Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread

Try this herbal twist on a buttery classic.
Shortbread on Plate with Cup of Tea

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread

Shortbread tastes great with a hot cup of tea.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Shortbread tastes great with a hot cup of tea.

Shortbread is a traditional cookie with the simplest of ingredients: flour, butter and sugar. Yet the end product is a melt-in-your-mouth, delicious goodness that pairs great with a cup of steaming hot tea.


Shortbread gets its name due to the texture of the pastry. In the culinary world, short refers to the crumbly texture of a baked good. The crumbly texture is the result of the high fat (butter) content and gives the cookie its delectable melt-in-your-mouth texture.


The cookie has origins dating back to the 12th century. But, the modern day shortbread is credited to Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century due to her fondness for petticoat tails flavored with caraway seeds. This type of shortbread was baked in circular form and cut into triangular wedges. The cookie was considered a luxury and reserved for holidays and weddings.

A Non-traditional Remix

For my take on the traditional shortbread, I decided to brown half the butter first. Browned butter or beurre noisette, has a nutty flavor and adds a wonderful depth of flavor to a myriad of dishes. A herb that goes particularly well with brown butter is rosemary. Rosemary offers a piney, fragrant flavor to sweet and savory dishes. When paired with brown butter, it’s a match made in heaven!

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary


To brown the butter: Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in small skillet over medium heat. Cook until dark amber, stirring often (about 5-6 minutes). Chill just until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Whisk flour and salt to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat brown butter, 1/2 cup butter, and sugar in large bowl until creamy.

Beat in vanilla and the chopped rosemary.

Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed just to blend.

Transfer dough to tart pan with a removable bottom. Pat the dough in until it’s spread evenly in the tart pan.

Lightly score the top of the dough into wedges (this will make it easier to cut when it’s done).

Bake shortbread until golden brown and firm to touch, about 55 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cool until room temperature. Slip the tart pan ring off and cut into triangles.

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