First published: 16th November 2018 – Last updated: 1st February 2020
These vegan shortbread cookies are sweet, crumbly and taste authentically Scottish! With just 5 ingredients, this is a fool proof recipe that’s perfect for novice bakers or little helpers!
Shortbread. I love the stuff.
Being Scottish, it’s been a staple in households across the country for as long as I can remember. Particularly around Christmas time.
My family and I used to give and receive boxes of Paterson’s shortbread each year. So to this day, it always feels like a festive treat, no matter what time of the year it is!
With Burns night having just passed here in Scotland, I thought it would be the perfect time to update this post! (F.Y.I. Burns night is the celebration of the life of Scottish poet, Robert Burns.)
Vegan Scottish Shortbread
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, shortbread is a traditionally Scottish biscuit/cookie. It’s typically made up of flour, sugar and lots of butter.
But of course, this is a recipe for vegan shortbread cookies, so I had to change it up a little bit. And thanks to the genius invention of vegan butter, it wasn’t too hard to create a dairy-free version.
I did consider using coconut oil instead, but it tends to make cookie dough a lot harder to work with and also lacks that buttery flavor that shortbread is so well known for.
Want more Scottish vegan dessert recipes? Try these:
Before creating this recipe, I thought that it was the first time I’d ever made shortbread. That is, until I remembered the time that I found my gran’s “microwave recipes” cookbook when I was 12.
I attempted to make shortbread IN THE MICROWAVE, without any adult supervision, and what a shocker… the whole thing failed miserably. It ended up completely burnt and glued to the dish.
In fact, it burned so badly that the dish also had to be disposed of. My cousin still likes to make fun of me for that and bring it up at every opportunity…13 years later.
Luckily for you (and my kitchenware), this attempt was much more successful. This time I actually used a recipe that I found in my granny’s old-school (non-microwave) recipe book as a rough guide. The book is missing lots of pages including the cover but dates way back to 1950. How cool!
How To Make Vegan Shortbread Cookies
As well as switching out dairy butter for vegan butter, I took out some of the flour and switched it for cornflour. This makes it much crumblier and more shortbread-like!
You can also make this recipe gluten free by switching the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour and adding 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.
The end result is a bunch of beautiful vegan shortbread cookies that taste just like the traditional version.What a treat!
Preheat your oven to 170°C / 340°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together 100g (½ a cup) of caster/superfine sugar, 200g (¾ cup) of vegan butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix until everything is well combined.
Next add 280g of all-purpose flour (2 cups + 1 tablespoon), and 2 tablespoons of corn starch (also known as corn flour). Mix it into the butter mixture until it starts to stick together, then use your (clean) hands to form a dough.
Place the dough into the fridge for 15 minutes.
This will give it time to bind together and allow the vegan butter to firm up, making it easier to roll out. It also helps the shortbread to hold its shape better as it bakes.
After the dough has been chilled, gently knead it to get rid of any cracks then roll it out onto a floured surface.
Note that I have only tested this recipe in grams, so my cup measurements are a rough estimate. If you find that the dough is too sticky to roll out (on a floured surface), simply add more flour until you can roll it out nicely. If it’s too dry, add a little more vegan butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
Roll the dough out until it’s around 1 inch thick.
To cut out your cookies, you can either use a cookie cutter for circular shaped shortbread or use a knife to cut it into equal-sized fingers.
They taste the same either way so it’s down to your personal preference!
Place your vegan shortbread cookies onto the lined baking tray then use a fork to dock each one.
If you don’t know what docking is, it simply means to pierce little holes into the cookies to allow the air to escape during baking. Doing this helps the heat to escape during baking, preventing the shortbread from becoming soggy in the middle!
Bake your cookies for 25-30 minutes. They will be pale in color but you’ll know they’re ready when they become slightly firm around the edges.
They will still be slightly soft in the middle at first but will become crunchier as they cool, so resist the urge to keep baking them at this point!
It’s also important that you allow them to cool completely before lifting them off the tray, otherwise they will break.
Take a tablespoon or two of caster (superfine) sugar and lightly sprinkle it over your cooled shortbread cookies.
This step is totally optional, but I think it completes the look and taste nicely.
Top Tips For Making Vegan Shortbread
- Use vegan butter instead of coconut oil for an authentic flavor.
- Adding corn starch to the mixture gives that nice crumbly finish that shortbread is so well known for!
- Refrigerate the dough. Doing this helps the shortbread hold its shape in the oven and makes the dough easier to manage.
- Dock the dough before baking to help release moisture from the center as it bakes. It’s not essential but definitely makes a difference.
- For gluten-free shortbread, switch the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free all-purpose flour and add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.
How to store vegan shortbread cookies
To keep them nice and crunchy, the cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They should last around 2-3 days this way. If you leave them any longer than that they will start to become soft.
To be honest, they are so addictive that they never last much longer than a day or two in my house anyway!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I enjoyed making it.
If you decide to make these for yourself, please leave me a comment and/or rating to let me know- I love to hear from you.
Happy baking! xo
A vegan twist on a sweet and crumbly traditional Scottish shortbread recipe.
- ½ Cup Caster/ superfine sugar (100g)
- ¾ Cup Vegan butter (200g)
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla essence
- 2 Cups + 1 tablespoon All-purpose flour* (280g)
- 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch (corn flour)
- 2 Tablespoons Caster sugar, to dust (optional)
Preheat oven to 170°C/ 340°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Cream together the sugar, butter and vanilla.
Add in the flour and cornstarch. Mix until it begins to stick together then use your hands to form a dough. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.
Knead the chilled dough to get any cracks out then gently roll it out to about 1 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into fingers around 3-4 inches long or use a cookie cutter of choice and carefully transfer them onto your baking tray.
Dock each cookie using a fork and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm at the edges. The shortbread should still be mostly pale in color and will be slightly soft in the middle- it will firm up as it cools.
Allow the shortbread to cool completely before attempting to remove it from the tray. Sprinkle sugar on top if desired and enjoy!
- *You can substitute for gluten-free all-purpose flour but you must also add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days
- If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add more butter 1 tablespoon at a time until it holds together.