October 27, 2020
Family recipe meets foodie magic in a Willa’s Shortbread cookie, a melt-in-your mouth, bite-sized buttery treat that’s perfect for serving and sharing (or not). All-natural ingredients and Southern-inspired flavors put this two-generation family-owned business on the map. Wildflower Honey, Tennessee Moonshine, or Nashville Hot Cheddar, anyone?
You could say Willa’s Shortbread established itself in 1977, when Willa Allen baked her rich, buttery shortbread cookies for an event at her North Carolina country club. The cookies became local legend almost overnight, and Willa soon had a second oven in her kitchen and a growing business on her hands. For nearly thirty years, she baked shortbread cookies and savory cheese biscuits for bed and breakfasts, specialty shops, and snowbirds passing through the NC Highlands on their way south for the winter. When Willa hung up her apron in 2006, her son partnered with his wife’s family to keep the tradition going. The Willa’s Shortbread operation moved with its new owners to the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, where the budding artisan food scene was about to become a foodie boom.
Today, owners Eric and Teresa Rion carry on the family tradition, protecting Willa’s recipe, baking in small batches, and experimenting with locally inspired flavors. Take the Nashville Hot Cheddar shortbread bites, for example. One spring, Eric fell in love with a fiery pepper seasoning blend from J.M. Thomason Spices (Franklin, TN) at a local beer festival. Just 24 hours later, he’d perfected Willa’s next big hit, inspired by Nashville hot chicken.
Thanks to the Rions’ commitment to quality and dedication to staying small, Willa’s Shortbread cookies still taste homemade. They’re so grandma-good, they’ve been recognized by Southern Living as one of the Best Sweets of the South.
Made in TN is proud to offer Willa’s Shortbread Cookies and Bites. Find your favorite here.
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