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Vegan Shortbread Cookies

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!

half bitten shortbread cookie on top of some other pieces

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.)

A vegan twist on a Scottish classic

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, 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 flavour that shortbread is so well known for.

Want more Scottish vegan dessert recipes? Try these:

heart shaped shortbread on a plate

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.

Good times.

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

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 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

The end result is a bunch of beautiful shortbread cookies that taste just like the traditional version. What a treat!

Step 1:

Preheat your oven to 170°C / 340°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Step 2:

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.

pouring vanilla into butter and sugar mix

Step 3:

Next, add 280g of all-purpose flour (2 cups + 1 tablespoon), and 2 tablespoons of cornflour (also known as corn starch). Mix it into the butter mixture until it starts to stick together, then use your (clean) hands to form a dough.

shortbread dough coming together in a bowl

More cookie recipes:

a ball of shortbread dough

Step 4:

Place the dough into the fridge for 30 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.

Step 5:

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.

Step 6:

Roll the dough out until it’s around 1/2 an 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!

cutting dough into fingers

Step 7:

Place your 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. Typically, this helps the heat to escape during baking, preventing the shortbread from becoming soggy in the middle!

It isn’t essential for this recipe but I’d recommend it if you’re making shortbread fingers as it makes them look more authentic!

docking the shortbread fingers using a fork

Step 8:

Bake your cookies for 20-25 minutes (this will depend on the size of your cookies so keep an eye on them). They will be pale in colour 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.

Step 9:

Take a tablespoon or two of caster (superfine) sugar and lightly sprinkle it over your cooled shortbread cookies. Alternatively, top with my vegan royal icing!

shortbread fingers in a pile

Top Tips

  • Use vegan butter instead of coconut oil for an authentic flavour.
  • Adding cornflour 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.


How should the shortbread be stored?

To keep them nice and crunchy, the cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They should last around 3 days this way.

If you leave them any longer than that they will start to become soft.
But to be honest, they are so addictive that they never last much longer than a day or two in my house anyway!

Can I use anything in place of cornflour?

Yes, simply replace the cornflour in the recipe for equal amounts of all-purpose flour.

Vegan Shortbread pinterest pin

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

thumbnail image for vegan shortbread cookies
5 from 6 votes

Vegan Shortbread Cookies

A vegan twist on a sweet and crumbly traditional Scottish shortbread recipe.

Course Dessert
Cuisine vegan
Keyword vegan shortbread cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chill time 30 minutes
Servings 15 People
Calories 160 kcal


  • 100 g Caster/ superfine sugar (½ cup)
  • 200 g Vegan butter (¾ cup)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla essence
  • 280 g All-purpose flour (2 cups + 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn flour (corn starch)
  • 2 Tablespoons Caster sugar, to dust (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 170°C/ 340°F (150°C/310°F if using a fan or convection oven) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

  2. Cream together the sugar, butter and vanilla.

  3. 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 30 minutes.

  4. Knead the chilled dough to get any cracks out then gently roll it out to about 1/2 an inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into fingers or use a cookie cutter of choice and carefully transfer them onto your baking tray.

  5. Bake for ~20-25 minutes (this will depend on the size of your cookies are so keep an eye on them) until firm at the edges. The shortbread should still be mostly pale in colour and will be slightly soft in the middle- it will firm up as it cools.

  6. Allow the shortbread to cool completely before attempting to remove it from the tray. Sprinkle sugar on top if desired and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add more butter 1 teaspoon at a time until it holds together.
  • If you’re making shortbread fingers, I recommend docking them with a fork for a more authentic touch.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Shortbread Cookies
Amount Per Serving (1 cookie)
Calories 160 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Sodium 78mg3%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 2g4%
* All values are an estimate only and will vary depending on the food brands used.
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Recipe Rating


Sunday 20th of December 2020

Hi! Do these get flatter as they bake, or do they stay about the same height as the raw dough? One inch thick seems super thick for cookies, to me.


Sunday 20th of December 2020

Hi Sarah. You're right, that is super thick. My mistake! The cookies don't spread so I'd say 1/2 an inch thick is about right (just got the measuring tape out haha). Thanks for asking! xo


Sunday 20th of December 2020

I'm very allergic to Xantham Gum, in addition to dairy, eggs and gluten. Any ideas for a xantham gum sub when using gluten free flour?


Sunday 20th of December 2020

Hi Sophia! I tested them this morning using oat flour and it worked really well! Just grind down some gluten-free oats into a flour and use it in equal amounts instead of the all-purpose flour. Keep everything else in the recipe the same. The dough is a tiny bit stickier but you should be able to roll it out and shape OK. If not, just use a little more oat flour when rolling. Hope that helps :)


Saturday 19th of December 2020

Would the result be as good if a sugar substitute (such as monkfruit, xylitol, or erythritol--sold in U.S. as "Swerve" brand) were used?


Saturday 19th of December 2020

Is there a Step 9? Or is the numbering just there are really 9 steps total, not 10?


Saturday 19th of December 2020

Hey Wen! You're right, there are only 9 steps. Thanks for catching that.

I haven't really worked with sugar substitutes much in vegan baking so I'm honestly not sure about that, sorry.

Wendy Kobler

Friday 11th of December 2020

When using cookie cutters to cut them into shapes do you still need to dock them. Thinking of making snowflakes and they might look odd with the fork marks. I’m going to make these this weekend.


Friday 11th of December 2020

Hi Wendy! No you don't, I'll update the post to say so. The heart cookies in the pictures were done without docking and they turned out great! :)

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