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3-Ingredient Buttery Shortbread Cookies

These Butter Shortbread Cookies are the best shortbread cookies! Melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness. Make them, gift them, freeze them.

butter shortbread cookies

The Best Shortbread Cookies Everyone Loves

We’re neck deep in cookies all over our kitchen and will hopefully continue the trend in the next couple of days.  When there are Littles at home and they have friends, sometimes they all come swarming…and cookies disappear in nanoseconds.

We had such fun over the weekend celebrating the holidays early with some family and friends.  I can’t count how many kiddos were there. At least fifteen of them, and half of them unapologetically hungry teens.

Translation: tables full of food and counters teeming with treats to satisfy those not-so-little-anymore Littles. Enter these butter shortbread cookies.

3 ingredient shortbread cookies

Festive and 3-Ingredients only

My awesome cousin is a fab hostess, and she set up colorful cookie building stations all over her kitchen. Yeah, kindergartners and teens alike still love doing that kind of stuff. (Um, me too.)

The kids gifted us grown-ups with elaborately and generously painted gingerbread men.

The festive colors, sights, sounds, and flavors that abound during the Christmas season have no parallel. Especially when they include fun sprinkles and 3-ingredient butter shortbread cookies in all shapes and sizes.

best shortbread cookies

Melt in your mouth buttery goodness

These 3-ingredient buttery shortbread cookies, specifically. The ones where all you need are: flour, butter, and brown sugar. No extra salt is needed, as we use salted butter for these tasty bites. Sprinkles are optional and lends a boost of colorful fun. 

My boys could pop these into their hungry mouths by the fistful if I let them.  Maybe they do when I’m not looking.

The cookie monster in everyone seems to appear out of nowhere when they see–smell-taste these melt in your mouth shortbread cookies.

I get it, I really do.  Because these shortbread cookies are genuinely addictive. I purposely use small cookie cutters to make smaller sized cookies so that I can pop more of them into my mouth. 

butter shortbread cookies

Shortbread cookies to bake, gift, freeze

These 3-ingredient buttery shortbread cookies make my top 3 favorite holiday cookies every single year.

They’re easy, no-frills, and 120% mouthwatering.

Bonus: they keep nicely for days, making them a tasty edible gift. The dough and baked cookies both freeze beautifully for at least a week or two. Once I make a batch of this cookie dough, I often use half and freeze the other half for all those seasonal cookie emergencies that inevitably pop up during busy holiday season.

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See this recipe in action:

shortbread cookies

3-Ingredient Buttery Shortbread Cookies

4.87 from 37 ratings
These buttery shortbread cookies are simply divine. They are melt-in-your-mouth amazing, bursting with the goodness of butter, and easily dressed up or down.
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Servings: 3 dozen


  • 2 cups salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 ½ cups all purpose flour, divided
  • Optional: Your favorite sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 325F, with rack on lower middle position. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and brown sugar. Using paddle attachment on medium-high speed, mix until fluffy and light, several minutes. Add only 3 1/2 cups of the flour and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
  • On a large board, sprinkle 1/2 cup flour to keep dough from sticking to the board. Use rubber spatula to transfer dough to the board. Knead dough by hand for 5 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed to make a soft dough, while continuing to knead by hand. The dough should end up soft and pliable, similar to play-dough, not sticky. Work in desired amount of sprinkles, if using. (Important Note: You may not end up using all the flour, depending on how your dough feels; it's important to stop adding flour as soon as your dough feels like soft play dough.)
  • Divide dough into thirds, wrap tightly, and chill for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll and cut shapes. Roll one-third of the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness (lightly flour board if needed.) Either cut into 3x1 rectangular strips, triangles, or use cookie cutter for shapes. Place each cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Poke cookies with fork to design if not using sprinkles.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. If your shapes are smaller, bake less time. Bake longer for bigger shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough, working in batches so dough stays chilled and workable.
  • Cool completely on wire rack before serving. Cookies keep very when sealed airtight, at room temp.


