For years, every Christmas I baked a batch (or two) of shortbread cookies. This came to an end when I gave up butter. Instead of baking into tender melt in your mouth gems, they spread and hardened into some kind of cookie brittle. That’s when I learned that as much as some may want to believe that margarine and butter can be interchanged, measure for measure, sometimes it’s just not true.

Shortbread is my Mom’s favorite cookie so I didn’t want to just give up. I tried adapting different recipes (no good), then I tried already vegan tested recipes (more failure). Eventually the whole thing was thrown on the back burner (but not out of the kitchen), until I saw it. Butter extract. Could this be the answer?

Reverting back to my original recipe, a few changes were made and a couple of ingredients were added. The next 40 minutes were spent in nervous anticipation. Checking the oven frequently, I noticed that they were holding their shape. Yes!… Finally came the moment of truth, I bit into one. It was delicately textured, it was buttery, it was perfect… Dare I say even better than the original?

These are not an instant gratification cookie. They need to be frozen, or the texture won’t come out right. Also, I encourage you to find butter extract (try specialty baking shops or Michael’s), it will make all the difference. If you absolutely can’t find butter extract, you could try using vanilla.






3/4 cup Margarine

1/4 cup Shortening

1/2 tsp Butter Extract

3 tbsp Cornstarch

1/4 cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 cup Rolled Oats

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour


In a frying pan, on the stovetop, toast the rolled oats until they’re lightly browned and smell nutty. Allow to cool completely. Then using a food processor or blender, pulse until the oats have turned into flour.

Beat the margarine and shortening until well combined and fluffy. Add extract, then cornstarch, then sugar, then oat flour, beating well after each addition. Beat in all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time.

If dough is too soft to handle, then refrigerate until firm. Form dough into 2 logs, 2 inches wide. Wrap in plastic wrap and tin foil and freeze overnight (from here the dough can stay frozen for up to a month).

Pre-heat oven to 275° F.

Remove dough from freezer (do not thaw) and, with a very sharp knife, slice into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch rounds. Prick each round with a fork twice (or a toothpick 6 times). If the dough begins to split, gently press back together. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until they are firm to the touch and a light golden colour. Transfer to cooling rack, handling gently as they are fragile until cool.

Makes about 24 cookies.



3 thoughts on “Shortbread

  1. Tiffany

    AMAZING! I will have to try this because Autumn loves shortbread cookies. I have never made a vegan shortbread but she always likes to eat shortbread at her Grandma’s at Christmas. Butter extract? Who knew. You are genius! 🙂

    1. Starr

      They are such a simple and unassuming cookie. They seem like they should be easy, but they have given me more trouble than any other baking endeavor. You have no idea how thrilling it was to finally get them right… I hope she likes them 🙂

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