Cranberry orange shortbread cookies are simple to make but are bursting with SO much flavor! They are rolled in coarse sugar, then sliced and baked. They make the perfect addition to all your holiday baking!
Don’t let the cookies fool you. There is so much flavor packed into these little slices. Between the chopped up dried cranberries, the orange zest, and coarse sugar- there is so much to go around!
The texture is amazing too. Because they are made using confectioners sugar, they have that melt in your mouth consistency!
What makes this a shortbread cookie?
Well shortbread is traditionally a Scottish biscuit that is made with 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour. If you check the recipe below, you’ll see those are the exact ratios I use!
Ingredients you need for this recipe
Nothing too crazy here. It’s most of the things you already have in your house plus a few extras.
- Confectioners sugar– Using this instead of regular granulated sugar creates a really light cookie
- Dried cranberries– Chop them up to get them all over!
- Orange zest– soooo much flavor!
- Turbinado or coarse sugar– You roll the cookie log in the sugar for extra sweetness and bite. This is also known as “Sugar in the Raw”.
How to make these cookies from scratch
You can use a hand or stand mixer or make these cookies by hand with a bowl and spatula.
Step one: Make the dough
In a medium sized bowl combine the butter and confectioners sugar. Mix on low speed until light and fluffy about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add in the orange zest and vanilla and mix to combine. Add in the chopped cranberries, flour, and salt and mix until a firm dough is formed.
Step two: Roll the dough
Roll the dough into a log. It’s helpful to wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and then roll it like a rolling pin to shape it. Chill the dough for 2 hours or up to overnight.
Step three: Roll in sugar and slice!
Pour the turbinado sugar onto a rimmed baking sheet and roll the log all over the sugar making sure to cover every bit. Using a long knife in a sawing motion, slice 1″4- 1/2″ slices making sure to keep them even.
Step four: Bake!
Bake the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes at 350° F.
How to store the cookies
Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Yes you can freeze them too in an airtight container or freezer safe bag for up to 3 months.
- Do I really need to chill the shortbread dough? YES. You really do. This will ensure that your cookies do not spread into blobs!
- Can I use regular sugar? Yes you totally can, you just wont have that crunchy exterior that this recipe offers. You can also use crystallized sprinkles for the same effect but NOT classic jimmies- they will melt!
- Can I add in other ingredients? Totally! You can swap cranberries and orange zest out for any other combo you might like. Try adding other dried fruits or nuts. Make sure to chop them though so that the flavor is really spread out!
- Can I swap the confectioners sugar for regular sugar? I don’t recommend it! The reason I use confectioners sugar is because of its texture (super powdery and soft) and because it also contain corn starch which is a classic shortbread ingredient.
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For more cookie holiday favorites, try these recipes:
- Thumbprint Cookies
- Crispy Gingersnap Cookies
- Gingerbread Biscotti
- Raspberry Lemon Linzer Cookies
- Italian Ricotta Cookies
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tsp orange zest 1 large orange
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups turbinado sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized bowl or the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup confectioners sugar together on low until light and airy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the 2 tsp orange zest and 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix lightly to combine. Add in 1/3rd cup dried cranberries, the 2 cups of flour, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Mix until a unified dough forms.
- Shape and roll the dough into an even log. It's helpful to wrap it lightly in plastic wrap and roll. Chill the dough for 2 hours. Pour the turbinado sugar out onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll the chilled log all over the sugar until it is completely covered. Using a long sharp knife in a sawing back and forth motion, cut 1/2" slices of dough. Try to keep them as even as possible.
- Line the cookies 1 1/2" apart on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until firm.