White chocolate cranberry cookies are an easy slice and bake shortbread recipe ~ the flavor really pops in this perfect winter cookie!
white chocolate cranberry cookies
These white chocolate cranberry cookies are inspired by my Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies which so many of you adore. They’re a classic slice and bake shortbread cookie, but the thing that makes them special is the use of raw cranberries, not dried. The tart berries develop the most beautiful and unique berry flavor as they bake, almost not recognizable as cranberries. In this recipe the white chocolate adds an extra layer of sweetness. If you’ve never had a cookie made with fresh cranberries, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious these are.
ingredients for white chocolate cranberry cookies
- fresh (not dried) cranberries
- white chocolate
- I use good bar white chocolate and chop it into small bits. Can you use regular chocolate? Sure, I think dark chocolate would be delicious with the cranberries, too (see my Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream if you need proof.)
- vanilla extract
I whiz my dough up in my food processor. Once you do it once or twice you’ll know why ~ it makes these cookies come together so quick and easy. If you’re more comfortable with a stand mixer, or a bowl and a wooden spoon, that will work, too. In that case you’ll rough chop your cranberries first.
make your white chocolate cranberry cookies ahead
Logs of slice and bake cookie dough can be wrapped and frozen for later baking. Just put the log of dough in the refrigerator to thaw the night before you want to use it.
freezing these cookies, baked, or unbaked
Shortbread freezes well because the rich dough has minimal added moisture.
- To freeze the sliced, unbaked cookies, just freeze them until solid on a lined tray and then transfer the hard slices to an airtight freezer container or a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag, making sure to force out any extra air before zipping. When ready to bake, there’s no need to thaw, just bake from frozen, adding a few more minutes to the baking time.
- To freeze baked cookies pack them carefully in the freezer container, separated by sheets of waxed paper. I don’t recommend a freezer bag for these delicate baked cookies.
troubleshooting white chocolate cranberry cookies
Can I use white chocolate chips?
- You can, but be aware that they are not real white chocolate, they are a white confectionary product and don’t have the same flavor as white chocolate. Also chips can make it a little tricky to slice your log of dough into smooth slices.
I don’t have a food processor, can I do this by hand?
- Yes, but in that case give the cranberries a rough chop before adding them, and make sure your white chocolate is chopped fairly finely.
Can I roll out the dough and cut it with cookie cutters?
- Yes, absolutely. For this cookie I don’t recommend rolling out the dough too thin, I’d say 1/3 – 1/2 inch is perfect.
Can I double this recipe?
- You can. In that case I might use a stand mixer to make the dough and then rough chop the berries separately and fold them in with the chocolate. Form your dough into 2 logs rather than one giant one.
My dough is crumbly!
- Shortbread dough is supposed to be crumbly at first. You need to bring it together with your hands into a log shape. Use the plastic wrap to further smooth the dough into shape. Make sure your butter is at room temperature so that your dough comes together well ~ cold butter will make it much more difficult. If the dough is still excessively crumbly you may have measured out too much flour. A small amount of milk can moisten it.
My log of dough is not round.
- Use the plastic wrap to help roll and shape your dough into a smooth round log. Then roll it up in a hefty terrycloth hand towel, this will help keep the dough round in the fridge. Reader Vivian suggests using a cardboard paper towel tube: she cuts it open lengthwise and uses it to hold her log of dough.
Why did my cookies spread?
- A few things could cause this. Make sure you’ve measured your flour correctly. Too little flour may cause the cookies to spread. Make sure your dough is completely chilled before baking. If you’ve rinsed your cranberries make sure they are completely dry because you don’t want any extra moisture in your dough. I recommend using stainless steel non-insulated cookie sheets for best results.
more slice and bake shortbread cookies
These white chocolate cranberry cookies come from a long line of similar cookies on the site. They all start with the same basic dough, with tweaks according to their special flavor profiles. Check out my One Shortbread Cookie Dough = 12 Recipes!
- Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies
- Double Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Sparkly Strawberry Shortbread Cookies
- Perfect Pecan Sandies
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (this is 2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour Note: to measure accurately, first fluff the flour, then scoop lighty, and level off with the straight back of a knife without compacting the flour.
- 1 cup fresh cranberries (dry them well if you've rinsed them)
- 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped in small chunks
- Cream the room temperature butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together. I do this in my food processor. You can do it in a stand mixer or by hand if you prefer.
- Add the flour and pulse about 20 times until the mixture gets crumbly.
- Add the cranberries and chopped white chocolate and pulse to chop the berries and bring the dough together. You may need to stop and re-arrange the dough. The dough will be moist and still crumbly at this stage.
- Turn the dough out onto a flour dusted surface and knead once or twice to bring the dough together. Add an extra sprinkle of flour if it seems very wet or sticky.
- Form into a rough log shape, about 11-12 inches long.
- Wrap the log in plastic and use the plastic to smooth out the shape of the log.
- Chill the dough until firm, about 3 hours, or overnight. Note: I like to wrap the log in a terrycloth hand towel to help keep its round shape as it chills.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the dough into thick 1/3 inch slices. Use a very sharp serrated knife and a little back and forth sawing motion to slice through the dough. This helps to minimize crumbling as you cut through the cold chocolate and berries.
- Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. I recommend a stainless steel, non-insulated cookie sheet for best results.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes. The cookies will still be quite pale, but starting to turn golden just around the very edge. Note: I like my shortbread cookies soft, but if you want them crunchier, bake for a few more minutes. The exact time will depend on how thick you have sliced your cookies.
- Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack. Be careful, the cookies are delicate when warm.
- I prefer to bake each cookie sheet separately rather than to bake them together on different racks.
- These cookies are delicious warm but they are very delicate ~ they need to cool completely to firm up.