These Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies are lovely to nibble on anytime of year. But with that said, there’s something special about having them out around Christmas.
Ever since I was a kid, shortbread cookies always found their way into our Christmas stockings. I had these a few years ago when one of our favorite post office employees (Charlie), brought in a batch to share during the holiday season.
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies are rich and buttery. Each bite has sweet pops of tart cranberries and tons of fresh orange essence.
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies Recipe
These are easy to make and come together in under an hour. Keep them in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 months or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. But I’ll be surprised if they last that long! 😋
This recipe makes 20 – 24 cookies that are 2 inches in diameter.
- Cream together 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick + 2 tablespoons), 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Mix in 2 teaspoons orange extract, 1 tablespoon orange zest and 3 egg yolks. Add 1 yolk in at a time. Add the next after the previous one has been mixed in thoroughly.
- Stir in 1 cup of dried cranberries.
- Slowly mix in 2 cups of flour. Blend until just combined.
- Scrape dough onto a long piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Roll dough into a log (about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap with plastic wrap.
- Chill for 20 minutes.
- Unwrap dough and slice into 1/4 inch disks.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Place cookies on it and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
- Wait 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
Before you begin making the cookies, pull out all the necessary ingredients (mis en place) and the following equipment:
- electric hand mixer or stand mixer (paddle attachment)
- mixing bowl
- baking sheet
- measuring cups and spoons
- parchment paper or silpat
- plastic wrap
ESCOFFIER TIP: I learned this recipe in culinary school. Traditional Scottish shortbread is made with butter, flour, and sugar – NO EGGS, flavorings or liquid. We added yolks in class to make the cookies less fragile.Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Tips on How to make cranberry orange shortbread cookies perfectly
If you only have table salt (not kosher), use 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Regular table salt is much saltier than kosher salt.
The best shortbread cookies are just slightly under baked. If your cookies start to turn brown, take them out of the oven IMMEDIATELY! Over baked shortbread cookies are too hard and loose their rich buttery texture.
When mixing in the flour, stop after it is just combined into the dough. Don’t over mix. Over mixing can make the cookies tough.
Cookies should be dry to the touch but not brown when they come out of the oven. They will harden a little more as they cool.
Make sure to let them cool for 2 – 3 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to the cooling rack. They can break or crack if you move them too quickly.
If orange and cranberry flavors aren’t your jam, try some of these variations for a different spin on these cookies!
- Switch out the dried cranberries for dried cherries or dried blueberries
- Omit the orange zest & extract and add vanilla or lemon extract
- Instead of orange zest, orange extract and cranberries, chop up 2 candy canes to mix into the cookie dough.
- Add 1 cup mini chocolate chips.
- Add 1 cup of white chocolate pieces.
- Substitute the orange zest and extract for almond extract.
- Dust finished cookies with powdered sugar.
- By slicing the cookies thicker, you will create a softer cookie, think melt in your mouth tender! Thinner cookies will be crispier. I like mine a little on the crispy side. 😊
Can you make shortbread cookies without a mixer?
Yes! If you’d like to go old school with minimal equipment, this is definitely doable… And easy to do!
First, make sure you are using room temperature butter. This will make creaming the butter and sugar together much easier!
Then continue with the rest of the recipe. This is a stiff dough, so it may be a bit of a workout, but so worth it!
Can you make shortbread cookies with a food processor?
Absolutely! Use the food processor with the blade attachment. After the butter, sugar, and salt are creamed together, pulse the processor to avoid over mixing.
These Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies are Perfect for the holidays
These are the best cookies to make around even the busiest of holiday seasons. You can make the dough days ahead, just make sure you keep each log tightly rolled in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.
Then when you’re ready for a treat, slice and they’re ready to bake! Plus they keep beautifully on the counter for days, if you can keep from eating them all at once.
More Holiday Cookie & Dessert Recipes
Here’s a FREE download of some of the most popular Lakeside Table holiday desserts! Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
CRANBERRY ORANGE SHORTBREAD COOKIES are easy to make with pops of sweet tangy cranberries and are bursting with fresh orange essence.
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 teaspoons orange extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups flour
Cream butter, sugar, and salt together.
Add the orange extract and zest.
Add one egg yolk at a time. Mix each yolk into dough completely and scrape the sides of the bowl before adding the next yolk.
Mix in cranberries.
Slowly add flour and blend until just combined.
Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 2 inch thick log. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
Unwrap dough and slice into 1/4 inch disks.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.
Take cookies out of oven and let them sit on the baking sheet for 2 – 3 minutes before removing and placing on cooking rack.
Traditional Scottish shortbread is made with butter, sugar and flour – not eggs, flavoring or other liquid.