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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.

Ingredients

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.

Process

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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.

Decorations

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.

About the Author

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.