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Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies

These slice and bake shortbread cookies are the Best. Cookies. Ever.  And they’re ridiculously easy.  Make some for Christmas!

When my kids were young, we always did lots and lots of Christmas cookies.  They took them to school, we did neighborhood cookie swaps, and they loved arranging them in cookie tins and giving them out to their friends.  I really miss those days, but since I don’t need to have so many sweets sitting around looking at me longing to be eaten each day, I’ve really scaled back.  Now, I do just a few, and my favorites are Spiced Dark Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices (not actually a cookie at all) and these Cranberry Almond Shortbread Cookies.

cranberry orange almond shortbread cookies|Craving Something Healthy

I’ve narrowed it down to these two for a reason – and yes, this is probably silly, but I feel better that they both have healthy ingredients – fruit, and chocolate in the orange slices, and fruit and nuts (ahem, let’s just ignore the butter and sugar) in these shortbread cookies.

Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies|Craving Something Healthy

Plus, these are just ridiculously easy, deliciously melt-in-your mouth buttery, AND, the batter freezes really well.  That means, make it, roll it up, freeze it, and just slice them up and bake them as needed.

Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies|Craving Something Healthy

Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies|Craving Something Healthy

Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies

4.09 from 46 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 36
Author: Craving Something Healthy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup confectioner's powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds toasted
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet or line with a silpat baking liner.
  • Place butter, powdered sugar, almond extract and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer.
  • Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer speed to low, and gradually add flour and orange zest. Mix until a dough forms.
  • Stir in almonds and cranberries with a spatula.
  • Pat dough into a ball, and then form into a log shape, about 2-inches in diameter.
  • Wrap the log in plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, at least an hour.
  • Remove the dough from the freezer and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  • Place on cookie sheet, at least 1-inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden. Check them after 10 minutes as ovens can vary!
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

Notes

Adapted from Martha Stewart. Dough can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen solid, let the dough thaw for about 20 minutes before slicing.
Did you make this recipe?Tell me @CravingSomethingHealthy!

Are you baking this holiday season?  What’s your favorite cookie?

Eat well!

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141 Comments

  1. I have mad these the last couple years and they are delicious! I am nervous to mess with success but in the spirit of trying to be slightly healthier, I’m wondering if anyone has tried cutting down the butter in the recipe?

    1. Hi Laura, I’ve never messed with the butter, but I’ve been wanting to experiment with the flour. I’ve heard almond flour makes delicious shortbread and it would reduce the carbs quite a bit.

  2. Hi! Love this recipe. How long do they keep at room temp? And would it be okay to freeze dough on forefront before the bake, and freeze again after the bake?

    1. Yes, you can freeze them before and after baked! I think they’ll last for at least a week as long as you keep them in an airtight container. Enjoy!

  3. I just made my second batch of these cookies. I used pecans and lemon zest because that’s what I had on hand. One change I made to the original recipe was the addition of one egg yolk and a sprinkle of water which made the dough much easier to handle. I found the original recipe too crumbly. Freezing the roll for one hour and cutting pieces was so easy with this revised batch. My yield was 44 cookies.

    1. Thanks for sharing your tips Heather! I’ve been wanting to experiment with a lemon version so I’ll give this a try!

    1. Hi Gloria, Yes! Chopped pecans would be great! You can omit the almond extract too and add a little extra vanilla extract instead. Enjoy!

      1. So glad you liked them Jane! And I love that you tweaked the recipe to make them your own 🙂 Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Earl, This recipe makes about 3 dozen depending on how thick you slice them and how large they are in diameter. I prefer them on the smaller size because they’re rich and buttery. Enjoy!

  4. Anne, these are truly exceptional. Delicious, and super easy to make. They are a keeper for me because I don’t have the patience for fussy food, but I love authentic homemade flavors. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  5. Thank you for such a easy and delicious recipe. I used pistachio instead of almond. It tastes just fine and turned out just perfect. Great for holiday season.

  6. The batter was really easy to put together, however slicing these was a disaster. I made the batter into 2 logs, put in the freezer for 1 hour, then put in refrigerator for 2 hours. Removed 1 log and let it sit on counter while I preheated the oven. Sliced into log and it just kept crumbling. The only thing different I did in your recipe was substituted mini chocolate chips for the dried cranberries. I ended up having to take each crumbled slice and roll into a ball, then flatten with my heel of my hand to get a round shape…I’m not sure how to remedy this as the flavor/texture was very good, just the slicing did not work.

