Olive Oil Shortbread with Rosemary & Chocolate Chunks

March 14, 2018
4.4 Stars
Photo by Deb Perelman
Author Notes

The landscape of butter-free cookies is usually filled with stories of compromise. Whether you're kosher and need pareve desserts, allergic to dairy, or vegan, the usual butter substitutes of margarine or shortening are rather grim; most are devoid of flavor by design. But I don't have the patience to do things without intention, and when I decided I wanted to make a butterless shortbread, I wanted it to be a shortbread that might taste even better because it celebrated its fat, rather than apologizing for it.

Growing up, I always thought rosemary tasted like pine needles and didn't understand what everyone else saw in it. A trip to Italy fixed that: rosemary crisped in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt is now one of my favorite flavors, and I've used it to convert many a rosemary skeptic since. Chocolate and olive oil is a less popular combination, but I love the rich earthiness olive oil imparts to it. —Deb Perelman

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes about 2 dozen cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (195 grams)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (60 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar (25 grams), plus 1 teaspoon (5 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup mild olive oil (120 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks (85 grams)
  • 1 egg white, beaten until loose (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, and the salt. Add the olive oil and rosemary and stir to combine. Add the chocolate chunks and stir again. Gather the dough with your hands into one mass.
  3. Roll out the dough to an 8- to 9-inch roundish slab between two sheets of parchment paper. Remove the top sheet and use the bottom to slide the cookie round onto the back of a large baking sheet.
  4. If desired—it merely provides a little shine—brush the cookie with the egg white. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Slide the cookie round carefully onto a cutting board while the cookie is still totally hot. Cut with a sharp, thin knife into desired shape(s). Let cool completely, then separate.
  6. Do ahead: This dough keeps well in the freezer. Baked cookies keep for 2 weeks in an airtight tin at room temperature.
  7. Note: For a milder flavor, replace half of the oil with a neutral/flavorless one. You can cut this into shapes with cookie cutters, too, but the chocolate provides a little resistance.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Betsy Cornwell Lyons
    Betsy Cornwell Lyons
  • Macheese
  • sbenzel27
  • eileen

8 Reviews

Macheese June 21, 2020
Such a great perfectly vegan cookie. Have made this as is and it is perfect, also made it 2 X with Meyer lemon zest - once with white chocolate chips and once without. Both versions were excellent as is the original!

Also I just pressed it into a 8x8 pan for a little more ease, also can get even shapes!
Macheese June 21, 2020
Such a great perfectly vegan cookie. Have made this as is and it is perfect, also made it 2 X with Meyer lemon zest - once with white chocolate chips and once without. Both versions were excellent as is the original!
sbenzel27 June 1, 2020
This is one of my favorite Smitten Kitchen recipes! I'm wondering what this would look like with lemon juice instead of chocolate chips? Not a typical substitution but looking to make them dairy free and would like to sub a different flavor instead of chocolate.
eileen February 15, 2019
Wonderful cookie, and because of my lazy nature, I made them like a drop cookie that worked really well, and, as I love rosemary I made it with 1 TBS. I did cut back the powdered sugar a bit, but left the turbine as is, it gives the cookie a nice crunchiness.
amshels January 30, 2019
I absolutely love this shortbread!!! Everyone who tried it also liked it (I let my department at it after I spent 3 days trying not to finish it, hehe). Someone even asked for the recipe. It's really, really good!! I used semisweet chips and extra virgin olive oil (all I had on hand), and found that it had a lot of flavor. I like EVOO a lot though. Overall, I'm amazed that I can have such a tasty treat while avoiding butter and will be making this again in a few days. Try it!
Lucy T. March 22, 2018
Loved the texture and the flavour of the olive oil shining through, but found the end product overly sweet. Offloaded them to husband’s office :-)
I just looked at my favourite Alice MedrIch (Pure Desserts) shortbread and saw she uses only 5 tbsp of sugar for the same amount of flour, so I’m going to try making this again and cutting the sugar to just a little over a 1/4 cup. I did love how fast and easy the method is!
Romzy March 18, 2018
Can I make this using spelt flour instead?
Betsy C. March 16, 2018
These are. INCREDIBLE. I was a bit doubtful but I'll make pretty much anything Deb Perelman suggests, and even with my crumbly leftover powdered sugar, they're just dreamy.