Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies might just be the perfect little slice and bake cookies for the holidays, I’ll be making them right through to when I snag that last bag of fresh cranberries of the season (always a sad moment!)
we fell in love with these cranberry orange shortbread cookies at first bite
These unique cookies are made with fresh tart cranberries and lots of orange zest, which gives them that wonderful holiday flavor combination we’ve come to love. And by using fresh cranberries instead of dried, these cookies have a vivid cranberry flavor like no other I’ve tasted. They’ll brighten up any holiday cookie assortment.
what you’ll need: it’s a short list!
- fresh cranberries ~ this is one case where I don’t recommend frozen because they will release too much moisture into the dough. Could you use dried cranberries? Yes, but it would be a completely different cookie.
- fresh orange zest ~ I actually used tangerine zest because I have a bowl of beauties on my counter, and tangerine has a distinctive citrus flavor that I love.
- butter ~unsalted
- sugar ~ granulated
- flour ~all purpose
- vanilla extract ~ if you prefer you could use almond extract
get your holiday baking done early
The good news: shortbread cookies freeze beautifully, and you can freeze them before or after baking.
to freeze before baking
- wrap the log of dough really well, I like to wrap in plastic, then in foil, and then put in a heavy duty zip log bag. When ready to bake, leave the log in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
to freeze baked cookies
- let them cool completely, then layer them, separated by sheets of parchment paper, in a sturdy freezer container and freeze.
tips for making fresh cranberry cookies
- I like to chop my cranberries in a small food processor, I just pulse to chop them finely. Some texture is fine, there will be a few bigger pieces. You can also use a sharp knife.
- Be sure to start with room temperature butter. Soft butter will incorporate into the flour to form a dough whereas cold butter won’t. This is especially important with shortbread dough that doesn’t include any extra liquid.
- Be sure to bring your dough together completely ~ you don’t want any dry flour or crumbly bits left. You can let the processor bring it together or you can do that final bit with your hands on a lightly floured surface. Shortbread dough does not contain egg or other liquid so it’s essential that you combine the soft butter and the flour completely to form the dough.
- Thicker sliced cookies will bake up softer, and thinner ones will crisp a bit. You can also control the texture by how long you bake the cookies. I suggest baking one or two first as a test. I like mine melt-in-my-mouth tender, but you might like your crispier.
more shortbread cookies to try
- New Fallen Snow Cookies
- Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies
- Double Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
- Turkish Coffee Shortbread Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
Buttery shortbread slice and bake cookies studded with plenty of fresh tart cranberries!
Servings: 18 cookies
- food processor (optional)
- waxed paper or plastic wrap for wrapping your log of dough
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- zest of one orange or tangerine (just the orange part, not the bitter white pith)
- 1 heaping cup fresh cranberries
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Finely chop the cranberries and set aside.
- Cream the butter, sugar, and zest together until well combined. I do this in my food procesor.
- Add the flour and extract, and pulse about 10 times, then run the machine briefly, just until the dough comes together into a lump or lumps.
- Add the cranberries and pulse just until they are distributed, but don't process too much.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and bring together with your hands. Work it just until it is no longer crumbly.
- Form the dough into a 10-12 inch log. The longer your log the smaller your cookies will be. Wrap the log in plastic, using the plastic to smooth out the dough and help form your log. Twist the ends tight to seal.
- Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or overnight. I like to wrap up my log in a folded towel ~ this helps keep it round as it chills.
- Preheat the oven to 350F Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Slice the dough into 1/3 inch slices and place on the cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or slightly longer if you like your cookies crisper. They will be pale on top and just turning golden on the bottom. Note: if your cookies are smaller or thinner than mine, they may take less time to cook.
- Let them cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheets and then tranfer them to a cooling rack. Be careful, the cookies are soft and delicate when hot and will firm up as they cool.
Calories: 163 kcal · Carbohydrates: 16 g · Protein: 2 g · Fat: 10 g · Saturated Fat: 7 g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g · Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g · Trans Fat: 1 g · Cholesterol: 27 mg · Sodium: 90 mg · Potassium: 18 mg · Fiber: 1 g · Sugar: 6 g · Vitamin A: 315 IU · Vitamin C: 1 mg · Calcium: 5 mg · Iron: 1 mg
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although The View from Great Island attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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Questions and Reviews
Hi, Sue! Thank you for the daily inspiration from your recipes and the thorough explanations you share.
I live in Europe and fresh and frozen cranberries are unavailable. Dry ones are sold in most markets in my area.
I saw in your other cranberry recipes that it is ok to substitute. Would this apply to the cookies as well?
Yes, you could use dried cranberries here Maria!
I like the cookies, but had to bake them longer than 10-12 minutes. Also the fat content , is that for the whole recipe or for one cookie? I made more than 18 cookies also. Will try them again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
I haven’t made it yet…wondering if I can sub frozen cranberries for fresh. Also wondering where the white chocolate comes in…how would you add it? Thank you
You can use frozen cranberries. This recipe doesn’t include white chocolate, but if you want to add it you can add chips or chopped white chocolate with the cranberries, just fold it in.
Could I bake these in a shortbread pan?
You can bake it in a square or round cake pan, but if you mean a shortbread mold with a design carved into it, I don’t recommend that because the cranberries will interfere with the design. If you want to bake it in a cake pan, I’d check it at 25 minutes and go from there.
I used lemon zest and juice from 1 lemon instead of orange zest, and used craisins as well as whole-wheat flour. Very good.
I used lemon instead of orange and added the juice of the lemon as well.
I’ve thought about that combination, glad to know it works!
Kids and hubby loved these, making 2nd batch now, likely a good source of vitamin C!
I am in trouble . . . These cookies are delicious!
Hurry up and share before you eat them all.
I doubled the batch, which produced 4.5 dozen.
These cookies are my new favorite! The flavor is bright and balanced and the cranberry color is beautiful. I made mine with mandarin orange zest and lightly rolled the dough edges in sugar for a bit of crunch. The fresh cranberries were washed and dried thoroughly before pulsing in the food processor and didn’t bleed into the dough at all. What an exciting and unique addition to the holiday cookie platter. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
This was a huge hit this Christmas. Everyone loved it and was asking for the recipe. I personally felt the zest was a bit too much but that’s my personal preference. 🙂 I added white chocolate to the batch which enhanced the flavor. This will be included in my annual Christmas cookie baking list. Thank you for sharing.