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High-Protein Crunchy Shortbread Cookies

Every once in a while I create a recipe that instantly becomes one of my favorites of all time, and these high-protein shortbread cookies are easily in my top 5.

I will be making these on a regular basis, and you’ll soon see why!

Protein shortbread cookies

These shortbread cookies are crunchy & buttery, the way you’d expect shortbread to be, but with the added bonus of being healthier than your average cookie.

Each serving (5 shortbread cookies) offers a satisfying 6 grams of protein with only 115 calories, making them the perfect treat for anyone wanting to keep their calories under control or hit their protein goals.

Plus, these protein shortbread cookies are gluten-free and low in carbs, making them suitable for virtually any diet. Each shortbread cookie contains 8 grams of net carbs, so they’re not quite keto shortbread cookies, but they can definitely be enjoyed on a low-carb diet.

Decorated shortbread cookies

Nobody would ever know that these cookies were secretly packed with protein, so they are the perfect recipe to make for picky eaters!

Trust me: I shared these with my picky 2-year-old, and he absolutely loved them. If you have kids, you know that they’ll always be brutally honest if they don’t like something, so I consider that a huge win.

Whether you want to enjoy these protein shortbread cookies with your morning coffee, as a post-workout snack, or as a late-night sweet treat, I promise they will not disappoint.


Ingredients & Substitutions

Let’s talk about the ingredients to make the perfect shortbread protein cookie.

For this protein shortbread recipe, we’re using a blend of oat flour and almond flour, creating a gluten-free base that’s both nutritious and delicious.

I’ve found that this combination works best in cookies, not just for the nutritional aspect, but the flavor as well. The oat flour gives these shortbread cookies amazing flour, and the almond flour helps contribute to a crispy yet delicate texture.

The almond flour can be swapped out for coconut flour or more oat flour if needed, but I did not test that specifically.

Protein shortbread cookies in milk

We’re using a granular sugar substitute to keep the calories down, but regular sugar works just fine too if that’s your preference. Sugar, in any form, is essential for crunchy shortbread cookies!

To give these cookies a vanilla flavor and protein boost, a vanilla whey/casein blend protein powder is the star of this recipe. I use PEScience in all of my recipes, and I highly recommend using the same if you want these to turn out as good as possible!

If you have whey protein on hand, that should work, although I did not test it. I don’t recommend using a plant-based protein in this recipe as it will likely lead to crumbly cookies.

That being said, this recipe can be made without protein powder at all.

The draw of this recipe is the fact that it’s high in protein, but you can leave it out and replace the milk with 1 tsp of vanilla extract for a classic vanilla flavor instead.

And last but certainly not least, we’re using butter in this recipe to bring it all together. If you want a true buttery shortbread cookie, you’ll want to stick with regular full-fat butter. If you want to save a few calories, you can use a light butter alternative, but you won’t get the same crunch that regular butter provides.

Don’t try swapping the butter out for peanut butter (or other nut butter), as it will not work nearly as well. If you’re in the mood for peanut butter, go for my Christmas Cookie Skillet or No-Bake Peanut Butter Blossoms instead.


How to make protein shortbread cookies

First things first, let’s combine our dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This includes the oat flour, almond flour, sugar substitute (or sugar), protein powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Once that’s done, melt the butter in the microwave and add it to our dry mix.

This is where the magic starts to happen – as you stir, you’ll see a crumbly yet cohesive dough forming.

To bring the mixture together into workable cookie dough, we’re going to add a small amount of milk- any milk will work great.

Shortbread cookie dough

We’ve got a ball of shortbread cookie dough, but don’t rush to roll it out just yet – let the dough chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This chilling time is crucial as it helps the butter to solidify again, ensuring that our cookies hold their shape and have the right texture.

Once the dough has chilled, it’s time to roll out our dough. Dust a clean surface or use a sheet of parchment paper, and roll the dough to your desired thickness. These cookies won’t rise much, so roll them as thin as you’d like your final product.

Cutting shortbread cookies

Grab your favorite cookie cutters and get creative! I prefer using small cookie cutters to make small low-calorie shortbread cookies, but you can make full-size cookies as well.

Cut out as many cookies as possible and arrange them on a baking sheet. Don’t waste any dough – gather the scraps, roll them out, and keep cutting until you’ve used up all the dough.

Shortbread cookies on baking sheet

Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, especially if your oven has hot spots, and rotate the baking sheet halfway through for even browning.

Once they’re golden and crisp, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.

Cooling shortbread cookies

While these shortbread cookies will be delicious right out of the oven, they will still be relatively soft. Giving them roughly one hour after baking will allow them to crisp up completely.

Once the protein shortbread cookies have cooled and crisped up, you can get creative and decorate them! You can certainly enjoy them as-is, but adding some icing and sprinkles is a great way to make these shortbread cookies festive.

Decorated shortbread cookies

These cookies will remain crunchy and fresh as leftovers as long as they are stored in an airtight container. My leftovers did not last longer than 3 days, and they were just as good on day 3 as they were on day 1!

You can safely enjoy these cookies for 1-2 weeks after baking, although I doubt they will last that long.


More protein christmas cookies to enjoy

Protein shortbread cookies are amazing any time of the year, but I love them as a Christmas cookie. If you want to do a full protein Christmas cookie bake-a-thon, I’ve got plenty of other recipes for you to add to your list:


Protein shortbread cookies

High-Protein Crunchy Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 50 Small Cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

These crunchy shortbread cookies are one of my favorite recipes of all time. Any fan of shortbread cookies will not be disappointed by these cookies, and each serving provides a generous 6 grams of protein with only 115 calories!



  1. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients for your protein shortbread cookies (oat flour, almond flour, sugar, protein powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (about 30 seconds). Add the melted butter to the bowl and mix until a crumbly mixture forms.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of milk (any milk works) to the bowl and continue to mix until cookie dough forms.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to allow the butter to solidify and the dough to firm up.
  5. Once the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Add the shortbread cookie dough to a clean surface or sheet of parchment paper and roll it out until thin. These cookies will not rise too much in the oven, so roll the dough out as thinly as you'd like your final cookies to be.
  7. Use small cookie cutters to cut as many cookies out of your dough as possible and place your shortbread cookies on a cookie sheet.
  8. Form the cookie dough scraps until a cookie dough ball, roll it out, and continue until you cannot cut out any more cookies. I was able to cut roughly 50 small cookies out of the dough.
  9. Bake the shortbread cookies at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. If your oven has hot spots, I recommend rotating the baking sheet halfway through the process to ensure even browning.
  10. Remove the shortbread cookies from the oven and place them on a cooling rack to cool and crisp up. Allow the cookies to sit for one hour to fully crisp up before enjoying them.
  11. Once cooled, you can get creative by decorating your shortbread cookies with your favorite icing, sprinkles, and toppings.


  • These shortbread cookies keep very well as leftovers and will remain crunchy. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature and enjoy for 1-2 weeks after baking.
  • If you do not want to use protein powder in this recipe, you can omit it. If you do that, leave out the milk and add 1 tsp vanilla for a little vanilla flavor.
  • I have only tested this recipe with a whey/casein protein blend, so I cannot promise the same results if using whey protein or plant-based protein powder.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 5 Cookiess
Amount Per Serving Calories 115Total Fat 6.5gCarbohydrates 8gProtein 6g

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About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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