This Scottish Shortbread Recipe Is Completely Vegan

This vegan shortbread recipe is perfect for your next Sunday baking session


2 Minutes Read

Scottish shortbread made to a vegan and dairy-free recipe Vegans no longer have to miss out on shortbread - Media Credit: Janis Nicolay

If you’re a fan of Scottish shortbread but follow a vegan diet, this recipe is dairy-free, completely free from animal products, and offers a very similar taste to the original.

Scottish shortbread traces its origins back to medieval Scotland, evolving from a simple medieval biscuit known as “biscuit bread.” These early biscuits were made from leftover bread dough that was dried out in an oven until it hardened into a rusk, and over time, the yeast in the bread was replaced with butter, leading to the creation of shortbread.

The term “short” in shortbread refers to the crumbly texture that results from the high butter content. This delicacy became popular in the 16th century during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, who is often credited with refining the recipe to something close to the modern shortbread, with the addition of sugar.

Traditionally, Scottish shortbread is made from a simple recipe of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour, and it’s often shaped into rounds, fingers, or petticoat tails, a large circle divided into segments. A traditional shortbread recipe is far from vegan, therefore, as it requires the use of dairy.

The below recipe, which comes from plant-based cookbook BReD, written by Ed and Natasha Tatton, features vegan butter in place of dairy. You can buy dairy-free butter at a wide range of shops and supermarkets, and many brands sell it in block form, which is ideal for baking.

Here’s how to make it:

Vegan Scottish shortbread

Shortbread is butter-heavy by nature, and it is rare to find plant-based shortbread anywhere, though good-quality vegan butter makes for an excellent cruelty-free version of this classic biscuit.
Scottish shortbread made to a vegan and dairy-free recipe
5 from 2 votes
Servings12 cookies


  • 500 g (2¼ cups) cold vegan butter
  • 250 g (1½ cups) vegan icing sugar
  • 250 g (2 cups + 1 tbsp) cornstarch
  • 250 g (2 cups) red spring wheat flour or whole wheat flour
  • 250 g (1½ cups + 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 10 g (2 tsp) fine sea salt


Make the dough

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter and icing sugar on medium speed until smooth and paler, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure the butter is fully incorporated with the sugar.
  • Add the cornstarch and beat until combined, 1 minute.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the red spring wheat flour, sifted all-purpose flour, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir just until a smooth paste forms. Avoid over-mixing, which will develop the gluten in the flour and result in tough shortbread.

Shape the dough and chill

  • Place the cookie dough in the centre of a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Fold one end of the parchment towards you over the dough. Holding a bench knife nearly parallel to the work surface and angled slightly downward, push towards the dough, forcing it into a log in the parchment. The log should be 3 inches (8cm) in diameter.
  • Place the log in the fridge for at least 8 hours or up to 5 days. If there is space in the fridge, it is best to hang the log to prevent any flat sides. I find this is more achievable if the log is wrapped in plastic rather than parchment paper. Otherwise, roll a kitchen towel around the wrapped log to provide some padding, then lay the log on a shelf.

Bake the cookies

  • About 45 minutes before you plan to bake the cookies, arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  • Remove the shortbread log from the fridge and unwrap it. Cut the log crosswise on a cutting board into slices about ½ inch (1cm) thick. Arrange the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving 2 inches (5cm) between them to allow for even baking. (Typically, these cookies don’t spread.)
  • Bake the cookies until lightly golden brown on top, 10 to 12 minutes. If you are not using a convection oven, you may need to rotate the cookies halfway through. If they have spread a little, while they are still hot, use a cookie cutter to trim the edges. This step isn’t necessary but will make the biscuits uniform and tidy.
  • Store the shortbread in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days.

Excerpted from BReD by Edward Tatton and Natasha Tatton. Copyright © 2023 Edward Tatton and Natasha Tatton. Photography by Janis Nicolay. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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