This is a keto, gluten-free and sugar-free copycat recipe of Walkers shortbread butter biscuits that’s actually better than the original! Really! Not in better because they are a healthier and guilt-free keto version… but actually more delicious and buttery than the real Walkers!
Walkers Shortbread Butter Biscuits are my dear husband Daniel’s favorite. His Scottish whisky adoration is beyond measure, and therefore his love for all things Scottish was born, I suppose. Whisky, he once said, is a sacred beverage, and the juice of Scotland. As if, if you’d squeeze out the country, whisky would pour from it. I wondered what would pour out of other countries, if we’d squeeze them. It’s an enlightening abstraction exercise.
When visiting Edinburgh, he actually paid about 5 pounds in a tourist trap for a measly bag of mini Walkers shortbread cookies to accompany his whisky. We had a lovely evening walk in the biting cold, extremely windy Edinburgh historic center while sipping the golden national product from our hip flasks for internal heating. Him specially, debuting the kilt I’d bought for him as a souvenir years prior, on my first visit to Glasgow. He plainly refused my offer of tights to keep the knees warm.
Anyhoo, in this lovely breezy winter night we were doing a walking tour through the supposedly haunted areas of the town. The great storyteller lady that was leading the ghostly tour asked Daniel whether he was wearing the kilt “like a true Scotsman”. I was amused, seeing this woman asking my husband if he was going commando. He, not at all taken aback, replied: – Nay, lass, it’s a wee bit drafty. (scroll down on this page if you want to see him, hair flying, on the day)
The only 3 (or 4) ingredients
The traditional Scottish shortbread cookie is made with 3 ingredients only: butter, wheat flour and powdered sugar. Reminiscing that before we started keto the only ingredient that concerned us in this biscuit was the BUTTER, of all things, is scary. Looking back, it’s shocking to see how we’ve been brain-washed into thinking that nutritious and wholesome butter was the major enemy of our heart health and waistline.
As for keto friendliness we can only keep one-third of the original ingredients, a major, but simple adaptation is in order:
To obtain a sugar-free, gluten-free and keto version of Scottish shortbread, we can substitute the wheat flour for almond flour – as fine as you can get – and sugar for erythritol or erythritol and stevia blend – finely powdered as well, for a perfect texture. This will keep the keto shortbread simple and easy at ONLY 3 INGREDIENTS!
Or, you can play around with the macros and the texture of the cookies, if you have unflavored whey protein or oat fiber available in your keto pantry. I’m adding below a few suggestions for flavor variations, as well.
- Butter – Choose an unsalted butter that tastes delicious! This is a butter cookie after all, so the flavor of the butter is super important. Grass-fed butter is your best bet. If all you have is salted butter, you can still make the cookie, but it will obviously be a bit slty, Increase the amount of sweetener and it should be fine.
- Powdered keto sweetener – For the biscuit to have the delicious crumbly and buttery texture of a true shortbread, use powdered sweetener. If all you have is granulated, it’s easy to powder it yourself: just add the granulated sweetener to a (very) dry blender jar, and pulse it for a few seconds. Just wait a little for the powder to settle before you open the jar.
Besides the powdered keto sweetener and butter, you can choose from the 3 flour variations below, according to what you have available in your keto or low-carb pantry or you macro preference:
- Almond flour only – If you don’t care about your calories, and are not trying to minimize your consumption of anti-nutrients – as almonds have a lot of phytic acid – then you can go ahead and make these keto shortbread cookies with almond powder solo. A dead simple 3 ingredient keto cookie!
- Almond flour plus oat fiber – If you would like a less caloric biscuit with some extra fiber, make them with almond flour plus oat fiber. Oat fiber is a specialty product that’s amazing in low-carb and keto diets, as it’s made entirely of non-digestible fiber – so net carb free! But be careful; not to mistake oat fiber for any other oat products: oat fiber is different from oat, oat bran, hulled oats, and oat flour. In doubt, check the nutrition label.
- Almond flour plus whey protein – If you’re like me and always have protein powders in your pantry and try to sneak extra protein on every recipe, that’s what you can use – make the biscuit with almond flour plus unflavored whey protein
The difference in result, with these three flour combinations: The pure almond flour keto cookie is delicious, but the texture is softer, less dense than the original biscuit I was trying to copycat – the Walkers Pure Butter shortbread.
Texture wise, the oat fiber keto shortbread biscuit is a little bit more similar to the original Walkers butter biscuits. The crumb is more tender and tight, more wheat flour like.
The whey protein keto shortbread is a little bit more crunchy, and the taste is slightly milky. The crumb is pretty tight as is the oat fiber one, due to whey also being a very fine powder. They are all delicious. My personal favorite is the whey protein one, because you can’t beat those macros (from a muscle building perspective).
