Bellevue House National Historic Site’s Favourite Scottish Shortbread

This classic recipe is simple and always a hit with visitors at Bellevue House National Historic Site in Kingston.

Bellevue House National Historic Site's Favourite Scottish Shortbread

Origin: Bellevue House National Historic Site
Region: Ontario
Period: 19th Century
Course: Desserts and Baked Goods

Sir John A Macdonald Photo of Sir John A. MacDonald
© Library and Archives Canada/Pittaway and Jarvis / C-003812

Sir John A. Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland and came to Canada at the age of five. He lived with his family at Bellevue House in Kingston in the 1840s. During his successful career as a lawyer, he moved into politics and was elected to be Canada’s first prime minister following Confederation in 1867.

In recognition of Macdonald’s Scottish heritage, Bellevue House National Historic Site has prepared these traditional Scottish shortbread cookies for their visitors for many years.

Bellevue House National Historic Site’s Favourite Scottish Shortbread


  • 4 cups | 750 all purpose flour
  • 1 lb | 454 g softened butter
  • 1 cup | 250 ml sugar


  • Mix flour and sugar together with your hands. Soften butter in microwave for about 45 seconds or until just starting to melt; add to flour and sugar mixture. Knead all until comes together − do not overwork − into a ball. Press mixture onto a baking sheet ensuring dough is ½- to ¾-inch thick, using a rolling pin to smooth and flatten the dough into a rectangular shape. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes at 300°F (150°C), checking the shortbread at 35 minutes. Shortbread is done when the edges are beginning to brown. Cut into 1-inch squares, cool and enjoy!


Recipe tested by Chef Scott Warrick, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism