5 Ingredients or Fewer

Sweet and Salty Herbed Shortbread

April 19, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves about 27 pieces
Author Notes

Several weeks ago, Amanda and I received a delicious assortment of goodies from Maggie Battista (alias eatboutique) that included an addictive sweet and savory shortbread with herbs in it. Neither of us could get enough of the buttery, fragrant cookies -- we had to ration out the package so that we wouldn’t eat it all at once.

Then a week or two later, I was at my friend Sara's for dinner, and she set out a little plate of homemade sage shortbread rounds for dessert. Inspired by this coincidence, I decided to include my own version of Sara's crumbly, sage-infused treats in a column on Summer Berry Desserts I was working on for the Boston-based magazine The Herb Quarterly.

Below is an adapted recipe that calls for the addition of any fresh herb of your choosing. I'd probably recommend using hardier varieties like sage, rosemary and thyme over herbs like tarragon or basil that bruise easily. But why not experiment? —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, etc.)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350° F. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, use your fingers to gently rub together 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the chopped herbs (this will help release the oils). Whisk this mixture into the flour.
  2. Cut up the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch round or square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar evenly over the dough.
  3. Bake the shortbread for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Using a very sharp knife, score into fingers, squares or wedges while it is still quite warm, and let it cool completely in the pan before separating the pieces.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tara Eisenberg
    Tara Eisenberg
  • Lindsay
  • Caitlin Carrol
    Caitlin Carrol
  • fatgirleating
  • Panfusine

11 Reviews

Tara E. January 21, 2023
I have never felt compelled to leave a recipe review before but I was shocked this one only had 3 stars. I have been making these cookies for over 10 years and every single time they are a huge hit. They are my go-to for when I need something quick with ingredients in the house but also my go-to when I want a reliable delicious dessert to bring somewhere. A+++
Lindsay January 18, 2019
This dough was delicious ;) but sadly the cooked cookies were chalky and tasted pasty like there was far too much butter and not enough flour. I made the recipe twice and had the same poor results both times. They wouldn't release from the pan and never really hardened - they tasted just like pasty butter with a little flour. Sadly :( a whole bar of Plugra wasted. Glad others had a better experience, but curious what went wrong.
Merrill S. January 19, 2019
Lindsay, I'm so sorry these didn't work out for you -- and not once, but twice! How frustrating. Anything particular about where you live -- high altitude, humidity, etc.? You've got me worried there may be a mistake in the recipe as printed, so I'm going to try these out again myself...it's been a few years!
Caitlin C. June 17, 2017
Good recipe, lovely and buttery, but next time I will use more herbs! I don't think 1 tsp was enough, at least not when using lemon thyme, perhaps rosemary or sage would have been more pungent and therefore needed less.
judy November 5, 2016
cani I use dried herbs instead? These look and sound wonderful
Rose M. May 15, 2015
I used a similar recipe today but called for too much sugar. NowI know the problem and love the herbs.What will I do with all this butter crumbles?
fatgirleating May 16, 2014
Holy foodgams
Panfusine December 8, 2011
Just made this today.. Its to DIE for!
Panfusine December 8, 2011
Just made this today.. Its to DIE for!
Blissful B. October 24, 2011
I made this today & it was delicious! However, I had some challenges. The dough stayed pretty crumbly & didn't want to pull together. I decided to just transfer the crumbles to the pan & pat it down, but then it wanted to stick to my fingers instead of the pan. I finally decided to just chill the dough & roll it out for cut-out cookies. The result were cute little butterflies that tasted wonderful.
dymnyno April 19, 2010
What a coincidence!! I have been looking for a shortbread recipe today.