    1. Oh I’m so sorry Jerilyn! I don’t think the chocolate chips would affect the texture. I do notice if I try to cut them too thin they crumble easily or if they’re not thawed enough from the freezer. Other than that – Maybe try just a little bit less sugar so the dough is stickier?

    2. As said earier, I think adding an egg yolk and a little water makes these perfect, and easier to slice into cookies. I did both versions, and the egg yolk ones were better, just my opinion.

  7. Just made these and they’re so awesome! I subbed vanilla extract for almond as I didn’t have a good. Will be making these again.

  8. I did add orange juice. After I zested the orange, I added juice from one half. The dough (and the cookies) turned out perfect!

    1. Hi Jordan – I have not tried adding OJ to the recipe. There’s not much liquid, so I’m not sure how it would work. I would go with orange extract if you really want an orangy flavor. Good luck!

  9. Thanks for sharing your great recipe. Made these yesterday and they disappeared as soon as they cooled. Tomorrow will definitely be a double batch!

  10. I think it should be mentioned in the directions to thaw after freezing fir about 20-30 minutes. I took my dough from the freezer and tried to cut at 1/4″ and they just crumbled. So my biscuits ended up about 2/3 – 1/2″ and I baked fir 15 minutes and they were just starting to turn golden at the edges. I am yet to taste as they are cooling on the rack.

    1. Thanks Ruth! It does say at the bottom of the recipe to let it thaw if thoroughly frozen, but I added you suggestion of about 20 minutes. Many thanks for that 🙂 Happy holidays and thanks so much for visiting!

  11. Made these once and they are delicious! I am trying to use more whole wheat flour. Could I sub regular flour for whole wheat pastry flour?

    1. Hi Kat – So glad you like them. I haven’t tried whole wheat flour, but since they really don’t rise, I think it would work with at least part whole wheat flour. If you try it, let me know, and I’ll share 🙂

    1. Yep! Just roll the extra dough into a log, wrap it in plastic wrap and then in a ziploc bag to prevent freezer burn. It freezer pretty hard, so let it thaw a bit before slicing. Thanks for stopping by Diane!

  12. Two questions please, can I safely double this recipe and how many inches long should the logs be? I know you said 2″ in diameter but I’m trying to figure how many logs it makes and how long it should be rolled out to. Thanks!

    1. Hi Diane – Yes, it doubles and freezes beautifully! I tend to roll them about 16″ long. It’s a rich, buttery cookie, so I prefer a smaller diameter cookie. Good luck, and hope you enjoy the recipe!

  13. This are amazing! I topped them with a few sprinkles of white sparkling sugar and they are BEAUTIFUL!
    Instantly added to my holiday baking list!

  14. This was my first shortbread cookie…and I read many recipes and was scared…..this was perfect!! Thank you!! I even added the flour into the mix b4 I should have…and it was still good! This is a No miss recipe for the season baking and anyone else reading recipes for shortbread that are intimidating…try this..you will feel like a pro! The only change I did…was to add more orange zest…cause I really wanted the orange to over weigh the almond. Thank you soooooh much for this guided recipe….your a Godsend!! Happy Holidays!!

  15. I would love to use fall shaped cookie cutters. How can I incorporate them in this recipe. Wanting to make them tomorrow for Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi Leslie – you can just roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness or a bit thicker, and use your cookie cutters. Easy!

  16. Just found this recipe & I Can’s wait to make a double batch, to have an extra log in the freezer for when I want something to eat w/my several cups of green tea I always drink during the day especially as it’s starting to get cold here in AR. I was wondering if you can use unsweetened cranberries or other dried fruits.
    Also instead of reg. all purpose flour could you use almond or coconut flour, or would it make the cookies taste different?

    1. I think either flour would work because the cookies really don’t rise much at all, but I’ve never tried it. The coconut flour might give a coconutty flavor. If you try it, let me know and I’ll post it! Thanks for visiting!

    1. Hi Tina – Yes, I do use fresh orange zest. I’ve never tried dried zest. It might not have as intense of a flavor. No need to reconstitute.

  17. I just found your recipe by chance looking for a cookie recipe. And now I can say I found the perfect cookie for a baby shower I am throwing in july. Thanks

  18. Thank you for this cookie!
    The perfect blend of Old County Christmas Almond Butter Cookie texture and flavor with fresh new citrus and cranberry tastes.
    My mother and I were transported back to days in Grandma’s kitchen and excited by the new twists.
    Merry Christmas!

  19. I made these to share with family this Christmas. They make the house smell wonderful when baking. I dipped half of the cookie in dark chocolate for the first roll of two. In the second batch I drizzled chocolate just on the top because I thought dipping even just 1/2 if the cookie was too sweet. The family says they are a new favorite. I used the orange flavored craisins from Trader Joe’s which we love! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!!

