Shortbread cookies are a simple and delicious treat to make for any occasion.
Before you start baking some shortbread, however, you might want to keep in mind the dietary restrictions of your loved ones and ask yourself, is shortbread gluten-free?
In this post, we cover all you need to know about the ingredients of shortbread and give you a clear-cut answer to whether or not it’s gluten-free.
Let’s jump right into it.
Shortbread is a traditional Scottish dessert that relies on a large amount of fat.
It’s easy to make because it contains only three ingredients: butter, flour, and sugar. It uses no eggs, cream, baking powder, or soda.
The result of this recipe is a crumbly cookie that dissolves once in your mouth.
People make several variations of shortbread, like billionaire’s shortbread, caramel shortbread, and whipped shortbread cookies, so expect some ingredient differences in each variation.
Sadly, shortbread contains gluten because one of its main ingredients is all-purpose flour. For this reason, regular shortbread isn’t safe for people who are sensitive to gluten.
Note that traditional shortbread uses a gluten-free substitute, but only for half of the amount of flour, as it was originally made with half rice flour and half all-purpose flour.
Yes! You can replace all-purpose flour with a gluten-free substitute without compromising the taste and texture of the cookie.
There’s more than one all-purpose flour alternative that you can substitute flour with. Here are some of the best options:
Rice flour was traditionally an ingredient in making shortbread. However, the recipe uses both rice flour and wheat flour together.
For this reason, it’s essential to use rice flour along with another variety of flour to bind your dough or add another binding agent.
People usually use corn to thicken soups, but you can also use it to bake gluten-free shortbread cookies. However, it’s better not to use it alone and mix your corn flour with the rice flour for best results.
Despite its name, buckwheat is the seeds of an Asian flowering plant and isn’t a type of wheat, so it’s also gluten-free.
It can yield satisfying results in baking. However, it adds an intense difference in flavor.
Unlike the original recipe, for gluten-free shortbread cookies, we might need to add an egg to bind the dough together well.
In addition, you should use high-quality butter for the cookies to keep their buttery texture and flavor.
Here’s a gluten-free shortbread that uses rice flour and corn flour:
- 1 cup of unsalted butter
- 14 tablespoons of rice flour
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 a cup of castor sugar
- 1/2 a cup of corn flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg (if needed)
After gathering your ingredients, follow these steps.
- Sift the rice flour, corn flour, and salt together.
- Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is like fine crumbs.
- Stir in the sugar.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the mix (if needed).
- Knead well and roll out on a floured tray, then chill the dough in the fridge.
- After half an hour, get the dough out of the fridge and cut it into small squares so it won’t easily crumble.
- Preheat the oven and put your cookies at 325 degrees F for about 25 minutes.
- Finally, take the cookies out of the oven once they become golden and leave them to cool.
- Before serving, dust the cookies with sugar powder.
The texture of shortbread cookies won’t change. They’ll maintain their buttery consistency even if you replace all-purpose flour with a gluten-free substitute.
The taste will be as good as the quality of the butter you use. The substitute flour won’t change the flavor much.
So, is shortbread gluten-free?
The answer is no. Shortbread, like a lot of baked goods, uses all-purpose flour. For this reason, the original shortbread recipe isn’t gluten-free.
However, you can use non-gluten options instead of all-purpose flour, like cornmeal flour, rice flour, cornflower, buckwheat flour, or even almond flour. We recommend a blend of rice and corn flour for the best results of shortbread cookies.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.