HomeGeneralShortbread Cookies: Flavor Options & Technical Considerations

Shortbread Cookies: Flavor Options & Technical Considerations

Who can resist buttery, slightly sweet shortbread cookies? In their purest form, just butter, sugar and flour, they are decadent enough, but introduce other flavors into the dough and you’ve got something completely irresistible.

When it comes to flavoring these delicate cookies, there are several possibilities and as many flavor combinations as one can imagine.

Whether you want sweet or more savory notes, here are just a few possibilities to mix into the dough. Of course, be sure to finely chop or grate ingredients before adding.

Herbs and Spices

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Anise
  • Lavender

Citrus Zest

  • Lemon/Meyer Lemon
  • Orange/Blood Orange
  • Lime/Key Lime
  • Grapefruit


  • Earl Grey
  • Chai
  • Matcha
  • Instant Espresso

If you are a chocolate aficionado, try dunking any of the above combinations in tempered dark, milk or white chocolate. Likewise, add mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, candied citrus zest or cocoa nibs to dough.

However, if you prefer a savory shortbread to use as an appetizer, consider using a combination of cheeses with herbs, bacon or even olives.

One last consideration when flavoring shortbread is the flour and sugar that will be used.

While all-purpose flour is most common, rye or buckwheat flour could also yield interesting results.

Similarly, brown sugar or turbinado sugar could replace the granulated sugar. For a more pronounced caramel flavor, caramelize granulated sugar and cool on a Silpat. Once hard, transfer to a food processor and grind until fine. Use in place of granulated sugar in a shortbread recipe.

Whichever combinations you choose, your shortbread will be delectable and perfect for a cookie tray, plated dessert, appetizer or anything else you can envision.

Jill Meredith
Jill Meredith
Jill Meredith is a pastry chef, food writer and culinary instructor. She is passionate about all things sweet and loves sharing that passion and knowledge with others. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and 3 cats.