    1. Oh my goodness Helen – Dipping and drizzling with chocolate is such a wonderful idea! Thanks for visiting and sharing how you made these cookies your own! Happy New Year 🙂

  20. Not normally a baker but these sounded so good thought I should try.
    I used parchment paper and had to let the log soften for better slicing. These are amazing Thank you

    1. I’m so glad you like them Jill! I’m not much of a baker either, so I always make a double recipe and keep an extra log for when I want home made cookies but don’t feel like doing the work! Thanks for visiting 🙂

  21. Anne do you use sliced almonds or slivered almonds?
    My cookie taste good, but they are very dry…what do you suggest?

    1. Hi Deb – I use sliced almonds. If you used slivered, I would chop them because they are a bit thick to cut through. Shortbread isn’t chewy at all. They should be crisp but really buttery so they almost melt in your mouth. Did you use the right amount of butter? I’m wondering if you had too little butter or too much flour, especially if they were too crumbly when you were slicing them 🙁

  22. Ann I’m wondering if anyone has had a problem slicing…when I slice through the nuts and fruit the slice starts to fall apart.

    1. Hi Deb – Mine do sometimes crumble when slicing if they’re too cold. I just piece them together and pat them into shape on the cookie sheet. I also fine that my log gets squished as I cut and they come out flat on one side, so I’m always pressing them a bit to make them round and hold together if needed. Try letting the dough soften a bit, and that may help.

  23. These look scrumptious and perfect treat with my cup of tea.
    Could parchment paper be used on the cookie pans?
    Your Summer idea of lemon has my mouth watering for that lemony tang.

    1. Hi Pamela – Yes, I think parchment paper would be fine. If you have nice, new, nonstick cookie sheets, that would probably be fine too because these cookies are so buttery. My cookie sheets look like they’ve been through a war 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

  24. This cookie came together quick and easy! My logs are chilling now and I can’t wait to bake them and taste one! The ends will be my taste testing cookies!

    1. I just made mine yesterday, and I think the ends are SO perfect for taste testing! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

  25. Hello, I made 10 dozen of these delicious babies tonight for our annual cookie exchange party and everyone loved them. It’s my new favorite cookie! I took a few taste testers to my co-workers today and they requested I bring in more so I will be baking them again this weekend! Thank you so much for sharing! Happy Holidays

    1. Thanks for letting me know Dana! So funny – I’m making the dough right now and will bake them up tomorrow 🙂 Happy Holidays to you too!

  26. I made these today, very easy, great flavor! I also had a little trouble with baking time, but managed. Just might make another batch, they surely will become part of Christmas cookies, Thanks

    1. Thanks Alice! I guess each oven is different! I have a few cookie recipes that I make every year, and no matter what, I always burn the first batch :). I’m going to make a note in the recipe to watch them carefully!

  27. Does a single batch really make 4doz cookies if the log is 2 inches? I’m looking at my log now and I have to stretch it to less than 2 inches to get even close to 4 doz. Any advice for the next batch?

    1. Hi Waunda – It depends on how thick you cut them. I often get about 40 cookies but I scrap (i.e. eat) the ends. I usually form a log that’s a bit smaller than 2″, because they will spread just a little bit when they bake. Bake a few to see how thick/big you like them. If you get less than anticipated, you might want to double the recipe next time and just keep any extra dough in your freezer for another time.

      1. Hi Anne – I was very mistaken. Everything you said was accurate. I got 45 from the first batch and 42 from the second – all 1/4-in thick. And they do spread, which was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting them to. They are gorgeous! Baked for 12 mins to perfection – using metal cookie sheet and silicone baking mat. However they took a little longer on my baking stone – but equally as pretty. Thank you! Butter is already softening for batch #3 🙂

      2. Yay!! Thanks for letting me know! I’m so glad you like them. I’ll be making them tomorrow and hope they last until Christmas 🙂 These are such a hit that I’ll be working on a summer version. I’m thinking lemon…

    1. Hi Linda – you can either leave them out if you don’t care for cranberries – maybe use a bit of extra orange zest instead – or substitute a different dried fruit like minced dried apricot.

    1. Hi Victoria – this recipe should make at least 3 dozen plus or minus a few (depending on how you slice them). Thanks for visiting!

    1. Hi Dianne! I’ve never tried to make them gluten free, but since these don’t have to rise, I think the flour blend you mentioned would work. They’re pretty dense and buttery even with regular flour. Let me know how it works!

