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It feels fortuitous that the same year I decided shortbread was going to be the holiday cookie bake off, the apple TV show Ted Lasso catapulted shortbread into the national consciousness. This spawned even more shortbread recipes to try along with a number of Ted Lasso copycat recipes.
Of the 9 recipes I tested, I feel confident that at least one of them will live up to your Ted Lasso shortbread dreams (what could be cuter than little pink boxes of shortbread as holiday gifts?). Let’s get to it!
- 63 total tasters
- 8 recipes were baked the day of tasting; 1 was baked the night before
- All shortbread were baked in parchment-lined baking pans or baking sheets
- All tasters ranked each shortbread on a scale from 0-10 for overall flavor, texture, and as a whole
- All ingredients were measured by weight according to the King Arthur website
- Gold Medal bleached all-purpose flour
- Bob’s Red Mill white rice flour
- Costco unsalted butter
- Kerrygold unsalted butter
- Bob’s Red Mill baking powder and soda
- Diamond kosher salt
- Imperial granulated, brown and powdered sugar
PARTNER NOTE: I’m delighted to be partnering with Imperial Sugar on this bake off as I’ve consistently used their consistent, high-quality pure cane sugar products throughout my bake offs. Imperial Sugar is non-GMO verified, allergen free and gluten-free!
For more sweet inspiration, you can visit Imperial Sugar to find more than 4,000 expert-tested recipes, free downloadable vintage cookbooks, sugar scrubs and bath products at the Sugar Spa, and lots of helpful guides on their blog. You can also check out their Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram for even more recipe inspiration!
As noted below, I think there may have been some baker’s error that resulted in a lower-than-deserved ranking for NYT. Also, it’ll become clear below why Christina Tosi’s recipe ranked so low (not a typical shortbread texture; many tasters were confounded by it).
Generally, my preferences aligned with these results, though I do think that Food52 and Tartine should’ve been ranked higher in my personal opinion 🙂
- European vs. American butter: Though I normally standardize all recipes on Land O Lakes butter, I did use butter as a differentiating factor in this bake off because of the large role it plays in shortbread. European butter is generally higher in butterfat (at least 82%) with less water compared to American butter, leading to a richer taste and softer texture. I only used European butter in the recipes that specifically called for it (Seasons and Suppers, Ted Lasso and Tartine. Interestingly, 2 out of the 3 recipes took top honors while Tartine was rated closer to the bottom. I do think the flavor of the European butter made a favorable difference in all of the recipes (a richer, fuller, very prominently buttery flavor), but textural issues dragged down Tartine’s score. Overall, I would definitely splurge on a European butter to make any of these recipes if you can swing it!
- Rice flour: Rice flour is typically used in shortbread to achieve a sandy, crisp texture. I tested two recipes that used rice flour (Seasons and Suppers and NYT) and it’s hard to see a correlation here since S&S took second and NYT was ranked a bit lower. S&S did achieve a singularly crisp and light texture that I think wouldn’t be possible without the rice flour–so if that’s the texture you’re going for, I think it’s important to source rice flour. If you like a more tender, softer shortbread, I think you can easily find good recipes that don’t call for it!
- Sugar: Across all 9 recipes, 4 recipes called for granulated sugar, 4 called for powdered sugar, and one called for brown sugar. The recipes that used powdered sugar tended to have a softer, more tender bite than those made with granulated sugar. (This is because powdered sugar generally contains cornstarch, a thickener which helps contribute to a thicker/softer texture.) I was extremely interested to see the difference between the Food & Wine recipe vs. the Taste of Home recipe because they’re basically identical save for ToH using brown sugar instead of white–the verdict? The cookies were different shapes (F&W was much thicker) so it was hard to compare apples to apples, but F&W had a slightly softer chew and I think the slight flavor from the brown sugar departed from a traditional shortbread. Takeaway: look for recipes that use granulated sugar for a more crisp-style shortbread and powdered sugar for a more tender shortbread!
