Gluten-Free Shortbread

Gluten-Free Shortbread is a melt in mouth buttery biscuit with a touch of crunch. A classic Scottish recipe which uses oat flour. It’s incredibly quick to make and so versatile that you can adapt it to endless flavour variations.

Gluten-free shortbread on a wooden board cut into pieces

The quest for the perfect Gluten-Free Shortbread was not one undertaken lightly. I have been working on this recipe for about as long as I have been gluten-free. I have an absolute weakness for shortbread. Although humble in origin, the beautiful buttery taste elevates the confection to a more special status.

However the right flour combination for this particular bake eluded me for a long time. I threw myself a mini party when achieving this final version. It ticks all the boxes to create the perfect shortbread in taste and texture.

What is shortbread?

Shortbread is a traditional Scottish confection made with sugar, butter and flour. The earliest printed recipe is credited to a Mrs McLintock in 1736. However, the first versions as a bread dough to which melted butter was added can be traced back to medieval times.

Shortbread needs to have a beautiful buttery taste and a slight bite upfront that gives way to a sandy crumb. In modern versions white rice flour is often included to encourage the crunch. Conversely cornflour is sometimes added to accentuate a soft sandy texture.

Shortbread is so much more than a humble biscuit. In fact its national status as a ‘speciality item of flour confectionary’ was fought vehemently by the Scottish Association of Master Bakers so that it would not be taxed as a biscuit. It is often gifted at Christmas in decorative tins and certainly not out of place at high tea.

Three bowls of gluten-free flours

Gluten-free flours

After many recipe tests where the shortbread was either too crumbly, too gummy or not enough bite I eventually discovered the perfect flour combo:

  • Oat flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Tapioca flour

Gluten-free oat flour is used for its light tender crumb and delicious butterscotch taste which works beautifully with the butter and vanilla.

Oat flour substitution: Usually I might suggest a substitute as even gluten-free oat flour can be difficult to digest for hardcore intolerances. However, if this is the case for you I would like to point you towards a slightly different flour combination (scroll further down to see).

Cornmeal. In regular shortbread the wheat flour can be cut with white rice flour to add crunch. I found without the wheat flour to temper it the white rice flour made the shortbread claggy. Cornmeal is an excellent substitution. I found a very fine white cornmeal which worked well here but any fine cornmeal will do.

Tapioca Flour. This is the starch we need to stop our shortbread from crumbling apart.

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How do you make gluten-free shortbread?

Shortbread is a minimal effort type of bake. It takes about 10 minutes to mix all the ingredients together and only 30 minutes in the oven.

  1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Sift the flours together with the salt then beat in.
  4. Press into a cake tin.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for an hour before removing onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Process shots for gluten-free shortbread. showing the butter and sugar in a bowl and then mixed up

Process shots for gluten-free shortbread. showing the dough in the mixing bowl and then in the cake tin ready for the oven.

Baker’s Tips:

  • Use the best unsalted butter you can find. It really makes a difference as this is the overriding flavour of your shortbread.
  • Use good quality vanilla extract.
  • The shortbread won’t brown too much. This is correct, you want it to be quite pale with a slight nod towards going golden.
  • Leave the shortbread to cool completely before cutting. Otherwise it has a tendency to crumble. The shortbread will firm up as it cools.

How do you make gluten-free shortbread without oat flour?

If you can’t tolerate oat flour then I recommend a slightly different flour combination. It is just as delicious but the bite of the shortbread is not as short. The recipe and ingredients list are exactly the same except remove the oat flour and tapioca flour. Instead use:

  • 175g almond flour
  • 150g very fine white cornmeal

Note that this version doesn’t need any starch. The almond flour has enough protein to hold the shortbread together.

Shortbread Flavour Variations

Plain unadorned shortbread is delicious as it is but if you wanted to jazz it up slightly then let’s go for it. Here the shortbread is drizzled with 2 tablespoons melted dark chocolate, 2 tablespoons dulce de leche and a crumble of sea salt. The dulce de leche is warmed up slightly to make for easy drizzling.