  28. I baked these yesterday, burned first batch 20 min too long! Next batch at 14 min better but will try again with less time maybe 10 to 12 min @325. They r tasty, my dog really enjoyed the toasted ones!

    1. Oh Mary – I’m so sorry about the burnt cookies 🙁 I guess it really depends on your oven, and the thickness of the cookie. I’ve had a few people tell me they followed the directions exactly and they turned out perfect. Try a slightly lower temp and start with 10 minutes and add from there if needed.

  29. I made these with my kids today and it is our new favorite cookie! The 20 minute baking time was perfect for our cookies. Thank you so much for sharing! This cookie will be made every Christmas…and possibly several other holidays 😉

  30. Just made these and they are delicious. Will use this recipe instead of my usual shortbread recipe..they will form part of my cookie gift packages. Thanks for the recipe. One thing though, I baked for 10 minutes, reversed the cookie sheet and then it only took another 4 minutes till they were done.

    1. Hi Doreen – I always use fresh zest, but you could probably use dried in a pinch. I think fresh has a more intense flavor though. Hope you like them, and thanks so much for visiting 🙂

    1. Hi Carol – I don’t think fresh cranberries would work here. I’ve never tried them but I think they would release too much water when the cookies are baked and make for a mushy cookie. You can leave them out all together or try another type of dried fruit or fruit zest. Let me know if you try it though!

      1. Thanks for visiting and trying the recipe Linda! I’m so glad your son likes them – and white chocolate macadamia sounds positively divine 🙂

    1. I love that idea Karan! I personally love the almond flavor, but you still get plenty of it from the almond extract, and then you can use any nuts (or none). Let me know how it works out 🙂

    1. Yes – the orange flavored cranberries are delicious, and I think I’ve used them in these cookies before! Thanks for visiting Nancy!

    1. Hi Jacy – yes, if you don’t care for almonds or almond flavor, you can leave out the nuts, and substitute vanilla extract for the almond extract. Thanks for stopping by, and hope you enjoy the cookies!

    1. Hi Veronica – yes, the dough freezes very well. I roll it into a log, wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Just thaw it for about 30 minutes, so it’s easier to slice. The baked cookies can also be frozen for a week or two, although they never last that long in my house! Thanks for visiting!

  31. You mention at the top of the recipe to preheat the oven before you mix the ingredients, but after you make the dough you have to put it in the freezer for an hour. My oven doesn’t need an hour to beat up.

    1. Hi Sharon – I usually put the oven temp at the beginning of the recipe, but you are correct that you really don’t need to preheat for that long. As long as it’s at full temp and even, you should be fine.

    1. Hi Sara – thanks for visiting! The recipe should make at least 3 dozen, and up to 4 dozen if you make them a bit smaller. Mine are usually about 1 1/2 inch diameter.

  32. Made these as a gift and followed your directions precisely. They tastes as delicious raw as they do baked! Thanks for sharing, will be making these throughout the holidays.

    1. So glad you liked them Linda! And yes, I’m not proud to say that I’ve eaten quite a lot of the dough myself, and it is totally delicious 🙂

  33. Great recipe easy and nice blend of flavours love that the dough is slice and bake and my kitchen smells amazing thanks for sharing the recipe !

  34. What does engrossed cookie sheet mean?

    “Place on engrossed cookie sheet, at least 1-inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden.”

    1. Hi Jenny – sorry about my autocorrect! That should be ” a greased cookie sheet”. I usually just spray the cookie sheet or use a Silpat liner for easier cleanup. Funny – that recipe is one of my most pinned and no one has ever caught that mistake! Thanks for noticing and Enjoy!

  35. Wow Anne, these look and sound great! I love the idea of cutting and baking as you need them…especially in my crazy Italian household where people seem to drop in on a moments notice!

    Growing up, our house around Christmas time was pretty much a cookie factory – so I am really excited to go home for Christmas and get baking in the kitchen with my mom and 95 year-old grandma! I will definitely leave a couple pounds heavier, but thankfully I will also leave all of the cookies behind me, no matter how many ziplock bags my mom tries to stick in my suitcase. 🙂

    1. I love the tradition of baking Christmas cookies too – so many great memories! You’re so lucky to have 3 generations cooking together – how fun! Have a wonderful Christmas with your family 🙂

      1. I goofed, I mashed the almonds after toasting and it made a very dry mess. Still yummy to eat. However I think if sprinkle on top of a pie (not sure what type would be a good mix of flavors) or rolled in semi sweet chocolate to make a candy. It may work.

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