Store bought shortbread cookies

Table of Contents

Having gone to school in Scotland, I understand that shortbread is more than a biscuit: it’s a cultural and culinary pillar of the British palate. My friends relished their shortbread binges, especially during finals season. Day trips to Edinburgh always culminated in seeking out the finest shortbread before catching the train back home.

Some may take shortbread’s delicate and simple flavor for granted. To combat this travesty, it’s time to give shortbread the attention and appreciation it deserves. In collaboration with shortbread aficionados from across the pond, here are five types of store-bought shortbread you cannot miss- in order of best, to still pretty dang good.

5. Sainsbury’s Shortbread

A photo posted by Chiara Tornatore (@kiarapink86) on Dec 14, 2014 at 3:08am PST

While perhaps the least complex flavor profile, Sainsbury’s store-brand shortbread biscuits are a great alternative to pricier, more upscale brands. They have a mellow flavor that pairs well with tea and coffee, and a price that can’t be beat (around £2-3 a unit, depending on volume).

For long-term lovers of shortbread, this brand (which is now distributed to many major supermarkets) epitomizes the ideal crispy-crumbly-sweet balance. These biscuits make excellent pie bases or an easy ice cream topping. In a pinch, Sainsbury’s is a reliable stop on the hunt for an emergency shortbread fix.

4. Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread

A photo posted by WALKERS SHORTBREAD (@walkersshortbread) on Jun 11, 2016 at 2:05am PDT

Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread is perhaps the most popular store-bought brand—a title it certainly has merited. It is reliably crumbly and buttery, without being cloyingly sweet. The simplicity of these biscuits allows for tea-dunking, jam pairings, or even enjoying the biscuit on its own.

If you’ve just been introduced to the shortbread lifestyle, this is a great place to start developing your palate.

3. Harrods’ Shortbread Collection

A photo posted by Rara Asmaradewi (Raraa Photo) (@raraaphoto) on Jul 13, 2015 at 4:58pm PDT

Harrods is a jack of all trades—patrons can browse luxury designer clothes and stock up on groceries at the same time. Much like their couture garments, their speciality grocery items are worth noting.

These shortbread biscuits are high quality and notably “cleaner” tasting than many other mass-produced brands. If your budget is flexible, these are worth trying on your next Harrods run.

2. Glenfiddich Whisky Shortbread

A photo posted by Georgina Lumb (@georginamary03) on Dec 24, 2015 at 3:56pm PST

I struggle to identify a pairing more authentically Scottish than that of whiskey and shortbread. Glenfiddich, a renowned Scotch manufacturer, produces this whisky shortbread that has quickly become a cult favorite.

The Scotch’s subtle oaky vanilla is complemented by the shortbread’s buttery richness, creating a more dimensional flavor profile. Ideal on a blistery winter day, or to celebrate the holiday season.

1. Reids of Caithness

A photo posted by Reids of Caithness (@reids_of_caithness) on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:41pm PDT

Hailing from the Scottish Highlands, Reid’s of Caithness boasts sophistication and quality. Their biscuits maintain the true cultural integrity of Scottish shortbread, while also flaunting new flavors such as Raspberry White Chocolate and Orange.

Whether you’re a lifetime shortbread devotee or are new to the calling, these five scrumptious store-bought shortbread brands all offer unique and distinct variations on the Scottish classic. Be it a mission to satisfy a sweet tooth or hone your shortbread wisdom, the search for the best store-bought shortbread is bound to be delicious.

Walkers: Is this Britain’s best shortbread?

Legend has it that the original Aberlour House gave shelter to the prince when he fled to Skye in 1746. In its current 19th-century pillared incarnation it has housed, among others, the MoD during the Second World War, while they planned the D-Day landings; and the pre-school for Gordonstoun, when it was bitterly cold and stank, according to the Prince of Wales, of old socks.

‘That’s the thing everyone who knew it when it was a school mentions when they come here,’ Walker says. ‘ “Good heavens, it’s warm,” they say. “It used to be so cold.”  ’ The house itself is massive. There are endless corridors sporting tartan carpets and gigantic rooms where Field Marshal Montgomery pored over his maps and several hundred schoolboys swarmed, but which are now stuffed with shortbread biscuits and Walker-family memorabilia – portraits of Walker’s father and uncle, who kept the company going through two world wars; cabinets full of awards and presents donated by grateful distributors; the desk at which Walker can remember watching his grandfather count the money at the end of each day; and a large fibreglass tartan elephant that guards the bottom of an impressive staircase in the front hall.

Jim Walker at Aberlour House, the company’s headquarters

Sadly the family does not actually live here (‘Not my style at all,’ Walker murmurs); instead it provides conference and sales rooms, plus space for 40 office staff – and those biscuits. If you are an office worker who fancies a shortbread with your cup of tea, Aberlour House is the place to be. There are more than 300 different types of Walkers shortbread, and there are boxes of every one of them here in the sales room.

