The Famous 3 Ingredient Shortbread Recipe

The famous 3 ingredient shortbread recipe is the easiest melt-in-your-mouth shortbread you’ll ever make… all you need is butter, plain flour and icing sugar!

A stack of shortbread stars dusted with icing sugar.

While this 3 ingredient shortbread is most well-known for being baked into sweet Christmas cookies, it’s a simple recipe that can be enjoyed at any time of the year!

Whether you’re baking for Christmas or simply filling the cookie tin or your little one’s lunchboxes, this shortbread recipe is absolutely perfect.

A stack of star shaped Christmas shortbread cookies dusted with icing sugar.

Why You’re Going To Love The Famous 3 Ingredient Shortbread Recipe

Apart from the obvious fact that these crumbly, classic shortbread cookies are made from just 3 ingredients, here’s a few more reasons why they’re going to become favourites in your house:

  • egg free – my shortbread recipe contains absolutely NO egg making them a great option for those with egg allergies.
  • traditional taste – the classic melt-in-your-mouth crumbly shortbread texture and sweet subtle flavour is exactly what you get with this recipe!
  • no need for rice flour – most traditional shortbread recipes use rice flour but my recipe uses plain flour.

What You Need

If you’re after the easiest and most basic shortbread recipe ever (that still melts in your mouth and tastes AMAZING)… this is the recipe for you!

All you need is:

Note: please scroll to the full recipe card at the bottom for ingredient quantities and the method

  • butter – you can use either salted or unsalted butter in this recipe.
  • plain flour – also known as all-purpose flour.
  • icing sugar – also known as confectioners sugar or powdered sugar.

….. 1…2…3…. so easy!

The ingredients for 3 ingredient shortbread - plain flour, icing sugar and butter.

How To Make Shortbread With 3 Ingredients

In just a couple of simple steps and less than 10 minutes, you’ll have the perfect shortbread dough.

Note: please scroll to the full recipe card at the bottom for ingredient quantities and the method

Step 1 – Beat The Butter

Beat the butter until it’s pale and creamy. You can use hand-held beaters, a stand-mixer or a Thermomix for this step.

Hand-held electric beaters mixing butter in a bowl.
Creamed butter in a mixing bowl.

Step 2 – Add The Icing Sugar & Flour

Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar and beat through.

Add the sifted plain flour and mix with the beaters on low.

TIP: For the best result, ensure that you sift the flour and icing sugar before using.

Shortbread made from 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl on a marble bench.
Creamed shortbread mixture in a mixing bowl.

Step 3 – Knead Into A Ball & Chill

Gently knead and roll the mixture into a ball.

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4 – Cut Into Shapes & Bake

Roll the dough out on a floured board or bench.

Cut into shapes using cookie cutters and bake.

A stack of shortbread star shaped cookies sprinkled with icing sugar.

Tips For Making Shortbread:

  • Sift the icing sugar and plain flour – this ensures your dough is lump-free and perfectly combined.
  • Don’t overwork the dough – simply mix through until combined.
  • Chill the dough before cooking – this ensures the cookies hold their shape when baked.
  • Don’t overcook the shortbread – it should only just have a light tinge of colour once cooked. The cookies will firm up slightly as they cool.
A shortbread star on a black and gold plate sprinkled with icing sugar.

How To Store Shortbread

Once cooled, shortbread cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Freezing Shortbread Dough

Uncooked shortbread dough can be rolled into a ball, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. 

Allow to defrost in the fridge before using.

Recipe FAQs

Is icing sugar the same as powdered sugar?

Yes it is! Here in Australia, it’s known as icing sugar, but in other parts of the world it’s referred to as confectioners sugar or powdered sugar.

How long do shortbread biscuits last?

You can store shortbread biscuits at room temperature for up to 1 week. They will last longer than that but will soften over time.

How do you know when the biscuits are ready?

The key to delicious shortbread biscuits is not to overcook them!
Simply bake until only just lightly golden. They will firm up on cooling.
If you overcook the biscuits, they’ll lose their famous crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth texture!

Can you make shortbread ahead of time?

Yes! Prepare the dough, roll it into a ball (or log), wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
Defrost in the fridge (preferably overnight) before using.

What equipment do I need?