Gluten-free shortbread drizzled with chocolate and dulce de leche

If chocolate and caramel aren’t your thing then there are so many other routes you can go. The earliest versions of shortbread included preserved lemon, orange peel, nuts and caraway seeds. All of which would be delicious. Here are some other suggestions to add to your dough before baking.

Lemon Shortbread – zest 1 lemon
Lavender Shortbread – 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped lavender flowers
Strawberry Black Pepper Shortbread – 3 tablespoons of freeze-dried strawberry powder and ¼ teaspoon of cracked black pepper.
Ginger Shortbread – 2 tablespoons diced stem ginger and 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
Iced Shortbread – Beat 180g icing sugar with the juice of 1 small lemon together and spoon over your cooled shortbread. You can also flavour the icing with any of the flavour variations mentioned above.

Serving suggestions for shortbread

Although an excellent accompaniment to tea or coffee, shortbread can often elevate a dessert. Try serving shortbread alongside:

  • Chocolate mousse
  • Affogato
  • Lemon Posset
  • Strawberries and Cream
  • Crumbled over ice cream

Side view of Gluten-free shortbread drizzled with chocolate and dulce de leche

If you like this classic British recipe then you may like:

Gluten-Free Eccles Cakes
Vinegar Cake
Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge
Gluten-Free Scones with Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

If you make this Gluten-Free Shortbread then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Gluten-Free Shortbread

This Gluten-Free Shortbread is a melt in mouth buttery biscuit with a touch of crunch. A classic Scottish recipe using oat flour.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Scottish
Servings: 8
Calories: 410kcal

Ingredients

  • 225 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 g oat flour
  • 125 g very fine white cornmeal
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan assisted oven/gas mark 4.
  • Line and grease a 20cm (8 incround cake tin.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes until light and creamy.
  • Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • Sift together the oat flour, cornmeal, tapioca flour and salt then add to the butter and sugar. Beat until it is fully incorporated.
  • Tip the dough into the baking tin and press into the tin using your fingertips.
  • Using a sharp knife gently mark four lines across the diagonal of the shortbread to mark out the intended slices.
  • Pierce the surface of the shortbread with the tines of a fork a few times to let the air escape.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the top is just starting to turn golden.
  • Rest the shortbread for an hour in the tin before removing. Leave to cool completely on a cooling rack before cutting into wedges.

Notes

  • Use good unsalted butter. This is the main taste of your shortbread so you need it to be the best you can find. Organic, unsalted butter direct from the farm if possible. You will notice the difference.
  • Use good vanilla extract. Not vanilla essence.
  • Cooling. Leave the shortbread too cool completely before cutting. It needs time to firm up otherwise it will be too crumbly to cut.

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 153mg | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 705IU | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1.4mg

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Gluten-free shortbread on a wooden board cut into pieces

Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

If there is one plaintive cry that is often heard in this house, it’s ‘Why do you never make cookies?’

It’s true that cookies are usually superseded by a sudden whim to make a cake or a brownie so they usually fall down the pecking order. Plus cookies are remarkably easy to eat aren’t they? What is it about them that makes you believe it’s okay to have two or three when you would normally only have once slice of cake. It’s probably because you have to eat one straight from the oven when the chocolate is oozing from within and they are still pretty dough like. Later on it would be churlish not to partake in a cooler cookie with your tea, letting your cup catch the crumbs so you can slurp them up later.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

My husband is also a bit of a dried fruit fanatic, there are usually odds and ends of trail mix or some exotic papaya strips that never seem remotely appealing to me. However, these candied pineapple chunks have been winking at me for weeks begging to be used in a recipe. I am not normally a pineapple junkie but I have found myself craving their sweet juicy acidity so whilst a few months ago I would have shuddered at including them in a bake, this time round they were the first ingredient on my list when preparing to make my cookies.

I think it’s rude not to include chocolate in a cookie don’t you? That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the odd oat and raisin number in my time but I usually think a bit of a chocolate addition would liven up the proceedings immensely. This time round I poured in a few handfuls of white chocolate chips, which are the type of chocolate oft neglected from my bakes, but here they seemed so right.

