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Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies—1 Recipe 5 Varieties

December 9, 2020
At a Glance

Summary

This versatile recipe for gluten free shortbread cookie mix is ideal for making 5 flavor varieties that each taste completely distinct. One recipe can make a beautiful cookie plate all on its own!

Prep / Cook Time

10 minutes / 8 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (21 votes)
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Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies—1 Recipe 5 Varieties

This basic recipe for gluten free shortbread cookies easily makes 5 varieties: plain, glazed lemon, mocha, toffee caramel and berry chip!

4 flavors of basic Shortbread cookies on small plate

For each of these 5 recipes, we start off the same—with a gluten free shortbread cookies mix. And since shortbread cookies are pretty much the absolute simplest cookies around, that mix is dead simple: some flours, sugar, and salt.

The “plain” recipe below is really the only one you need. Use the proportions for each variety to make them your own—for each recipe of shortbread cookie dry mix, you’ll need 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter.

Beyond that, add 1/3 cup of mix-ins (like chopped dried fruit, mini chocolate chips, toffee bits or any other tiny mix-ins). Drizzle with chocolate, top with cinnamon sugar, sugar-in-the-raw, or mocha sugar. You get the idea!

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies 5 Ways: lemon glazed, toffee caramel, berry chocolate chip, mocha and plain

Gluten free shortbread cookies: the basic method

The basic recipe can be used with the simple addition of unsalted butter and a little water, as needed, to make plain shortbread cookies. Just mix everything together, knead and shape the cookie dough into a rectangle about 1 1/2-inches thick, wrap it tightly and refrigerate until firm.

Then, slice the cookies by cross-section, place on a baking sheet, and bake for less than 10 minutes. You can even make and shape the raw cookie dough and store it for weeks in the refrigerator before slicing and baking.

If you refrigerate the dough for longer like that, it will become too stiff to slice. Just allow it to sit at room temperature until you can slice it easily, and proceed with the recipe as written.

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies 5 Ways: plain, mocha, berry chocolate chip, toffee caramel and lemon glazed

Tip for Making Multiple Varieties

If you plan to make all 5 kinds of shortbread cookies, multiply all the shortbread cookie mix ingredients by 5, and whisk to combine well. You can also multiply the basic plain mix by 2.5 (for a total of 863 grams), and make 1/2 recipe for each variety.

If you’re making a full recipe of any variety, measure out 345 grams of the well-combined dry mix for each recipe. If you’re making a half recipe, measure out 173 grams.

Then, proceed with the instructions as written for each, dividing all the remaining ingredients by half if you’re making a half recipe of each (or any) variety. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can make a bunch of cookie flavors. Talk about impressive!

Shortbread cookies raw on tray image overhead 4 varieties

Mocha Cookies

Mocha cookies are made with the addition of some cocoa powder and instant espresso powder to the basic shortbread dough. The real magic happens when you dip each slice of cookie dough in a coating of cocoa powder and granulated sugar.

Berry Chip Cookies

For the berry chocolate chip cookies, just add dried berries and mini chocolate chips to the dry mix. I like dried cranberries and miniature chocolate chips, but you could add all mini chips and make them chocolate chip.

You could also try chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or pistachios are all great soft nuts) in place of dried berries. The chocolate drizzle adds a bit of extra chocolate flavor and lots of charm, but isn’t strictly necessary.

Toffee Caramel Cookies

Toffee caramel cookies are by far the fanciest, since they are made with toffee bits mixed into the basic dough, then dipped in chocolate and drizzled with caramel.

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Glazed lemon cookies are made fresh and lemony with lemon juice lemon zest, then topped with a simple lemon glaze. I used to add a bit of “True Lemon,” which is a granulated lemon “seasoning blend.” I’ve swapped that out for lemon juice, instead.

Not everyone has or can find True Lemon, but if you do have it, try adding about a teaspoonful to the recipe as written for a ton of lemon flavor. There are other True flavors, and they’re all worth trying!

Baked plain shortbread cookies on white paper on tray

Ingredients and substitutions

The two main additional allergens in the basic gluten free shortbread cookie recipe are dairy and cornstarch. For the mix-ins, if you’re avoiding other allergens, use your best judgment.

Dairy

In place of butter, try using vegan butter. Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen brand are my favorites. Avoid Earth Balance, which has too much moisture, since the cookies won’t hold their shape.

Cornstarch/Flour Blend

In place of cornstarch, try using arrowroot. If you’re already using a higher starch flour blend, like Cup4Cup or my mock Cup4Cup blend, omit the cornstarch and use another 1/4 cup (35 g) Cup4Cup in addition to the original 1 1/2 cups (210 g).

I must stress that, as always, the all purpose gluten free flour blend that you use matters—a lot. It always matters and it matters even more in an incredibly simple recipe like this.

Each time a blog recipe calls for an all purpose gluten free flour, I link to the page on the blog that has all the details about which blends I caution against, and which are appropriate. If you only have a blend like Bob’s Red Mill, which I warn against strongly, or Namaste, which I also caution against, I cannot promise results.

In fact, if you have success with something like Bob’s Red Mill flour blend, I can’t promise repeat results. The blend is inconsistent, which is a large part of my concerns with it.

Using a poorly balanced flour blend or one that has gritty rice flour, then promising that you followed the recipe “to a T” and blaming the recipe for the failure is like using someone else’s recipe and looking to this site to fix it.


