Classic shortbread cookies got a major upgrade with fresh cranberries and orange zest!! You’ll love melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture with bright holiday flavors!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Calling all shortbread lovers! Regular shortbread gets a major upgrade with the addition of tangy cranberries and zippy orange.
You’ll love these orange cranberry shortbread cookies for number of reasons!!
- Incredible melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture
- Look beautiful on holiday cookie platters
- Subtly sweet with an orange-cranberry flavor combo
- Easy to make & freeze!
I cut these into cookie sticks, because I love how they look in holiday tins and cookie platters. You could just as easily spruce up a dessert charcuterie board with them! They never last long, so be sure to save yourself one too.
Key Ingredient Notes:
- All-purpose flour – I highly recommend a kitchen scale to weigh your flour. It’s the best way to accurately measure flour without getting too much. If you don’t have one, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the flat edge of a butter knife.
- Sugar – Shortbread are subtly sweet! You only need 1/3 cup and a tablespoon.
- Cornstarch – A small amount of cornstarch produces a softer cookie.
- Salt – Salt enhances sweetness and rounds out the flavors. Don’t skip it. Cookies without salt taste flat and one-noted.
- Unsalted butter – I always bake with unsalted butter, so I control the amount of salt. If you only have salted butter, omit the salt from this recipe.
- Fresh cranberries – I prefer fresh cranberries for their tangy flavor, but dried cranberries work great too! If using dried cranberries, use the exact same amount, ¼ cup equals 35 grams of dried cranberries.
- Orange zest – Use a microplane to zest the outside of an orange. It’s where all the citrusy flavor lies. Avoid the white pith, since it has a bitter flavor.
How to make these shortbread cookies:
1. Make the cookie dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
- Add the butter cubes and mix until the butter is evenly dispersed throughout the flour, about 3 minutes. The mixture should look like wet sand and form into a ball when you squeeze it with your hands.
- Stir in the cranberries and orange zest.
Don’t be alarmed, the dough will be shaggy and loose. Once you squeeze it together, it’ll form into a nice ball.
2. Roll & slice the shortbread cookies
- Dump the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat, and knead it into a smooth ball.
- Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll it into a 4×12-inch rectangle. Use your hands to help you shape it.
- Place the rectangle onto a sheet pan and put it in the freezer. Let the dough freeze for 20 minutes so it’s easier to slice.
- Remove the cookie dough from the freezer and carefully slice it into 24 evenly sized sticks. Place the cookies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
3. Bake the cookies
- Bake the shortbread for about 20 minutes at 325°F, or until the edges turn slightly brown. If the cookies look too brown when they come out of the oven, they’re overbaked!
- Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tips for Success:
- You can bake these cookies in any shape! I love the contrast you get on a cookie platter when you cut them into sticks. They look beautiful, especially drizzled in white chocolate.
- Remove any bruised, brown, or soft cranberries. Fresh cranberries should feel firm and bright red.
- Don’t overwork the shortbread cookie dough. Just knead it until it forms a ball and then stop. Overworked dough creates tough, dense cookies.
- Make the cookie dough ahead of time and double wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 5 days! Let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then roll and cut it into sticks.
- You can also freeze the cookie dough or the cookies! To freeze the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap then transfer to a ziplock bag. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter until it’s chilled but easy to work with.
- To freeze the cookies, transfer the cookies to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Store the orange cranberry shortbread cookies in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
- If you can’t eat them all within a week, no problem! Just freeze the leftovers. Transfer the shortbread cookies to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
A shortbread cookie is very similar to a butter cookie with a few subtle differences. A butter cookie has eggs, while shortbread do not. This makes a shortbread cookie slightly more crumbly, buttery, and rich. Butter cookies are also slightly sweeter.
Yes! If you’d rather slice and bake the cookies, just roll the dough into a 2-inch wide log, then wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill until firm. Slice the log into cookies and bake! You may need to decrease the cooking time. Just watch for those lightly golden edges.
Since shortbread dough has a high butter-to-flour ratio, it needs to chill so it can firm up. This works double duty. It makes it easier to slice and prevents it from spreading in the oven.
More Cookie Recipes:
- Honey Cookies (Heirloom Recipe)
- Russian Tea Cakes (Snowball Cookies)
- Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Classic Pecan Sandies
Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
- 1 ¼ cup (155g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (75g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (8g) cornstarch Note 1
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (115g) unsalted butter cold and cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¼ cup (40g) fresh cranberries finely chopped, Note 2
- ½ tablespoon orange zest
- In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt.
- Add the butter cubes and mix until the butter is evenly distributed into the flour mixture, about 3 minutes. The mixture should resemble wet sand and should form into a ball when squeezed in your palm.
- Stir in the cranberries and orange zest.
- Turn the mixture onto a parchment paper or silicone mat and knead it into a smooth ball. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and roll it into a 4×12-inch rectangle.
- Freeze for 20 minutes to firm up.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F
- Slice the cookies into 24 sticks and arrange the cookies on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges starts to lightly brown. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
Tips & Notes:
– Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
– If you can’t eat them all within a week, no problem! Just freeze the leftovers. Transfer the cookies to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.