- Cornstarch: Cook’s Illustrated and Tartine called for cornstarch (CI used cornstarch + powdered sugar which seemed excessive and Tartine used cornstarch + granulated sugar which made more sense to me). Like the cookies that used powdered sugar, the cookies that used cornstarch also tended to have a more tender bite.
- Egg yolks: By definition, shortbread is made with flour, butter and sugar. Yet Christina Tosi adds egg yolks to her Ted Lasso spin off cookie and the result? A ton of extra moisture, richness and cakiness that made it more like a blondie and unlike any of the other shortbread cookies. More on her specific cookie below, but ultimately most tasters agreed that egg yolks do not belong in a shortbread recipe.
Video Tasting Review
It’s me again, eating my way through all 9 shortbread recipes (PLUS a bonus tasting of the renowned Walker’s shortbread and also Dean’s shortbread for all my UK friends in order to compare these recipes against those as a benchmark).
Analysis of the Best Shortbread Recipes
Christina Tosi: thick and almost chewy, moist, blondie-esque cookies
Christina Tosi’s take on the Ted Lasso shortbread was one of the most unusual recipes I came across–it calls for a mix of powdered sugar and a touch of brown sugar as well as three yolks. Yolks are a highly unusual addition to shortbread; you could go as far as to say that including yolks takes this out of the territory of shortbread. It’s fairly similar to Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, though it calls for twice the amount of powdered sugar.
Accordingly, these shortbread were VERY sweet! They were also extremely soft and moist to the point where the texture is very cakey and almost blondie-like. The brown sugar lends a nice caramelized flavor but overall, these were extremely confusing to my palate. While delicious in flavor and delightfully chewy, I would consider these closer to a blondie and tasters overall agreed that this probably can’t be considered shortbread. But it makes for a tasty, very rich blondie!
- I want to eat this all day. Is it really shortbread though? Flavor is like slightly saltier butter mochi. I like this a lot.
- Nice texture, while I usually like crunch, this chewy one was lovely, and nice flavor. Loved the crust on this one.
- I liked this one! But I don’t think it qualifies as a shortbread to me because the texture and taste is much closer to a sugar cookie. So while it was good, it’s a sugar cookie, and this is a shortbread bake off
- Really soft. Really chewy, which seems unusual for a shortbread? But the flavor was really good, tasted the most balanced/butteriest to me. I actually really enjoyed this but expect a more short texture rather than soft for shortbread. I would still eat this again.
- Moist and not crumbly. More like a dense cake than a biscuit. Sweet and could use some salt. Good for people who like a variety of textures (solid/crisp on bottom, moist/dense on top)
- Hard to rate because I love it but not as a shortbread… This is like, a blondie. It’s delicious and chewy, but it doesn’t taste or feel anything like a shortbread.
Tartine: sandy, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread that aren’t too sweet
This was one of three recipes that I used the Kerrygold butter in (as the recipe called for “unsalted, high-quality butter”). It’s also one of two recipes that uses cornstarch–in this instance, it’s combined with granulated sugar, and extra sugar is sprinkled on top after baking. The recipe uses creamed butter, the press-in method, no chilling and about a 30-40 min bake time.
I’m honestly shocked Tartine scored so low because I loved the fine, crumbly texture of this shortbread. They’re on the thicker side and perhaps the effect of the whole mouthful is a little sandy, but I loved the decently buttery flavor of these. They’re not too sweet (I like the layer of slightly crunchy sugar on top that contrasts with the rest of the cookie) and they’re very melt-in-your-mouth. The taste is almost a little doughy–they’re very similar to NYT but softer and pastier with more tenderness whereas NYT is a little more crisp. Not sure if this difference can be attributed to the difference in butter. Tasters generally didn’t love the sandy, dry texture of these, but if you’re looking for a dry, finely textured shortbread (maybe for eating alongside tea), I think these are a great option.