‘Shortbread means “crumbly”,’ Alistair Gronbach, Walkers’ mar-keting director, says as we gaze at half a mile of table laden with it. ‘It was invented by adding butter and sugar to stale breadcrumbs and baking the result. It was a delicacy and one that we owe to Mary, Queen of Scots, who came back to Scotland from France with a host of French chefs. They made it for her, originally baking it in rounds – petites galettes – decorated like the petticoat tails of the queen.’

Inside Walkers’ Shortbread 2 factory PHOTO: Andy Sewell

Walkers still produces rounds of petticoat tails, but its biggest seller is the shortbread finger. ‘Most people are brought up eating fingers,’ Gronbach says. ‘They’re very thick, so more buttery.’

In Shortbread 2, possibly the only factory in the world making solely shortbread, the smell of baking wafts over you in hunger-inducing waves. It is a 50,000 sq ft windowless space in which 150 people toil, feeding the many machines needed to make a couple of million biscuits per day. The detritus of giant-scale baking lies all about: slabs of butter the size of small suitcases, sacks of sugar as big as hot tubs, towering palettes of baking tins. It takes 50 tons of flour, 10 tons of sugar and

Near the village of Aberlour, Scotland PHOTO: Andy Sewell

20 tons of butter to make a day’s supply of shortbread, and one hour to bake each batch. Watching the operation – armfuls of dough being turned out into moulds, which are then inserted into six moving 200ft ovens – is astonishing, as is the resulting beige river of fingers advancing along a conveyor belt, destined to be packaged in tartan boxes and transported to a shop near you.

‘Shortbread – it’s never in fashion and never out of fashion,’ Walker says. ‘Everybody likes it and we make it in exactly the same way it was made in the village bakery. Cream the butter and sugar, add the flour and bake. But we can bake it better in these modern ovens – we don’t use any artificial preservatives, but you can still keep it for a year because the moisture content is very low and it’s very cool when we wrap it.’

Shortbread fingers remain the company’s most popular product PHOTO: Andy Sewell

What would his grandfather think of the business now? ‘My grand-father was a typical dour Scot, austere and down to earth. He never enjoyed success, but it would have been beyond the wildest dreams of my father. My grand-father would have said, “Don’t get carried away…”  ’

In his youth Walker lived over the bakery, which, until 1975, operated from premises in the village. Walkers now employs more Spey-side locals than all the distilleries put together, and many of the people working for him are descendants of people who worked for his father and grandfather. Four workers on the production lines today have accumulated 122 years of service with Walkers between them. At Aberlour House the fourth and fifth generations of Walkers are beginning to come into the business.

A worker at Walkers’ Shortbread 2 factory PHOTO: Andy Sewell

‘I get a real kick out of being a small, private company achieving success against much bigger competitors,’ Walker explains. ‘We started as a village bakery, and that is still what we are – a 100-year-old bakery, supported by great people, operating from a tiny village in Scotland.’

The finished product PHOTO: Andy Sewell

Scottish shortbread
makes 24 pieces
A traditional recipe used ‘by everyone’, according to Jim Walker

  • 500g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250g semolina or ground rice
  • 500g butter, plus extra for greasing

Mix all the dry ingredients together well, then rub in the butter with your fingertips. Press into a lightly greased shallow 25 x 35cm tin.

Prick the dough all over with a fork, and bake in a slow oven, at 150C/gas mark 2, for about an hour or until it is a pale biscuit colour.

No one knows how to make the absolute best shortbread quite like the Scottish. They originated this treat centuries ago (it was a favorite of Mary, Queen of Scots). But what is the secret to getting that signature texture and flavor?

Quite simply: You let the dough dry out. Back in Mary’s time, bakers would let the dough rest in a warm oven. This dried out the dough a bit before it was baked at the proper temperature. See bakers back then found that by letting the dough dry out and rest, that the shortbread became lighter and sweeter.

How? Well, as the dough rests—be it in the ovens or yore or inside your refrigerator today—water evaporates from the dough (this water comes from the butter). Less water in the dough means that the sugar is more concentrated. And with only a few ingredients in traditional shortbread recipes, you want those flavors to stand out.

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

The absolute best shortbread cookie recipe—it’s contest-winning!—requires just three ingredients:

  • 2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 to 4-/12 cups flour

Step 1: Make a Simple Dough

To make this shortbread recipe, you can break out your hand or stand mixer to make quick work of the prep. However, a wooden spoon and your favorite mixing bowl will do just fine—and it’s definitely traditional. Start by creaming together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. For a simple recipe like this that doesn’t call for additional flavorings or salt, be sure to use salted butter to bump up the flavor. And use the best butter you can—this is our favorite.

After you’ve creamed your butter and sugar, add in 3-3/4 cups of flour and mix until combined. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and add in the remaining flour until you have a soft dough.

Step 2: Shape the Shortbread Cookies

Lightly flour a work surface, and roll out the dough until it’s about a half inch thick. Cut into 3×1-inch strips. You can use a knife, a pizza cutter or a bench scraper to do this. Place about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and prick with a fork to get that signature Scottish shortbread cookie design.

