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Shortbread and sugar cookies are often confused for one another, thanks to their perfect sweetness and satisfying crispness. There are a few differences in ingredients, taste, texture and traditional decorations.


Sugar cookies often have many ingredients, including eggs, vanilla, salt and a leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda. Traditional shortbread has four ingredients at most: sugar, butter, flour and sometimes vanilla.


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Shortbread and sugar cookies are often chilled and then rolled and cut with cookie cutters. But sugar cookies can also be made in the style of a drop cookie without being rolled out.

Texture and Taste

Shortbread is almost always thicker and denser than a sugar cookie. It also contains more butter, so the taste is richer.

Baking Time

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Baking times don’t differ much, but shortbread is often baked longer than sugar cookies by 2 to 5 minutes.


Shortbread is usually eaten plain and left undecorated because of its rich flavor, while bakers often frost and decorate sugar cookies with sprinkles or granulated sugar.

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Carly Schuna

Carly Schuna has been freelance writing and editing for more than a decade. She enjoys putting a creative spin on articles and making them as accessible as possible. In working for educational publishers, web clients, commercial fiction authors, and more, Carly has crafted a compelling narrative voice to break down concepts and share cutting-edge research in a way that's both entertaining and informative.