Keto Shortbread Cookies are so buttery and tender, they absolutely melt in your mouth. These almond flour cookies have all the classic flavor of regular shortbread, with a fraction of the carbs.
When it comes to Christmas cookies, I don’t discriminate. I love them all! But shortbread has a very special place in my heart. It was a standard holiday treat when I was growing up, and boxes of it always appeared in our stockings on Christmas morning.
So I have devoted a lot of time to creating really good keto shortbread cookies that live up to the original in both taste and texture. They must be tender but not soft, with that unique sandy texture that yields meltingly to the teeth. They must be sweet, but not cloying, and have a touch of salt to bring out the flavor.
I take my shortbread very seriously so you know these have to be good!
You might also enjoy my keto macadamia shortbread and my famous keto butter pecan cookies.
What’s so special about shortbread?
Classic shortbread cookies are incredibly simple and require only four ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, and salt. They contain no eggs or leavening agents, and it’s really the proportions of the ingredients that make them so good. They are buttery and crisp, but also incredibly tender.
Recreating that with keto ingredients is no small feat. Alternative flours contain no gluten, which can make keto shortbread cookies prone to crumbling. Many recipes get around this by adding eggs. But this changes the consistency entirely and makes the cookies less tender and melt-in-your-mouth.
I am of the decided opinion that shortbread should not contain eggs, because then it’s not really shortbread. And it turns out that you don’t need them. It’s all about getting the proportions of ingredients right… just like the real deal!
I did add a little xanthan gum to make the cookies less fragile. But you can skip that if you need to.
Wedges and cut out cookies
Shortbread can come in many different shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s plain and comes in simple wedges or sticks. Sometimes it’s cut out into pretty shapes or has added flavors and inclusions.
I provide you here with a very basic keto shortbread recipe that can be dressed up or down as you desire. And I walk you through how to make it two different ways. The classic wedge shape is typical of Scottish shortbread, and it’s what I feature in The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking.
But I also show you how to roll it and make fun cut outs. And I added some mini keto chocolate chips to illustrate how you can change it the base recipe and have fun playing with it.
Ready to make some keto shortbread cookies? Let’s do this!
Ingredients you need
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- Almond flour: I really can’t recommend anything other than almond flour for these keto shortbread cookies. Other nut and seed flours are too coarse and can make the cookies crumbly. And coconut flour really doesn’t have the right texture and they end up tough, rather than tender.
- Powdered erythritol sweetener: Make sure you use an erythritol-based sweetener, as it is the only kind that will produce the crisp texture of shortbread. I always use Swerve Confectioners but Lakanto will work as well. Any amount of allulose, xylitol, or BochaSweet will make them too soft. Powdered sweeteners work best but granular can work too if that’s all you have.
- Butter: Cut the butter into small pieces and return to the fridge until you are ready to use it, so that it doesn’t soften. Chilled butter is key to that tender-crisp texture.
- Xanthan gum: A little xanthan gum helps add strength to the dough so that it’s not as fragile. You don’t have to use it but I do recommend it.
- Vanilla: Vanilla makes them taste more like classic shortbread cookies. But you aren’t limited to this standard flavor. Feel free to experiment and play with other flavors like almond, caramel, or even coffee!
- Salt: Shortbread should always have a little salt to bring out the sweetness.
- Add ins: Sugar-free sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, finely chopped nuts, sugar-free dried cranberries, orange zest, etc.
Step by Step Directions
Prepare the dough:
1. In a food processor, combine the almond flour, sweetener, xanthan gum, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter over top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and begins to cling together.
2. To add mini chocolate chips or any other add-ins, transfer the dough to a bowl and stir until evenly distributed.
To make wedges:
1. Remove the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and place the sides on a lined baking sheet with the clip closed. Press the dough firmly and evenly inside the pan sides, then loosen and remove.
2. Use a large, sharp knife to slice the circle into 12 to 16 even wedges. Use the tines of a fork to decorate the edges and/or make prick marks in the wedges.
3. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the edges are becoming golden. Then remove and turn off the oven. Recut the shortbread along the cut lines and gently separate. Space out around the cookie sheet.
4. Return to the warm oven and use a wooden spoon to prop the door open slightly. Let the shortbread sit inside for another 10 to 20 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Remove and let cool completely on the pan.
To make cut outs:
1. Gather the dough together into a ball and transfer to a silicone mat. Cover with a piece of parchment or waxed paper and roll out to ¼ to ⅓ inch thickness. Do not roll too thinly.
2. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired shapes, then place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the edges are becoming golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Turn off the oven, prop the door open with a wooden spoon, and let the shortbread sit inside until just firm to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on the pan.
While Keto Shortbread Cookies are easy to make, I have some added tips to get them right:
1. Use a food processor if you have one. It helps cut the chilled butter into the dough evenly, which adds to the unique shortbread texture. If you don’t have a food processor, the next best thing is to grate the butter with the large holes on a cheese grater. Then work it in with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to cling together.
2. You don’t absolutely need the sides of a springform pan to shape the wedges. It just helps make a perfect 9-inch circle. You can free-form the circle by patting it out evenly.
3. I recommend using silicone mats over parchment paper as they protect the bottom of the cookies better from over-browning. They are also more sustainable than parchment paper!
4. Keep your eye on the prize. Or rather, keep your eye on the keto shortbread cookies. Watch them in both stages of baking to make sure they aren’t getting too brown. If they seem too brown around the edges but are still soft in the middle, pull them out. If they don’t firm up completely as they cool, you can place them back in a warm oven (no more than 200ºF).
Frequently Asked Questions
This keto shortbread cookie recipe serves 12 people. Each serving has 4.5g of carbs and 2.3g of fiber, for a net carb count of 2.2g. Do keep in mind that how many cookies you get depends on how big you cut them.
