Savory Herbed Shortbread with Pesto-Filled Thumbprints

savory shortbread

The cool thing about shortbread is that it’s super versatile. You can bake it up plain and sweet, fold in herbs, add a thumbprint for stuffing, cut back the sugar for something between a scone and a cracker – the possibilities are really endless! I served this savory shortbread as a brunchy finger food, and they were delicious! They sort of reminded me of mini quiche, but these were simpler to make.

Think of these as the less-sweet sister to those lavender marmalade thumbprint cookies from Monday.

Savory Herbed Shortbread with Pesto-Filled Thumbprints


  • 1 1/2c Earth Balance
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2t salt
  • 1T dried thyme
  • 2 1/2c all purpose white flour
  • 1 batch of vegan cashew basil pesto (You’ll definitely have left over pesto.)

Cooking Directions

  1. Cream together the Earth Balance with the sugar, salt, and thyme.
  2. Add the flour, mixing well until you have a nice dough, and form the dough into a ball. If the dough is crumbly, add more Earth Balance, 1T at a time, until it forms a ball easily. Stick the dough into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F.
  4. Form the dough into balls about 2 tablespoons at a time. Flatten each ball, and then (you guessed it!) use your thumb to make a little dent in each one. Spoon pesto into the center to fill in the dent, and place them on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they look golden brown.

Let your shortbread cool completely before serving. Just like with sweet shortbread cookies, you’ll want to put natural wax paper between layers, if you have to stack these to store them.

23 comments on “Savory Herbed Shortbread with Pesto-Filled Thumbprints
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  3. I am not vegan but I am a personal chef and would like to learn more. There are several varieties of Earth Balance spreads, plus there are baking sticks. Are you using the original spread? And have you used the baking sticks? Thanks.

    • I have used the original, the organic, the soy free, and the olive oil spreads in this recipe, and they all work well. The baking sticks should also do the trick – in fact, I bet they’re easier to measure than the tub!

  4. Sheesh, Jan, what’s your problem? Since you obviously use a computer, how hard would it have been for you to just search for “Earth Balance” and figure out what that unknown (to you) ingredient was, instead of slamming Becky about the way she wrote the recipe?

    Would you act like such a big baby in real life, or is it that you’re protected from the ramifications of your rudeness by the anonymity of the internet? Grow up.

  5. Hi! Thanks for the recipes which I’d love to try. However, I live in Norway and have no idea about your measures.
    Could you explain what “t” is, or “T”, or “c”? And what quantity is “a batch”?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Christine! No problem at all:

      t = teaspoon
      T = Tablespoon
      c = cup
      batch refers to cooking up a recipe. There is a link above to the pesto recipe, so you’ll just make that, and you have your batch. :)

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  7. The nutritional yeast gives it a mildly cheesy taste and helps thicken things up a little. Sort of like what Parmesan might do in conventional pesto. Should be fine without, but it’s extra delicious with the nutritional yeast! You can find it at Whole Foods or your local co-op’s bulk bin.

  8. I’m really looking forward to making this! I was curious about the nutritional yeast option in the pesto filling. I’m definitely making extra without it to use as a spread, for my friend with the gluten-free diet, but what does including do for the recipe? Thanks!

  9. Just wondering, when I made the shortbread with the marmalade recipe, the dough wouldn’t bind well. It seemed like there was too much flour, it fell apart so easy and was hard to form the balls. Did you use a dough mixer or mix by hand?

  10. you might want to use Willow Run vegan margarine. It comes in sticks. However, it is hydrogenated and Earth Balance vegan margarine is not. You could use a vegetable shortening, but it would not taste quite as good.
    I am going to make these for our next vegan potluck.

  11. Wow Jan, chill. I use Earth Balance all the time so would have said the same thing. Anyway, these shortbread whatevers sound great, I can hardly wait to make them.

  12. I love pesto! I love bread! Perfect combo! (For Jan, Earth Balance is vegan margarine, though there is some debate about the sustainability/devastation of orangutan and other species’ habitats aspect of one of its ingredients, palm oil).

    • Thanks, Monica! Do you know if all varieties of Earth Balance use palm oil? I hate the idea that my favorite vegan margarine could be hurting orangutans!

  13. Why, why, do people write recipes and don’t specify. This recipe is useless! What the –is Earth Balance? Usually Vegan recipes are a bit more specific as to what kind of flour to use. What kind of flour do you require for this recipe? Waste of my time.

    • Wow. I am really sorry that my shortbread recipe offended you so deeply. Earth Balance is a brand of vegan margarine that I prefer. The flour is all purpose. I will clarify that one in the recipe.

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