I’m pretty conservative with flavor pairings, so herbs aren’t typically on my dessert radar. But a good friend, who is far more adventurous, insisted that rosemary shortbread is amazing. We baked them up together, and I have to admit, she’s right. The dairy-free version of these cookies is delicious.
Dairy-Free Rosemary Shortbread with 4 Simple Ingredients
This dairy-free rosemary shortbread cookies recipe is adapted from Allrecipes. I made just a few changes in the ingredients and several in the directions. I also added some options and have tips in the FAQs below.
What is Dairy-Free Butter Alternative?
You might see it at the store as “plant butter” or “buttery sticks.” It’s not margarine, since it’s made without hydrogenated oils, but is a similar idea. It’s butter alternative that’s made from oils and is free of dairy.
Can I Use Buttery Spread instead of Sticks?
I don’t recommend it. The sticks are typically formulated with less water, so they perform better when baking cookies.
What Brand of Butter Alternative do you Recommend?
Lately, I’ve been using Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks, and everyone loves the results. This is a saltier brand that does a pretty good job of mimicking butter, both in taste and performance. But you can read our Dairy-Free Butter Alternative Taste Test to see how other brands perform in shortbread.
Can I Substitute Gluten-Free Flour?
I haven’t tested this recipe without gluten, but your favorite gluten-free flour blend, like King Arthur Measure for Measure, should work well. You might need to add a little less or more flour blend to get the right texture. Let us know if you do try it! Do not substitute coconut flour for the all-purpose flour. It will produce very dry results. I also don’t recommend substituting almond flour for the flour. It’s a little too dense and high fat to substitute 1:1.
What do Rosemary Shortbread Cookies Taste Like?
The underlying cookie is rich and buttery with just the right amount of sweetness. The minced rosemary provides a woodsy flavor that complements and contrasts the simple flavors. That said, these cookies are truly for rosemary fans. If you don’t like rosemary, then I don’t recommend making rosemary shortbread cookies!
Can I Add Zest or Extract?
I haven’t tried it, but I bet orange or lemon zest or extract would be delicious.
Can I Use Dried Rosemary?
I don’t recommend it. The freshness of the herb has a brightness that pairs well with the sweetness. Dried rosemary would be a bit too woody and harsh for cookies, in my opinion.
Can I Substitute Other Herbs for the Rosemary?
I don’t see why not! It really depends on what herbs you like and how they pair with the sweet cookie base. I think fresh mint or fresh basil would go nicely. But I probably wouldn’t recommend more pungent herbs, like oregano or dill.
Special Diet Notes: Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. Just be sure to pick a dairy-free butter alternative that suits your dietary needs. See the notes above and in the recipe for good options.
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) dairy-free buttery sticks, softened (see Butter Alternative note below)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the buttery sticks and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour and rosemary, and stir until combined.
- If firm enough, roll the dough into three 2-inch thick logs on a lightly floured surface. Cover and refrigerate the logs for 1 hour or freeze them for 30 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, freeze it for 10 minutes, and then roll it into a log.
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Slice the dough logs into 15 slices each, about ⅜-inch thick slices. Place the slices about 1 ½ inches apart on your prepared baking sheets. They usually spread a little, but it depends on the butter alternative brand that you use.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they just begin to turn golden on the edges, but are still pale in the middle. You can bake them longer for crispier cookie.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack or flat surface to cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, or freeze them to preserve the freshness for longer.
Topping / Mix In Options: For an extra touch of sweetness, you can sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar before baking. Or add sliced almonds for some crunch!
Butter Alternative Note: I use Country Crock Plant Butter, which is very salty. If your buttery sticks are unsalted, add ¼ teaspoon salt with the flour. If they are lightly salted, add ⅛ teaspoon salt with the flour.
Small Batch: For 15 cookies, use ½ cup (1 stick) dairy-free butter alternative, 3 ½ tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, and ⅔ + ¼ cup all-purpose flour.