You will need either a stand-mixer, hand-held beaters or a Thermomix to prepare the dough. You’ll also need an oven for baking the cookies.

Can you make shortbread without rice flour?

Absolutely! My 3 ingredient shortbread recipe is made from plain flour, icing sugar and butter.. that’s it!

Can I make this shortbread recipe in my Thermomix?

Of course! All of our recipes can be made either conventionally or in a Thermomix. Please refer to my recipe card below for both sets of instructions.

Can this recipe be used to cut shapes out of the dough?

Yes! This shortbread recipe is perfect for cutting out Christmas shapes!

Can the 3 ingredient shortbread be given as a gift?

This recipe makes the perfect Christmas gift! Simply pop it into a glass jar or cellophane bag, seal it up and give it to a friend, neighbour or work colleague. 

More Homemade Christmas Gift Recipes

Our 3 ingredient shortbread makes the perfect Christmas gift! But if you’re after even more homemade Christmas recipe inspiration, click here to check out these delicious Christmas food gifts…

A collage of homemade recipes for Christmas gifts.

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Our 3 ingredient shortbread recipe is the easiest shortbread you'll ever make... all you need is butter, plain flour and icing sugar!

3 Ingredient Shortbread Recipe

The famous 3 ingredient shortbread recipe is the easiest melt-in-your-mouth shortbread you'll ever make… all you need is butter, plain flour and icing sugar!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cookies
Cuisine: western
Keyword: 3 ingredient shortbread
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 35 cookies
Calories: 123kcal

Ingredients

  • 340 g (3 sticks) butter
  • 130 g (1 cup) icing sugar confectioners sugar or powdered sugar
  • 375 g (3 cups) plain flour all-purpose flour

Instructions

Conventional Method

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius (fan-forced). Line two large flat baking trays with baking paper and set aside. 
  • Beat the butter in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium until smooth (approximately 30 seconds). 
  • Slowly add the icing sugar and continue mixing until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
  • Add the flour and mix on low speed until combined (please note that the mixture will be crumbly at this stage). 
  • Gently knead the dough into a ball (but don't overwork it) and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. Roll out to 1/2-1 cm thick. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough shapes out. 
  • Place the shapes onto the prepared trays and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just very lightly golden (do not overcook). 
  • Allow to cool on the trays for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thermomix Method

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius (fan-forced). Line two large flat baking trays with baking paper and set aside. 
  • Place the icing sugar into the Thermomix bowl and mix for 10 seconds, Speed 8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and plain flour. Mix for 10-15 seconds, Speed 6 and then for 1 minute on Interval/Knead function.
  • Gently knead the dough into a ball (but don't overwork it) and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
  • Roll out to 1/2-1 cm think and use cookie cutters to cut the dough shapes out. 
  • Place the shapes onto the prepared trays and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just very lightly golden (do not overcook). 
  • Allow to cool on the trays for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Notes

RECIPE NOTES
Equipment – you can either use hand-held beaters, a stand mixer or a Thermomix for this recipe. 
Sifting – sift the icing sugar and plain flour to remove any lumps.
Mixing –  don’t overwork the dough, instead it should be gently folded and then pressed together. 
Chilling – chill the dough before cooking to avoid shapes spreading when baked. 
Testing the cookies – don’t overcook the shortbread cookies – they should only just have a light tinge of colour once cooked.
Storage – Once cooled, shortbread cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week. Alternatively, the uncooked dough can be rolled into a ball, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. 

Nutrition

Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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9 Comments
  1. raylene holroyd says:

    Is 3 cups of flour Australian metric cups

  2. LINDA says:

    Lovely recipe.

    For 3 cups recipe lists 375 grams. I normally use 1 cup as 220g AU metric. Does it need 660 grams or 375? Thank you!

    1. Lucy says:

      Hi Linda, thank you so much! A standard metric cup of flour is 125-150g (this includes Australian). So yes 375g is correct. xx

      1. LINDA says:

        Thanks so much for clarifying, baking now x

  3. Karen says:

    If you like your shortbread to be buttery and short, with an outer crispness, I use 2 parts plain flour to one part cornflour. My family loves them this way.

  4. Teash says:

    Unsalted or salted butter?

    1. Lucy says:

      I generally use unsalted 🙂

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