Easy Shortbread Tart Crust
dessert, favorites, pies and tarts

Easy Shortbread Tart Crust, crisp and buttery

This easy shortbread tart crust is one of my most-used recipes. I turn to it all the time.

And, to be honest, it took so much anxiety out of my tart baking.

So many tart crusts involve pulling out the food processor, chilling the dough, rolling the dough, carefully draping it into the pan, chilling it all again, blind baking with pie weights…

It can be intimidating to even get started. (Though if you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can try the crust in my passion fruit tart.)

Flour, salt, confectioners' sugar, stick of unsalted butter

And even after all that careful work, so many of them shrink!

You know that moment of dread when you pull a blind baked tart crust out of the oven to find the crust slumped halfway down the sides of the tin, completely incapable of holding the filling you were planning to put in it?

And, uh, you still have to wash the food processor…

I’ve been there. And, oof, it isn’t fun.

Adding salt to flour

But this shortbread crust changes all that.

It takes about five minutes of active time to make. There’s no rolling and no chilling. It goes from puttering around in the pantry to out of the oven in less than a half hour.

It’s pretty much foolproof.

Flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt whisked together

The method is a simple one that I learned from Alice Medrich, the chocolate queen and baker extraordinaire. Though I’ve tweaked the ingredient list, and swapped in confectioners’ sugar for granulated for added tenderness, the general technique is the same.

You whisk together flour and confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt. Then you melt some butter, add some vanilla, and pour the mixture over the dry ingredients.

Then you stir everything together until it’s all moistened.

And then you press it into your tart pan in an even layer, bake it immediately, with no rolling pin or fussy pie weights to mess with.

It’s an extraordinarily forgiving shortbread tart crust. I’ve never had it shrink on me (a millimeter or two doesn’t count).

Shortbread tart crust in the pan before baking

And it’s also incredibly versatile. I’ve added orange zest to the shortbread crust in my cranberry curd tart. I’ve made a chocolate version in my chocolate peanut butter tart. (And I use it just as written in my plum custard tart.)

Variations on this shortbread crust also show up in my brown butter apple bars and my almond shortbread brownies.

Easy Shortbread Tart Crust after baking

It’s a good recipe to have in your back pocket, whenever you want a crust that just works. You can use it in any standard tart recipe in place of whatever crust is called for.

You’ll be glad to have this one bookmarked, printed-out-and-laminated if you’re old school like that, or saved in whatever form you’ll be able to find it again.

You’ll thank yourself later.

Easy Shortbread Tart Crust
Yield: 8 servings

Easy Shortbread Tart Crust

Easy Shortbread Tart Crust

This shortbread tart crust is pretty much foolproof. It's a press-in crust that's a simple mixture of flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, melted butter, and a little bit of vanilla. It's easy to make and doesn't require any rolling or chilling or any special equipment (beyond a tart pan itself).

It's a versatile crust that will work with any standard tart recipe.

The tart crust can be made and baked up to two days ahead. You'll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt to a small bowl and whisk together.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave), add the vanilla extract to the butter and stir, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until thoroughly moistened. 
  3. Press the dough evenly along the bottom and sides into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  4. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Notes

Keeps, at room temperature, for about 2 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 65 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 2mg Sodium: 72mg Carbohydrates: 12g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 2g

7 Comments

  • This looks so easy and fool proof! I really don’t like making crusts at all – mostly because of the fuss and rolling out. But this one looks perfect for my needs in the upcoming holiday season. Thanks!

    Reply
  • What a perfect crust for the holiday season… I especially love your tip to use orange zest in a cranberry tart… can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    Reply
  • This recipe truly does make the best crust and it’s SO easy!

    Reply
  • What a wonderful method to make a tart crust. I do get tired of washing the food processor! This is so much easier.

    Reply
  • This is such a beautiful and buttery crust. This would be perfect to have on hand for the holidays.

    Reply
  • Can this be used as a pie crust?

    Reply
    • Cathy, this is designed for a tart pan, which is shallower than a pie pan.
      So to make it work for a pie pan, you’d have to increase the amount by about a quarter (I haven’t tested this, but I think this would be about right: 1 1/4 cups flour, 5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 10 tablespoons butter)

      It would work for the kind of pie where you might use a graham cracker crust–a cream pie, pumpkin pie, key lime. (But it definitely won’t work as a top crust!)

      Reply

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