Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

December would not be complete without a holiday twist on one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes! These bright and buttery cranberry orange shortbread cookies are a scrumptious taste of the season and a must bake for your holiday cookie platter. Recipe makes 20 cookies.

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

The Best Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Drizzled with white chocolate and dressed up with gold sprinkles, the sparkling shortbread rounds are irresistible.

I love these cookies because the fluted rounds hold their shape in the oven and all-butter shortbread infused with fresh orange zest is a match made in cookie heaven!

Cookie Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make homemade cranberry shortbread:

  • Sugar – The shortbread dough uses granulated sugar and the cookies are sprinkled with sugar before baking.
  • Orange zest – Fresh orange zest infuses these cookies with bright citrus flavor. You can also use mandarin or tangerine zest.
  • Butter – Use softened unsalted butter. The butter is the correct temperature when you can press it with your finger and leave an indentation.
  • Vanilla – A splash of pure vanilla extract complements the cranberry orange flavor. If you’re a fan of almond shortbread, you can also pure almond extract.
  • Flour – Use all-purpose flour in this recipe.
  • Dried cranberries – Plump dried cranberries bring a nice tart sweetness to the cookies. To make chopping the cranberries easier, sprinkle them with a bit of granulated sugar and use a sharp knife.
  • White chocolate – Use 4 ounces of high quality white chocolate to decorate the cookies. I use and recommend Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars. Do not use white chocolate chips or melting wafers – the added stabilizers prevent them from melting smoothly.
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

How to Make Cranberry Orange Shortbread

Make orange sugar – Combine sugar and orange zest in a food processor and pulse for 1 minute, until zest is finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, beat sugar and orange zest in a large mixer bowl on low speed until well mixed and fragrant.

Make shortbread dough – Beat butter, orange-sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until soft and creamy. Turn off the stand mixer and add flour.

Mix in flour on low speed just until incorporated and dough begins to come together in large pieces. Mix in dried cranberries just until incorporated (the dough will be somewhat crumbly).

Chill dough – Scrape dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk and wrap tightly. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, 20 to 25 minutes.

Roll out dough – Roll dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board or piece of parchment paper. Use a floured 2 1/2-inch fluted biscuit cutter to cut out cookies.

Chill cookies – Place shortbread rounds on baking sheets and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Bake cookies – Sprinkle cookies with 1 tablespoon sugar and bake for 14 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until lightly golden and tops and edges are set. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt chocolate – Place white chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth.

Decorate cookies – Transfer melted white chocolate to a small piping bag and drizzle over cookies. Top with sprinkles and let chocolate set before serving.

Cranberry orange shortbread drizzled with white chocolate on parchment-lined baking sheet

Make Ahead Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookie dough can be made in advance. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board and use a floured fluted biscuit cutter to cut out cookies.

Place cookies on baking sheets and freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to freezer bags and store for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake, bake the cookies directly from the freezer (do not thaw), adding 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have a food processor? If you don’t have a food processor, you can use your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to make the orange sugar. Beat sugar and orange zest in a large mixer bowl on low speed until well mixed and fragrant.

Can I double the recipe? Yes, this recipe can be doubled. Divide the dough into two portions and shape each portion into a disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and chill as directed below. When you’re ready to roll out the dough, work with one portion of dough at a time for ease.

Can I slice and bake instead of rolling out the dough? Yes, absolutely. Divide the dough in half and turn out each half onto a piece of plastic wrap. Roll each half into a 6 1/2-inch log, using the plastic wrap to help shape the soft dough. Wrap logs tightly and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to slice logs into rounds. Place on baking sheets and chill for 20 minutes before baking as directed.

How many cookies does this recipe make? If you use a 2 1/2-inch fluted cookie cutter (as pictured here), the recipe makes 20 cookies. If you use a smaller cutter (I recommend at least a 2-inch cookie cutter), the recipe will make approximately 26 cookies.

Can I dip the cookies in melted white chocolate? Yes, absolutely! For dipping, you’ll need 8 ounces of chopped white chocolate.

