Gluten-Free Shortbread Biscuits

It was the memory of buttery and crumbly shortbread biscuits in a red tartan tin at Christmas that drew our regular cookbook reviewer Nicky to try this recipe for gluten-free shortbread biscuits from Baked to Perfection by Katarina Cermelj. She thought the results were fantastic, both in their texture and also the flavour – their sweetness heightened by the touch of salt. The recipe is easy to follow, with clear instructions and tips to keep you on track.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Biscuits/ Cookies

Photo: Katarina Cermelj

Read our in-depth review of Baked to Perfection by Katarina Cermelj by our regular guest writer Nicky. Nicky and her husband follow a strictly gluten-free diet and assessed this book through the lens of their experiences of gluten-free cooking.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Biscuits

The fewer the ingredients in a recipe, the more important their exact ratios and the method by which you combine them. This is especially true for these buttery shortbread biscuits. Too little flour and they’ll melt into a puddle; too much and you’ll overpower the renowned, buttery, shortbread flavour. Similarly, beating the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy incorporates too much air, causing the biscuits to spread unattractively during baking. But don’t worry – this recipe strikes the perfect balance, giving shortbread biscuits that are buttery and sweet, with just enough salt to make their simple flavour pop, and that hold their shape beautifully.
Servings 18
Author Katarina Cermelj


  • 150 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 75 g caster sugar,plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 255 g gluten-free flour blend
  • 60 g cornflour
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Tip: Mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula, as opposed to a whisk, prevents aerating the dough, so that the cookies hold their shape during baking and don’t puff up.
Tip: You can roll the dough out thinner, if you like – just shorten the baking time. I’ve found that thinner cookies (around 5mm thick) hold their shape and neat edges even better, but their texture is crisper.
Put A Twist On It: You can dip the baked and cooled plain shortbread biscuits into melted chocolate, or add herbs (such as thyme or rosemary) or spices (such as cardamom, ginger or cinnamon) directly into the cookie dough.


  • Adjust the oven shelf to the middle position, preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  • In a bowl, use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix together the butter, sugar and vanilla paste until smooth. ➀
  • Sift in the gluten-free flour blend, cornflour, xanthan gum and salt. Mix with the spoon or spatula and then knead by hand until the dough comes together in a ball. (The dough will be very crumbly at the beginning, but will come together after a few minutes of kneading.)
  • Compress the dough together into a disc between two pieces of baking paper, and roll it out into a 15 x 23cm rectangle about 1cm thick. ➁
  • Cut the dough into 2.5 x 7.5cm rectangles, sprinkle generously with caster sugar, prick with a fork or toothpick, and transfer to the baking sheet, spacing the rectangles about 1cm apart.
  • Bake for about 20–22 minutes until very light golden around the edges.
  • Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • 1–2 weeks in a closed container at room temperature.

Now you have the base recipe down pat, why not try some of Katarina’s suggested variations such as herbs and spices added to the dough, or dipping the shortbreads in melted chocolate?

Shortbread Fingers

Photo: Nicky Bramley



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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Baked to Perfection by Katarina Cermelj from publisher Bloomsbury Absolute. Recipe photography in this post by Nicky Bramley. 

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