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Great Nana’s Classic Shortbread

Great Nana’s Classic Shortbread

Stack of classic shortbread on a plate pinit
Stack of classic shortbread on a plate

Shortbread is a classic biscuit that has been around for centuries. The sweet biscuit has roots in Scotland and is also very popular in New Zealand. My Great Nana’s shortbread recipe that I am sharing here has been passed down for at least four generations. My Mum shared a photo of this recipe from her hand written recipe book. The original notes showed the ingredients in ounces which were then crossed out and measured in cups and tablespoons. It took a little interpretation, but I finally managed to get the recipe to bake just as I remembered as a kid.

Great Nana’s Classic Shortbread Ingredients

Recipe ingredients on bench

You probably already have all the ingredients you need to make my Great Nana’s shortbread in your pantry.

  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar (known as icing sugar in New Zealand)
  • All purpose flour
  • Corn starch (known as corn flour in New Zealand)
  • Salt

Simple right!

Most modern shortbread recipes do not include the corn starch, and simply use all purpose flour. You can also substitute the corn starch in this recipe for all purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio if you do not have corn starch. If possible however, I would recommend making the recipe with the corn starch as it give the baked biscuit that classic grainy texture.

Making the shortbread

Much like the ingredients in this recipe, the steps are also very simple.

  • Cream butter and powdered sugar.
  • Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet and mix
Shortbread ingredients being mixed in bowls
  • Roll into a log.
  • Cut and bake.
Log of shortbread cut into disks

The end!

Shortbread shapes

Traditionally shortbread is made in one of three shapes. Shaped into a slab and cut into fingers. Rolled into a log and cut into rounds. Or finally, shaped into a large circle and cut into segments, also known as ‘petticoat tails’. A more modern way to shape shortbread is to roll out the dough similar to sugar cookie dough and cut with cookie cutters. This particular recipe is best shaped in one of the three traditional shapes. The texture of the dough is a bit too dry to roll out for cut-out biscuits.

Shortbread on cooling rack

Looking for other biscuit recipes from New Zealand?

Check out these recipes from my archives.

10 Anzac biscuits stacked on a plate
Anzac Biscuits
Afghan biscuits on a plate
Afghan Biscuits

BTW Happy National Shortbread Day which is celebrated on January 6th! If you tried my Great Nana’s Shortbread let me know your thoughts in the comments below. As always we would love to see photos of your bakes. Tag us on social @mandy.macc.bakes.

Great Nana's Shortbread Pinterest Graphic (1)

Great Nana’s Classic Shortbread

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 5 min Cook Time 25 min Rest Time 5 min Total Time 35 mins Servings: 12


This classic shortbread recipe has been passed down for four generations from my great nana. The recipe uses corn flour which gives the biscuits that traditional grainy texture. Perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea!



  1. Preheat oven to 320F.

  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  3. In a large bowl cream together butter and powdered sugar until well incorporated. About 2-3 minutes.

  4. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, corn starch and salt until well incorporated.

  5. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter and mix until incorporated.

  6. Turn mixture out onto a dry flat surface and shape into a log.

  7. Cut the log into 3/4" thick slices and place on parchment lined baking sheet. 

  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden.

  9. Allow the shortbread to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Keywords: Shortbread

Did you try this recipe? Tag us in your pics!

Lyn Monkley

Monday 17th of January 2022

Adding a touch of almond essence makes these yummy too.