- I liked the sugar topping which gave it a little crunch. Flavor was nice with the added sugar, and the melt-in-the-mouth feeling was really satisfying.
- Love the taste – a very balanced blend of butter and sugar – but this was perhaps the most crumbly shortbread, which for me makes the texture less desirable.
- Flavor is ok but the texture is a bit chalky, starchy/floury and almost too short. Leaves a bit of a flour aftertaste once the butter and sugar fade. The granulated sugar on top feels unnecessary.
- Crumbles to nothing. Has more of a French sable texture – crumbled to sand when I broke it. Not a fan of the flat aftertaste
- Way too crumbly. Decent flavor but it almost felt like straight flour (dry and gluey) in the mouth. Looked promising with the sugar on top but bit of a let down.
- Tastes vaguely like a sugar cookie and doesn’t have a strong butter taste. Almost like it was underbaked/sandy. Very pretty, but not very golden if that’s what you’re looking for. Although it didn’t really cut it for me in terms of being shortbread, I kept wanting to eat it as some kind of sandy sugar cookie.
New York Times: crisp and sandy shortbread with a fine crumbly texture and subtle sweetness
This is one of the unfussiest recipes of the batch–it calls for melted butter that simply gets stirred into a mixture of flour, rice flour, granulated sugar and salt. Press it into a pan (no chilling required), and you’re ready to bake! The most challenging part of this recipe is likely finding the rice flour (make sure it’s not the glutinous kind).
Unfortunately, the bottom of these were overbaked–one taster generously noted that this was likely the recipe’s error over baker’s error since the top looked perfect while the bottom was a bit scorched. I did double this recipe so perhaps that caused some issues–just a warning to keep an eye on the bottom of the pan if you do try these. Overall, these were quite similar to Tartine (sugar top and all)–the main difference between the two recipes is that Tartine uses 1/4 cup cornstarch and NYT uses 1/4 cup rice flour. The rice flour lends NYT a slightly more crisp and crumbly texture–while I expected some tenderness in this tall, thick cookie after sampling Tartine, that is not the case: this cookie is dry and crisp through and through. Interestingly, tasters noted that they tasted more of a salty/sweet contrast in NYT over Tartine and I would agree. I do think the burned bottom resulted in lower-than-deserved rankings for this shortbread, but I also think the flavor didn’t really stand out to me besides the pops of salt. I might try this again but using a fancy butter.
- Absolutely delicious. Love the texture, flavor, aroma – just the right amount of crumbliness. Nice thickness. Good balance of sugar and salt. Is that sugar gilding the lily? A very excellent shortbread.
- The texture was very similar to [Tartine]. The sugar on top gave it a nice crunch. The flavor was better though, there was a slight salty taste which I enjoy.
- Kind of dry and kind of crumbly; I liked how the sugary top contributed to the overall sweetness of the cookie. The texture was a little too dry and the flavor wasn’t anything special.
- Great texture and nice underlying taste, but char/burnt is too overwhelming. A non-burnt version of this might have been my favorite.
- Top is very dry and tastes too sweet and a little gritty. decent buttery aftertaste though.
- Badly burnt. And I can tell it’s the recipe’s error, not the chef’s error, because the top looks like it’s supposed to. I tried to check the intended flavor by just nibbling the top, but even that was pretty underwhelming. I wouldn’t bother trying to troubleshoot this recipe.
America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated: a dense, hearty, slightly pasty-centered shortbread
Dubbed the “best” shortbread recipe by the America’s Test Kitchen team, this recipe differed from most in several ways. It calls for reverse creaming (i.e. creaming the butter into dry ingredients) for a crumbly texture, ground up oats and cornstarch to reduce the gluten and give a tender texture, and powdered sugar. This was the only recipe to call for cold vs. softened butter (and uses less butter than most to prevent greasiness). It also calls for a very high initial bake temp of 450, then dropping to 250 before putting the cookies in the turned off oven for an hour to crisp. AND it calls for baking the dough in a springform pan and cutting out the center, I think for the purpose of cutting the cookies into wedges?
