I don’t have a Grandma Snyder. She belongs to a friend. Her shortbread recipe, however, belongs to the ages. If you like your shortbread delicate, fluffy, and buttery, then this is the recipe for you. If you prefer your shortbread dense, dry, and crumbly, then I don’t know what to tell you.

The glacé cherries are, of course, totally optional. Unless you live with my husband, in which case they are totally mandatory.

Grandma Snyder’s Shortbread


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup icing sugar
1 lb. soft butter*
Glacé cherries (optional)

*A note about butter: You will notice in my recipes that I don’t specify salted or unsalted. Call me a philistine, but I’m a catch-as-catch-can kind of baker. I tried keeping unsalted butter in the house solely for baking purposes, but my husband doesn’t read labels EVER, so he’d end up using it on his toast and complaining about how horrible it tasted. So now I use salted for everything, and to be frank, I don’t really see the difference. If a recipe calls for unsalted butter plus salt, I’ll just reduce or omit the salt. (I also never sift flour, nor do I fret about whether I’m using dark or light brown sugar. I’m a wild woman, I know.)


  1. Cream ingredients for at least 10 minutes. This is the secret to the fluffiness. This is also the reason why stand mixers were invented.
  2. Form dough into three logs about two inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper. I like to then put the wrapped tubes in an airtight container to keep them from getting smushed in the fridge.
  3. Chill overnight. (This dough will keep for three or four days in the fridge, so I like to slice and bake on demand.)
  4. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, slice dough into ½-inch thick rounds (and decorate with cherries, if you’d like), and bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on rack, etc.

Storing and serving:

After baking, I like to keep these in the fridge in an airtight container. I’m not sure why I like to do this, because I don’t do it with most other cookies I bake, but there you go.

Serving warning: These cookies are like airy clouds of butter, flour, and sugar. As such, they have a tendency to explode into a vapour of butter/flour/sugar dust if hastily chomped down on. You can learn a lot — and possibly more than you want to know — about people’s eating styles by seeing who makes a mess with these and who doesn’t. Or you can skip the social experiment and just warn people to take it slow and easy.