Orange Cardamom Shortbread recipe

Orange Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Day Seven of the 12 Days of Global Cookies –

Scottish Shortbread Cookies with Orange and Cardamom

Classic Scottish Shortbread is an amazing cookie that is welcome any time of year. But around the holidays, they are a must! This is the BEST Shortbread Cookie Recipe that I have tried. Melt-in-your-mouth, buttery shortbread spiced with orange zest and ground cardamom is a little bite of heaven!

What is Shortbread?

Shortbread is a traditional Scottish biscuit (cookie in the US) that is usually made from three parts flour, two parts butter and one part sugar. Other ingredients can be added to enhance the flavor and texture if desired.

The reason that it is called ‘short’ bread is thanks to the high ratio of butter to flour. The butter inhibits the ability of the flour to create strands of protein aka gluten. Since the gluten strands are ‘short’, the texture is crumbly.

Can you make vegan Shortbread?

YES!! I have made vegan shortbread numerous times using vegan butter sticks. I generally use Country Crock Plant Butter made with Olive Oil.

The flavor and texture are just amazing and no one has ever guessed that I didn’t use real butter!

You could also make shortbread using shortening but you will be lacking the flavor of the butter. If you attempt to make shortbread with shortening, you will want to make sure that you flavor it well with other ingredients.

Different ways to flavor Shortbread

Making shortbread is quick and easy and the flavor options are endless! I tend to use what I have on hand to play around with the flavors.

My favorite ingredients to use to flavor shortbread:

  • Lemon Zest
  • Orange Zest
  • Tea leaves (straight from a tea bag is fine)
  • Espresso powder
  • Spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel, anise, Chinese five Spice, Speculaas spice mix
  • Chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • Dried fruit

Mix and match to your hearts content to create your own shortbread flavors!

Pro tips to make the best Shortbread Cookie recipe

  • Don’t overwork the dough! If the dough is mixed or kneaded too much, the strands of gluten will begin to form and the shortbread will not be short. It will dense and tough.
  • Bring the dough together with your hand gently. When you mix the dough, use the mixer as little as possible. If there is some flour that is not completely mixed in, just use your hands to bring it together gently. If you need to re-roll the dough, make sure that you do that gently as well!
  • Chill the dough well. Chilling the dough allows the butter to firm back up after mixing and makes rolling out the dough easier.
  • Add just a little salt. Salt will help to enhance the flavor of your shortbread. Even if you are making plain shortbread (plain is not bad – it’s delicious!), the salt will round out the flavor and enhance the buttery goodness!
  • Bake just until the edges barely begin to brown. Overbaking shortbread will make it hard and crunchy. It should just melt in your mouth! As always, bake according to the indicator (slight browning) and not to a specific time. All ovens are different and baking times can vary. So only bake it until it just starts to brown.

12 Days of Cookies, Global Edition!

Check out the other cookie recipes that will be on my cookie tray this year:

Day One – Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

Day Two – Mint Brigadeiro

Day Three – Spumoni Cookies

Day Four – Classic Linzer Cookies

Day Five – Gingerbread Cookies

Day Six – Chinese Almond Cookies

Day Seven – Orange Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Day Eight – Russian Pryaniki, still perfecting this recipe!

Day Nine – Ginger Cookies

Day Ten – Japanese Pocky modified for The NYT Cooking Recipe

Day Eleven – Plum Ginger Rugelach

Day Twelve – Alfajores

Extra! – Buckeyes aka Peanut Butter Balls

Orange Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar

  • 339 grams (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter

  • 445 grams (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

  • Zest of one unwaxed orange

  • 10 grams (1 Tablespoon) ground cardamom

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Sparkling Sugar for sprinkling, optional


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar until they are just combined.
  • Add the zest and cardamom and mix briefly.  Sift the flour into the mixing bowl.
  • Mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.
  • Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the dough gently with a rolling pin to about 1/2-inch thick and cut with a round cookie or biscuit cutter. You can also cut into 3×1 inch sticks.
  • Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Poke several times with a fork on the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.


  1. These went down a treat in the office! And this recipe makes so many so there were lots to go around. I added more orange zest than the recipe stated to make the orange flavour a bit more noticeable (added extra zest from 1/2 an orange). Otherwise these were great, I love shortbread!

    • Tanya Ott

      I’m so glad that you and your office loved them! The extra orange zest sounds great – I LOVE a strong citrus flavor!

  2. Can never go wrong with shortbread! Good to know that you make it vegan, I have a colleague who is allergic to eggs and I ‘m always trying to figure out ways to accommodate for her issues…

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