French Fridays: Sablés Bretons

Sablés Bretons on eatlivetravelwrite.comFor French Fridays today, I’m bringing you a favourite cookie recipe that, admittedly, I tend to purchase when I’m in France (because really good ones are so readily available!) but over the past year or so, I’ve been playing around with a homemade version that I’m finally happy to share (and – uh oh – now I know how easy they are, we’re all in trouble here!). I taught a version of this recipe in my baking classes leading up to the holidays (for adults and also my students) and everyone loved them.

Sablés Bretons are the butteriest, flakiest cookies which hail from Brittany in northwest France where the butter is “the ultimate Breton product” according to Brittany Tourism:

Brittany’s butter is special, most often salted, in particular using salt from Guérande. There are two reasons for that. First, butter is mainly milk (in particular, cream) and Brittany is a big milk producer. Secondly, in the past, the region was exempt from the salt tax. Brittany brought these two products together to ensure that its butter would keep for longer. That’s also the reason why Breton butter retains all the flavours of the milk.

And speaking of ingredients, these cookies only have a few – flour, butter, eggs and sugar – so it’s important to make sure you use the best quality you can. In the case of the butter, you’re using SALTED butter – European-style if you can find it (that’s a butter with 82% butterfat or more – here’s a great explanation of the difference between our butter and European butter). Even though we’re using salted butter, I’ve also added a pinch of flaky sea salt to the recipe simply because I love the burst of salt a flaky sea salt gives to a cookie. Maldon is easy to find (and increasingly, French salt is easier to find outside France too) but if you’re in France anytime, it’s a pretty great souvenir to pick up!

These cookies don’t require a rest in the fridge (which is one of the reasons I love them!) but if you’re working in a warm kitchen or climate, the dough might benefit from a spell in the fridge after you’ve rolled then but before you cut them out.

Yield: 36 cookies

Sablés Bretons

Sablés Bretons on

Flaky, buttery French shortbread cookies. The secret is in the salted butter!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 36 minutes


  • 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 170 g (12 tablespoons/ 1 ½ sticks) European-style salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the work surface 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter, salt and sugar with electric hand beaters on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
  3. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. The mixture may look slightly curdled but just keep mixing! Add the vanilla.
  4. Add the flour and continue to mix on low speed just until the dough just starts to come together.
  5. Place the dough on a lightly-floured work surface. Bring the dough together in a ball, then divide in half and flatten to make two disks.
  6. Roll one disk of dough out until it's about 1/4-inch thick.
  7. Use 2-inch (5cm) round cookie cutters to cut out approx. 18 cookies from the first sheet of dough . Place the cookies on a baking tray. You might need an offset spatula for this job.
  8. Use the tines of a fork to make a cross-hatch pattern on the cookies (drag the tines vertically then horizontally across the top of the cookies). Brush the tops of the cookies gently with the egg wash (you don't want it to drip down the side as it will prevent the cookies from rising).
  9. Repeat with the second disk of dough.
  10. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, until golden on top.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven, place them on a wire cooling rack and allow to come to room temperature.
  12. Cookies will keep at room temperature in airtight containers for 3-4 days.

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Recipe for Sablés Bretons on eatlivetravelwrite.comPerfect with a glass of milk, an espresso or a cup of tea!

Happy (French) Friday!


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