Step 3: The Secret to the Absolute Best Shortbread

After shaping the cookies, don’t rush to the oven! Instead, chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so (overnight is OK, too). A short stay in the fridge will firm up the cookies and solidify the butter. This will help keep them from spreading too much. Also, it helps concentrate those flavors for your best ever shortbread.

Step 4: Bake

Bake in a 325ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the pan for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The result should be a nice, tender shortbread cookie. These cookies are good on their own, with a cup of coffee or, if you want to go the traditional route, a cup of tea.

Try More Shortbread Recipes 1 / 20


I live in Missouri, but many family recipes come from New Zealand where I was born. My parents moved there when I was a year old, so I have a “Down Under” heritage. These special-occasion cookies bring back warm memories of my childhood, and I’m going to make sure they’re passed on to the next generation in my family…no matter where they live! —Allen Swenson, Camdenton, Missouri Get Recipe

Shortbread Hearts

These flaky cookies melt in your mouth. Dipped in chocolate, they look festive.—Barbara Birk, St. George, Utah Get Recipe

Lemon Shortbread Trees

Here’s a fun holiday recipe children can help with. And no cookie cutters are needed! I just shape the dough into a triangular log, refrigerate it and cut it into tree-shaped slices to bake and decorate. Broken pretzel sticks form the tree trunks. —Phyllis Schmalz, Kansas City, Kansas Get Recipe

Glazed Maple Shortbread Cookies

Whenever I visit friends in Lutsen, Minnesota, I make sure to buy maple syrup there because I think it’s even better than in Quebec. These delicious cookies can be decorated with sprinkles but they’re just fine as is.—Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario Get Recipe

Buttery 3-Ingredient Shortbread Cookies

With only a few ingredients, these butter shortbread cookies are so simple to prepare. —Pattie Prescott, Manchester, New Hampshire Get Recipe

Cranberry Shortbread Stars

My family loves shortbread and I love cranberries, so I decided to put the two together. The star shape is a festive addition to my holiday cookie tray. —Sonya Labbe, West Hollywood, California Get Recipe

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish settlers first came to this area over 150 years ago. My mother herself was Scottish, and—as with most of my favorite recipes—she passed this on to me. I make a triple batch of it each year at Christmas, to enjoy and as gifts. —Rose Mabee, Selkirk, Manitoba Get Recipe

Whipped Shortbread

These whipped shortbread christmas cookies melt in your mouth. Mostly I make them for the holidays, but I’ll also prepare them year-round for wedding showers and ladies’ teas. —Jane Ficiur, Bow Island, Alberta Get Recipe

Homemade Chocolate Shortbread

This recipe has been in my files for a long time…probably from when I first learned to bake. Any chocolate lover will like these melt-in-your-mouth cookies. I make them year-round with variations. They’re even richer with a thin coat of icing or as a sandwich cookie with frosting in the middle. —Sarah Bueckert, Austin, Manitoba Get Recipe

Orange-Cranberry Shortbread

Holiday cookies should be extra-special, so I created this beautiful, delicious shortbread with cranberries, orange and holiday spices to both serve and give as gifts. Everyone loves them!—Lisa Speer, Palm Beach, Florida Get Recipe

Mint-Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Festive buttery shortbreads are even better when dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy. —Dahlia Abrams, Detroit, Michigan Get Recipe

Holiday Shortbread Cookies

This special Christmas treat came to me from Scotland through a relative. I compared this recipe with one a friend makes, since her husband is of Scottish descent, and found this shortbread to be quite authentic. —Erma Hiltpold, Kerrville, Texas Get Recipe

Shortbread Cutouts

I found this recipe in a magazine over 30 years ago and have made the cutouts for Christmas ever since. Four ingredients make them an oh-so-simple recipe to whip up during the hectic holidays. —Jean Henderson, Montgomery, Texas Get Recipe

Slice & Bake Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Light and buttery, these delicate shortbread cookies are melt-in-your-mouth good. The coconut flavor makes them extra special. —Roberta Otto, Duluth, Minnesota Get Recipe

Carrot Cake Shortbread

I really love carrot cake and wanted to make a cookie that had the same flavors, and these comforting cookies are are it! Cinnamon, maple and vanilla make them perfect for the holidays. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah Get Recipe

Crisp Lemon Shortbread

Fresh juice and zest pair up to give my buttery cookies a lemony pop. Sprinkle sugar on top for extra sparkle. —Marcia Whitney, Gainesville, Florida Get Recipe

Chocolate Shortbread Trees

You can use this rollout chocolate cookie dough to create all kinds of shapes and sizes, but I like to make trees because they are so easy to decorate. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, Missouri Get Recipe

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

This simple three-ingredient shortbread cookie recipe makes wonderfully rich, tender cookies. Serve them with fresh berries of the season for a nice, light dessert. You’ll get miles of smiles when friends see these at an afternoon tea or a bridal shower. —Marlene Hellickson, Big Bear City, California Get Recipe

