Sweet Basil & Lemon Shortbread

This simple shortbread recipe is an update on a traditional Scottish shortbread.

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

Vegan Desserts

This recipe comes from Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky.

Hannah blogs over at Bitter Sweet. Her name was familiar to me before I received a lovely review copy of this book, but I had 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.

I was completely won over when I opened this gorgeous cookbook, although a little nervous about some of the lesser known ingredients. The sort of fantastical basics that I always read about over at Ricki Heller.

Don't be nervous!

So, as you can imagine, I was a wee bit nervous to try a recipe.

I knew from having a good old bedtime browse through the cookbook, that there were a 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 Ricki, 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!

Sweet Basil Shortbread (with Lemon)

¾ cup non-dairy margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
½ cup cornstarch (cornflour)
½ cup confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
pinch salt

Preheat your oven to 300f (gas mark 2/150c/130-140 fan oven) and line two baling sheets with parchment (greaseproof) paper.

Toss the margarine into your stand mixer (or hand mixer) 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. Follow it with the cornstarch (cornflour), and then with the sugar.

Chiffonade (finely slice) the basil and toss it in while the mix is still very powdery so that it is covered in flour and evenly distributed. Finally, add the lemon juice and zest, along with the salt, and simply process until it all comes together into a cohesive 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. You might need to remove it from the bowl near the end and knead the last dry bits in by hand.

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. It 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 squares of about 1 ½ inches on each side (I cut into circular biscuits using a glass); move to a prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 16-20 minutes (mine took more like 25 minutes), until the edges just begin to take on some color, but you really don't want to brown these. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 10 minutes, and then move them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 1-2 dozen cookies

I loved this shortbread.

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

Graham reliably informed me it was really good and Cooper loved the one he was allowed to try. I split one with Cooper 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!

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.


  1. What a unique recipe! I"ve never actually come across a savoury style shortbread.

  2. I was just going to say the shortbread looked so buttery, but then I read that the recipe used margarine. Is non-dairy margarine different from ordinary margarine? (sorry for the question-it comes from an amateur, hehe)

  3. I have some basil that needs using up so I may actually make these today! I love the look of them. Thanks so much for taking part. Deadline in always the end of the month so you're perfectly in time! Xx

  4. Hi Brittany, the shortbread is still sweet, you just get little tastes of the lemon and basil and the basil is quite sweet anyway :)

    Most margarines are dairy free, they are usually made from oils, you just have to watch out for the ones that are buttery, they usually have dairy content.

    I hope you enjoy them then Dom, I was very impressed. I am so glad I made the deadline Dom, even if I am at the "coo's tail" as my mother would say :)

  5. Jac, this shortbread is definitely different but I bet yummy!


  6. What a fab recipe to get - they look lovely - a little bit different but very enticing.

  7. sounds like an interesting combination of flavours - I have occasionally visited hannah's blog and always enjoy the visit.

    And will have to try and join in the bookmarked recipes - I don't think I ever did when ruth was doing it but I always meant to

  8. Love basil, love lemon, love shortbread! What a clever combination! Lovely with a cool glass of lemonade!

  9. It is a lovely change from plain shortbread Maria :)

    I was really pleased with it Louise :)

    I do hope you join in Johanna :)

    It's lovely with a cup of hot chocolate too Susan :)

  10. I've had biscuits with Thyme in but never Basil - looks really interesting!

  11. I`ve tried two days ago this recipe for lemon shortbread and i want to tell you that is delicious, i just love it. Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe with us.

  12. Biscuits with thyme sound interesting too CC, bet they are great with cheese.

    I am so glad you enjoyed them Annunturi and that they turned out so well :)


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x

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