Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies

Slice and bake cookie dough

Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies are buttery slice and bake cookies that take their cue from the holiday treat everybody loves to hate, only this time fruitcake will be the star attraction of your cookie collection.

fruit cake cookies on a white ground

“There’s only one fruitcake in the world, people just keep passing it around.”

~ Johnny Carson

I know, nobody’s a fan of the sticky loaf, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater…there are some redeeming qualities in that stodgy brick of a cake, we just need to rethink and revamp (have you tried my Modern Fruitcake?)  When you combine a delicious butter cookie with pretty candied fruit, turns out fruitcake is a pretty sweet deal!

fruitcake shortbread cookies in small loaf pans

What is fruitcake?

  • Fruitcake as we know it is a descendent of a very old type of celebration cake loaded with candied fruits, nuts, and spices. Fruitcakes are very moist because they’re doused with alcohol, often brandy, whiskey, or rum. Because of this they can keep for a very very long time. Like eggnog, cooks will age their fruitcake to mellow the flavors.
  • The cake classically contains candied or glacéd fruits including cherries, citrus peel, apricots, figs, dates, plums, raisins, pineapple, etc.
  • Lots of different types of nuts gives this cake an extremely chunky texture. (I left the nuts out of these cookies, but you can totally add them if you want to.)

Where can I buy candied fruit?

  • Look in the dried fruit section of your larger grocery stores. Most stores will stock candied fruit during the holidays, at least. Sometimes it will be sold individually, (red cherries, orange peel, etc.) and sometimes you can find a ready made mix. I used a ready made mix that was chopped and ready to go.

Can I use dried fruit instead of candied fruit?

  • Yes, you can, gather up your favorites and chop them finely.
  • Be aware that if you don’t use candied fruit, you won’t get the classic ‘fruitcake’ flavor in your cookies.


Making Fruitcake Shortbread Cookie dough

I love to use my stand mixer to make shortbread dough, it’s quick and painless, mess free, too. Once the dough is mixed, it gets rolled into a log and wrapped in parchment or plastic wrap. Chilling the dough is important so it can firm up to a sliceable consistency.

Tip for cutting your chilling time in half!

  • The hardest part of making fruitcake cookies is waiting for your log of dough to chill.
  • You can refrigerate shortbread dough for several hours ~ or take my short cut, pop it in the freezer for an hour. The effect is the same and it saves you loads of precious time.

Slice and bake cookie dough

Every fruitcake cookie is a unique work of art

Every slice reveals a different mosaic of candied fruit. I like to roll the edges in sparkling sugar before baking for a little extra sparkle and crunch. Want smaller cookies? Just roll the log of dough a little longer and skinnier.

Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies ready to bake

Can shortbread cookies be frozen?

  • Yes, they’ll freeze well, either baked or unbaked.
  • For baked cookies, let them cool completely, then stack them in a good sturdy freezer safe container, and separate the layers with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper to keep them from sticking as they freeze.
  • For unbaked cookies, put them on a lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then you can put them in a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag and take them out as needed to bake.
  • You can also freeze the log of dough, just wrap in plastic, then again in foil. Defrost in the fridge overnight before baking.

Fruitcake shortbread cookies cooling on rack

Fruitcake shortbread cookies are fun to make, give, and eat. The colors make them super festive and the flavor is pure Christmas!

Fruitcake shortbread cookies in mini foil loaf pans

Presentation inspo ~

Grab some mini foil loaf pans at the grocery store for the perfect presentation. Each loaf pan will hold 6-8 cookies and makes the perfect little thoughtful gift.

mini loaf tins

Are you in cookie making mode yet? Here’s more ~

Slice and bake cookie dough
5 from 6 votes

Fruit Cake Shortbread Cookies

Fruit Cake Shortbread Cookies ~ these buttery slice and bake cookies take their cue from the holiday treat everybody loves to hate.  
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
chilling 1 hour
Yield 20 cookies
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature It is important that your butter be soft, you cannot use cold butter.
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp rum extract (substitute vanilla or almond extract)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (measure with the fluff/scoop/level method)
  • 1 cup finely diced fruitcake mix
  • coarse or sanding sugar for decorating, optional


  • Cream the butter and sugar together until wll combined and light and fluffy, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the extract.
  • Slowly add in the flour with the mixer on low, until the dough comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. If your dough is extremely dry you can add a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, to bring it together. Note: don't be tempted to add too much milk, the dough should come together fine as long as your butter is soft.
  • Add the fruit to the bowl and continue to mix until the fruit is incorporated. You can use your hands for the last part if you like.
  • Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and form it into a log, about 9 or 10 inches long. Wrap it in the plastic and smooth it into a uniform smooth round shape, twisting the ends tightly to secure. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
    Tip: I like to wrap the log in a thick towel so that as it chills to keeps a perfectly round shape.
  • Preheat oven to 350F Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Slice the log of dough into 1/3 inch slices. Roll edges in sugar, if desired, and then place on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes. Longer baking will create a crisper cookie, shorter time makes a soft buttery cookie, my preference. They may seem soft as they come out of the oven but they will firm up as they cool. Let them cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar, if using, while they are warm.

Cook's notes

If you prefer you can roll the dough and cut out with cookie cutters.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    January 21, 2022 at 12:58 pm

    5 stars
    I made these for Christmas and we were blown away by how wonderful they are! Made them exactly like the recipe, even though it took 5 stores to find pure rum extract. But I was on a mission and these cookies were worth it! I will be making these every Christmas from now on.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 21, 2022 at 1:08 pm

      I really appreciate you coming back to let us know Cynthia, I think a lot of folks might be on the fence about these.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    5 stars
    These are the best cookies ever. I took Sue’s suggestion and baked them a few more minutes into crispiness perfection. Buttery, with the lovely candied citrus zing!!!!!!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 22, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      I’m so glad Constance. I looked for candied fruit in my store the other day to make these and they were all out, so bummed!

  • Reply
    DC Clarke
    October 20, 2021 at 12:45 am

    Curious which brand you chose for this recipe I looked at about a dozen.. not sure which to chose as not all are going to be top quality taste. It’s too expensive to try each one–

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