Classic shortbread that tastes like Grandma made

A neighbour of my mother-in-law gave the recipe to me in 1960 and it was over 150 years old then.

A neighbour of my mother-in-law gave the recipe to me in 1960 and it was over 150 years old then.

This tastes exactly like your Grandma and her mother’s shortbread used to taste.



  • 7oz butter (220gm) – not margarine
  • 4oz pure icing sugar (125gm) – do NOT use icing mix as this has cornflour in it.
  • 10oz plain flour (315gm)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Glace cherries


  1. Line biscuit trays with greaseproof paper before you start.
  2. Cream butter and (sifted) icing sugar with your hand.
  3. Add (sifted) flour and salt, and mix well.
  4. Knead on a board for 5 minutes (do not use extra flour).
  5. Take a small handful of mix and roll into a 1″ (2cm) sausage, cut into about 1/2 -1cm slices with the back of a knife (not sharp side) this gives the rippled effect on the biscuit, place on trays.
  6. Top with RED cherry pieces when biscuits on tray (1 cherry will cut into 8-12 pieces, depends on size of cherry, show outside of cherry on biscuit as the glaze looks nice).
  7. Bake in a slow oven (about 160 degrees) for 20-30 minutes. If using double mix then you would need 3 trays. After about every 10 minutes I change the trays about in the oven. It takes longer to cook if you do double batches and you need to keep an eye on them as they should still look pale when cooked. They turn brown fairly quickly at the end. If you touch the biscuit you can tell when they are ready. 

I have sent the recipe in but forgot to add that the recipe calls for creaming the sugar and butter by hand. As I have arthritis in my hands now, I use the K beater of my Kenwood Chef. DO NOT use whisk beaters. I do double batches at a time and reap about 9 dozen shortbreads out of the double mix. I use 3 trays. I made 72 dozen this Christmas period, and gave nearly all of them away. I only make them at Christmas because they are so well liked and do not last. Keep them in an air tight container.

Thank you to Sylvia for sending this in!


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  1. I love them however I never make them, because I would end up eating all of them because I live alone.

  2. i use icing sugar and cornflour in mine ,a recipe from years ago

    • Mine was given to me in 1962 when I got married and it has cornflour and icing sugar plus 3 essences my mum was a fantastic cook and always made it this way .my son’s love it.

    • my husband bought a wooden carved thistle stamp ,my Christmas present ,it was expensive but i love it .makes the shortbread all the more special ,after years of searching for 1 ,they have them at the scottish shop in Dunedin

    • Pauline Skjoth i got my recipe off a lady who lived in the jersey islands ,was a friend of my grandmothers and now im a grandmother so the recipe is very old

    • me too, the secret i think is to cream the soft butter and icing sugar really well. I put the butter in the hot water cupboard overnight so it is really really soft but not melted at all.

  3. I’d also eat the the lot in one go, some of the mixture would not even make it to the oven.. But why would you want to put bits of awful glazed cherries on top, I’ll take mine minus the adornment..

    • don’t even bloody think about it out loud Rob, the doctor told me this am I have to go on a diet no one can I eat while I starve xo

    • I am hearing you Libbi, since my hip has been giving me grief, I’m not walking as well as I used to, until it gets fixed, so the viscous circle has happened, more weight has come on because I cannot move as well, my tennis skills are also not as good each Saturday, I love the statement, you know you have put on weight, really I’d have never known 😱😱😱😱, hopefully the hip gets fixed in May…

  4. As a child my Grand mother would post in a tin her beautiful shortbread. Loved receiving them as sooo good

  5. I’m Scottish and have eaten my fare share of wonderful shortbread but never have I seen shortbread with cherries on top! Think I’ll stick to the recipe handed down from my grandmother!

  6. Shortbread is my weakness. I often make it because it doesn’t have eggs and one of my granddaughters has an egg allergy.

  7. That recipe is almost identical to the one I got from my NZ mother in law. Everyone loves them.

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