Lemon glazed, toffee caramel, berry chip, and mocha shortbread cookies on white paper on a tray

4 variteties of shortbread cookies baked on a small plate and raw on a tray

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 15 cookies per variety

Ingredients

Shortbread Cookie Dry Mix (345 g total)
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Plain Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Dry Mix (see above)

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, softened

Lukewarm water by the 1/2 teaspoon, as needed

Mocha Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Mix (see above)

3 tablespoons (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, softened

Lukewarm water by the 1/2 teaspoon, as needed

3 tablespoons (36 g) granulated sugar

Berry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Dry Mix (see above)

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons (30 g) chopped dried berries (I used cranberries, but dried cherries would also be great)

2 tablespoons (28 g) miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Lukewarm water by the 1/2 teaspoon, as needed

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted (for drizzling)

Toffee Caramel Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Dry Mix (see above)

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup (80 g) toffee bits (I used Hershey’s Heath English Toffee Bits; the company confirmed that they are gluten free, but please do your own research)

Lukewarm water by the 1/2 teaspoon, as needed

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted (for dipping)

8 Kraft caramels, unwrapped, melted with 2 teaspoons milk (for drizzling)

Coarse salt, for sprinkling

Glazed Lemon Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Dry Mix (see above)

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more by the 1/8 teaspoonful if necessary

Lukewarm water by the 1/4 teaspoon, as needed

1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  • First, make the shortbread cookie mix. Place all of the cookie mix ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk to combine well. Set the dry mix aside.

    Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • To make the Plain Shortbread Cookies, place 1 recipe of the shortbread cookie dry mix (346 g) in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter, and then knead the dough with clean hands until it comes together. The dough should be thick and smooth. If necessary to bring the dough together without any dry bits, add water by the 1/2 teaspoon.

    Place the dough on a large piece of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a tight cylinder about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Square off the sides of the cylinder as you wrap it in the parchment paper, and twist the edges of the parchment to close. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until firm. Remove from the refrigerator, and slice by cross-section into 15 squares, each about 3/8-inch thick. Place the squares about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.

    Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until set in the center and very pale brown underneath. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • To make the Mocha Shortbread Cookies, place 1 recipe of the shortbread cookie dry mix, 2 tablespoons (10 g) of the cocoa powder and the espresso powder in a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter, and then knead the dough with clean hands until it comes together. The dough should be thick and smooth. If necessary to bring the dough together without any dry bits, add water by the 1/2 teaspoon.

    Place the dough on a large piece of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a tight cylinder about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Square off the sides of the cylinder as you wrap it in the parchment paper, and twist the edges of the parchment to close. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until firm. Remove from the refrigerator, and slice by cross-section into 15 squares, each about 3/8-inch thick. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and the extra 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small bowl, and mix to combine.

    Place the squares in the bowl of cocoa-sugar, one at a time, pressing the dough gently in the mixture on all sides to ensure that the sugar mixture adheres to the dough. Place the squares about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.

    Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until set in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • To make the Berry Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies, place 1 recipe of the shortbread cookie dry mix in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter. Add the dried chopped berries and chocolate chips, and mix until the pieces are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Knead the dough with clean hands until it comes together. It should be thick and smooth. If necessary to bring the dough together without any dry bits, add water by the 1/2 teaspoon.

    Place the dough on a large piece of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a tight cylinder about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Square off the sides of the cylinder as you wrap it in the parchment paper, and twist the edges of the parchment to close. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until firm.

    Remove from the refrigerator, and slice by cross-section into 15 squares, each about 3/8-inch thick. Place the squares about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.

    Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until set in the center and very pale brown underneath. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle the melted chocolate on the tops of the cooled cookies, and allow them to sit until the chocolate is set.

  • To make the Toffee Caramel Shortbread Cookies, place 1 recipe of the shortbread cookie dry mix in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter. Add the toffee bits, and mix until the pieces are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Knead the dough with clean hands until it comes together. It should be thick and smooth. If necessary to bring the dough together without any dry bits, add water by the 1/2 teaspoon.

    Place the dough on a large piece of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a tight cylinder about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Square off the sides of the cylinder as you wrap it in the parchment paper, and twist the edges of the parchment to close. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until firm.

    Remove from the refrigerator, and slice by cross-section into 15 squares, each about 3/8-inch thick. Place the squares about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.

    Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until set in the center and very pale brown underneath. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate, and allow the cookies to sit until the chocolate is set. Place the caramels and milk in a small bowl, and place in the microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power. Repeat, stirring in between, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Drizzle the melted caramel on top of the chocolate, and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Allow to sit until the caramel is set.

  • To make the Glazed Lemon Shortbread Cookies, place 1 recipe of the shortbread cookie dry mix and the lemon zest in a large bowl, and whisk to combine, working out any clumps in the zest. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter, then knead the dough with clean hands until it comes together. It should be thick and smooth. If necessary to bring the dough together without any dry bits, add water by the 1/4 teaspoon.

    Place the dough on a large piece of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a tight cylinder about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Square off the sides of the cylinder as you wrap it in the parchment paper, and twist the edges of the parchment to close. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until firm.

    Remove from the refrigerator, and slice by cross-section into 15 squares, each about 3/8-inch thick. Place the squares about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.

    Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until set in the center and very pale brown underneath. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    To make the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and mix well, until a thick paste forms. Add more lemon juice by the 1/4-teaspoon, mixing to combine well, until the glaze falls off the spoon slowly, in a thickly pourable glaze. Add lemon juice very slowly, as it is much easier to thin, than to thicken, the glaze. If you do thin the glaze too much, add more confectioners’ sugar a teaspoon at a time to thicken it. Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the glaze and place on a flat surface to sit until the glaze is set.

  • Adapted from Betty Crocker’s 5 Way Shortbread Cookies. Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipes all tweaked a bit for the better; video and most photos new.

Love,
Nicole

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