Citrus + Herbal Shortbread

You must try the classic shortbread baked with herbs and orange zest this holiday season. The earthy taste of the herbs and sweet citrus notes perfectly complement the sweet, slightly salty, and savory flavors. The buttery, crumbly texture melts in your mouth and is absolutely irresistible. These cookies are sure to become your favorite treat of the year!

Why you’ll love them:

  • The dough requires minimal ingredients
  • The dough is easy to work with and perfect for cutting into shapes for the holiday season
  • They are elegant and perfect for gifting!
  • You don’t need to chill the dough, perfect for last minute bakers

If you love botanical cookies as much as we do, you may also enjoy Pine needle shortbread, Rose Petal Cardamom Shortbread or Lavender Shortbread Cookies

wooden table with glass bowls containing ignredients for herbal citrus shortbread, sitting next to candle sticks with sage green candles and oranges and herbs around the table

The ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Icing sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Corn starch
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Orange peel zest
  • Fresh herb leaves of choice
  • Vanilla extract or vanilla bean

How to make them:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F ( 176 C)
  • Start by making a vanilla citrus herb sugar, where all your flavors come from. Do this by mixing up your powdered and granulated sugar, vanilla bean, orange zest, and herbs. Use a mortar and pestle or food processor to do this. Finely chop the herbs and mix them with sugar if you don’t have either.

  • Cream your butter with your sugar until fluffy and well incorporated.

  • Sift in the flour and cornstarch and gradually mix. You will need to get your hands dirty and mix well to incorporate the butter into the flour. Work it with your hands until the dough becomes a ball.

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough out about 1 inch thick. Cover and chill for 30-45 minutes.
  • Cut into desired shapes.

  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Or until slightly golden. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Our tips for perfect herbal shortbread:

We really love our shortbread here. You might have noticed our large collection of botanical shortbreads, so here are our top tips for making perfect shortbread.

  1. Choose high-quality butter: with so few ingredients, choosing quality butter is important. 
  2. Measure ingredients correctly:  I know not every home baker is going to want to weigh their ingredients. I blogged for years before even considering it! But, now that I weigh my ingredients, I never make a recipe without grams because just a little too much or too little of any one ingredient can really throw off a recipe. And if I’m going through all the trouble to bake, I want to ensure it comes out just as expected. Here is a great kitchen scale I recommend.If you don’t use a kitchen scale, spoon and level your flour for increased likelihood of accuracy.
  3. Chill before baking…sometimesThis recipe has very specific ratios with less butter so that it doesn’t bubble and spread, in my experience, the dough usually doesn’t have to be chilled before baking. However, if I’ve over-handled it or kept it out too long, it still will become very soft and difficult to manage while rolling or cutting shapes. If your shortbread feels too soft, no need to worry. Just pop in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, or until you’re ready to bake. 
  4. Bake until golden: Despite the recommended baking time, it’s best to let the shortbread get slightly golden before removing it from the oven. This ensures they are fully crisp and will continue to harden as they chill for easy handling.

Should you sift flour when you make shortbread?

We recommend sifting flour for all baked goods to break up any clumps. It’s especially a good idea in this in a recipe like this that has such few ingredients. However, you can skip this step if you don’t have a sifter.

Why is my shortbread too soft?

Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, try chilling the bars before baking. This will allow the butter to harden. 

Do I need to poke holes in my shortbread with a fork?

Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling. Pricking your shortbread also gives it that signature Scottish shortbread cookie design!

How should I store shortbread cookies?

Because shortbreads have a high-fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers.

How long will shortbread last?

Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

old fashioned recipe card for sending in mail
If you’re old fashioned like me, you probably also enjoy a sweet and simple recipe card tucked away or to share with friends

Perfect for gifting

These cookies are so special because they are a perfect, unique, edible gift! Share them with your loved ones this season, and hopefully, they become a part of your tradition.

woman holding triangle shaped shortbread cookie about to dip into terracotta mug of steaming hot tea in dark room

Citrus + Herbal Shortbread Cookie Ccecipe

4.92 from 12 votes
You must try the classic shortbread baked with herbs and orange zest this holiday season. The earthy taste of the herbs and sweet citrus notes perfectly complement the sweet, slightly salty, and savory flavors. The buttery, crumbly texture melts in your mouth and is absolutely irresistible. These cookies are sure to become your favorite treat of the year!
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Additional Time:45 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 grams) butter softened unsalted
  • ½ cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (68 grams) corn starch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • orange peel zest
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) fresh or dried herb of choice rosemary, sage and thyme
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 176 C
  • Start by making an infused herb sugar, where all of your flavor will come from. Do this by mixing up your powdered and granulated sugar, vanilla extract, orange zest and herbs. Use a mortar and pestle or food processor to do this. If you don't have either, finely chop the herbs and mix in with the sugar.
  • Cream your butter with your infused sugar until fluffy and well incorporated.
  • Sift in the flour and corn starch and gradually mix. Work it with your hands until the dough becomes a ball.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough out about 1 inch thick.
  • Cover in a chill for 30 - 45 minutes.
  • Cut into desired shapes.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to chill.

Notes

These cookies are even better after they sit for a few days. That really makes the flavor more pronounced. Store in an air-tight container for up to three weeks. They freeze very well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 283mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g
Course: Botanical Shortbread
Cuisine: Cookies
Keyword: christmas, citrus shortbread, cookies, herbal shortbread, rosemary shortbread, shortbread
Servings: 12 large cookies or 24 small cookies
Calories: 237kcal
Author: sarah

Frequently asked questions



Should you sift flour when making shortbread?

Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, make sure you’ve chilled your dough before baking. This will allow the butter to harden up a bit. It’s also always a good idea to measure ingredients by weight to ensure you have the correct amount of flour to butter ratio. 

Do I need to poke holes in my shortbread with a fork?

Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling. This shortbread recipe does not require forking.

How should I store shortbread cookies?

Because shortbreads have a high fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers.

How long will shortbread last?

Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

How long will shortbread last?

Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

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