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Nana’s Scotch Shortbread Recipe

A recipe for scotch shortbread that is a Christmas tradition passed down through the years

I am excited to share not only some Christmas traditions but also an awesome giveaway from Gay Lea!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the many traditions that I remember as a little girl, we are still doing to this very day.

Christmas for our family is more like a marathon actually.

We start with Christmas Eve brunch with family and friends hosted by Tim and I every year.  Bacon, sausage, eggs, breakfast casseroles, Belgian waffles, fried potatoes, homemade muffins, and Mimosas.

After an afternoon snooze, we attend an evening Chruch service, followed by “biters” like cheese and crackers, stuffed puffed pastry bites, chips and dips and Christmas cookies.

By the end of the day I have officially gained 5 pounds!

Another tradition that dates back to my childhood is having my mom (and dad too before he past) & brother come to our house to watch the kids open their gifts on Christmas morning.  Since there is both my sister’s family and my own, they alternate whose house they go to first every year.  When I was little my Nana and Poppa (my mom’s parents) always came to our house and shared in the excitement of opening our gifts!

After both my family and my sister’s have done with presents at our own houses, we then gather at my mom’s house and exchange gifts.

Then it’s back home to tidy up and have a bit of a rest before Christmas dinner later in the day. We do take turns hosting, but it usually my sister who has the biggest dining room and kitchen!

A Christmas tradition past down through the years. Nana's Scotch Shortbread recipe

Of course, when it comes to traditions there are a couple of treats that MUST be on the cookie tray every year.  One of course is Grampie’s Favourite Squares and the other is my Nana’s classic scotch shortbread!

When it comes to her shortbread there is no skimping on the ingredient that is the star of the show.  That would be the Butter!

Only Gay Lea butter goes into my shortbread recipe.  Its flavour is pure and rich, it whips up light and fluffy and gives the shortbread that delicious buttery taste I look forward to every year.  I love that it comes in both regular bricks or in sticks.

A rich buttery scotch shortbread recipe passed down through the years

When I bake I always use unsalted butter as most recipes call for a bit of salt anyway.

A rich buttery scotch shortbread recipe

I know that whatever Gay Lea products I buy, I will always receive fresh, natural products that I can trust.  Made with ingredients from a co-operative of over 1,200 Ontario diary farmers I am supporting local farming in local communities.

The folks at Gay Lea Foods not only strive to produce quality dairy products, they care about people too.  To date, they’ve raised $450,000 in support of co-operative development around the globe, including contributing to organizations in rural Ontario communities.

Now that is a company I want to do business with!

A rich butter shortbread recipe passed down through the years

Nana’s scotch shortbread recipe is baked in a 9 x 13 pan that I cut into squares and then cut each square on the diagonal to create little triangles.  I’m just fancy like that!

No Christmas cookie tray is complete without a rich buttery scotch shortbread

With a whole pound of butter, Gay Lea butter ensures that rich buttery taste shortbread is known for.  I have tried to “skimp” on butter in a few cookie recipes before and they turned out flat and had a really odd after taste.

After a day of baking, everything is tucked away safely in the freezer to be enjoyed during all our gatherings with family and friends over the holidays.  This is one tradition I am keeping alive!

A buttery, rich Scotch Shortbread that is a longstanding Christmas tradition in our family

Does your family have Christmas traditions that are non-negotiable?   Or is there a special Christmas cookie that you remember from your childhood that must be made each and every year?  Do share!


Until next time…

Red Cottage Chronicles




“Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Nana’s Scotch Shortbread

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 40
  • 2 cups Gay Lea butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl (or bowl of electric mixer) cream the butter until fluffy. Gradually add confectioners sugar and mix well. Work in flour until dough comes together and can be easily handled. (It usually takes closer to 5 cups for me).
  3. Turn batter into a 9 x 13 pan and pat down firmly. Prick all over with a fork and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until edges are golden. Start checking at about 50 minutes.


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  1. The kids open their stockings when they get up, then we have breakfast and the rest of the family, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc come over

  2. We have several diary farms around us as well! One of them even has an ice cream bar and the ice cream is delicious! As for cutting the shorbread, I always cut it after it is baked and cooled, using a sharp knife.

  3. Shortbread! It is a longstanding tradition in our family to indulge in my Mum’s Scotch Shortbread, too. Since she passed away a year ago, it’s up to my sisters and I to continue carrying on that tradition. In fact, after her funeral, we had a catered reception for family and friends but one special thing had to be served in her memory- her Scottish Shortbread, prepared by my youngest sister Alana, because she had best mastered copying my Mum’s recipe! Yeah for butter and shortbread!

