Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
These slice-and-bake cranberry orange shortbread cookies are the Best. Cookies. Ever. And they're ridiculously easy. Keep a dough log in the freezer so you can slice and bake them when needed.
Make some for Christmas. Or just because.
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 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 scaled back.
Now, I do just a few holiday cookies. Our family favorites are Spiced Dark Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices (I know, not a cookie at all, but delicious nonetheless), Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread, and these Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies.
I just don't think it would feel like Christmas without these three treats!
Shortbread Cookie Ingredients and Substitutions
I love the combination of cranberry and orange. Especially around the holidays. And since I'm partial to almonds, I use almond extract and chopped almonds too.
But if you're not an almond lover, swap the almond extract with vanilla extract instead. Or use orange extract if you like your shortbread extra orangy.
And for the nuts, you can try chopped walnuts, pistachios, pecans, or leave them out altogether.
If you have time, browse through the comments below this recipe post. It seems that these cookies are a new favorite for SO many people. And many have left helpful feedback and clever ways to adapt this recipe to their taste.
No matter what you add, you'll agree that these shortbread cookies are so ridiculously easy and deliciously melt-in-your-mouth buttery.
How To Freeze These Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
The best thing about this shortbread dough is that it freezes incredibly well. That means you can make it in advance and do your cooking baking on an "as needed" basis.
Just prepare the dough and roll it into a log. I usually double the recipe so I have two dough logs in the freezer.
Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap. Give them a nice roll while they're wrapped in plastic, to smooth out any rough edges. Seal up the edges of the plastic wrap so the edges of your dough don't dry out in the freezer. I usually put the logs into a large freezer storage bag for extra protection.
Then, just pop the in the freezer (be careful they don't get squished) and keep them there until you're ready to use them. You can freeze this dough for up to three months.
When you're ready to bake cookies, take your dough out of the freezer and let it thaw for 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, it will be too hard to cut and your cookies will crumble.
If you prefer to bake your cookies and then freeze them, that works perfectly well too.
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup confectioner's powdered sugar
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ⅔ cup sliced almonds, toasted or other finely chopped nuts
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries chopped
- Place butter, powdered sugar, almond (or vanilla) 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, about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a cookie sheet or line with a silpat baking liner.
- Remove the dough from the freezer and slice into ½-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.
Are you baking this holiday season? What's your favorite cookie?
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.
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!
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!
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 🙂
Delicious! A new holiday favorite!
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
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!
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
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!
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?
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.
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 🙂
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...
Don't preheat the oven till you take the log out of the freezer, duh.
what can use instead of cranberries...
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.
About how many cookies do you get from this recipe? They look really yummy. Thanks
Hi Victoria - this recipe should make at least 3 dozen plus or minus a few (depending on how you slice them). Thanks for visiting!
I want to try a gluten free version. I can substitute a rice/tapioca flour blend cup for cup. What do you think?
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!
I will. I'm going to make them today!
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!
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.
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 😉
I'm so glad you liked them Kay! They're a Christmas tradition in our house too 🙂 Thanks for visiting!
Very good abd eady to make. Beware...20 minutes is way too long to bake. 10 minutes tops for 1/4" slices.
Great recipe, thank you.
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.
Thanks for the baking time tip Sally! My oven must be off 🙂