Extra dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap completely airtight; defrost dough when ready to roll/cut.
If you enjoyed these cookies, please come back and give them a rating! ☆


Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.4g | Protein: 1.3g | Fat: 7.8g | Saturated Fat: 4.9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 20.3mg | Sodium: 62.3mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 4.5g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Method: baking

Did you make this?

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Here are more cookies for any day, anytime, all year round!

Snowball Cookies.  These are seriously melt-in-your-mouth, and just like potato chips, nobody can eat just one.

Russian Tea Cakes (Snowballs)

Fudgy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies.  These are oh-so-yum!  Dangerous to keep around, but pretty worth it.

Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies no watermark

Cookie ‘n Cream Chewy Cookies.  These are simply amazing.  They’ll knock your socks off.

Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cookies

These Buttery Jam Thumbprint Cookies won Pinterest’s “most pinned cookie of the year” and appeared on Good Morning America.

Add a comment

Recipe Rating


    • Sue French

    Will this dough go through cookie gun?

      • Amy Dong

      The dough is similar to soft play dough, so maybe?

    • AngeP3
    • 5 stars

    The absolute best cookie on the planet!! I do add 1.5 tablespoons of vanilla to every batch so mine is a 4 ingredient dough “lol” . I use this dough for regular shortbread cookies and, thumbprints , I mix in pecans or when making dough I’ll add coco for chocolate shortbread. I get rave reviews from my friends and family for all my cookies but especially these , I give out trays to everyone and they start asking around thanksgiving if I’m making cookies this year . When making the thumbprints I’ll make a savory one with a pepper jelly they are a request from my niece who loves these cookies the most !!!

    • Kelly
    • 5 stars

    This recipe is easy and it is hands down the BEST shortbread cookies I’ve ever had!

    • Michele
    • 5 stars

    These cookies are so easy and delicious. I used Christmas cookie cutters and they came out perfect by cooking them a little longer as directed!

    • Hayley

    Hello, do you think these would be okay to freeze AFTER baking? I’m wanting to bake as much as I can ahead of time for Christmas cookie tins.

      • chewoutloud

      They keep super well, I think you’ll be really happy with them, Hayley!

      • Michele

      I just made these cookies today and froze them. I usually make ahead and freeze all my cookies and they all freeze well!

    • Jarah

    Hi s as n trying to make these. I’m following the recipe but I can’t seem to get dough. It’s just staying as powder. How can I fix this?

      • chewoutloud

      Be sure to measure dry ingredients using scoop/scrape method and dry-measuring-cup. It sounds like too much flour to liquid ratio. Let me know if re-measuring helps.

    • Sarah Cummings

    Could I use unsalted butter instead of salted butter?

      • chewoutloud

      Yes, you can – just add 1/4 tsp salt to the dough to make up for it.

    • Sarah Cummings

    What happens if you use unsalted butter instead of salter butter?

    • Pam

    Before making these cookies, I’m wondering how the cold butter can end up being “fluffy and light”? This doesn’t make sense to me. Thanks in advance for your advice!

      • chewoutloud

      Keep whipping it, as long as it takes for the butter to work in enough air for that fluffy-looking texture. The key is to whip it longer than you think it should take. Enjoy!

    • DONNA

    I want to make these for Valentines Day But I need to know if they spread. I don’t like to go through all the work of cutting out shapes and then they end up flat. Ty

      • chewoutloud

      Donna, what’s great about these cookies is they don’t spread much at all. Great for shape-cutting 🙂

    • Shweta Shetty
    • 5 stars

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Tried them tonight and they turned out so good !

      • chewoutloud

      That’s so wonderful, Shweta! 🙂

    • Devon
    • 5 stars

    So easy and so delicious. My only mistake was in making a half batch. It seemed like so much (the half batch made over 4 dozen!) but they are a big hit. I used dark brown sugar instead of light, gave them a gorgeous golden brown color. Will definitely make again, a full batch next time!

      • chewoutloud

      Soooo happy to hear you guys liked these, Devon! 🙂

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