  4. Every Christmas the grandchildren, all in their twenties now, check out the baking I have done for the holidays and I had better make what the five of them like, shortbread, grampies favorite squares, cherry chews, iced sugar cookies and red and green cherry icebox cookies. Couldn’t make them so good without Gay Lea Butter!

  5. I can totally relate to this – my mom always made shortbread every Christmas too but they were whipped shortbread cookies with those candied red and green cherries on the top. Made with butter and are so light they are absolutely melt in your mouth cookies that you can eat a dozen without even thinking about it, get up in the middle of the night to just have a few cookies that turns into 6. There is a horrid true story carefully recorded in our family history so it is never ever repeated again … the year my mom thought she would substitute margarine for butter in her shortbread cookies – amazing how this makes such a huge difference! From that yr forward every Christmas all 5 of us kids were sure to say we want BUTTER in our shortbread cookies! Not a Christmas song but one that is 115 yrs old and one of my favorites! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buMpYLUjI9A

      1. I can’t believe in a post about Christmas and Butter I forgot to mention our other non-negotiable Christmas baking favorite – Butter Tarts and it’s a Canadian thing too so I had to come back to leave a 2nd comment and pay tribute to these delicacies! From Wiki ” History – Butter tarts were common in pioneer Canadian cooking, and they remain a characteristic pastry of Canada, considered one of only a few recipes of genuinely Canadian origin (for example, by the 6th edition of the Collins English Dictionary). It is primarily eaten and associated with the English-speaking provinces of Canada.” Yummmm 🙂

  6. The kids and I bake cookies together, ginger bread and shortbread cookies. Our Scottish shortbread has ground oatmeal and brown sugar in it 😀 Traditional for us.

  7. Baking Christmas cookies is my favourite holiday tradition. I always make whipped shortbread for Christmas, but have always wanted a traditional recipe. Definitely will try this one!

      1. I made your Nana’s shortbread today and it is melt-in-your-mouth yummy! Thanks for sharing. I also made the Toblerone shortbread and I am waiting for them to cool. They smell delicious! This week I will also try your cheddar cheese tea biscuits…I came for one recipe and discovered many!

  8. My favorite holiday family tradition is to bake cookies on Christmas eve with my family. We always make gingerbread and sugar cookies.

  9. my favorite tradition to curl up with my son, big batch of popcorn, curled up on the couch with a big blanket and watching a christmas movie

    1. 12 meatless dishes! Wow, I am impressed. We have 2 vegans and a vegetarian in the family and what a challenge it is to come up with tasty dishes for them over the holidays. I am learning though!

  10. Every year we make a christmas eve box for the kids with new pajamas, a christmas book, some snacks then we snuggle in to watch a christmas classic!

  11. Our family tradition has changed over the last few years . . . we now have our family Christmas dinner on Boxing Day! Everyone comes, from far and near, and if we’re not too stuffed after dinner we play a game (or several) of Scrabble!

    1. That is a great idea to have it on Boxing Day. Our family all gets together to watch the World Junior hockey tournament that starts on Boxing Day anyway 🙂

  12. I like to play family games by the lit up Christmas tree, last night we played Moose in the House and Monkeys in the Bed.

    1. I love seeing how many families build gingerbread houses at Christmas! I wonder how many people actually eat them after!! I am known to help myself to the candy off ours 🙂

  13. Ours is celebrating Christmas and our birthdays as all the kids in our family and my mom were all born in December, along with a couple of my nieces!

    1. My daughter is born in December and until she was a well into her teen years, she refused to acknowledge Christmas until her birthday passed! I am so glad she got over that 🙂

  14. Every Christmas we make the same three cookies (and more if we have time, but these three are constants) A cheddar cheese cookie, a lemon cookie and cracker toffee! When I was a little girl, in the late 60s, my grandmother taught us how to make marzipan and steamed Christmas puddings. I wish I’d have kept those traditions going, but I didn’t.

    1. A cheddar cheese cookie? I am intrigued! Marzipan really brings back memories. It was always my grandfathers favorite and the most difficult thing to try and find. Knowing how to make it would have come in very handy 🙂

  15. We always have a huge breakfast on Christmas day. It’s almost as big as the Christmas day dinner we have.

  16. My favourite holiday tradition is picking out a real tree and decorating it together as a family while listening to Christmas music, drinking hot chocolate, and eating cookies

  17. watching Christmas movies and building a gingerbread house, then smashing the house before bed for a sweet treat and snack for santa

  18. My daughter & I have been baking Christmas goodies for the last 25 years together! Last year she was not able to make it back into town in time so we face-timed together doing the same recipes! Turned out great!

  19. My favourite holiday tradition is filling and opening stockings!! They’re fun to make and give because you can customize them entirely.

  20. The big Christmas day meal with my partner’s family has become my Christmas tradition as I didn’t celebrate the holiday before.