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Vegan Shortbread

These vegan shortbread is 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 biscuit on top of some other ones

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 margarine, it wasn’t too hard to create a dairy-free version.

I did consider using coconut oil instead, but it tends to make 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 vegan 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 margarine, I took out some of the flour and switched it for cornflour. This makes it much crumblier and more shortbread-like!

The end result is a bunch of beautiful shortbread biscuits 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 margarine 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 margarine mixture until it starts to stick together, then use your (clean) hands to form a dough.

dough coming together in a bowl

More dairy-free shortbread 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 margarine 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 margarine, 1 teaspoon 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 shortbread, 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 shortbread 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 dough. 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 shortbread for 20-25 minutes (this will depend on the size of them 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. Alternatively, top with my vegan royal icing!

shortbread fingers in a pile

Top Tips

  • Use vegan margarine 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 vegan shortbread be stored?

To keep them nice and crunchy, the shortbread should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. It 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.

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 10 votes

Vegan Shortbread

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

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


  • 100 g Caster sugar (½ cup)
  • 200 g Vegan margarine* (¾ cup)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 280 g All-purpose flour (2 cups + 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornflour (corn starch)
  • 2 Tablespoons Caster sugar, to dust (optional)


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

  2. Cream together the sugar, margarine and vanilla.

  3. Add in the flour and the cornstarch. Mix until it begins to stick together then use your hands to press it into 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. This isn't essential, but you can dock the shortbread with a fork for an authentic look.

  6. Bake for ~20-25 minutes (this will depend on the size of your shortbread so keep an eye on it) 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.

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

Recipe Notes

  • *Use the spreadable vegan margarine, not the blocky type.
  • If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add more margarine 1 teaspoon at a time until it holds together.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Shortbread
Amount Per Serving (1 shortbread biscuit)
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


Saturday 21st of May 2022

Great recipe - thank you :) Got my second batch in the oven now!


Saturday 21st of May 2022

Glad to hear, Robin! Thanks for your review 😀


Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Made these and they were very dry and crispy. Made as directed and took them out of the oven before they even started to brown. Any suggestions?


Thursday 28th of October 2021

@Chloe, they were only in for about 17/18 minutes each tray. My cutter is around 3 inches and they dough was chilled for around an hour or so. I will try again with a smidge less flour and see how we do. Thanks


Thursday 28th of October 2021

Hi Freya, sorry this didn't work out for you. How long did you bake them for? Overbaking is quite common with shortbread- they will still look a little under-baked when you take them out of the oven. I find that 20 minutes is enough time when using 3-inch cookie cutters. Alternatively, it could be that there was a bit too much flour/cornflour in the dough or the dough wasn't chilled for long enough.


Monday 23rd of August 2021

I'm vegetarian, my sister is vegan. Finding good recipes has been a challenge. I have now baked two of your recipes and oh my goodness, your recipes are fantastic. I made your lemon drizzle cake and that lasted a day! Tonight I baked your Scottish short bread. I can't wait to try your other recipes. Thank you for sharing your recipes, these are amazing!!!


Monday 23rd of August 2021

Thank you so much Sam, that makes me so happy! :)

Wendy Kobler

Monday 23rd of August 2021

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.


Monday 23rd of August 2021

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! :)

Samantha Daw

Monday 23rd of August 2021

Second time making these, first time unfortunately I left them for the full time and they burnt :( this time i will be checking them every 10 mins


Monday 23rd of August 2021

Oh sorry to hear that! Are you using a fan oven? If so you'll need to turn the oven down by 20 degrees C. How did the second batch turn out? xo

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