This Traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe is from my great Nana Ling’s recipe book and dated 18 July 1941. She’s identified the source of the recipe as “Mrs MacFarlane.”

Traditional Scottish Shortbread is particularly popular during celebrations such as Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year), but it’s also popular throughout the world at any time of the year. It’s certainly welcome in my home all year round!

My Scottish connection

While Nana Ling’s background appears to be mostly English, back in 1941 her extended family was becoming a little more Scottish. Two of her children married McDonalds, with the first McDonald union in 1941. Then, in 1943, her daughter (my Nan Mac) married my dear Pop Mac, Ronald George McDonald.


I wonder whether she used this recipe to impress her new daughter-in-law and son-in-law? Perhaps she baked up a batch to celebrate their weddings?

In any event, her son-in-law (my Pop Mac) was extremely proud of his Scottish heritage and I reckon he’d love this Scottish shortbread recipe – it’s a little more textured than store-bought shortbread and definitely on the sweet side. Pop Mac was known for his sweet tooth, and he always got a giggle out of me each time he declared, “My favourite fruit is chocolate.”

Ronald George McDonald (‘Pop Mac’)

Making traditional Scottish shortbread

If you haven’t made shortbread before, or haven’t been happy with your results in the past, check out our “How to make shortbread” post before you try this recipe.

You can also watch this short how-to video. It runs you through the steps to make shortbread in the petticoat tails shape (as pictured above):


If you prefer shortbread cookies, check out these gorgeous traditional moulds on Etsy:

shortbread mould


Okay, so there’s just one final thing to remember before you start:

Ith gu leòir! (which means “eat plenty” in Scottish Gaelic)

Nana Ling’s Traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe

Keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.

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Traditional Scottish Shortbread


  • 120 grams flour
  • 60 grams rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 120 grams butter
  • 120 grams sugar


  • Put sugar, butter and sifted flours and baking powder in separate piles on a clean surface.
  • Knead butter and sugar together.
  • Gradually draw in the flour, kneading well.
  • When the mixture is a stiff paste, break into two pieces.
  • Roll out each piece into a circle that's a little over 1 cm (or 1/2 inch) thick.
  • Pinch edges and dust with a little extra sugar on top.
  • Bake in a slow oven until golden. (I bake mine in a fan-forced oven at 140 degrees celsius for about 35 minutes.)


See our “How to make shortbread” post for a how-to video and other tips on making shortbread.


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