Cheddar Rosemary Shortbread Cookies – Buttery & Savory!

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Cheddar rosemary shortbread cookies (aka biscuits or crackers) are a delicious treat. Aged cheddar cheese and a hint of rosemary are combined with buttery, crumbly shortbread to make the perfect cocktail party appetizer or simple snack with a glass of wine. They are also fantastic on a charcuterie board!

Closeup of rosemary shortbread cookies.

Why You’ll Love This Savory Shortbread Recipe

I love the simplicity of a shortbread cookie – it’s just butter, flour and sugar. Traditional shortbread doesn’t even have a drop of vanilla in it. Crumbly and buttery – what’s not to love?

But did you know you can make an amazing savory shortbread without sugar? 

These shortbread rosemary cookies are a cheesy cross between a cracker and cookie. They are crumbly and soft like a cookie, but if you make them thinner and bake them longer, they become more crisp like a cracker. 

My recipe is a combination of my mom’s cheese straw recipe from the 60s, and one from Bon Appetit, circa 2007.

Cheddar rosemary shortbread cookies piled on a platter.

What is the Secret to Making Good Shortbread?

Here are some tips for making the best shortbread: 

  • Start with cold butter. Cube it and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
  • Use cold flour as well. You can store it in the refrigerator or freezer for a short while before using it.
  • Mix in the flour until just combined. Overmixing can lead to a tough shortbread.
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This step helps the dough firm up and makes it easier to handle.

How to Make Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Start by mixing flour, cheddar, rosemary, salt and cayenne pepper together in a food processor. 

It is best to use a drier cheese, like an aged cheddar. Aged cheese has less moisture, whereas a cheese with more fat and moisture will tend to spread more. Any dry-aged cheese will work well. 

Add cold butter and pulse until the dough begins to come together. Finish bringing the dough together with your hands.

To make these cutout shortbread cookies, roll the dough out to between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick. The thinner the dough, the more quickly it will bake, and the crisper the shortbread will be. 

Using a cookie cutter or knife, cut the shortbread dough into rounds or rectangles. I chose to make them with a fluted cutter, which was about 2 1/4″ across, and it made about 30 fairly large cookies/crackers. 

Shortbread dough being cut into cookie shapes.

You can also make them in straw shapes, but the longer and thinner they are, the more fragile they’ll be.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes before baking to prevent the cookies from spreading.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thin or thick you rolled out your dough. Bake the rosemary shortbread cookies until lightly brown around the edges. Cool on wire racks. 

Can You Freeze Butter Shortbread Cookies?

This savory shortbread dough actually develops more flavor after a day or two, making them an excellent make-ahead appetizer. 

Once the shortbread is rolled out, freeze it on cookie sheets. Once frozen, it can be wrapped and stacked. To bake the shortbread, place it on baking sheets while the oven is heating, then proceed with the recipe.

Store these savory shortbread cookies in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Savory Cheddar and Rosemary Shortbread cookies on a platter.

Best Shortbread Recipes

Do you love shortbread? Here are some of my best shortbread recipes!

Savory Cheddar and Rosemary Shortbread

Savory Cheddar And Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Buttery, crumbly savory cheddar and rosemary shortbread cookies. Inspired by mom's cheese straw recipe and Bon Appetit, 2007.
4.92 from 48 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine British
Servings 3 -5 dozen


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour plus additional for flouring roller
  • 1/2 pound aged cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat baking sheets.
  • Mix flour, cheese, salt, rosemary and cayenne pepper together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together. Finish bringing dough together with hands.
  • On a lightly floured board, gently roll or press dough out to between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. The thinner the dough, the more quickly it will bake, and the crisper the shortbread will be. Using a cutter, or knife, cut out cookies in desired shape. Re-roll remaining dough. Although the more you work it, the tougher the dough becomes.
  • Place shortbread on lined cookie sheets and chill 20-30 minutes.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly brown around the edges, and depending on how thin or thick you roll the dough out. Cool on wire racks. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.
  • Makes about 30 2 1/2″, or 5 dozen 1″ rounds.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Savory Cheddar Rosemary Shortbread cookies.

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    1. I made these about a month ago, and can’t get them out of my mind. My DH is wistfully asking for them, too! I’m going to make again today, this time with a Grana Padana and rosemary (since that’s the cheese I’ve got!). These are exceptional. Saved; memorized the recipe!

  1. 5 stars
    Love what you did here Cynthia. The cheese sounds divine as do these savory shortbread cookies with rosemary. I have a friend who makes delicious cheese straws during the holidays. I’ve never made them myself but yours look so tempting. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that your New Year ahead is filled with peace, joy and health! xo

  2. Just made these cookies! So fun and smell so good, waiting to try. Do I need to refrigerate the cookies I store?

  3. Hi Joan, I’m sorry you had a disappointing experience. Did you read my notes? I’m not sure what went wrong, but it could have been a number of things. I did mention that a aged cheese is drier and will react differently than a fresher cheese. “It is best to use a drier cheese, like the Kerrygold aged cheddar. An aged cheese has less moisture, whereas a cheese with more fat and moisture will tend to spread more. Of course, any dry-aged cheese will work well. Chilling the dough before baking it will prevent spreading, too.” I love for you to help me figure out what went wrong. Did you use a dry aged cheddar? Did you chill the dough? Again, I apologize for your frustration. Thank you, Cynthia

  4. 5 stars
    This looks wonderful. I love shortbread. I went looking for a savory recipe, as I find I can no longer eat sugar baked with flour. Commercial crackers are full of sugar, it turns out!. Anyway. I am going to make this. I am too lazy and no longer have the kitchen space (small studio apartment with two burner stove, mini-micro and table top oven only) to do much fancy baking. I think this can be rolled into a log, much like refrigerator cookies. Wrapped in parchment and then in a plastic zipper bag. Slice off a few at a time and bake as wanted… I can think of several flavor combinations that would be wonderful. Thanks so much for the basic recipe..Have a great holiday season.

  5. 5 stars
    It’s my annual cheddar shortbread baking day and the house smells amazing! One of my all-time favorite recipes. I actually made the dough last week (double batch) and froze it in two separate balls. Using one today and will have the other for Christmas Eve. Not a huge rosemary fan so I use fresh thyme instead. So good!

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve made these several times, and they’re always a hit! In fact, I always get requests for the recipe, so I send them here. I’ll make more again this year for the holidays.

  7. I’ll be making them again soon when I’m a guest for Easter at a family gathering. Make them year round with different shapes of cookie cutters. (Aprons)

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