Filed under: Cookies / Dairy-free / Egg-free
March 31, 2023

Chocolate Shortbread

Melt in your mouth delicious chocolate shortbread made without butter. Perfectly crumbly and rich with dutch process cocoa. 

5 from 10 votes
Yield: 24 'cookies'
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Here’s how I can best describe these: they’re like a very dry brownie. I mean, crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth just like a good shortbread, but also ugh, so chocolaty and rich just like a brownie. 

Let’s be clear, these are nothing like a traditional shortbread. I mean first there’s the chocolate, but there’s also the absence of butter. And while you might think that’s a bad thing, it actually works in this cookie’s favor. Like, not only will you not miss it (the recipe wasn’t created to be negative of anything) you will not actually want these to be anything but what they are. 


Oil based Chocolate Shortbread

Oil coats the flour proteins better than the butter leading to a much, much more tender ‘cookie’ (when it covers it it prohibits it from forming as much gluten – think of the way you use butter to coat the flour when making pie crust for example). And while cocoa has the effect of drying out a cookie or cake, the oil here does double duty in also keeping it from being too dry. 

Side note: I did in fact try these with butter (once with brown butter!) and didn’t like them as much – shocker! If you do want to do butter, melt it and measure after melting. 



Key Recipe ingredients 


Flour All purpose flour – unlike my salted vanilla shortbread you do not want a low protein flour for this one. Use a regular ap, like King Arthur. 

Brown sugar: dark or light, it gives the shortbread extra flavor and moisture. 

Powdered sugar: I use organic powdered sugar made with tapioca starch (Trader Joes!). 

Cocoa: Dutch process cocoa; any brand. Some I like: Guittard Rogue, Rodelle Dutch, Ghirardelli Dutch, and Hershey’s Special Dark. 

Salt (two kinds): Fine sea salt goes into the dough (if you are using table salt, halve it) and some flaky sea salt on top to finish these off with the perfect salted dark chocolate touch. 

Vanilla: Pure extract or vanilla bean paste. 

Avocado oil: To me, this is the magic ingredient. Avocado oil gives us all those qualities that we talked about (coats the flour to prohibit gluten from forming, keeps them from being overly dry) but has the added bonus of having a buttery taste. I love, love it here! 

Can’t do avocado? Use another flavorless oil like canola or safflower. 



How to Slice Chocolate Shortbread 

I wanted to get the ‘finger’ shape for these little chocolate shortbreads so we’ll use a square pan and then cut one side into thirds and the other into eighths. 

You’ll need to do this after the first bake and do it very, very carefully. 

The parchment paper will help you lift the giant shortbread out of the pan. Do it quickly and swiftly – moving it to a chopping board or the counter. It’s probably going to break or crumble a bit, don’t worry if it breaks a couple times in the center. Once it’s on the counter, use a chef’s knife to nudge it back into the square shape. 

Then, again with the chef’s knife, gently but firmly slice the shortbread. Keep at this until you have 24 slices.

The best tool to use now is a fish spatula but an offset spatula will do. You need something that can carry the shortbread but is also thin enough to slide very neatly under it. This will help you transport it to the cookie sheet. 

There’s no need to score it to know where you’ll slice, and you also don’t need to prick it with a fork – since there’s no butter, nothing is melting and creating pockets of air that would usually cause the shortbread to bubble up (like a pie crust). 

Brilliantly, this recipe gives you everything you love about shortbread, without any of the fuss. 

Chocolate Shortbread Baked Twice 

Like biscotti, this chocolate shortbread recipe requires two bakes. The first in the square pan, then once sliced, baked again. This is done to get that crumbly texture all over. Don’t skip the second bake – it really seals in that ideal crispy and crumbly texture. 

Doubling this recipe 

If you want a double batch of chocolate shortbread, use two square pans. I wouldn’t use a 13×9” here because you need to lift it out and since it’s so much bigger, you’ll be dealing with much bigger breaks in the dough. 

Storing Chocolate Shortbread 

These will keep open in a container for weeks. I usually keep mine in a cookie jar although, twice I just left them on the pan and I was a bit shook, realizing that days later they still tasted great! I wouldn’t package these for sending because they are very crumbly. 


Chocolate Shortbread

Melt in your mouth delicious chocolate shortbread made without butter. Perfectly crumbly and rich with dutch process cocoa.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 24 'cookies'
5 from 10 votes


  • 325g or 2 ½ cups all purpose flour NOT low protein
  • 70g or ⅓ cup brown sugar dark or light
  • 80g or ⅔ cup powdered sugar
  • 200g or scant 1 cup avocado oil or other flavorless oil
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 70g or ⅔ cup dutch process cocoa
  • Flaky sea salt


  • Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  • Into a bowl, sift the flour, powdered sugar and cocoa. Add the salt and brown sugar then whisk the mixture.
  • Add the avocado oil and the vanilla and switch to a rubber spatula. Mix until the dough is fully combined and there are no streaks or bits of flour.
  • Press the dough into the pan, using the back of a measuring cup or the spatula to pack it in and smooth over the top.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (the dough should wait 15 minutes before baking it). Sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt.
  • Bake the cookies for 20 minutes then remove from the oven.
  • Line a greased cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use the parchment sling to remove the cookie from the pan.
  • Slice the cookie in half, then each half in half, and then again so you have eight thin columns. Now slice them into thirds so you have 24 finger long cookies.
  • Use a fish spatula (or something very thin that can slide under the cookies) to transfer the cookies one by one onto the cookie sheet. Leave some space between each cookie, at least half an inch.
  • Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  • Once the cookies are cool you can store them in an airtight container. They’ll keep for a week.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. Hi! I love this idea and tried them once. While the flavor was great, the texture turned out a bit chalky (kind of glued my mounth together)…I was thinking of maybe adding something like subbing a bit of semolina to give it a bit more texture but would love your thoughts/advice!

  2. 5 stars
    I’d never made a vegan cookie by plan until now. I needed something to bring to a party of a home mixed couple (one vegan,One not) and your shortbread sounded good. It went over very well. Next time I’ll make a double batch. Thanks for the tip about the powdered sugar, as well. Great!

  3. 5 stars
    These were really good! I didn’t have avocado oil on hand (need to restock a lot), so I ended up using peanut oil instead. These were a lovely texture with a delicious cocoa flavor (used Ghirardelli Majestic 22/24) ; and I’ll admit I was skeptical at first of the all oil version as a lover of classic buttery shortbread!

  4. Hi Sam, could I use these as a base for cheesecake bars? I am really not a fan of crushed-cookie crust but really wanna have a chocolate base

  5. 5 stars
    these are soooo good and the recipe is easy to follow! next time I’ll be making a double batch these went so fast in my house

  6. 5 stars
    These chocolate shortbreads are the perfect back pocket recipe! Not only are they delicious, but also easy to make and perfect for my vegan friend. Thank you Sam!