Cookie exchange recipe: Rosemary shortbread cookies

rosemary shortbread As part of my series of holiday card recipes, I’m posting my rosemary sea salt shortbread for your holiday baking pleasure.  These little cookies are a breeze to make, and a fantastic hostess gift to bring along.  I’ve even been introduced at parties as the originator of the rosemary shortbread, and I’m always gratified to hear when the recipe becomes part of someone’s repertoire.
Every year I base my annual holiday recipe on something fun from the year, like my Paris Vacation Onion Tart or my Final Report Carrot Soup from the year I studied at the Culinary Institute of America.  This particular year I traveled to Scotland, the home of shortbread, at least half my ancestors and Lady Claire Macdonald.  She’s not only an acclaimed cookery expert, she’s also wife of the chieftain of the Clan Donald, my grandmother’s clan headquartered on the breathtaking Isle of Skye, where you can stay at the ancestral hunting lodge and take cooking classes with Lady Claire.
The herb and salt make it kind of a sweet and savory combination that makes for a nice surprise. Enjoy.

Janine’s Rosemary Sea Salt Shortbread
Makes 16 triangles

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, plus extra for sprinkling
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together butter, sugar and salt, then stir in rosemary. Mix in half the flour, then add remaining flour and combine. The dough may become stiff, so be patient. Press into an 8-inch square pan, then sprinkle with a little extra rosemary and salt for a pretty top. Use fork to pierce dough at 1-inch intervals. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately cut into triangles. Cool for about five minutes, then promptly remove shortbread from pan using offset spatula or fork.

Recipe and photo from Janine MacLachlan, The Rustic Kitchen, www. All rights reserved. Get more tasty info by signing my newsletter, or my feed And let’s tweet together, shall we?


  1. Janine,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful shortbread recipes! I also love the spin you added to the brownies!

    I’ll be making my cookies this week, so your timing is perfect!

    Merry Christmas!


  2. Alicia Litton says:

    Hi Janine,

    I don’t know if you remember me but I was Laura Lee Gastis’s roommate in Chicago. She emailed me your blog and I have to tell you I love this recipe! I just made it and probably won’t eat any dinner because I can’t stop eating the rosemary shortbread! Congratulations to you, I look forward to reading your blog and trying your recipes.
    Alicia Woodward Litton

  3. Just by the look of it I can tell that it is tasty and yummy. Thank you for sharing the recipe…For sure many moms out there are going to make one too. I also salute you for using sea salt rather than refined salt, did you know that refined salt can cause heart problems, high blood, and so as Alzheimer’s disease.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Just had the pleasure of being served this by hers truly. People, it’s even better than it looks and sounds.

  5. I always substitute a little rice flour for regular when making shortbread cookies – it gives it that little bit of a crunch that I associate with shortbread. Can’t wait to make these.

  6. John Bannow says:

    Made the shortbread and had nothing but rave reviews at the meeting. I found the shortbread a little crumbly–If I bake it longer will it be be less so?,Great recipe, John

  7. John, make sure you butter is really soft – that seems to be the trick to a good texture, although these cookies tend to be on the crumbly side because they don’t have eggs. Cut them right out of the oven, then let cool for a few minutes and then take them out of the pan.

  8. Tried these for my Christmas party and they were a HUGE HIT. I actually had to make them twice because even 25 minutes in my convection oven burnt them, but I’m so glad that I went through the trouble of re-making them because they are amazing. Thanks for posting.

  9. I made these last year for Christmas and I am currently baking two batches for Thanksgiving. Our guests loved them last year and were hoping they would the star of our sweets again this year. They will be thrilled! Thank you for sharing this timeless recipe and starting a tradition in our family.

  10. These look great! Any idea whether they can be made with oil instead of butter? I avoid eating animal-derived products whenever possible. Thanks!

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