• Brown butter pecan shortbread fingers (Chris Middleton)Source: Chris Middleton
Shortbread is easy to make and so rewardingly buttery and melt-in-the-mouth.
12 May 2021 - 2:17 PM  UPDATED 24 Jun 2021 - 3:06 PM

--- The Cook Up with Adam Liaw airs weeknights on SBS Food at 7pm and 10pm. You can see the Salloum sisters, and Carol Salloum's mamoul recipe, on Tuesday 11 May. The show will encore on SBS Food at 11am weekdays and at 3.30pm on SBS. SBS Food will air a marathon on Sundays at 2 pm, and series will be made available after broadcast on SBS On Demand. ---


From a classic Scottish shortbread to Japanese salted shortbread and a big, crumbly Italian polenta 'tart', these biscuit variations cater to all tastes, including sweet and savoury. 

Grab a slice
Brown butter pecan shortbread fingers

The mellow and warm comforting flavour of brown butter works beautifully with pecans in this easy melt ’n’ mix shortbread.


Scottish shortbread

"The key to good shortbread is slow baking until it is pale golden and cooked through," says expert baking teacher Anneka Manning. Her Scottish shortbread recipe uses four ingredients - butter, sugar, plain flour and rice flour - and is based on her Scottish great-aunt Anne’s recipe, creating a butter, melt-in-the-mouth biscuit. 

Almond-filled semolina biscuits (mamoul bi lorz)

In some ways, mamoul are like a Middle Eastern stufes shortbread, but really, they are their own thing entirely. Mamoul bi lorz feature intricate designs from the use of a special mamoul mould, making them into edible art. The centres of the mamaoul in this recipe, shared by Carol Salloum in The Cook Up with Adam Liaw, are filled with crushed roasted almonds, sugar, orange blossom water, rosewater and cinnamon, creating a heavenly combination of butter biscuit and aromatic filling. 

Crunchy lemon & polenta shortbread flowers

"There's something about the texture of polenta that I find addictive. I like cutting these shortbreads into flower shapes, but you can use any cutters you have available," says Caroline Griffiths of these biscuits, which make a lovely gift. 

Crunchy lemon and polenta shortbread flowers

Okinawan salted shortbread

"The tiny islands that make up the tropical paradise of Okinawa are some of my favourite destinations in Japan.... Two of its most famous exports are a rich, black sugar called kokutou and mineral-rich sea salts. Of course, if you can get those products from Okinawa, more’s the better, but otherwise any dark brown sugar and sea salt flakes will do," Adam Liaw says of these simple but sensational shortbread fingers.

Shortbread biscuits with pineapple jam

These Puerto Rican shortbread biscuits are a favourite at parties and celebrations and are often given as gifts. Simple to make, but difficult to resist, there are endless variations on the centre filling – the ubiquitous guava jam or hundreds and thousands are both popular in Puerto Rico.

Gluten-free mastiha shortbread stars

"When I was a kid I would run home from school, grab a teaspoon from the drawer and scoop up sweet, stretchy mastiha fondant from the jar. I loved dunking my fondant in a glass of icy cold water and licking it like a popsicle. I created this shortbread recipe to highlight this beautiful spice, unique to the island of Chios in Greece," says Helen Tzouganatos. These make a lovely gift, too. "Tie your stars together with natural twine and add a personalised tag for a rustic handmade touch."

Mastiha shortbread stars



Cumin, black pepper and ghee shortbread

"Essentially shortbread, but made with ghee instead of butter, which enhances the flavour of the spices," says Kulsum Kunwa of these sweet-savoury shortbread biscuits. 

Anchovy sables

"Sable, a savoury shortbread biscuit, originated in Normandy and date back to the 19th century. Commonly flavoured with parmesan or similar cheeses, this recipe calls for the addition of anchovies for an extra hit of salty flavour," explain Matthew Evans of his take on a classic. 



Chocolate-and-hazelnut shortbread

"Simple and super quick to make, this shortbread will satisfy even the most hard-core chocoholic! For extra crunch, try adding some chopped roasted hazelnuts to the mixture with the chopped chocolate," says Anneka Manning of these chocolate biscuits. 

Vegan millionaire’s shortbread

These beauties from the BOSH! duo, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, have everything – rich chocolate, gooey caramel and a crunchy biscuit base.

Open sesame
Tahini shortbread buttons

These delicious little morsels are reminiscent of halva, but without the sugar. 

Almond polenta shortbread tart (sbrisolona)

This brittle, buttery tart — a giant shortbread of sorts — originates from Mantua, in Lombardy. "Literally meaning ‘big crumbly one’, sbrisolona is a tart of humble provenance. Its modest ingredients consist of nothing more than polenta, flour, butter, sugar and just one precious egg. Hazelnuts were included in the original recipe, but modern adaptations call for almonds," explains Valeria Necchio, who shared her recipe with us. Stefano Manfredi's torta sbrisolona recipe, made with flour, polenta, polenta, caster sugar and egg yolk, includes lemon juice and grated lemon which adds a lovely citrus note to the butter biscuit (his recipe uses a mix of butter and duck fat, but we've made it using all butter, too). 

Caramel sandwich biscuits (alfajores)

It's hard to decide if it's the buttery biscuits or the rich dulce de leche filling that's the best bit of these South American sweets. Good thing you get both in every mouthful. 

And so many more
Ghoulish shortbread fingers

This recipe brings a whole new meaning to shortbread fingers, but don't worry, they taste much nicer than they look.

Brown butter pecan shortbread fingers

The mellow and warm comforting flavour of brown butter works beautifully with pecans in this easy melt ’n’ mix shortbread.

Lebanese butter cookies (ghraybeh)

These simple shortbread-like biscuits, subtly scented with orange blossom water, are incredibly more-ish. They are just as good when flavoured with vanilla or rosewater, to taste, too.

Jam-filled crescents (kiflice) (kiflice)

Somewhere between a scone and shortbread biscuit are kiflice; plum-filled crescents that look like mini croissants. While the dough itself isn't sweet, the jam filling and the icing sugar topping gives this pastry a sweet hit. 

Salted peanut millionaire’s shortbread

Otherwise known as caramel slice, delve into this timeless favourite that is a delicious combo of crunchy, biscuity base, gooey caramel filling and glossy chocolate coating. The addition of salted peanuts only makes an already very good thing even better. This does make an admittedly large batch but you can easily just halve everything and bake it in a smaller dish.