Easy Vanilla Shortbread Cookie Recipe Made With Cornstarch

Easy Vanilla Shortbread Cookie Recipe: a traditional cornstarch shortbread cookie, updated with the addition of vanilla bean paste.
vanilla shortbread cookie recipe

These easy vanilla shortbread cookies are so simple and so very good.  If you’re a fan of traditional shortbread, you will love these.  

I used the old blue cornstarch box shortbread recipe for “Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies” but I added some vanilla bean paste.  These cookies are the definition of simple done right.  The recipe is printed on the side of Canada cornstarch boxes.  Every grandma you know probably has on the recipes cut out of the old box and in her recipe box.  My very own grandma, and mother used to use this recipe often. The addition of the vanilla bean paste takes these up a notch, and the little black specks of vanilla in the cookies add such flavour and interest.  You can also make these simple cookies the traditional way and just leave out the vanilla if you wish, if you are craving the nostalgic taste of the old recipe.  

Why Add Cornstarch To Shortbread?

The cornstarch in this recipe makes the cookies quite crisp.  Traditional Scottish shortbread doesn’t use cornstarch and the shortbread cookies made without cornstarch are more crumbly.  The addition of cornstarch to the shortbread makes the cookie more crisp, and tender, and helps create that melt in your mouth cookie.  Cornstarch shortbread cookies are sometimes called Irish shortbread, since adding the cornstarch to the shortbread originated there.  Adding corn starch to the shortbread changes the texture of the cookie from dry and crumbly to crisp on the outside and tender on the inside melt in your mouth texture.  Some shortbread recipes call for powdered sugar, because powdered sugar or icing sugar, or confectioners’ sugar includes a small amount of cornstarch in it to keep the fine sugar from clumping.  Our recipe uses both cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Cornstarch shortbread are delicate cookies that are easy to make and so delicious.  These are sure to become a favorite.

traditional shortbread cookie recipe

Vanilla Shortbread

We added vanilla paste to our cookies to add some flavor.  Shortbread is one of the most simple cookie recipes with only a few ingredients.  Adding a flavoring like vanilla adds interest.  We choose vanilla paste for its intense vanilla flavor and the characteristic black specks it adds to the cookies appearance.  You can substitute regular vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean paste, if that’s all you have.  Vanilla is the perfect flavoring to add to these cookies because it’s not overpowering of the delicate and simple shortbread flavor.

Using A Stand Mixer

Shortbread is always quite simple to make.  It only has a few simple basic ingredients, which keeps it quite easy.  We used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to make ours, and although the traditional method uses some elbow grease and a wooden spoon, the mixer is much easier, and makes the job quite quick as well.  You could also use an electric mixer at medium speed.  If you do decide to use a hand mixer instead of stirring the cookies by hand, be extra careful not to overmix the dough.  If the dough is over mixed the cookies will become less tender.

easy shortbread cookies

We’ve rolled out our dough and used a traditional scalloped round cutter for these.  To make this simple recipe even easier, you can also roll the shortbread dough into 1-inch balls and flatten them with a fork, if you’re not a fan of getting out the rolling pin. 

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Another fun option for these vanilla shortbread cookies for the chocolate fan is to dip them into melted chocolate.  For the chocolate lover, this makes a great addition.  Simply melt some good quality chocolate, and dip the baked shortbread cookies, and let them set on some parchment paper.  You can prefer dark chocolate use melted dark chocolate. 

quick and easy shortbread

Holiday Shortbread Cookies

Rolled shortbread was always a classic Christmas cookie at my house growing up.  My mom would use lots of different Christmas cookie cutters to make them, and add colored sugar and a tiny piece of candies cherry for Rudolph’s nose and other details.   And I can never have a bite of shortbread without thinking of the holiday season.  But, you don’t have to wait for the holidays to make these.  They are so simple and quick, that they’re an amazing cookie for any time of year.  These would be really great Christmas cookies to use for any holiday cookie exchange.

cornstarch box shortbread cookie recipe

We used our shortbread cookies as the base for the grey stuff for our Beauty and the Beast themed dinner and a movie night.  It was a great combination.  You can see how we made the grey stuff here.  These cookies were so good though, they deserved their very own post.

vanilla bean shortbread cookie recipe

Yield: 24 Cookies

Easy Vanilla Shortbread Cookie Recipe

easy vanilla shortbread cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste


    1. Combine cornstarch, powdered sugar, and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, or large bowl. Add in the room temperature butter, and combine until it comes together into a dough. Add in the vanilla paste, and mix through the dough.
    2. If dough is too soft to handle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the shortbread cookie dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Or form 1 inch balls and flatten with a fork.
    3. Bake at 300 F, on an ungreased cookie sheet, for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to brown on the edges. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 89Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 46mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
how to make shortbread cookies

These easy cookies are such a treat.  This is the best shortbread cookie recipe to use if you like a light crisp shortbread.  They’re perfect for making rolled cookies too, cut into any shape for any occassion or rolled into balls and flattened for an even easier version.  Also feel free to add a candied cherry or course sugar on top before baking for a real old fashioned classic shortbread cookies.

The addition of the vanilla bean paste elevates this simple easy recipe, adding vanilla flavor in a perfect, balanced way.  Your family members will love this delicate cookie.

With these Easy Vanilla Shortbread Cookies to enjoy, life really is a party!

More Inspiration

You might also like our Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies Recipe here.

Also check out our Toblerone Shortbread with Browned Flour Recipe here.

Toblerone Shortbread with Browned Flour -The "Famous Phipps Shortbread" with roasted flour, and Toblerone chocolate bar chunks.

This recipe was part of our Beauty and the Beast themed Disney Princess Dinner and Movie Night -check out all the details about the whole party here.

Disney Princess Dinner and Movie Toolkit

Love Disney Princess dinner and movie nights?  Buy our Disney Princess Dinner and Movie Toolkit.  The Toolkit includes 6 different Disney Princess movie nights with menus, all the recipes, inspiration, and printables for each one.  Check out more about the Disney Princess Dinner and Movie Toolkit by clicking here.

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