Delicious lemon and basil shortbread

Nov 24, 2021
A classic shortbread infused with lemon basil sugar. Source: Getty Images

Shortbread is a classic. Who doesn’t love a buttery biscuit?! But for a summery twist, this lemon and basil version takes the classic to new heights!

I just love the combination of lemon zest, basil and sugar. Not only does it give a subtle flavour to the biscuits, but it also adds some colour.

You can store these biscuits for up to three days in an airtight container.

Makes 20-24.


  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 large fresh basil leaves
  • 175g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups + 3 tbsp plain flour


  1. In a food processor, combine granulated sugar, lemon zest, and basil leaves. Pulse and process until the sugar is very fragrant and resembles wet sand, and the basil pieces are very, very small. The sugar will be lime green in colour. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the lemon basil sugar in a small bowl for dusting the cookies during baking. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the sugar from clumping.
  2. In a bowl, use a mixer with paddle attachment to cream butter and salt over medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add remaining lemon basil sugar to the bowl with the butter, and beat over medium-low speed for 2 minutes, or until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  3. Add flour in two additions, and mix on low speed until flour is just absorbed, scraping down the bowl once or twice. The dough will be shaggy and loose.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a clean work surface. Use the heel of your hand to press down and ‘smear’ the dough onto the countertop. Push back together and repeat until smooth and the dough comes together. Using a bench scraper, press the block of dough into a 12.5cm square block. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  5. Preheat oven to 160C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Remove dough from the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, and place the block between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, hit dough evenly until it begins to flatten. Turn and repeat. By hitting the dough, you are warming and flattening it slowly, and preventing the dough from cracking.
  6. Roll dough into a 23cm square. If the dough gets too soft during this process, slide the baking paper onto the back of a baking tray and refrigerate until firm.
  7. Using a sharp knife, score the dough along both edges to form 5cm x 2.5cm rectangles. Cut along the scores and transfer 12 rectangles to each baking tray, setting the dough apart by at least 2cm.
  8. Sprinkle tops of the dough lightly with lemon and basil sugar. If the remaining sugar has started to clump, loosen it with your fingertips or re-process it in the food processor. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating and turning the pans halfway through, or until the edges of the shortbread are a pale golden brown.
  9. Allow the biscuits to rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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