Almond flour makes really delicious shortbread, but you can’t simply swap it in for regular flour. Because it has a much higher fat content than wheat flour, the proportions of these ingredients needs to be adjusted accordingly. Please read my tutorial on Baking with Almond Flour for a more in-depth look at this subject.
These keto shortbread cookies freeze extremely well, so go ahead and make them weeks or even months in advance! Simply store them in an airtight container and freezer for up to 3 months.
Keto Shortbread Variations
You can have so much fun with this recipe and make it your own! Try these delicious ideas:
- Finely chop some sugar-free dried cranberries and add to the dough along with some orange zest.
- Make espresso shortbread by adding a few teaspoons of espresso to the mix.
- Melt some keto chocolate (white, milk, or dark!) and dip the cookies on one side.
- Use a little keto chocolate frosting and make delicious sandwich cookies.
Keto Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- 2 ¼ cups almond flour finely ground, blanched almond flour
- ⅔ cup powdered Swerve Sweetener (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup mini keto chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF and line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- In a food processor, combine the almond flour, sweetener, xanthan gum, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter over top, add the vanilla, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and begins to cling together.
- To add mini chocolate chips, transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the chips until evenly distributed.
To make shortbread wedges
- Remove the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and place the sides on the prepared baking sheet with the clip closed. Press the dough firmly and evenly inside the pan sides, then loosen and remove.
- Use a large, sharp knife to slice the circle into 12 to 16 even wedges. Use the tines of a fork to decorate the edges and/or make prick marks in the wedges.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until the edges are becoming golden. Then remove and turn off the oven. Recut the shortbread along the cut lines and gently separate. Space out around the cookie sheet.
- Return to the warm oven and use a wooden spoon to prop the door open slightly. Let the shortbread sit inside for another 10 to 20 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Remove and let cool completely on the pan.
To make cut outs
- Gather the dough together into a ball and transfer to a silicone mat. Cover with a piece of parchment or waxed paper and roll out to ¼ to ⅓ inch thickness. Do not roll too thinly.
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired shapes, then place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the edges are becoming golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Turn off the oven, prop the door open with a wooden spoon, and let the shortbread sit inside until just firm to the touch. Remove and let cool completely on the pan.
I finally made these last night and love them! I can’t get sugar free chocolate chips, so I just left them out and added some sliced almonds. When I was young, Keebler used to make Pecan sandies which was a favorite foe me. These will be my replacement, I just need to hide them from myself, Lol
Is it ok to use vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract? Are vanilla beans consider keto friendly?
They are… but you need a lot more to get a good vanilla flavor. Pricy! 🙂
Hello, can I use granular swerve instead of powdered? I ran out! I tried these already and kids love them!
Sure, that should be fine.
Pam Forrester says
Finally!! I have tried and tried to make a keto shortbread and nothing ever compared to the crunch and crumb of authentic Scottish Shortbread. But this recipe was amazing. And I loved the idea of the springform pan for shaping it. I only had an 8″ but if I left the lock open it was 8.5″ so I went with it. I baked them on a silpat mat. I was afraid to move them until completel cooled so I cut through again but let them cool. Placed back in the oven at 250ºF for 15 min. After time was up they were not quite as crunchy as I wanted, possibly b/c on silicone mat. So, I placed them on a cookie cooling rack on top of the pan and on lowest setting of my oven (170ºF) for 15 minutes. Opened the door and let them cool. Voila!!! Krunchy Keto Shortbread!!!!
Karin Kanthak says
Will this recipe work in ceramic shortbread molds? I have 2 shortbread molds about the size of a pie plate with embossed designs. The instructions say to spray the molds with nonstick, press dough into mold, prick the back with a fork, then bake in the pan. Cool then loosen edges with a knife and turn out onto a cutting board.
I really have no idea, as I have never used such a thing. You should try it and report back!
Pam Forrester says
Yes Karin plese let us know. i have those molds as well but was afraid they would not release well.
Thank you for another great recipe! I used your shortbread and your raspberry chia jam recipe to make shortbread jam bars. To the shortbread i added a bit of ground cardamom, placed most of the dough in a square baking pan, covered that with the jam, then crumbled a bit of the dough on top of the jam. Baked it for about 35 minutes – delicious!
Hello, deliciousness! Love it.
These are delicious! Do you think I could coat them in sesame seeds before baking?
I guess so? I haven’t tried!
Sheila Capewell says
Ok I may be going crazy but I can’t for the life of me see where in the recipe it says to add the vanilla extract that is in the ingredients list. I’m adding it after the butter! Thanks as always for the recipe!
You aren’t crazy… I am for leaving it out. It goes in with the butter, Sorry!
Wow, thanks Caroline. These are amazing, crisp and firm just like “real” shortbread. I made them using homemade vegan butter as my daughter doesn’t do dairy, so these are keto & vegan. Win win. Thanks so much for all your amazing recipes. You are the Costco of baking!!! ????
Graciela G. says
I’ve read all your tip. It will be helpful for sure. If I was planning to add chopped cranberries to this recipe, how much do you think I should add?
About the same amount as I used mini chocolate chips. Unless you’re doing both, then just do half the amount of each. Chop them finely so that the shortbread are easier to cut!
These cookies have a wonderful flavor and texture. I will be making them again before Christmas as cut outs with icing. The idea to use a springform pan is genius – no worrying about how thin to roll out!
So glad you enjoyed them!
These look sooooo good! I love a simple shortbread cookie. I’m definitely making these in the very near future! I also like that this recipe has simple keto ingredients.
Have you ever tried making a whipped shortbread cookie. They were always my favourites so now I’m desperately looking for a keto version but haven’t been able to find one.