Coconut Shortbread

These coconut shortbreads are crisp and crumbly, like a traditional shortbread; but, containing no butter, they are suitable for Diary Free and Vegan diets.

Scottish shortbreads, as they are often called, may be hard to imagine without butter – the butter giving the biscuit its ‘shortness’. However, coconut oil is a good substitute;. it is firm at room temperature (nb: do not use a liquid coconut oil as the result will not be the same), has a slightly sweet flavour and provides a similar texture.

From my perspective, two of the wonderful things about shortbread biscuits, in addition to their taste, are that they are simple to make and contain few ingredients. The latter is a good example of the general principle ‘less is more’. For healthy eating apply this especially when buying processed foods, ie be wary of foods with an almost endless list of ingredients and do not buy food with ingredients you do not know. To be ‘super sure’, better to cook your own food so you know exactly what you are eating…and it will likely taste better too.

I think shortbread without butter needs some other flavor. So, to the three basic ingredients I have added coconut. But try your own flavours, by all means; for example, I also like it with chocolate, macadamia nuts and, for a festive touch, dried cherries.

Diets for which Coconut Shortbread is suitable:

Diary Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegetarian and Vegan.


Preparation: 10 + 10 mins | Cooking: 12 mins | Serves: 24 small

60 gm (1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp) castor sugar
90 gm (3oz) coconut oil*
120 gm (3/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp) flour
20 gm (1/4 cup) desiccated coconut**


BEAT the sugar and coconut oil together for 2-3 minutes, until it is soft and the sugar has dissolved.
SIFT in the flour.
ADD the coconut and mix together. (You may need to use your hands.)
ROLL out the mix (which has the consistency of a pastry), or use your hands to pat it out, to 1-2 cm/ 1/2 inch. (If it is too soft to roll, chill it for 10 minutes. I roll the mix on parchment paper which makes the biscuits easy to lift onto the baking tray.)
CUT into the biscuit shapes and slide them onto a baking tray that has been lined with parchment.
CHILL the shortbreads for 15 minutes.
HEAT the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
BAKE the shortbread for 12 minutes, or until they start to develop a very light colour, not browned. (The desiccated coconut, speckled throughout the shortbread, will start to brown indicating the biscuits are cooked.)


– For any sweet snack, great with a hot drink.
– A good accompaniment to many fruit, mousse and ice desserts.


* Coconut oil should be solid at room temperature. Substitute coconut oil with butter (not Dairy Free or Vegan diets).
** Replace desiccated coconut with your choice, eg dried cherries, macadamia nuts or chocolate.

Coconut Shortbread and good served with:

Baked Coconut Custard
Baked Apricots

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