These savory and easy to make parmesan rosemary shortbread cookies are an elegant appetizer or special late-night snack with a glass of wine.
😋 Why make this recipe
These little shortbreads were a hit with everyone in the family. So much so, my daughter kept asking if I was finished photographing for this post so she could eat them for breakfast.
Butter cookies contain more sugar and flour and are baked at a higher temperature than shortbread cookies. Also, butter cookies tend to hold their shape when baked. Shortbread cookies typically have a higher butter ratio to the flour and are baked at a lower temperature. A shortbread is dry and crumbly with a melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Historically, Scottish shortbread was traditionally made with remnants of bread dough, oatmeal and yeast, resulting in a dry, biscuit-like cookie. Over time the recipe has evolved into the much tastier, buttery treat we know it to be today. Scottish shortbread should not be confused with Scottish cookies, which contain butter and shortening. The addition of shortening makes the cookie less crumbly than shortbread cookies.
You might have noticed many shortbread cookies have holes poked in them. Poking holes in the top of the shortbread dough allow the heat to penetrate the cookie, baking evenly. For this recipe, I did not poke holes. If you roll your cookie dough in an even diameter log and cut each slice the same thickness, the cookie will cook evenly in this recipe.
What kind of parmesan to use
While in Italy this past summer, I visited the most dreamy cheese shop called Giolito Cheese in Bra. I purchased a large block of parmesan, carefully wrapping it in wax paper, and then shrink-wrapped it so it would travel well in my suitcase back to the states. Sadly, my cheese block is almost gone now, so I wanted to find a very special recipe to use my last little bit in.
A word of caution, do not use the green jar shaker kind of parmesan. It will not work. Also, choose a good-quality parmesan. If you use a cheaper pre-shredded from your local grocery, the cheese will not cream into the batter. When you bake them, the pieces of cheese will brown on top of the cookie before the edges leave a speckled look. There is nothing wrong with the taste; it just would be better with a quality hard parmesan cheese.
What kind of herbs to use
Use dried, not fresh rosemary and thyme for this savory cookie. Be sure to chop or crumble the herbs into small pieces.
How to make shortbread dough
- The key to making a good smooth shortbread dough is to allow the butter to come to room temperature. Do not melt it in the microwave. Place the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix butter on medium until creamy.
- Add the parmesan, salt, pepper, herbs, and flour. Mix on low until evenly combined.
Tips for rolling out shortbread dough
- Start with a flat surface that has been dusted lightly with flour.
- Form the dough into a ball shape. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour to it and work until smooth.
- Place the ball on the flat working surface. Pushing with both hands, fingers spread, roll the dough into a log shape about 12 inches long. Be sure the log is the same diameter throughout.
Should I chill my shortbread dough?
It is advised to chill parmesan shortbread dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer. Chilling it will firm up the dough and solidify the butter. This will help keep them from spreading too much when baked.
Tips for cutting shortbread dough
First, carefully spread a little butter using a paper towel onto the edges of a sharp knife. Then remove your dough log from the refrigerator and immediately slice it into even-sized pieces, about 1/2 inch thick.
What if my shortbread is dry?
- Make certain your butter is softened to room temperature all the way through the stick.
- When measuring dry ingredients like flour, fill your measuring cup to overflowing, then run the back edge of a butter knife evenly over the top of the cup to remove the excess flour. Recipes call for exact amounts. Even a little extra can be a problem.
- Be sure to mix the flour into the butter mixture thoroughly. When stirring your batter, there shouldn’t be any unabsorbed or loose flour in your bowl. I like to use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for this recipe to incorporate the ingredients.
How to bake shortbread
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place one inch thick sliced shortbread on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake approximately 22-25 minutes, just until the edges of your savory shortbread cookies turn golden brown.
Making shortbread ahead of time
These are great little savory bites that are easy to prepare ahead and serve warm right out of the oven when it's time for your party. To make it simple, prepare your dough and roll it into a log shape. Wrap the log in parchment paper and then place it in a ziplock bag. This can be done several days before you want to serve them. Then when it is party time, just slice and bake. Your guest will be so impressed!
Tips for storing and freezing
Parmesan shortbread cookies can be baked and then frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight. Warm in a 250-degree oven for 10 minutes
Gifting savory shortbread
Savory Parmesan Rosemary Shortbread would also be great to give as a gift or take along as an appetizer to share at parties. Place them in a cute cookie bakery treat box.
What to serve shortbread with
Parmesan rosemary shortbread would be a great accent to a charcuterie board. Get board ideas, tips, a shopping list, and a styling guide to help you make a beautiful board and serve it to family and friends at your next get-together.
More savory cracker recipes
The best Pimento Cheese Crackers recipe is easy to make with only 4 simple ingredients. These homemade crackers are perfect for serving as an appetizer or enjoying as a savory snack.
Savory Parmesan Rosemary Shortbread
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup Parmesan freshly grated, not the green can kind. Allow warm to room temperature after you grade it.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme finely chopped dried leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary finely chopped dried leaves
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Place room temperature butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix butter on medium until creamy.
- Add the room temperature parmesan, salt, pepper, herbs, and flour. Mix on low until evenly combined.
- Roll dough in a log form and wrap in wax paper, chill for at least 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Slice shortbread 1 inch thick. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for approximately 22-25 minutes, just until they turn golden on the edges.