer to 350°F
- MIX sugar and flour
- ADD softened butter and rub the butter into the sugar and flour with your hands
- KNEAD the dough for a few minutes until the dough is smooth
- ROLL INTO A LOG, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This will ensure that the butter is cold and will prevent the shortbread from spreading.
- REMOVE DOUGH from plastic wrap and roll to about 1/2-inch thickness
- CUT into rounds or rectangles and prick with a fork
- PLACE ON PARCHMENT PAPER in the air fryer basket and bake for 12 minutes at 350°F
- COOL completely
How to store shortbread
There is no need to store it in the refrigerator. Just let these homemade cookies cool to room temperature and they will stay fresh for up to a week in an air-tight container.
What should shortbread cookies look like when done?
Baked shortbread is light golden brown across the top and deeper brown around the edges.
What are the traditional shapes of shortbread?
- One large circle is divided into triangular segments, called “petticoat tails”
- Individual round cookies, called “shortbread rounds”
- Thin rectangular slabs cut into “fingers”
What does ‘short” mean in shortbread?
The amount of butter in shortbread is where “short” comes from. “Short” historically means “pastry with a high percentage of fat.” Shortbread cookies are, when correctly made and baked, rich, crumbly, and very hard for most to resist.
Should shortbread be soft?
Shortbread will always have a tender, melting texture, but will be slightly crispy as you bite into it. Over-mixed or overworked dough will produce tough shortbread.
What makes shortbread hard?
If you over-mix the shortbread dough, gluten will develop and make the shortbread hard, not tender. To make sure you do not over-mix, sift the flour first to get out all the lumps.
Does shortbread get better with age?
Some say this rich buttery cookie does get better with age. It can be stored up to a month if needed, and over that time its flavor deepens. Try dipping the tips or corners of the cookies in melted chocolate for a decorative touch.
What is the difference between shortbread and sugar cookies?
Shortbread and sugar cookies are both delicious. Sugar cookies are lighter, shortbread is dense. Sugar cookies work well for cutting and decorating, shortbread is best without decorating. Sugar cookies use baking powder or baking soda, shortbread only uses flour, sugar and butter.
What is Millionaire’s Shortbread?
Millionaire’s shortbread, also called caramel shortbread, chocolate caramel shortbread, and Wellington’s squares is a biscuit confectionary item that is composed of a rectangular, triangular, or circular shortbread biscuit base that is topped with caramel and milk chocolate. It originated in Scotland, as shortbread did. The “millionaire’s” prefix implies a level of decadence and wealth to the cookie and is a delicious upgrade to the regular shortbread.
Why is the famous Walker’s shortbread from Scotland so good?
Walker’s shortbread is made with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The ingredients are not genetically modified (non-GMO) and are locally sourced when possible (including United Kingdom sugar and flour). The all-important quality of the butter comes from free-range, grass-fed cows that are given no hormones or antibiotics.
Top Tips for making great shortbread in the air fryer
- Sift the flour before mixing, this will remove any lumps.
- Do not over-mix the dough, the shortbread will be tough and crumbly.
- Chill the dough for up to 2 hours before baking so the butter will be cold and the shortbread will not spread while baking.
- Try using a sharp knife that’s been held under hot running water to help cut the shortbread evenly into rectangular strips.
- Prick holes in shortbread to help moisture escape. It is key to getting that perfect, dense, and crumbly texture.
- Powdered sugar is better than regular sugar since it is less dense and will produce a lighter cookie.
- The shortbread may feel soft right after baking but will harden as the cookies cool. Let the cookies cool in the air fryer for a few minutes before removing them. Then place it on a wire rack to continue cooling.
Air Fryer Shortbread
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 12 tbsp butter
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F
- In medium bowl, combine the sugar and flour
- Add butter and mix in well with the sugar and flour
- With your hands knead mixture well until it is smooth
- Roll into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Use the dough to make portions about 1/2 inch thick, or use a cutter if you have one
- Cook in air fryer for 12 minutes at 350°F