Keto shortbread cookie variation ideas
If you think the classic pure butter shortbread lacks some pizzazz, you can easily make it more interesting. Here’s just some ideas – the plain butter shortbread biscuit flavor will probably go along with almost anything.
- Add some melted, keto friendly chocolate: Dip half of the baked biscuit in melted sugar-free chocolate (looks specially nice with the shortbread rounds or triangular, “Petticoat Tails” shape), or cover the top of biscuit fully with chocolate, or create a few chocolate zigzags with a piping bag;
- Add keto chocolate chips to the dough before forming the cookies;
- Add vanilla for an extra touch of flavor – as it’s liquid, it would be easier to spread if you are using the creaming butter and erythritol method. But you can also try to sprinkle the drops evenly around the floor and sweetener mix before you start kneading in the butter, and it should be enough to homogenize;
- Or some orange peel, or shaved coconut – also mixed with the dry ingredients before adding the butter
- Finally, if you are feeling historical: add caraway seeds to flavor the shortbread the way it’s said to have been the favorite of Mary, Queen of Scots;
Don’t cream butter for easier cookies
You CAN cream butter and sweetener together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, and then mix in the flour. This is an alternative technique, also very much used for shortbread making. It renders a slightly smoother biscuit, with a (even more) delicate crumb.
Honestly, I don’t think the effort is worth it. The best thing about this cookie is its simplicity: mixing it in one bowl, just with your hands, in a few minutes, no appliances required. But if you’d like to try the electric mixer way, go for it!
How to make keto Scottish shortbread biscuits
Mix the dry ingredients: Add the almond flour (or your combination of almond flour with whey or oat fiber) and the keto sweetener (I used my own erythritol stevia blend recipe) to a large bowl and mix the powders together until well combined.
Cut the cold butter into small squares, and and let it rest with the dry mixture (1). After about 15 minutes, the butter should be about room temperature and you can start mixing it with the dry ingredients (2).
The best way of achieving the right texture (3) is: Press the butter squares into the flour and sweetener mix, hold as much of the mixture you can inside your hand and forcefully slide your thumb against your palm and fingers, from the pinky towards the index finger.
The dough is rather crumbly at first, but will come together. The final texture keeps the shape of your fingers when pressed inside your hand.
How to shape and cut
Rectangular or triangle shortbread
Line your cookie sheet or pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Drop the flour and butter mixture in the middle of the surface. Start shaping the mount with your hands, pressing down on it hard.
Form a rectangle of about 20 by 15 centimeters (to cut finger sized or square biscuits) or a circular shape (for cutting triangle shortbread biscuits, known as Petticoat Tails).
To make the sides straight, hold a knife or spatula vertical against the sides of the shape, and press down on the cookie while pressing the side of the blade or spatula against it.
After you are satisfied with the shape, you can gently press a fork to create the pricks along the surface of the keto biscuit. You can then take it to the oven immediately, or, if you prefer to bake it later (or in the next day), you can keep the whole shaped keto shortbread in the fridge, covered in cling wrap not to dry up the dough, to bake on the next day.
Round shortbread cookies
For round shortbread cookies, you can shape the dough into a log/snake – or, perhaps in this case, the Loch Ness monster 😁 – on top of some aluminum foil or wax paper. After forming the keto cookie dough shape, wrap the foil or paper around it like a big candy, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or until the next day) to make it easier to cut.
Then, with a sharp knife, gently slice the dough at your desired cookie thickness. I made it in 2 versions to test the oven cooking times, but in actuality they didn’t differ by much. The cookies will start browning at approximate the same time, at around 10 minutes, give or take one or two minutes according to your oven peculiarities.
The recipe makes about 24 keto shortbread butter biscuits. It will vary based on the height/thickness you choose. You can easily double/triple the recipe to make more biscuits, or larger ones.
Preheat the oven to 170 °C / 388 °F, static. Take it to the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Watch it closely after minute 9, the shortbread is done when the edges start getting lightly golden. The recipe with added whey protein browns faster.
If you’ve made the pressed biscuit shape, cut the biscuits immediately after removing them from the oven. Using a large knife (larger than the shortbread rectangle/circle), press it down to cut the cookies in the desired size/shape while they are still hot. The keto shortbread cookies are very soft at this stage, so they will be fairly easy to cut.
Leave the keto biscuits cool down undisturbed for a couple of hours at least – they are incredibly delicate just out of the oven and might crumble away if you manhandle them. No womanhandling, either! As the biscuits cool down, the butter will settle and the erythritol will crisp up, giving them a delicious texture.
Storage and keeping fresh
These keto copycat Walkers butter biscuits will last fresh for a couple of weeks in an airtight container. They might soften if left exposed to humidity. If this happens, you can “re-crisp” them in an oven for a few minutes, and then let them cool down again. Just watch closely not to brown them when re-crisping.
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