Candy Cane Shortbread Bars

I created these bars for my daughter, who loves peppermint. The buttery shortbread texture just melts in your mouth. It’s a hit wherever I take it. —Susan Ciuffreda, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Get Recipe

Shortbread Squares

Here’s a traditional shortbread recipe that’s perfect with a cup of hot tea or coffee. It’s a favorite during the holidays. —G. C. Mayhew, Grass Valley, California Get Recipe

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

6 Ways to Turn Store-Bought Shortbread Cookies Into a Dessert You Want to Eat

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Blakeslee Giles

I have this problem. Whenever I see an image of a cookie (which happens quite frequently in my line of work), I’m immediately overtaken by this desperate sensation of needing a cookie. Rationally, I know I don’t need a cookie, but just try to explain rational thinking to a craving. Generally, not having access to the cookie I so desire is what keeps me from consuming 800+ chocolate chip cookies each week.

I experienced a wave of what I’m officially deeming Cookie Monster Syndrome yesterday after lunch, and as soon as the thought formed in my mind, I was writing it out in a message to my colleague, in hopes that she, against all odds, might happen to have (or know which staffer in the test kitchen might have) a fix…

Cooking dinner shouldn’t be complicated

Sign up for our daily newsletter, Well Done, for expert cooking tips and foolproof recipes from your favorite food brands.

“I need a cookie.”

Because our office is oftentimes a bizarre place to work, this editor offered me the giant cut-out cookie iced in Mariah Carey’s likeness (don’t ask) that she made over the weekend. I considered the the offer, but it was at this moment I noticed, among the vast array of product samples and items that never quite made it back to my home kitchen, I have 4 boxes of Trefoils shortbread cookies leftover from Girl Scout season under my desk. Why I ordered 4 boxes of the most generic cookie the Scouts have to offer is beyond me, but you best believe my cookie-hungry a$$ tore into one of them yesterday—at which point I realized, I have a new problem.

I’m now fully aware that I have access to 4 boxes of cookies, literally within my grasp. This does not spell well for someone with Cookie Monster Syndrome. Packaged shortbread cookies are fine to scratch a desperate itch, but at the end of the day, my rational brain knows that they’re not worth demolishing at the expense of my general health in the way that a warm, homemade salted chocolate chunk cookie is. But again, just try to explain rationality to a CMS-level sweet tooth. Point being, I need to get these cookies out of my line of vision/reach to avoid senselessly devouring them. STAT. Like yesterday.

And since packaged shortbread cookies are one of those items that many of us end up unenthusiastically having in our possession during the holiday season—because you know people who truly believe they make a great gift, or they were on sale and you figured they might come in handy, or you made misguided decisions earlier this year during Girl Scout Cookie season, etc.—I figured I wouldn’t be alone in my journey to make better use of them. And once I really started to think about it, I realized there are actually quite a few ways to transform the box of mundane cookies you settle for into a dazzling holiday dessert you’ll swoon for. Here are a few:

Layer Them Into an Icebox Cake

Wanna know a secret? Icebox cake is one of the easiest, most delightful desserts you can possibly whip up. In other words, if you don’t fancy yourself a baker, this is the route for you. Alternately layered with key lime curd and a sweet cream cheese filling, store-bought shortbread cookies are the perfectly hearty element to give this stunning key lime pie-inspired icebox cake structure. (P.S. If you want to shortcut this recipe while giving it your own custom spin, you can use store-bought, jarred curd in whatever flavor you like.) Your shortbread cookies would work equally well for this eye-catching Pink Lemonade Icebox Cake.

Make a Crumb Crust

A crumb crust is a mighty fine thing, especially during the holidays when time is scarce and the last thing you feel like doing is flouring up your countertops to roll out homemade pie dough. Toss your cookies into the food processor to pulse them into coarse crumbs, stir in a little sugar, a pinch of salt, and some melted butter and you’re right on track for a deliciously crisp crust, perfect for custard-filled pies and cheesecakes.

Crumble Them Over Ice Cream

Whether you make the ice cream or go with store-bought is up to you, but a few crumbled shortbread cookies make for the perfect finishing touch to a dish of eggnog ice cream (or whatever your holiday flavor of choice may be). Bonus points to anyone who goes the extra mile and toasts their cookie crumbs in a bit of butter, maybe even with a handful of chopped pecans or walnuts tossed in, before sprinkling them over your frozen dairy goodness.

Use Them in a Trifle or Parfait

You know what they say, It ain’t a par-tay until you break out the parfait! (No one actually says this, but as of the last 4 seconds, I believe that maybe we should.) But really, few desserts scream “holiday fun” like pudding, cookies, and other fine dessert elements layered into a large, glass fishbowl. You can really use whatever flavors/elements you like best to build a layered masterpiece to your liking, but here are a few of our favorite trifle recipes for inspiration. Get to it, ya party animals.

Roll Truffles in Them

Have leftover cookie crumbs from making that pie crust? They make a perfect finishing coat for classic chocolate truffles. Or really, any treat you may feel compelled to dip in melted chocolate—such as homemade marshmallows, fruit, or pretzel rods.

