This crisp, buttery, one-bowl no-mixer, Ridiculously Easy Rosemary Shortbread is one of those unforgettable recipes you'll be begged to make again and again.
Although we first published this recipe back in 2016, it has a brand new 2020 makeover, so we're sharing it again. It's also got a new name. We used to call this recipe, New York Times Rosemary Shortbread. It's now called Ridiculously Easy Rosemary Shortbread because this new rendition truly is ridiculously easy. Don't worry though, it's just as ridiculously delicious as ever!
The makeover began with a comment I received on Instagram. Someone inquired:
Help, please! I don't have a stand mixer. Is there a way to do it by hand?
A short step back in Café history
That comment got me thinking. I quickly looked up the recipe and realized that it was published back in the day. Back before our Ridiculously Easy series was established, which was the result of a reader survey back in early 2016. "What do you guys want?", I asked in the survey. The overwhelming response was for easy but delicious and gourmet recipes. "Dinner party-worthy recipes that don't take much time". So I changed my culinary mindset and began thinking of recipes to make your life (in the kitchen) easier, more fun and (of course) super delicious.
The super-easy and outrageously delicious recipes, ones that make you look like a culinary rockstar with minimal effort, we dubbed Ridiculously Easy. The rest is history. Although not all of our recipes these days fall into that Ridiculously Easy category, my goal is to come up with delicious recipes that don't take all day, employ lots of equipment or call for crazy ingredients that are difficult to find.
An easier version?
When I looked back at this recipe I saw that it wasn't difficult, but it did call for a mixer or food processor. After putting my Sherlock Holmes hat on for a bit, I realized it would be super easy to convert it to a one-bowl, no-mixer recipe. So I cranked up the oven, pulled out a bowl along with some butter, sugar and flour. Then I raided the herb garden for some fresh rosemary. It took less than 10 minutes to put this recipe together. (You do need to start with soft butter, but we have some quick tips for that in the Café Tips below).
The results? So delicious, actually... ridiculously delicious!
A New York Times recipe
I found this recipe years ago in the food section of the New York Times. The minute I read about it, I knew I'd have to try it. It was an unusual, intriguing combination, and being a huge shortbread sucker, I loved the unique fusion of sweet and savory flavors. When I saw that it was a Melissa Clark (a well-known and popular food writer for the Times) recipe, I was pretty sure it would be wonderful.
Melissa describes the shortbread as "tender, rich, crumbly and irresistible". Me? I'll just call it crazy delicious!
The first time I made it, our son Nick and his wife, Lindsay happened to arrive just as I pulled the pan of golden, sugar-kissed shortbread out of the oven. They were dropping off the kids to spend the night with us and were headed out on a dinner date. Not wanting to spoil their appetites, I offered them a tiny sliver... "Oh my gosh!", "Wow!" "This is unbelievable!" They both requested a second helping ("and not so small, please!"), despite the dinner date. Ever since then, they just roll their eyes when "Rosemary Shortbread" is even mentioned!
So how does the recipe work? So simple! Just combine softened butter with a scoop of sugar. Drizzle in a little honey and stir it all together. Add the flour, salt and fragrant rosemary and stir again until combined. Pop the pan in the oven and 30-40 minutes later you'll be pulling out a pan of golden, fragrant deliciousness.
That's it! Well, you will have to listen to the rave reviews. But that's the fun part!
One last thing, this shortbread makes a delightful gift. Just bag up a few wedges, add a pretty ribbon and you've got a wonderful treat for neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. I made a fun little label to attach to my gifts and have a printable PDF available if you're interested. Just let me know in the comment section below this post and I'll send the labels to you via email.
Café Tips for making this Ridiculously Easy Rosemary Shortbread
- Because this recipe is now a one-bowl, no-mixer recipe, it's important that your butter is very soft. You can let it sit at room temperature for a few hours or employ one of these tricks:
- You can soften the butter in the microwave on power level 10%. It works like magic. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 1 minute. Add 20 to 30-second increments until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- Another technique I often use to soften butter is to put it in the microwave for a few hours with the light on. To keep the light on in the microwave I put a folded paper towel in the door.
- Boil a cup of water in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and get things nice and steamy. Leave the water cup in the microwave, add the butter and close the door. The warmth from the steamy water will help to quickly soften the butter. Sometimes I will even put a kitchen towel or several thicknesses of paper towels in the door so it won’t completely close and the light will remain on. The warmth from the light will also help soften the butter.
- Cutting the butter into small pieces helps it soften quicker.
- Place the hard butter on a small plate. Fill a bowl with hot water. Wait 5 minutes then discard the water. Put the warm bowl over the butter.
- Put the butter in the oven with the light turned on. This will take a few hours.
- The fastest way to soften butter is to put cold butter in the microwave for 10 seconds. Turn it to the opposite side and microwave for another 10 seconds. It might be ready at this point, but if it’s not completely soft, add one or two more 5-second stints.
- There are several pan options for making this shortbread and your choice will determine how thick the final shortbread is. Sometimes I use an 8-inch baking pan which results in a nice thick shortbread as pictured below. We love it both ways.
- You can also use a 9-inch pan (resulting in a thinner shortbread as pictured above in the post) or a 10 or 11-inch tart pan with removable sides (resulting in a nice thin shortbread). Experiment and see which you like best! Round or square cake pans will both work.
- Thicker shortbread will take a little longer to bake.
- This recipe has been great for getting me out of a pinch, as it makes a delicious dessert in a hurry. Just pick up some good vanilla ice cream (or frozen custard if you have that option). Whip up a batch of this wonderful shortbread and you've got a fabulous dessert with minimal effort. If you want to take it totally over the top, drizzle a bit of this Microwave Caramel Sauce over the ice cream and serve a shortbread wedge on the side. Oh my!
- I cut the shortbread into 6 wedges for the photoshoot but this can actually serve 8-12 people, especially if you serve it as a side with ice cream.
Thought for the day:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
What we've been listening to for inspiration:
- 1 cup very soft butter
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons sanding sugar, Demerara, Turbinado or regular granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease (I use baking spray) and then line an 8 or 9-inch cake pan (round or square) or a tart pan (10 or 11 inches) with a removable bottom with parchment paper. (See Café Tips above in post regarding size of the pan.) Set aside.
Combine soft butter, sugar, honey and vanilla in a medium-large bowl. Stir for about 30 seconds until nice and creamy.
Add the flour, rosemary and salt. Stir just until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be crumbly.
Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan to create an even surface. Be sure there are no loose crumbs around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake for 35-45 minutes then remove from oven. (The smaller your pan is, the thicker your shortbread will be and the longer it will take to bake. Check frequently towards end of baking time. You want it to be a pretty, deep golden brown.)
Invert shortbread onto a flat plate. Place another plate on top and invert again so the sugared side is up.
Slide the shortbread onto a cutting board and sprinkle with a bit more sugar, if desired. Cut it into wedges (or rectangles or squares if using a square pan). Transfer pieces to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
If you prefer your shortbread even crisper, place the cut pieces on a sheet pan and return return to the oven for 5 minutes then cool on a wire rack.
Garnish when serving with a bit of finely chopped fresh rosemary, if desired.
Adapted from The New York Times
Serves 10-12, depending on the size of pieces.
See the note above under Café Tips if you like really crisp shortbread.