This shortbread had a slightly more tan/beige hue to it (from the oat flour) that I found less appealing. In contrast to the rest of the cookies, the slightly earthy taste of the oat flour was more prominent and this had a very dense, crisp texture that turns slightly pasty when you chew. It was quite crisp the first day, but seemed to soften more quickly than the others. I didn’t love the way the earthiness of the oat flour detracted from the buttery flavor I expect from shortbread. For the amount of steps that went into this recipe vs. the payoff, I probably wouldn’t make this again.
- This has been my favorite so far overall. The texture was outstanding and the flavor really comes out well at the end
- AMAZING TEXTURE. Will say that it is a bit bland initially but the hit of salt at the end is nice. Could use just a touch more sugar
- Ideal texture for shortbread! Loved the crumbly mouth vibes. The flavor was a little lite though, and would’ve liked something more bold
- Actually flavor hit later, I like the salty notes. Very sandy crisp texture, not at all tender, a little tough and gritty, starchy
- The texture was good, it was harder which gave it more of a bite but it didn’t feel too dry. Taste-wise, it tasted similar to a sugar cookie.
- Initial bite is so buttery and delicious but very weird texture it ruins it. Sticks to my teeth almost like cardboard and paste. Delicious sawdust.
Taste of Home: a soft, slightly more moist shortbread that still melts in your mouth
Taste of Home’s Scottish shortbread had the shortest ingredient list (just 3 ingredients) and this recipe stood out for its use of all brown sugar. It calls for creamed butter, the roll out method (which I personally found slightly easier to get consistent vs. the press-in method), and I like the flexibility that you can chill this for as little as 30 minutes or overnight if you’re prepping ahead.
This cookie had one of the most tender bites, with a soft chew and crumb that kind of melts in your mouth. This is one of the only shortbreads I wouldn’t describe as “crisp”–I think the more tender texture is due to the extra moisture in brown sugar. It just has a delicately dry crumb that verges on more of a sugar cookie than a shortbread (but still retains all the butter flavor and vague melt in your mouth qualities of shortbread). Although ingredient-wise, it’s quite similar to the Food & Wine recipe (same flour/butter/sugar ratios),
- Good subtle buttery flavor. Nice mix of crumbly and chewy.
- This was a close second for my top shortbread, following directly behind [Food52]. Loved the texture, but the sugar forward taste wasn’t as satisfying as the butter forward taste of #2.
- Good firmness and crunch. Enjoyed the chew. Liked how sweet it was, could use salt
- Too soft and not the right texture (creamy and not crumbly). smelled delicious and looked appealing, but just a bit sweet and denser than I would prefer.
- When I bit into it, the shortbread was softer than a biscuit. This has a completely different taste than the others. Perhaps it’s the butter or an alternative to white sugar? There is a vegetal taste to it. Tastes like too much vanilla or something added.
- Tastes like budget maple syrup, which is not really what I look for in shortbread. What’s going on? Is it brown sugar or something? It did bake up nicely, with a nice crumb and a gently browned bottom, but whatever the flavoring here is is so overpowering that I can’t recommend it.
Food52: an extremely buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread with crisp edges and a fine crumbly texture
Food52 reportedly got this recipe from Bien Cuit, and no wonder it received rave reviews in the office–with a 1:1 ratio of butter and flour, this had the highest proportion of butter across all the recipes. It uses powdered sugar, creamed butter, calls for an overnight chill and a long bake (60-75 min) at a low temp of 300 degrees.
You can feel justified in that the high ratio of butter is also reflected in the flavor–this shortbread is unapologetically BUTTERY with a crumb so fine and soft that it’s almost like a crisp, slightly crumbly cake. I found it hard to believe, but several tasters called this shortbread TOO buttery. In my opinion, the flavor was amazingly rich and not overly buttery–one of my favorites! It’s definitely a shortbread to serve in small squares because it is so rich.