Fill Them to Make Sandwich Cookies

And if all else fails, turn your store-bought cookies into better cookies—sandwich cookies! Sandwich leftover cream cheese frosting, nut butter sweetened with a little powdered sugar, or even ice cream between a couple of shortbread cookies for an easy upgrade. And as always, giving your cookies a thin coating of melted chocolate is only going to improve the situation.

35 Most Popular Cookies in America—Ranked!

Just how naughty is your favorite cookie—are you committing a dietary misdemeanor, or a nutritional felony? And which of our most popular cookie brands are most likely to cause a sleeve-emptying binge? Because they’re nothing more than little diskettes of empty calories, most cookies lack the fiber, protein and healthy fats that tell our bodies “Thanks, I’m full.” As a result, cookie number one is often just the first step to cookie number 13. Adios, weight loss.

To satisfy your cookie jones, try pairing your favorite brand with something healthy and high in protein (that’s why God gave us milk, after all), and don’t make cookies your go-to snack. If you’re hungry, eat something of substance first, then have a cookie or two as a topper. To see where your favorite brand falls in the nutritional hierarchy, check out this exclusive new ranking, compiled by the dedicated team at Eat This, Not That!



Kashi Chocolate Almond Butter

Nutrition (1 cookie, 30 g): 130 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (4 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 3 g protein

These cookies are mostly made of nutritious whole grains like triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid) and buckwheat, a slow-burning whole grain. Almond butter, dark chocolate chips and crunchy almonds are all ingredients with proven weight-loss benefits. They’re just three of the best snacks for weight loss!


Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate

Nutrition (1 cookie, 30 g): 130 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (4 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 2 g protein

Made with wholesome ingredients like whole-grain oats, semisweet dark chocolate chips, canola oil, honey and seven-grain flour, these cookies are both flavorful and nutritious. Each serving provides 12 grams of whole grains and 4 grams of satiating fiber, with only 65 milligrams of sodium. They’re also void of harmful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial flavors, dyes and preservatives, soy lecithin and hydrogenated oils, which have been linked to cancer.


Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cookie Cakes

Nutrition (2 cookies, 32 g): 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 50 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (0 g fiber, 14 g sugars) 2 g protein

Snackwell’s is pretty tricky. They only list the nutrition information for one cookie, but we’ve doubled it here to show you a comparable serving size to its cookie peers. While these cookies are free of sketchy ingredients, unfortunately, they lack fiber and their first ingredient is sugar. And if you didn’t already know, you should arm yourself with information by checking out what happens to your body when you eat sugar!


Udi’s Gluten-free Soft Baked Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nutrition (1 cookie, 26 g): 100 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 1 g protein

Despite their healthy rep, gluten-free products are often bad for you. “Ingredients such as cornstarch and brown rice flour, which are used by manufacturers to mimic the texture and taste of gluten, are more calorically dense than the ingredients they replace,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D. Eeesh. These Udi’s cookies contain brown rice flour and potato starch, so limit yourself to one.


Nabisco Ginger Snaps

Nutrition (4 cookies, 28 g): 120 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 1 g protein

You can eat four Ginger Snaps for just 120 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Plus, they’re made with real molasses and ginger, which has been found to be a muscle relaxant that banishes bloat. If it weren’t for their sugar and salt content, these guiltless cookies would have ranked even higher.


Animal Crackers Snak-Saks

Nutrition (17 crackers, 31 g): 140 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 2 g protein

Because of Animal Crackers’ nutritional profile and child-pleasing appeal, many parents reach for them as a healthful cookie alternative. And they’re not too bad! Just take “Good Source of Calcium” with a grain of salt. Pair them with milk!

28 & 29

Newman-O’s Hint-o-Mint & Chocolate Creme

A healthier spin on the Oreo, Newman-O’s save you 10 calories and a few grams of fat and sugar. The nutritional profiles really aren’t that different, but they score higher than any Oreo on this list because they’re void of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors, and contain organic ingredients. We were surprised to find that they both still contain soy lecithin, an emulsifier which binds water and oil in fats to preserve flavor. It’s found in many sugary foods, and apparently some organic ones as well.


Walkers Shortbread Fingers

Nutrition (30 g): 100 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (3 g sugar), 1 g protein

With just four ingredients and less than 5 grams of sugar, Walker’s Shortbread Fingers are one of the better options. But they also contain almost 10 grams of fat (5 saturated fat), so don’t keep your hand in the cookie jar.


Newtons Fig Cookies

Nutrition (1 cookie, 28 g): 100 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 21 g carbs ((1 g fiber, 12 g sugar) , 1 g protein

Fig Newtons are filled with real fruit, whole grains and zero trans fats. We did, however, find hydrogenated oil in their ingredients list, along with 12 grams of sugar per cookie. For less-sugary options, check out our best low-sugar snacks!


Fiber One Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin

Nutrition (1 cookie, 31 g): 120 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 1 g protein

These moist, chewy cookies have five grams of fiber each (about 20% of your RDA) and no saturated fats. But they also have soy lecithin, so cut yourself off after one.


