How to Make Savory Shortbread

How to Make Savory Shortbread
Shortbread is delectably tender and buttery all on its own, but adding fresh herbs and a handful of grated cheese makes irresistible savory shortbread.
We love shortbread at our house. From simple Rosewater Shortbread Cookies and fragrant Ceylon Shortbread Circles to a decadent Chocolate Orange Tart with a shortbread crust, we have yet to meet a version of shortbread we don't like.

I often make a savory shortbread crust for savory tarts, but when I don't have much time, I really love whipping up these savory shortbreads with whatever cheese, herbs, and spices I have on hand.
The recipe is so quick and easy that in less than twenty minutes you can delight yourself, your family, or your guests with a cheesy nibble that goes beautifully with wine, liqueur, or a hot cup of tea.

How to Make Savory Shortbread

When I make a shortbread tart crust I use melted butter to make it crispy enough to hold the filling, but for these bite-size shortbreads, I use cold, chopped butter so it holds its shape well while cooking.
While some shortbread recipes allow you to be a bit loosey-goosey with the measurements, these require weighing the ingredients to ensure you get the right balance and wind up with savory shortbreads that are easy to handle when baked.
That said, don't fret if you don't have time for such things, I tried this batch by using measuring cups instead of weighing them out and they still turned out deliciously, just a little bit fragile around the edges.
It's also important to use real butter in this recipe. I've tried shortening, hardened coconut oil, lard, and other options, but I always return to butter. The flavor simply can't be beat.
You can experiment with different flours though. I've used all-purpose in this batch, but they work equally well with whole wheat, rye, spelt, and even buckwheat. If you do use a whole grain flour, be sure to add a bit more of the herb you choose so the flavor stands out over the heartiness of the grain.
Hard cheeses work best in this recipe, so I generally stick to grated Parmesan, Pecorino, Manchego, or Romano.
I love mixing and matching when I'm making savory shortbreads. Lemon thyme leaves with a lot of freshly ground black pepper, finely chopped rosemary with garlic, or thinly shredded sage with smoked paprika.
Once the savory shortbreads are baked, leave them to cool completely before serving as this will keep them from falling apart easily.

Tea Pairings

These savory shortbreads go really well with light teas that don't overpower the taste of the delicate shortbreads.
With a savory shortbread with lemon thyme, try our Abundance Green Tea, a lovely Sencha green tea blended with elderflowers, marigold petals, and passionfruit extract that goes beautifully with the lemony taste and fragrance of the thyme.
For a magical cup of tea that pairs well with a rosemary scented shortbread, try our Meadow Walk herbal tea, a fruity and flowery green rooibos tea blended with lavender, rosemary, blueberries, raspberry leaves, rosehips, hibiscus, cranberries, and cornflowers.
Healthy, Wealthy & Wise herbal tea, is just the thing to serve alongside the sage speckled shortbreads. It is a rosy rooibos tea blended with sage, peppermint, lemongrass, orange peel, blue cornflower, and a bit of bergamot essence to lend an aura of Earl Grey elegance.

Savory Shortbreads Recipe

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (rosemary, tarragon, safe, and basil are other good options)

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and pulse until flour disappears.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead lightly to form a ball. Cut in half and shape each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1 hour. If you're in a hurry, 30 minutes in the freezer will do the trick.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F and line baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
Unwrap dough and slice into rounds about 1/2” thick and place on the tray 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until tops begin to brown.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from tray. Serve at room temperature.

Krista Bjorn

Canadian born Krista Bjorn has been traveling and exploring for over 20 years and loves every crazy, embarrassing, and wonderful moment. She's lived in Russia and Portugal and now makes her home in beautiful Queensland, Australia, saving her pennies for her next trip. Her food, photography and travel blog is Rambling Tart.
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