Cinnamon and Rye Shortbread Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Make Ahead

by: EmilyC



6 Ratings

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 32 bars

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Author Notes

This shortbread is my twist on traditional Scottish shortbread. In my mind, they're pretty much the perfect cookies—rich, buttery, salty-sweet, and delightfully crumbly. The malty sweetness and warm spice of the rye and cinnamon up their charm factor considerably. A small box of these cookies packaged with good tea or coffee would make a lovely gift. —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

What a delicious treat! The rye flour and healthy dose of cinnamon take a traditional shortbread to the next level, making it perfect for a gift. I love the idea of giving these to someone along with a complementary tea, and I am looking forward to playing with flour and spice combinations. They also hold up well, tasting just as good on day 4 as they did on day 1, which is important when gifting baked goods. And finally, that scoring before baking and cutting while hot tip? Genius. —Megan

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup(85 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoonvanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 1/2 cups(177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup(130 grams) dark rye flour
  • 3/4 teaspoonkosher salt
  • 2 teaspoonsgood quality cinnamon (I used Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • 2 teaspoonsTurbinado sugar, for sprinkling over dough
  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  3. Using a hand mixer and a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla and beat for a few more seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until well integrated and the dough begins to form moist clumps, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan. Using a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup, press the dough to form an even layer.
  5. Score the dough lightly with a knife, marking 4 rows by 8 rows to form 32 shortbread bars. Dock each bar once or twice with a fork, if desired. Sprinkle turbinado sugar generously and evenly over the dough.
  6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until shortbread is lightly browned all over.
  7. When done, remove pan from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. While the shortbread is still hot, use a knife to fully cut the shortbread along the lines you scored prior to baking. Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, the shortbread bars will break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.


  • Cookie
  • Scottish
  • Rye
  • Cinnamon
  • Make Ahead
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Thanksgiving
  • Fall
  • Summer
  • Christmas
  • Winter
  • Spring
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  • Your Best Edible Gift

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AKeyte

  • Lee Uerkwitz

  • Änneken

  • Jacqueline Yaraghi

  • Rachel Carrier

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

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26 Reviews

Brooklyn E. November 20, 2021

I use cardamom instead of cinnamon, & these are a holiday standard — they keep incredibly well!

EmilyC November 22, 2021

Thanks Brooklyn -- Glad you like them!

Caroeddy June 2, 2020

It's June 2020. Under this lockdown there's no flour in the shops except Rye, sooo.. I bought a bag not knowing what to do with it. Well I discovered these Rye shortbread and thought I'd give it a bash (not literally) I am so glad I did, they're lovely not crumbly, love the spicy taste. I will definitely be making them again

Anna W. October 6, 2019

Wonderful, and just what I wanted to make on one of the first fall days! Perfect level of mellow sweet and spice with the earthy rye flavor. I used 1/2 c whole wheat + 1 c AP for the non-rye flour with good results. I'd love to experiment with other warm spices here, too.

AKeyte January 16, 2019

So deliciously warm and comforting! I used brown butter to amp up the nutty flavours. They were crumbly but weren’t dry at all. I thought that there wasn’t enough sugar in the recipe, but nope the sweetness was just right. I couldn’t find dark rye flour so used light rye flour.

Lee U. December 9, 2018

These did not turn out well for me. The flavor was great but they were so dry! We regularly make shortbread cookies at our house using the simple flour, sugar butter recipe. So, I don't know what went wrong. Too bad because I needed to bring something for a work party and now I need a Plan B in a hurry.

Nancy December 9, 2018

Depends on what you have on hand or can quickly buy, also what you know how to make.
1) make a new batch of the plain shortbread you regularly make
2) turn the dry cinnamon rye shortbread into a pie crust & fill with something you know & like
3) serve the cinnamon rye shortbread with something that will add moisture to a total dessert...lemon curd, ice cream, a Scottish/central European version of tiramisu with the shortbread instead of ladyfingers

Änneken May 23, 2018

This is a wonderful recipe! They melt in your mouth and are nice and crumbly without being dry.

laura December 12, 2017

Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I made it in an 8 X 11 pan and it worked great. Great flavor, so rich! Yum!

EmilyC December 16, 2017

Yay—glad you liked them! Happy holidays!

Nancy January 20, 2016

The flavor is terrific - just sort of nutty, with the rye and the cinnamon combining but neither dominant. Also great texture. Last, didn't have 9" sq pan so baked in a cast iron frying pan and they came out well (a little thin, but perfectly browned & crispy).

EmilyC January 21, 2016

So happy to hear that you liked these, Nancy! They're one of my favorite sweet treats. I like your idea of using a cast iron pan to get crispy edges. Thanks for trying these and circling back!

Jacqueline Y. December 22, 2015

Will this recipe last a couple of weeks in the mail? I'm looking for recipes to send over to my boyfriend in Afghanistan!

Rachel C. December 12, 2015

Hi! This sounds absolutely perfect for the cookie packages I am giving out this year, I was wondering if the dough could be made in advance and frozen, I just have tons to be baking, that would be a lifesaver.

EmilyC December 14, 2015

Sorry for my slow response. Rachel -- I've never frozen this dough, but shortbread dough freezes well so I don't know why this one would be any different!!

Adeline C. December 2, 2015

Hi there! Sounds like a great recipe and definitely gonna try it out!
Quick quest, are there alternatives to using rye flour? Thanks!

EmilyC December 2, 2015

Hi Adeline -- I haven't experimented with different flours, but I imagine that others such as oat or buckwheat could be interesting! Or you can't go wrong if you make these with just all-purpose flour, either!

LeBec F. March 16, 2015

hi em, your thinking outside the box really impresses me here! I'm curous whether you tried any versions, when you were creating this recipe, that did not work so well? I was wondering about rice flour and/or demerara sugar as components of the shortbread itself?
I really love dark rye bread but i would NEVER have thought of making a rye shortbread. And, coincidentally enough, last night i had one of the best restnt pastas ever- a parsnip filled pasta with melted bra duro cheese and smoked hazelnuts, run under the salamander with a topping of crispy rye crumbs!

Two T. February 28, 2015

Love them! For anyone looking for smaller pan size: I halved the recipe and I baked in a shallow, 8 inch tart pan with removable botom and scored 16 wedges. So good and crumbly. Perfect texture.

EmilyC March 1, 2015

Wonderful! Good to know about the pan size too. Thanks for trying them!

Kris December 11, 2014

Hi, I am planning to make this for my Christmas gifting at work. I have only a 9x13 and 8x8 pan at home. Can I bake this in a 8x8 pan? how much of the dough should I put into the 8x8 pan? how thick should it be before baking?

EmilyC December 12, 2014

Hi Kris, I think an 8x8 pan will work just fine. They'll be slightly thicker bars but should still be tasty. Alternatively you can bake the shortbread in a 9" tart pan and score wedges instead of bars (see here for general idea:

Beth100 November 25, 2014

I am definitely trying these soon – with a cardamom twist!

EmilyC November 26, 2014

Oh cardamom should be lovely! Report back with results, please!

Beth100 December 2, 2014

I made one batch as written, and one with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom. The first was delicious, and the cardamom variation was divine, definitely recommend it! The texture is lovely: crisp and firm, but not tough, I'm guessing due to the rye flour curtailing gluten formation? In any case, I'm making these gems for my neighborhood cookie exchange. Thanks for sharing!

EmilyC December 5, 2014

So happy to hear about great variations like this! Thanks so much!

Cinnamon and Rye Shortbread Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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