An easy recipe for a light and crumbly Scottish shortbread flavoured with lemon and basil. Suitable for dairy-free and vegan diets. The dairy-free spread can be replaced with butter if you prefer that.

A stack of Lemon and basil shortbread cookies

Scottish Shortbread

This is a recipe for a twist on a traditional Scottish shortbread. Shortbread is a sweet biscuit (cookie) that is sweet, crumbly and melt in the mouth.

It's traditionally baked in a round and cut into triangles or cut and baked into fingers.

This version of shortbread is flavoured with sweet basil and lemon. It's dairy-free and suitable for vegans but it's still crisp and buttery with that melt-in-your-mouth texture you expect from shortbread.

This recipe is super easy to make.

Vegan Desserts Cookbook Cover

Vegan Desserts

This recipe comes from Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky.

Hannah blogs over at Bittersweet. Her name was familiar to me before I received a lovely review copy of this book, but I'd never visited her blog.

Bittersweet is a great place to visit. I can guarantee you will go away hungry and wanting more.

Hannah's photos are beautiful and droolworthy as my friend Val would say.

Close up of stack of Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread

Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread

I was a wee bit nervous to try this recipe for lemon and sweet basil shortbread.

I knew from having a good old bedtime browse through the cookbook there were few recipes I had ingredients for or could even just identify all the ingredients.

I thought, I might just have to adapt a few ingredients, perhaps with the help of my friend Ricki Heller, but then I found this recipe and I had all the ingredients I needed.

Oh and the other bit of fabulousness was that it is already in cup measures. Yippee! Easy peasy! And I have to say this shortbread is gorgeous.

Here in the UK we generally use metric, but I find having cup measures are handy for making American recipes.



I used fresh lemon in this recipe. Both the finely grated peel (zest) and freshly squeezed juice.

I wanted to say never use a lemon flavouring. It will just leave an artificial and rather unpleasant flavour in your mouth. You should always use fresh, good quality ingredients when baking for the best results.

The exceptions are vanilla extract, almond extract and peppermint extract. Apart from those three, I'd say use fresh. Oh and never use essence, it is nasty stuff. Always look for extract.

fresh basil

Fresh Basil

I used a small amount of fresh basil in this recipe. You may be appalled, but actually it gives a subtle hint of flavour, not an overwhelming herby flavour.

Don't use dried basil as it will give a different flavour and will be stronger. You want the sweetness of the fresh basil.

You may leave it out if you wish, but I urge you to try it.

Stack of Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread

Edible Christmas Gifts

These shortbread cookies would make a great gift at any time of the year, but they are a particularly nice gift for Christmas, either as a hostess gift when you are visiting friends or family or as a tasty homemade Christmas gift.

Pick up some clear back and stack them inside, then finish it off with a beautiful festive ribbon bow and a gift tag.

pin it for later

An easy recipe for a light and crumbly Scottish shortbread flavoured with lemon and basil. Suitable for dairy-free and vegan diets. These cookies make a fabulous edible Christmas gift. #lemonshortbread #christmasshortbread #shortbreacookies #veganshortbread #vegancookies #veganbiscuits #dairyfreeshortbread #dairyfreecookies #christmas #christmascookies

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Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread next to bunch of fresh basil

What did I think of these cookies?

I loved this shortbread.

I rolled it, cut it and popped it into the oven to before I headed off to work today, so it was still cooling when I left.

Graham reliably informed me it was really good and the boy loved the one he was allowed to try. I split one with him when I got home and they are a delight.

The lemon and basil are there, but they are subtle flavours that just peek out to entice you. So good!

Do try them!

shortbread, Scottish shortbread, vegan shortbread, dairy-free shortbread, lemon shortbread, lemon cookies, cookies, vegan cookies, dairy-free cookies
vegan, dairy-free
Yield: 12 - 16 cookies

Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread

Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread

An easy recipe for a light and crumbly Scottish shortbread flavoured with lemon and basil. Suitable for dairy-free and vegan diets.
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 20 Mtotal time: 30 M


  • 180g/¾ cup dairy-free margarine
  • 125g/1 cup plain flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 65g/½ cup cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 100g/½ cup icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
  • pinch salt


How to cook Lemon and Sweet Basil Shortbread

  1. Preheat your oven to 150c/130c fan/300f/gas mark 2 and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking (parchment) paper.
  2. Add the dairy-free spread to your stand mixer (or hand mixer) bowl and beat it by itself just to soften it a bit. Add in the flour, starting the mixer at a slow speed so that is doesn't send powder flying out. Once that has been completely incorporated. Finish by adding the cornflour and then with the sugar.
  3. Add the basil while the mix is still very powdery so that it is covered in flour and evenly distributed. 
  4. Finally, add the lemon juice and zest along with the salt, and process until it all comes together into a ball of dough. It may seem very dry and unlikely to stick together at all, but give it time, it could take as long as 5 minutes. 
  5. On a lightly floured surface, sprinkle the dough with just a touch more flour, and roll it out to a thickness of about ¼ inch. If you have trouble rolling it out smoothly or find it is too sticky to work with , let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before continuing (I left in in the fridge overnight). Cut into cookie shapes and place on your baking sheets,
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges just begin to take on some colour, but not too dark.  
  7. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 10 minutes, and then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  8. Enjoy!


Don't overwork or over handle the dough as it will make it tough.

If you are vegetarian you may use butter instead of dairy-free spread.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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