Introduction: Trefoils Shortbread Recipe

Picture of Trefoils Shortbread Recipe

Trefoil: the classic Girl Scout Cookie.  This copycat recipe is so easy to follow, you'll want to memorize it.   It's the last shortbread recipe you'll ever need and the basis for several other Girl Scout cookie recipes, including Samoas and Tagalongs!

While it's good to support your local scouts, according to, only about 10% of all cookie sales actually go to support the troop.   Plus, sometimes you just need a cookie, even when it's not in season!

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients
There are lots of copycat recipes out there.  Let me save you the time and effort by sharing my favorite one here.  It's found on several other websites too!

  • 228g (1 cup)  butter, room temperature
  • 115g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 250g (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (1oz) milk

Step 2: Mix!

Picture of Mix!

Cream together your butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add this to the butter mixture.  

Finally, at low speed, add in the milk and vanilla. 

Separate the dough into halves and wrap in plastic or store in tupperware.  Refrigerate until the dough is as firm as a stick of butter. 

Step 3: Cut!

Picture of Cut!

Now is the time to preheat your oven to 350F (180C)  and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.  Remember that you can re-use parchment sheets between batches!

Once your dough is firm enough to roll out without making a big mess (oh you'll figure that out pretty quickly), roll dough on lightly floured surface.

Lots of places will tell you to roll it out between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap.  Please, dear readers, save yourself the heartache, and do it the way Grandma did.  This dough is made to be soft enough to withstand the incorporation of more flour during this phase.  

Once your dough is rolled to about 1/8" - 1/4" thickness, use a cookie cutter to cut out whatever shapes your heart desires.  Re-roll the scraps and repeat.

As you move the cut cookies onto your cookie tray, you will again be grateful you used a floured surface instead of waxed paper.  This stuff gets sticky fast!

Step 4: Bake!

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Bake your batches of cookies one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet 180 degrees, halfway through baking.  This ensures that all the cookies turn the same color instead of getting browner in the hotter parts of your oven.

Cool your cookies on the sheet for about 5 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack.  Don't have a wire rack?  That's ok.  But think about getting one - they make all your baking look cooler.  

Let cookie sheets cool before putting new cookies to be baked on them.

Step 5: Share!

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Now you've mastered the perfect shortbread.  Pass them off as your own Homemade Trefoils!  

Are you ready to graduate to Tagalongs and Samoas?  Have a blast!


Maureen C (author)2012-03-01

I made this shortbread and doubled the recipe. It stores well and is absolutely my favorite. It bakes perfectly and doesn't spread much, just like I was hoping. It is delicious! I also made some toasted coconut to make the homemade Samoas.

Annawe03 (author)2016-10-17

How many cookies does this make? I need to know as soon as possible.

BaileyB15 (author)2016-05-04

Reason I ask is because I only have half the butter I need lol but I want to make these

BaileyB15 (author)2016-05-04

Reason I ask is because I only have half the butter I need lol but I want to make these

BaileyB15 (author)2016-05-04

Could this be made with half butter half margarine?

BrianR118 (author)2016-03-23

Do these get nice and crunchy like Girl Scout Cookies?

usatiago (author)2016-03-10

awesine recipe! my family loves it. I made a low-carb variation of this recipe. Instead of 2 cups of flour, I have used 2 cups of Vanilla-flavoured whey protein and instead of sugar, I have used the equivalent of Splenda ou Xylitol. Still taste absolutely amazing.

dcbrush (author)2015-01-23

This is a delicious shortbread recipe!! Can you tell me where I can purchase the cookie cutter used in the tutorial? I've been looking for one just like it for a very long time. Thanks!!

The Sweet Snazzoo (author)2014-08-26

This was a GREAT tutorial. Thanks!

karasueve (author)2014-04-15

I live in a high altitude area. Is there anything I should be adding to the recipe so they don't come out all funny?

Emily44444 (author)2013-03-21

How long will I have to bake them?

breezypeazy (author)2013-02-06

Looks deelish! How long are these good for?

laurie v. (author)2012-02-26

Another of my favorites, right after creme eggs. Can't wait to make these also (after the creme eggs, of course). So glad I found your website!!!!

lthorp123 (author)2012-02-18

if you use powdered sugar instead of flour it makes a sweeter cookie and does not make a "tougher" cookie the way adding flour can do. I haven't made this recipe yet, so this is just an general statement.

sunshiine (author)2011-12-04

Thanks for the recipe! I have been looking for a good one!

suayres (author)2011-06-06

These sound so much better than ANY box cookie--you're using real ingredients--butter, not palm kernel oil or coconut oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil; sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup, and so on. Not only are they going to taste better, they're going to be way better for you. It does seem to me that humankind has had hundreds of thousands of years to evolve to digest and process natural foods--and that includes butter! On the othernhand, we're NOT adapted to handle all these synthesized foods. Any time I can make my family a more-natural food choice, imdo it. So thank you!

Twinmum (author)2011-05-23

Have to try these and see if they are like Australian Girl Guide biscuits while I have some to compare (still have a few packets to sell for the daughter's units :-) )

Black Panther Knex (author)2011-04-28

Tasted great! Thanks for the recipe!!

vinced2 (author)2011-02-14

Big and tasty

confusedcats (author)2011-02-05

how many cookies does this make?

mr. dogdoo (author)2011-02-04

While it's true that a limited amount of money goes towards DIRECT support of troop activities the whole amount that does not go to the baker goes towards indirect support of girls in your communities.

Girl Scouts could not provide the structure or opportunities that girls have come to rely on without your support. By purchasing Girl Scout cookies you are supporting a local organization which helps girls if your area develop some very important skills as well as helping to teach girls necessary skills for running a business.

So, by all means, feel free to make these copy cat cookies (I know I will) but also remember that when the time comes it's important to support the cookie program... without your support Girl Scouting couldn't exist.

fleurdejava (author)2011-02-03

2 sticks butter = ? grams. I am french and we don't know sticks of butter.
Thank you

scoochmaroo (author)fleurdejava2011-02-03

228 g

fleurdejava (author)scoochmaroo2011-02-04

Thank you scoochmaroo

ser_pez (author)2011-02-03

i made these good! wow. these will be my new go-to cookies. super quick and easy!

tobster9103 (author)2011-02-01

what temp do you bake them at? I am guessing 350 degrees?

scoochmaroo (author)tobster91032011-02-01


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Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
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