- Quintessential shortbread. The right texture and flavor. Maybe could have used slightly more sugar? But I’m a fan
- Wow, that butter flavor is great! Is there special butter in here? It tastes almost like cultured butter, or maybe there’s just a lot of vanilla. The texture feels smoother than what shortbread is “supposed to” feel like – no grit at all, just pure smooth crumb all the way through – which I personally liked but I could see being off-putting to purists.
- Veeeeeery buttery and tender. Delicious! Could maybe use a pinch more salt? Not an aggressive shortbread flavor but the texture was aces.
- Really flaky when cut which surprised me, it almost shattered with layers. It melted in the mouth when eaten which I really liked.
- Looks like pie crust and feels too flakey. Flavor is fine although not that interesting in general. Not as sweet as I would prefer my shortbread to be.
- Not a shortbread texture, too damp. It almost feels undercooked when eaten and was too dense, without the typical shortbread crumbly texture.
- It’s really dense and seems very sweet. It is overly buttery, and seemed a bit salty as well. It almost seemed doughy – a typical shortbread is more crumbly. Would not choose to eat this again.
Food and Wine: a flaky and crisp shortbread with a classic taste
This 5-ingredient recipe has its ups and downs–on the plus, it uses melted butter (no creaming!) but calls for a food processor (hate to clean) and rolling out the dough between parchment. On the plus side, it doesn’t call for a lengthy chill, but it does require a 10 minute jaunt in the freezer. Ratio-wise, it’s very similar to Taste of Home, but it adds vanilla, uses white sugar instead of brown, and calls for the food processor vs. creaming.
I would always rather use my stand mixer than a food processor, so I was side eyeing this technique–but in this case, I think it really made a difference! This shortbread had the most crumbly, flaky layers unlike any other recipe. It also remained quite a bit more crisp for days after, especially compared to Taste of Home, which softened almost immediately. The flavor felt very classic–buttery with just the right amount of sweetness and salt. I can see why this one was a crowd favorite!
- GREAT TEXTURE! So flakey! Could have more flavor.
- Crispy, sandy texture. It was the “driest” with a bit of a crunch when eaten, but it felt accurate to what I would expect a shortbread to me.
- I like the height of this one a lot and really like that it has some flake and crunch like a biscuit. Could be a tiiiiny bit sweeter and a little more buttery for my taste but it makes sense that it’s flaky b/c there is less butter.
- Flavor is ok. Texture is more on the crunchy side and reminds me of a danish butter cookie (but with a slightly diminished butter flavor). Has a browned appearance that is nice.
- Great texture, good flavor, smells delicious. If it was twice as tall it would be perfect. Nice balance of butter and sugar and salt.
- I feel like it’s balanced well between sugar/salt/butter. I don’t care for the texture as much, it’s a little too try and needs more moisture to keep it together (maybe more butter?).
- Nice crunch, but stays crunchy in the mouth a bit too long (vs melting). I like that this was very vanilla forward.
Ted Lasso: a perfectly salted, finely crumbed, crisp yet tender shortbread
“Straight from the powers that be at Apple TV+, this classic shortbread recipe is the official Ted Lasso biscuit recipe,” says The Kitchn, so of course I had to try it! This recipe is just 4 ingredients (notably, it uses powdered sugar and suggests that you splurge on fancy butter, so I used Kerrygold here). This recipe calls for creamed butter, a 30-minute chill, and a long bake time (45-60 min) at 300 degrees.
One of the most picturesque chunky shortbreads in my opinion, this shortbread had a beautifully fine and sandy texture, another that simply melts in your mouth. I loved the pops of salt in this that perfectly contrast the sweetness. It did soften quite a bit the day after, but it was fairly crisp on day one. This was one of my favorites–I loved the thick, sandy, tender texture of these along with the incredibly rich, salty sweet flavor! Don’t skip the Kerrygold/European butter if you try these.