The desiccated coconut was added just because I cannot bear to bake or cook anything without coconut at the moment. I thought I would be bored by now after my endless forays of coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut flakes and coconut milk but it’s just so damn versatile in all its different formats and there is usually a place for it in whatever I am cooking.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Now these cookies are huge, so make sure you space them apart a good distance in your baking tray. They are chewy but also a little crisp on the corners for the variety of texture which is so important in your daily cookie. The true test was whether they would pass the husband test and they did with flying colours. The only problem is that now he sees no excuse why there can’t be cookies every day.

Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies

175g unsalted butter
175g soft light brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
150g jumbo rolled oats
75g desiccated coconut
125g white chocolate chips
125g dried pineapple chunks

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla until completely combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, oats and coconut.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Finally mix in the chocolate chips and pineapple chunks until evenly dispersed.
  7. Portion out the cookies by weighing out each one out to 100g then rolling into a ball.
  8. Place each ball on large baking trays about 2 inches apart from each other and flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until just turning golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Or, eat straightaway so the cookie is warm and the chocolate is still melting.

Dark Chocolate Chip, Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits

Dark Chocolate Chip, Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits
It seems that I have given everything in my life over to preserving at the moment. It’s an addiction, I can’t get enough of filling up those jars and watching them stack up and up. My study, once the calm area of reading, writing and reflection has been invaded. Bookshelves have been emptied of books, books taken up to the attic as the jellies, relishes, pickles and jams have taken over.

I think that’s why I had a little moment this weekend in between the piccalilli and the apple and stem ginger chutney when I needed a recipe with instant results, something I could actually eat right that second. You know, dinner. And what better dinner than butter, eggs, sugar and flour. For a quick baking fix, you don’t need to go much further than a biscuit. The only impatience you need to overcome is that initial 20 minutes when the butter is being brought up to room temperature. Don’t let it kill your instant fix fun though, do what I do which is which is sit on my kitchen stool, a model of calmness as I leaf through a cookbook. Don’t shoot the butter murderous looks as the edges refuse to soften on this chilly August afternoon but instead… Oh alright then, after 10 minutes I might have
thrown the butter cubes unceremoniously into the kitcheanaid to let my faithful friend do the rest of the work. Whizzed up on high, it beats the butter around so it has no choice but to yield and when it does sugar is launched into the bowl as well and mixed for 3-4 minutes until light with air.

From there, it is no time at all to add the rest of the ingredients one at a time, mix, then add, mix then add. The egg, the vanilla, the flour, baking powder it all goes in before the chocolate chips, rosemary and fleur de sel are stiffly stirred in. At this point I forced myself to have the time and patience to weigh the dough out properly so my biscuits would all be the same size. It probably had a lot to do with the episode of GBBO I had just watched on catch up so was shamed into doing so, no one wants to get on the wrong side of Paul and Mary. However, this step was worth it as 12 minutes later, after the bake, seeing the biscuits lined up so uniformly, tweaked a little bit of perfectionist pride in me.
Dark Chocolate Chip Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits  |  Stroud Green Larder

I made these biscuits a few weeks ago and for some reason didn’t write about them. A bit of a travesty as they really are quite delicious, I was happy therefore to have found an opportunity to whip them up again for inclusion in the blog. These are more biscuit than cookie as the idea is that they should be crisp, with pockets of oozing chocolate providing the only give in the biscuit. They are also a little bit grown up and refined and are absolutely ideal sitting on the saucer of a cup of tea when you need a bit of time off from pickling, jamming and jarring.

Dark Chocolate Chip, Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits
Makes 20 biscuits

125g butter, at room temperature
185g caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
185g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate chips
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp fleur de sel

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix in until thoroughly combined.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, rosemary leaves and fleur de sel then add to the rest of the biscuit dough along with the chocolate chips.
  5. Bring the dough together to form a ball.
  6. Bake the biscuits in two batches. Weigh out half the dough, setting one of the halves aside for a bit, then split into 10 balls, which should be about 30g each. Place each ball on a large baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes when the edges should be turning golden.
  7. Once the biscuits are ready, remove from the tray with a spatula and transfer to a cooling rack.
  8. Take the second half of the dough and split into another 10 balls, place them on the baking tray and bake also for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the tray and transfer to a cooling rack.