Rosemary Shortbread Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Rosemary Shortbread Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes, plus cooling
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This basic, buttery shortbread practically begs that you customize it to suit your own tastes or pantry supplies. The dough, which comes together quickly in a food processor, is already enhanced with rosemary, but nuts, seeds, citrus zest, spices, vanilla or minced dried fruit — or a combination of some of these — all make fine additions. Scale it up, scale it down. Add more salt, or use less. As long as you maintain the butter-flour ratio (one stick of butter for every cup of flour), you are free to play around. But the shortbread is delicious all on its own: tender, rich, crumbly, irresistible.

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Yield:One 8- or 9-inch shortbread

  • 2cups all-purpose flour
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 to 2teaspoons rosemary, chestnut or other dark, full-flavored honey (optional)

Ingredient Substitution Guide


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter, and honey if desired, and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don't overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.

  2. Step


    Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.


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Cooking Notes


Wow! Just made two batches of these. One with the recipe as written and a second with finely diced preserved lemon about (1 tablespoon) instead of rosemary. Gilded the rosemary version with a sprinkle of smoked Maldon sea salt flakes. Used a 15" x 5" oblong tart pan with removable sides resulting in 36 perfect slices per batch. Plan on keeping those that survive kitchen marauders in a tin to serve after dinner with soft blue cheese. Thank you for a winner.


These were absolutely perfect. I will be making these again and again. Make sure to cut while they're warm, but then take them out of the pan once they've cooled. Otherwise they'll crumble.

Outstanding, beautifully balanced - just one thing...

Made almost exactly per the ingredient list (used 2 tsp maple syrup instead of 1-2 tsp honey), and followed suggestion in the headnote to add vanilla extract. They were perfect! Buttery, a little salty, with wonderful texture and a perfectly balanced and clear rosemary flavor.

One crucial tweak needed: Grease the pan and/or use parchment paper. These stuck when using an ungreased pan as directed.


I've made six batches of this for some tins of cookies I'm making as gifts, and never once have I pricked it with a fork. The first time because I forgot, subsequent batches because it turned out perfectly without pricking.
Made one batch with honey, and then left it out. Straight out of the pan the honey version was delicious, the next day I found the honey flavor surprisingly strong. Detracts from the rosemary, in my opinion!


This is my favorite cookie now. I've settled on half a cup of sugar instead of two thirds. I line an 8x8 or 9x12 glass baking dish with aluminum foil. A couple of minutes after removing the pan from the oven, I cut the cookie into rectangular pieces and then lift the whole sheet out of the pan for the pieces to cool.
I've experimented with cranberries and chopped pecans instead of rosemary. Dark chocolate chips and orange zest has been my favorite variation so far.


Fabulous, and I say this as someone who bakes a lot of shortbread. I added the zest of one large lemon, and next time I make it I'll reduce the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup. I found it just a bit sweeter than I like, but wouldn't want to cut back on the mountain honey, the flavor of which is great with rosemary. It might be worth trying out a somewhat larger baking pan in order to end up with classic shortbread "fingers" rather than the thicker chunks created by an 8" pan.


dip tines in flour before pricking.


If you pulse it long enough, it will form a ball. Do not do it this long -- just until some of the dough begins to clump in a few places. Then, after you dump it in the prepared pan, you need to press. Use your fingers and heel of your hand to go around the edges and then do the rest. Don't press too hard -- Just until it is one piece instead of a pile of crumbs.


I did a couple more trials. It seems that I took the directive to avoid over-processing a little TOO seriously. A bit more time in the food processor--somewhere between just starting to clump and completely come together-- fixed the texture issue. I'm a fan of savory/sweet deserts. So the rosemary and the fact I can mix the dough in the time it takes to preheat an over will make this a staple for me!


This is such a fantastic recipe. I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more love. The cold butter here creates a really tender crumb, as opposed to most recipes which commonly call for softened butter. It's easily one of the best shortbreads I've ever had. I've made it many times, and in different flavour renditions. For the rosemary, I like to add 1 tsp of cracked black pepper. It's a bit unorthodox, but very very good. I also reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup, and it's the perfect level of sweetness for me


Excellent shortbread! However, the salt can be decreased to 3/4 teaspoon. I also found that the dough tends to pull up while poking with a fork.