- Very buttery (especially the aftertaste!) and melts in the mouth. Loved the thickness of it and yet all of it was a nice texture. Not too crumbly but not chewy like a sugar cookie. My favorite of the bunch!
- Fine crumb that melts in your mouth. Fragrant, sweet and just buttery enough. I liked how meaty it was, started bland, ended flavorful
- Very bright butter flavor. The bottom was a little brown; I think the height made the texture a little inconsistent from top to bottom, so parts of it were just a touch too sandy, but overall a pretty good cookie! I think this one felt the most “professional” of all the samples; the height would make it attractive in a display case, and the color looks like it’s straight out of a cookbook.
- This one was incredibly soft and didn’t have a lot of flavor. Felt flat, not super buttery or sweet and was the softest of the bunch.
- I liked the amount of salt in the cookie. However, I felt it was a little bland (not as sweet and less butter flavor than expected) and a little too dry.
- Flavor is strong butter and flour, but nothing else. Could use some bright notes. Liked the thickness and the flakiness. The aftertaste was a little too buttery
Seasons and Suppers: a crisp, perfectly sandy shortbread with a beautifully buttery flavor
This “crispy Scottish” shortbread recipe stood out for its use of rice flour and unique twice-baked technique–you bake it once, cut into pieces, and return the cookies to the oven (heat turned off) to crisp up for 30-45 minutes. Jennifer says you can develop even more flavor as they sit, so I took the liberty of making these cookies the night before (as the oven-turned-off part of the recipe would have made the bake off logistics challenging). Jennifer also specifically notes that you should use a high fat (84%) European-style butter as American butters contain more moisture and will result in a more moist dough. (I used Kerrygold per her recommendation but my dough still looked significantly moister than hers in the crumb stage.)
This shortbread had one of the butteriest flavors of all (closely tied with Food52) but paired with an irresistibly crisp texture. It has the crumbly flakiness of Food & Wine, the buttery flavor of Food52, the satisfying crisp of Tartine and a satisfying chew to boot. I did feel there was a slight grittiness to this that was maybe due to the rice flour, but if you’re looking for a classic, buttery, crisp shortbread that will please shortbread purists, this is the one I’d suggest. In my opinion, this is one to beat Walkers!
- Was I eating a Walker shortbread of that nostalgic taste but much better? Perfect size, buttery fragrant, and correct balance of sweetness & salt. My favorite out of all of them.
- Saved the best for last. The texture and flavor is what I expect from shortbread. It’s just overall great and traditional.
- Heaven must serve this shortbread!!! We have a winner!!! This had the right amount of sugar, crunch, butter, and salt for me.
- On the sweeter side, mildly buttery. Texture is like crunchy sand. Looks very nice in that it gets a nicely browned exterior. Very snackable!
- Drier crisp texture, liked the other half of it better dunked into earl grey tea to combat the dryness. Could be a touch more sweet.
- Crunchy texture, really crumbly, almost a little gritty in the initial bite. Flavor was a bit more mild/plain compared to some of the others, but I enjoyed this one if you like a bit of a “stronger” shortbread.
- It’s OK. There’s a slight chew to it that keeps it from melting in your mouth like really good shortbread does. The butter flavor is a little dull, although I appreciated that butter is the star ingredient in this one – there are no distractions.
Best Shortbread Recommendations
Erika’s picks: Ted Lasso, Seasons and Suppers, Tartine
Most classic/similar to Walker’s shortbread: Seasons & Suppers
Best buttery shortbread: Seasons & Suppers, Food52
Best crisp, crumbly and/or flaky shortbread: Seasons & Suppers, Food & Wine
Best melt-in-your-mouth sandy shortbread: Ted Lasso, NYT, Tartine
Best soft and tender shortbread: Taste of Home, Cook’s Illustrated, Ted Lasso
Best moist and cakey shortbread (i.e. not shortbread): Christina Tosi