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Did you try this Cranberry Orange Shortbread Recipe? Let me know by leaving a comment and rating below!

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Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Laura Kasavan
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 20 cookies
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Bright and buttery cranberry orange shortbread cookies drizzled with white chocolate are a must bake for your holiday cookie platter! Recipe makes 20 cookies.


Ingredients

Cookies

  • 2/3 cup (134 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (6 g) fresh orange zest
  • 3/4 cup (168 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp (13 g) granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Topping

  • 4 ounces (113.5 g) white chocolate, chopped
  • gold sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Make citrus sugar: Combine sugar and orange zest in a food processor and pulse for 1 minute, until zest is finely ground.
  2. Make shortbread dough: Beat butter, orange-sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until soft and creamy. Scrape down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour just until incorporated and dough begins to come together in large pieces; mix in dried cranberries just until incorporated. Finished dough will be somewhat crumbly but will hold together when pressed. Scrape dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk and wrap tightly.
  3. Chill dough in the refrigerator until firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board or piece of parchment paper. Use a floured 2 1/2-inch fluted biscuit cutter to cut out cookies. Gather scraps, re-roll, and cut until you have a total of 20 cookies. Place cookies on baking sheets and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Bake cookies: Sprinkle cookies with sugar and bake for 14 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until lightly golden and tops and edges are set. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Melt chocolate: Place white chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth.
  7. Decorate cookies: Transfer melted white chocolate to a small piping bag and drizzle over cookies. Top with sprinkles and let chocolate set before serving.
  8. Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container.

Notes

Storage Tips: Store shortbread cookies in an airtight container to keep them crisp, placing parchment paper between the layers. Cookies stay fresh at room temperature for 7 to 10 days. Shortbread can also be wrapped well and frozen for up to 3 months.

White chocolate: Use high quality white chocolate to decorate the cookies. I use and recommend Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars.

Make ahead: Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board or piece of parchment paper and use a floured fluted biscuit cutter to cut out cookies. Place cookies on baking sheets and freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to freezer bags and store for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake, bake the cookies directly from the freezer, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.

Keywords: Cranberry, Orange, White Chocolate, Shortbread Cookies, Holiday Cookies

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

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34 Comments

    1. Hi Lori, yes. Divide the dough in half and turn out each half onto a piece of plastic wrap. Roll each half into a 6 1/2-inch log, using the plastic wrap to help shape the soft dough. Wrap logs tightly and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife and slice into rounds. Chill rounds for 20 minutes before baking as directed.

  1. These are my new favorite cookie. Edges were crispy and center was still soft. The cookie itself is not too sweet. The natural orange and cranberry flavors are nicely complimented by the touch of white chocolate drizzle.

  2. I am looking forward to trying this recipe! I have 2 questions: can fresh cranberries be substituted for dried? If so are the measurements the same? The 2nd question: I don’t like white chocolate…can you substitute a traditional white glaze? Thank-you

    1. Hi Mary Kay, I haven’t tested this recipe with fresh cranberries. If you do want to try it, I would use 1 cup of fresh cranberries, roughly chopped. Keep in mind that the added moisture may impact the texture of the cookies.

      And yes, you can definitely glaze these cookies. I recommend the orange glaze from my cranberry orange scone recipe. Happy baking!

  3. Hello, made them and love the flavor! What should the texture be? I am not sure if i have it correct. Should the butter and orange sugar be creamed and fluffy before adding the flour?

    1. Hi Laura, so glad you tried these cookies! Yes, I beat the butter and orange-sugar together until combined (the texture should be soft and creamy). The butter should be softened (but not melted) so that all the ingredients incorporate smoothly. Hope that helps for the future!

  4. Hi, these cookies look delightful! I’m planning to prep ahead for Christmas this year. How can I freeze the dough so that it can be baked closer to Christmas? And would the taste be affected? Thank you!

    1. Hi Sarah! I like to make the dough in advance: Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured board and use a floured fluted biscuit cutter to cut out cookies. Place cookies on baking sheets and freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to freezer bags and store for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake, bake the cookies directly from the freezer, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.