Fiber One Soft Baked Double Chocolate

Nutrition (1 cookie, 31 g): 120 calories, 4.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (5 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 1 g protein

Chocolate-on-chocolate for 120 calories? Not too bad. (But if you need extra fiber, you’re better off with these high-fiber foods for weight loss.)


Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies

Nutrition (4 cookies, 29 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (0 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 1 g protein

Lorna Doone’s Shortbread Cookie recipe was originally given to Nabisco by an Scottish employee from Pittsburgh, PA. However, we doubt the version he passed on from his mother called for high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, soy lecithin and artificial flavor.


Mint Oreo Thins

Nutrition (4 thins, 29 g): 140 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 1 g protein

Not surprisingly, Oreo Thins are first Oreo to emerge on this list. They’re advertised as “a lighter, crispier take on the classic Oreo cookie,” and you can indulge in twice as many for almost identical calories. Unfortunately, Nabisco has yet to become of one of the brands committed to removing additives from their products—these contain HFCS, soy lecithin AND artificial flavors and coloring.


Annie’s Oatmeal Raisin

Nutrition (2 cookies, 26 g): 130 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 1 g protein

We like that these contain organic wheat, and no HFCS or dyes. This is just one of the better cookie brands we can get behind.


Nutter Butters

Nutrition (2 cookies, 28 g): 140 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you’re a fan of peanut butter, chances are you’ve indulged in Nutter Butters a time or two. Nabisco nailed this sweet and crunchy combo. Nutritionally speaking, however, they’re not so hot. Two of the peanut-shaped cookies have 1.5 grams of saturated fat and a plethora of processed ingredients, including hydrogenated oil and soy lecithin. Stick with regular peanut butter for a satiating snack.


Pepperidge Farm Montauk Milk Chocolate

Nutrition (1 cookie, 31 g): 140 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 85 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 1 g protein

Something about soft, chewy cookies reminds us of home, but don’t wallow in nostalgia—these are made with hydrogenated oil and deliver 3 grams of saturated fat per cookie.


Annie’s Lemon Drop Cookie Bites

Nutrition (7 cookies, 31 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Each one of these mini cookies has just a gram of sugar and 20 calories, which is a nutritional profile that’s tough to beat. We like that they’re free of high fructose corn syrup and synthetic dyes. Just don’t devour them by the handful — that’s one of the bad habits that lead to a fat belly.


Grandma’s Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookie

Nutrition (1 cookie): 190 calories, 10 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 22 g carbs (2 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 4 g protein

Grandma’s recipe calls for a lot of fat — 13% of your daily allowance in just one cookie.


Chips Ahoy Chewy

Nutrition (2 cookies, 31 g): 140 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 1 g protein

These are full of high fructose corn syrup, caramel color and artificial flavor. If you want the fresh-from-the-oven taste, go for something whose ingredient list contains actual ingredients—not a laundry list of processed ones.


Chips Ahoy Chewy With Reese’s

Nutrition (2 cookies, 30 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 2 g protein

Chocolate chips and peanut-butter-cup chunks are an efficient way to derail your diet.


Pepperidge Farm Mint Milano

Nutrition (2 cookies, 29 g): 130 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 1 g protein

These classy-seeming cookies have more saturated fat than a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie.


Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies

Nutrition (1 piec): 170 calories, 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (1 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 3 g protein

Fluffy cream sandwiched between two chewy oatmeal cookies—it sounds sinful, and it kind of is, loaded with HFCS, artificial flavor and partially hydrogenated oil.


Nabisco Nilla Wafers

Nutrition (8 wafers, 30 g): 140 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 1 g protein

These vanilla crisps may seem simple and clean, but they’re made with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavoring and soy lecithin.


Mrs. Fields Semi-sweet Chocolate Chip

Nutrition (1 cookie, 30 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 1 g protein

Mrs. Fields may bring back pleasant mall memories, but there are better chocolate chip cookie options.


Keebler Vienna Fingers

Nutrition (2 cookies, 31 g): 150 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (less than 1 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 1 g protein

The Keebler Elves’ powers of nutrition aren’t so magical. Two of these vanilla cream sandwiches have 6 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar — plus high fructose corn syrup and soy lecithin.


Oreo Red Velvet

Nutrition (2 cookies, 29 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 1 g protein

With slightly less sugar and sodium, Red Velvet is a slightly better option than Birthday Cake (see below).


Oreo Golden Birthday Cake

Nutrition (2 cookies, 29 g): 140 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 1 g protein

If you can work the fat and sugar into your dietary budget, two of these cookies are better than the average slice of birthday cake.


Pepperidge Farm Brussels

Nutrition (3 cookies, 30 g): 150 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 2 g protein

These “distinctive cookies” stand out in terms of their calorie and sugar counts.


Oreo Double Stuf

Nutrition (2 cookies, 29 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 1 g protein

For one less cookie, the added stuffing will only cost you one gram of sugar and 3 grams of carbs.