Jaime Elder

I line my pan with parchment paper and lift it out a few minutes after it comes out of the oven. Also, I use salted butter and dust it with powdered sugar when it has cooled a bit.


Just baked these over the weekend and they were so much more delicious than the amount of effort would suggest! Made as directed plus the zest of one lemon and I did not prick with a fork before baking. Baking time was at the upper end of the range. Can't wait to make again.


Nut Shortbread: Grind 1/2 cup toasted nuts in food processor with flour before adding remaining ingredients. Flavor with spices, citrus or rosemary if desired.Spice or Seed Shortbread: Add up to 1 teaspoon spices such as ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, or seeds such as caraway or anise (or up to 3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds). Or, add up to 1/4 teaspoon allspice or mace, with or without a pinch of ground cloves. don't use them all at once, but making combos ok


Simply outstanding - the perfect balance of savory and sweet with a marvelously toothsome yet tender texture. I had low expectations during the baking process as the dough was not particularly aromatic, but the final product blew me away - thank you, Melissa Clark! BTW, like others I could not manage to prick them with a fork without pulling up the dough so skipped that step.


this may be my new favorite cookie recipe! i was a littlehesitant because i had never made shortbread before and i have a stand mixer, not a food processor. turned out so well — added some lemon zest (maybe 1 tsp) and topped with maldon and sugar. will be making again!


Perfect and delicious recipe! I added about a half tablespoon of orange zest with the rosemary and it was not overpowering and everyone loved them. I doubled the recipe and made them in a high-sided baking sheet so they were a little thinner than the original recipe. I also used a stand mixer because I don't have a food processer. No issues with the modifications at all.

Name kaycee

Best cookie in my Xmas boxes this year. I used Kerrygold butter and topped prebake with some sea salt flakes. Everyone raved


Delicious and the most requested cookie for holiday gatherings.

Olivia B

Wow this got 5 stars from everyone! A note I read on here that was helpful was though the honey is optional, that moisture is not. Subbed for equal amount maple syrup and came out amazing.


Is there any way to do the first step without a food processor or should I just bite the bullet and buy one?


Incredible. I used fresh rosemary and some ground rosemary from a jar.


These are delicious. Will try with less sugar next time. Note to self and others with small food processors - best to blend in two batches in order to avoid the stratification of mush at bottom and not blended at all on top.


fantastic recipe will make again,

kitchen witch nyc

I've had good luck baking these for the suggested time, then cutting them out carefully and baking them for about 15 more minutes, on a baking sheet (like biscotti). This firms the bars up and makes them less crumbling. Also successful is a version with orange peel and chocolate.


These were incredibly delicious and so easy to make! Will be giving these out at Xmas.Made as directed, except added the zest of one orange, which I would do again.Didn't fork prick, as that made a mess of the topCooking time for me was 45 min in a 9" square pan lined with parchmentAs others directed, I cut in the pan as soon as they came out of the oven, then left to cool in pan. Perfection!


1/2 cup sugar1/2 teaspoon almond extract1 teaspoon orange zestAnd Cube butter, lightly coat with flour and freezeCut dough with pastry cutter then use hands, once fist sized clumps start to form pour loose dough into ceramic pan and press into place.Use double fork technique to prick dough. Hold one fork flat and poke between times. Coat forks in flour as needed.40 minutes in oven - cut hot. Coat knife in flour and clean between cuts.The


Delicious with unique flavors. I did cut back on the sugar just a bit (maybe less 1 tablespoon?) and added the optional honey. Really surprised at how much you could taste the honey! A sprinkle of maldon salt and it was perfect. Super easy. Note that if you let the cookies bake for a few minutes and THEN poke the holes and finish baking it will go smoother and not pull up crumbs.


I wanted these really savoury so I cut the butter in half and added little bits of fresh parsley and dill and thyme, dry rosemary, and grated lemon rind. Everyone’s tight they are very buttery. Next time I’ll use. even more fresh spices.


Fabulous! I was worried when it came out of the oven and I cut the pan into shortbread size rectangles; the cookies were VERY fragile. However after I let them cool completely and left them in the pan overnight, the next morning they were firm enough to break into bars.I did line the pan with buttered heavy duty foil before baking which helped tremendously in removing the cookie bars.Delicious! Everyone loved the sweet & salty rosemary flavor of the cookies.

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Rosemary Shortbread Recipe (2024)
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