Dundurn Castle: The Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe




Earlier this year when my parents came to visit we made our way to Hamilton, Ontario to enjoy a tour of Dundurn Castle among other things such as the Royal Botanical Gardens which are beautiful this time of year.

Dundurn Castle is considered a National Historic Site in Canada and I thought it would be a great place to tour along with the Hamilton Military Museum which is on the grounds. The great part about the museum is you get to dress up in clothes from that era so you really get a feel for what it was like.

When you first walk through the doors of the Dundurn Castle you enter at the side where the workers would come and go. It certainly is an eerie feeling and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt like eyes were watching me. You just get this feeling that the house is haunted or you start to envision what had happened when the castle was up and running.

If you live in the Hamilton area you may notice many couples choose to hold their wedding on the grounds of Dundurn Castle as well having their photographs taken on the grounds.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to tour this 72 room mansion now owned by the City of Hamilton who purchased the mansion in 1900 for $50,000 and has spent over 3 million dollars renovating 42 of the 72 rooms, you should. I was able to score buy 1 get 1 free printable coupons online so the tour only costs us $11 each which was superb for what we got to see.

Dundurn Castle not only does it have 72 rooms but it is also 18,000 square feet which took a whopping 3 years to build for a price tag of $175,000 in 1835.

McNab purchased the home from Richard Beasley and built Dundurn Castle around the brick home he purchased. You can see exactly what was done if you take a visit to the castle.

Since the city has restored most of the rooms to 1855 they now offer civic tours of the regency mansion once owned by Sir Allan Napier McNab.

Dundurn Castle was considered the place to be for entertainment in its heyday and have served such high-ranking guests as Sir John A. Macdonald and King Edward VII.

After 1 hour of hearing some in-depth history of the Dundurn Castle one pit stop was in the kitchen on the lower level of the mansion. It will blow your mind away when you see how things were done but apparently McNab treated his workers well.

In the kitchen we were lucky to sample what we thought was the best shortbread cookies we had ever tasted. They were buttery and you could see the layers of butter which you will experience once you make this recipe.

I never thought to ask for the shortbread recipe while I was there as the tour was happening fast. I was fortunate to get a copy of the recipe so I could get on with making the shortbread cookies at home.


Dundurn Castle Shortbread Cookies


I decided to make the Dundurn shortbread cookies this past week and it did not disappoint us at all. The shortbread was so tasty and easy to make and best of all it took us back to the moment we enjoyed it at the castle.

I did find one recipe online for this shortbread cookie. I thought maybe I could compare it to another. The only difference in recipes was the ratio of ingredients. I cut the recipe in half.

When she told me I needed 2 egg yolks, 1lb of butter and 4 cups of flour I knew I would be making lots of shortbread cookies. I didn’t want to mess this recipe up because butter and flour aren’t cheap ingredients these days.

I suppose the large recipe amounts makes sense though with all the tourists they get at the castle that they’d want to bake the shortbread in bigger batches.

I didn’t want to make flat cookies since the castle had square chunks as if the shortbread was baked in a pan. I wanted to replicate that chunky shortbread experience as opposed to a flat cookie.

I decided to follow the suggestion of the online recipe to pinch the rounds and make triangle shortbread cookies like I remember in the UK. They look beautiful on a dish for tea time. I also poked the rounds with a fork as suggested in the recipe which gives them that traditional look that I’m familiar with.

I took me around 10 minutes to get the shortbread batter mixed in the mixer and off to the baking sheet. I created 3 rounds with the cookie dough and pinched around them like a pie crust.

When the shortbread cookies bake in the oven they will rise and become a golden brown. You don’t want to burn or over-bake them so you want to watch them closely. I treat shortbread cookies like I do my snowball cookies when baking…lots of love.

When you remove them from the oven let them rest before you cut triangles from the rounds like a pizza pie. Remember they will continue to cook on the baking sheet so don’t bake them until they are too dark.

This shortbread recipe will NOT disappoint you at all and is perfect for tea time or when guests come around for an after dinner tea and snack. I will definitely be making these shortbread cookies over and over again. A big thanks to the Dundurn Castle for an amazing tour and for these lovely shortbread cookies.

Dundurn Castle best shortbread cookies

4.0 from 1 reviews
Dundurn Castle The Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This time of year is lovely on the grounds at the Dundurn Castle and they offer shortbread cookies as treats to all of their guests when you reach the lower level kitchen in your tour.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24
  • 1 cup cold butter cubed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups of flour
  1. In your blender add the butter, sugar and mix
  2. Add in the salt and egg yolk and mix until combined
  3. Slowly add the flour just until it is combined with the rest of the dough.
  4. Once combined turn onto a lightly dusted with flour surface. Knead just until you are able to divide the dough and it's soft. Add more flour if needed.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 equal rounds and poke with holes from your fork. Pinch the rounds like you would a pie crust.
  6. Bake on non-greased no-stick baking sheet (there's tonnes of butter in the cookie) at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. Depending on your oven they may cook faster so don't leave them alone ad they will bake fast.
  7. Remove from oven and when cool cut the 3 large cookies into triangles and let cool further or enjoy with a cuppa tea.


There you have the best and easiest shortbread cookie I’ve ever made compliments of Dundurn Castle and the cooking crew down below. We had an excellent tour of the Dundurn Castle and recommend the tour to all of our friends.

Now, this recipe is not confirmed by the Dundurn Castle BUT it tastes just like it.

Do you bake homemade shortbread cookies? Leave me a comment and tell me your favourite cookies.

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  1. Pat Ciulka says:

    Sounds like an interesting place to visit! I will have to check it out next time I am in the area!

  2. My favorite cookies are oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and ginger cookies. My next would surely be this Dundurn Castle The Best Shortbread Cookie. I am so excited to bake this Mr. CBB.

  3. Christine Weadick says:

    Dundurn Castle sounds amazing to visit!!! The younger boy would love to prowl around the HBG sometime as would I. I have a gardening book here written by a couple from the area that volunteer there thanks to the library book sale a few years back.
    I’ll have to try to make this for my sister-in-law as she loves shortbread. Not sure if I will let her know how much butter is in there, I might just take some to her place for a family get together and let her share. I can remember seeing clay tray type things labelled shortbread pans ages ago. They had a design on the bottom that would transfer to the shortbread when you remove it from the pan. I must look for those again. If I find them I’ll let you know.

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