Famous Amos Chocolate Chip

Nutrition (30 g): 155 calories, 7.2 g fat (2.1 g saturated fat), 109 mg sodium, 19.7 g carbs (1.0 g fiber, 9.3 g sugar), 2.1 g protein

The calories and fat in these bite-sized cookies can add up quickly. Always staying mindful of portions is one of the best weight-loss secrets from skinny people!


Keebler Coconut Dreams

Real coconuts are used in Keebler’s Coconut Dreams, but that’s about the only good news: Caramel, fudge, processed ingredients and 10 grams of sugar delete that superfood’s benefits.


Keebler E.L. Fudge Original Cookies

More diet-destroying calories, fat and carbs from those devious Keebler elves. If you’ve got a carb craving, spring for one of these best carbs for weight loss instead!


Pepperidge Farm Milano Dark Chocolate

Nutrition (3 cookies, 27 g): 180 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 2 g protein

Dark chocolate has a slew of health benefits, including fueling weight loss and fighting cancer. But with 4 grams of saturated fat, plus soy lecithin and hydrogenated oils, these cookies don’t come close to healthy.


And the Worst Cookie in America Is…Oreo Mega Stuf Cookie

Nutrition (2 cookies, 36 g): 180 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 1 g protein

All hail the Mega Stuf — the worst popular cookie in America, packed with processed ingredients, calories, sugar and fat. If this is your go-to cookie, we suggest breaking up with it ASAP and trying the Newman-O’s variety, or at least limiting yourself to one.

Get the New Book!

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Homemade shortbread cookies are so easy to make, and can also be used as a shortbread crust for pies and bars. Just three ingredients to buttery goodness!

I’m not short, I’m fun sized. That’s what is said on my older daughter’s license plate rim. And with her dad and mom at 5’4” and 5’2”, she comes by it honestly. My husband and I fit together nicely, so it works for us. However, both my girls are currently dating much taller guys (over 6’ each!), so who knows…maybe we’ll have some tall genes injected into the family tree. No pressure, girls…really!

Why am I talking about shortness, I hear you ask? Because I’m going to talk about Scottish shortbread, that’s why (whoa, major pivot there!).

Shortbread is so associated with Scotland that to think of it, red tartan boxes automatically come to mind (well, at least to my mind!). Walkers Shortbread is the gold standard of commercially made shortbread, and they even did a tie-in with Outlander.

And while Walker’s is very good, homemade shortbread cookies are actually incredibly easy to make, using only three ingredients! Well, maybe four…I’ll get to that in a few minutes.

Walkers shortbread…the Outlander version (photo credit: Thrifty Momma Ramblings)

Why is it called shortbread?

What’s short about it? Let’s turn to that most trusted of sources…Wikipedia:

“Shortbread is a biscuit traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. Other ingredients like ground rice or corn flour are sometimes added to alter the texture. … (It) originated in Scotland, with the first printed recipe in 1736, from a Scotswoman named Mrs. McLintock.”

In Scotland, shortbread cookies (or more accurately, shortbread biscuits) are widely associated with Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve). Walkers Shortbread is exported around the world in their iconic Royal Stewart tartan.

For that, let’s visit British Food: A History:

“The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread short: the term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, like shortcrust pastry should be. It is the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.”

Alright, so it’s the presence of lots of butter that makes it short?

Still not answered…why shortbread?

But we’ve still not answered the etymology question…why is it called shortbread? A more satisfying answer can be found at HuffPost Taste:

“Shortening got its name because of what it does to flour. Introducing fat into baked goods interferes with the formation of the gluten matrix in the dough. As a result of its interference, gluten strands end up shorter which in turn creates a softer, more crumbly baked good.

It’s the reason that cakes and pastries are soft and breads not so much. But funny enough, shortening got its name way before anyone knew anything about the chemical reaction of fat and gluten, and that’s because the word short used to mean tender in reference to food.”

Aaaaah…now we’re getting somewhere! Math and Science in one little cookie. Fabulous!

Whew…that was exhausting. But don’t throw in the towel just yet (especially since I have enough laundry to do as it is)…let’s look at the info from Wikipedia again.

There’s made mention of two interesting trivia tidbits: the recipe ratio of 3-2-1 flour/butter/sugar, and something about altering the structure using other ingredients. Shall we delve a bit deeper, dear reader?

Shortbread cookie ingredients

Flour, butter, and sugar

A word (or two) about the flour/butter/sugar ratio. I had never seen that mentioned before I started researching this post, and of course I had to check to see if my basic recipe fit the bill (it’s math, and you know I love math!).

The answer is…almost. My recipe is 18:16:7 and the ratio would have it as 18:12:6. So I have slightly more sugar (1 oz or 2 Tbsp), and a whopping extra stick of butter (4 oz). No wonder my shortbread is buttery goodness!

The type of butter matters

I keep saying there are only three ingredients to homemade shortbread, and that’s true, up to a point. There’s an assumption that you’ll be using salted butter. If you’re using unsalted butter you have to…say it with me now…add salt.

Why was there this assumption? Remember that the original recipe was first written in the early 18th century, and presumably made even before that. Salt was used to keep butter fresher longer without the need for refrigeration.

Nowadays, most bakers use unsalted butter so we can control the amount of salt in the dish. Use either kind of butter you’d like, but add salt if needed. So there are three (and possibly four) ingredients in homemade shortbread cookies.

With only three ingredients, shortbread is a snap to make! (Yes, that’s salted butter I’m using.)

Shortbread cookies with rice flour

As I said earlier, the basic shortbread recipe calls for three ingredients. I was intrigued at the addition of rice flour when I looked at some shortbread recipes online. Did it really alter the texture of the shortbread, and how many people really baked it that way?

To find out, I did what any former engineer worth her salt would do…I conducted an experiment.

I took my basic shortbread recipe and substituted 10% of the total all-purpose flour with rice flour, then conducted a blind taste test (with me blind and my husband feeding me…that’s trust!).

The basic recipe was buttery and not too sweet, crumbly but still firm. In other words, homemade shortbread cookie goodness. The shortbread cookies with rice flour included did have a softer texture, but the sweetness and buttery-ness was somehow muted. For us, the basic recipe was the clear winner.

Next, I wanted to know how many bakers really use the rice flour in their recipes. I turned to one of my Outlander Facebook groups and conducted a poll. Of the 99 responses I received, 60 didn’t add rice flour, 1 did, and 28 ordered from Walkers and didn’t bother with baking. Interesting!

Recipes for homemade shortbread cookies abound

Searching the web will yield you countless versions of homemade shortbread recipes. There are many different versions of the flour/fat/sugar amounts, and how soft, sweet, soft, or buttery the results are varies considerably (interesting, considering that you’d think only having three ingredients wouldn’t leave much wriggle room).

After looking over many versions, I settled on this recipe for Scottish Shortbread Cookies…it wasn’t as sweet as some of the others (it had more flour to sugar than other recipes), the texture was soft without being wimpy, and flavor let the butter shine. A winner in my book.

Press, smooth, and poke…getting the shortbread ready for baking Cutting the shortbread in the pan

The many uses of shortbread cookies

Shortbread is a very versatile cookie…it’s like the vanilla ice cream of the cookie world. Yes, you can eat is as bars (pictured here). You can also flavor the dough with different add-ins like lemon zest, almond extract, or essence of lavender. I’ve even made savory shortbread with garlic powder and parmesan cheese (yes, I omitted the sugar).

Shortbread is also commonly used as a base for pies and bars. You don’t think about it…it’s just there. Think lemon bars (or maybe Mint Lemon Lime bars?). Most pies that use a pastry crust can also be turned into bars…Pecan bars and Brown Sugar Pie bars come to mind. Think of the possibilities!

How do you make shortbread? Some of my poll respondents said they substituted brown sugar for the white sugar for a richer flavor.

Do you add rice flour to your recipe? Do you doctor your shortbread in any way, maybe adding lemon zest, vanilla extract, or almond extract?

Whenever I have a craving for a cookie that doesn’t take too much effort, I make a batch of shortbread. They’re easy, tasty, and really fun to play with variations. Homemade shortbread cookies might have short in its name, but it’s big in flavor!

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!


Flavored shortbread cookies

  • Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Recipes with shortbread crust

  • Pecan Bars (aka Not Derby Pie Bars)
  • Mint Lemon Lime Bars
  • Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars

Pin Recipe 5 from 1 vote

Homemade Shortbread Cookies

Homemade shortbread cookies are so easy to make, and can also be used as a shortbread crust for pies and bars. Just three ingredients to buttery goodness! Adapted from Taste of Home Prep Time15 mins Cook Time25 mins Total Time40 mins Course: Dessert Cuisine: British Keyword: Cookies, Cookies & Bars, Scottish Shortbread, Shortbread, Walker’s Shortbread Servings: 32 1″ x 2″ pieces Calories: 95kcal Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Special Equipment



  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the sugar and butter until smooth.
  • Add flour (and salt, if needed), andd mix until a smooth dough forms.
  • Pat dough into an ungreased 9- x 9-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper that overhangs on 2 sides. Use a piece of plastic wrap to press out the dough (you can even use a small pie roller to help). Pierce the dough with a fork, then chill for 20 minutes
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Cut into 1- x 2-inch rectangles while still warm in the pan. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the shortbread from the pan using the parchment paper overhang to the wire rack. Cool completely & enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Recipe can easily be doubled, just bake in an 9- x 13-inch baking pan. You can use either unsalted or salted butter for shortbread. If you do use unsalted butter, add 1/2 tsp of salt in with the flour. Nutrition Facts Homemade Shortbread Cookies Amount Per Serving (1 pieces) Calories 95 * Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 cal per day diet. Did you make this recipe?Please share your pictures with the world…mention @scotch_scones and tag #scotchandsconesblog on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. I can’t wait to see your creations!