Cranberry orange shortbread cookies are bursting with the flavours of tangy cranberries and zesty oranges, these cookies are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. With their buttery texture and delightful aroma, they are sure to become a new favourite on your holiday baking list.
Why you’ll love these cranberry orange shortbread cookies
Whether you are hosting a cookie exchange or simply craving a homemade treat, these cranberry orange shortbread cookies will not disappoint. Get ready to indulge in a taste sensation that will leave you wanting more!
These cookies are such a simple Christmas treat that even novice bakers will handle the process. If you like having extra sweetness, you can drizzle shortbread cookies with white chocolate. A little white chocolate drizzle will add extra texture and festive looks.
- Unsalted butter: Provides the rich, buttery flavour and contributes to the tender, crumbly texture of the shortbread. Make sure the butter is softened at room temperature for easy creaming with sugar.
- Granulated sugar: Adds sweetness to the cookies and helps in creating a light and tender texture. Creaming the sugar with butter aerates the mixture, contributing to the cookies’ texture.
- Vanilla extract:Enhances the overall flavour profile by adding a warm and sweet note. Choose high-quality vanilla extract for the best flavour.
- All-Purpose flour: Serves as the main dry ingredient, providing structure to the cookies. Measure the flour accurately, and consider sifting it for a lighter texture
- Dried cranberries: Adds a tart and chewy element to the cookies, creating a delightful contrast to the buttery shortbread. Chop the cranberries into smaller pieces to ensure even distribution in the dough.
- Orange zest & extract: Infuses a bright citrus flavour into the cookies, complementing the tartness of the cranberries. Use a fine grater to zest the orange, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.
- White chocolate: Adds extra sweetness and festive looks to the cookies.
Step-by-step how to make cranberry orange shortbread cookies
Step 1 – Cream the butter and sugar
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done with a hand mixer or a stand mixer.
Step 2 – Add flavourings
Mix in the vanilla extract and orange zest until well combined. The orange zest adds a burst of citrus flavour.
Step 3 – Fold in dry ingredients
Add flour and chopped dried cranberries to the butter mixture, mixing until the dough is crumbly. Take spatula and gently scrape the sides of the dough.
Step 5 – Shape the dough
Place the dough on lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently with hands until it comes together. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hour, or until firm.
Step 6 – Preheat the oven
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Step 7 – Slice and arrange the cookies
Once the dough is firm, use a sharp knife to slice the logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
Step 8 – Bake cookies
Bake in the preheated oven for 12–15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Be careful not to overbake; the cookies should remain pale.
Step 9 – Cool the cookies
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 10 – Drizzle with white chocolate
Melt the chocolate in a small microwavable bowl, by heating for 30 seconds at 70% power. Stir with a spoon and repeat heating the chocolate at the same interval. Stir again. At this stage, the chocolate should be melted. Take a small teaspoon and drizzle the white melted chocolate over the cookies.
How to store cranberry orange shortbread cookies
- Room Temperature: Shortbread cookies are best stored at room temperature. They will maintain their texture and flavour for several days when stored properly.
- Refrigeration (Optional): While shortbread cookies are typically stored at room temperature, if you plan to keep them for an extended period (more than a week), you can store them in the refrigerator. Again, use an airtight container to prevent absorption of odours.
- Freezing (Long-term Storage): Shortbread cookies also freeze well. Place them in a single layer in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag, separating layers with parchment paper. They can be frozen for several months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Variations for shortbread cookies
- Pecan Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies: Add finely chopped pecans to the cookie dough for a nutty crunch.
- Almond Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies: Add almond extract to the cookie dough and top each cookie with sliced almonds.
- Spiced Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies:Add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the cookie dough for a warm, spiced flavour.
- Lemon Cranberry Shortbread Cookies:Replace the orange zest with lemon zest for a zesty twist.
- Dark Chocolate chip dip Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies: Dip half of each cooled cookie into melted dark chocolate.
Expert baking tips
- Zesting orange: When zesting the orange for the cookies, be mindful to only include the brightly coloured outer layer of the orange and avoid the bitter white pith. Use a fine grater for a delicate zest, maximizing the citrus flavour without bitterness. I love using this MICROPLANE classic zester grater. I have mine oner 15 years and still it’s sharp and perfect for me!
- Chopping cranberries: Ensure uniform distribution of cranberry flavour by finely chopping the dried cranberries. This helps integrate the tartness evenly throughout the cookie dough, providing a burst of flavour in every bite. You may also use fresh cranberries.
- Butter quality and temperature: Use high-quality unsalted butter for rich flavour. Allow the butter to soften at room temperature, but not to the point of melting. Cream the softened butter with sugar until light and fluffy, as this aeration contributes to the shortbread’s texture. This is very important for the crunch and melt in mouth texture.
- Handling the dough: After mixing in the cranberries and orange zest, handle the dough minimally. Overmixing can lead to a tougher texture. Once the ingredients are incorporated, shape the dough into logs, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Chilled dough not only makes slicing easier, but also helps the cookies maintain their shape during baking.
- White chocolate drizzle: Tip: For a smooth and glossy white chocolate drizzle, melt the white chocolate using a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave, stirring frequently (more info in the recipe instructions) . Allow the cookies to cool completely before drizzling to prevent the chocolate from melting into the cookies. You can use a piping bag or a spoon for precision in creating this elegant drizzle.
While the recipe is designed for dried cranberries, you can experiment with fresh cranberries. Keep in mind that fresh cranberries are more tart, so you may want to adjust the sugar content in the recipe to balance the flavours. Additionally, chop the fresh cranberries finely to ensure even distribution in the dough.
The orange zest provides concentrated citrus flavour without adding excess liquid to the dough. Substituting orange juice may alter the texture of the cookies and make them more prone to spreading. If you prefer a stronger orange flavour, you can add rather orange extract in addition to the zest.
Yes, you can freeze the cookie dough. Shape the dough into logs, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and place them in a freezer-safe bag. Label with the date and baking instructions. When ready to bake, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator before slicing and baking as usual.
Absolutely! These cookies can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, freeze the baked cookies and thaw them before serving. The white chocolate drizzle may lose its shine after freezing, but the flavour will remain delicious.
To prevent the white chocolate from hardening too quickly, work efficiently when drizzling. If needed, you can return the white chocolate to low heat or briefly microwave it at short intervals to maintain a drizzling consistency. Work in batches, drizzling over a few cookies at a time before moving on.
Shortbread cookies are characterized by a high butter content, resulting in a crumbly and rich texture with a subtle sweetness, often enjoyed on their own. In contrast, regular cookies vary widely in texture and flavour, typically featuring a lighter and more versatile composition with variations like chewy, crunchy, or soft textures and a diverse range of flavours.
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CRANBERRY ORANGE SHORTBREAD COOKIES
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- 1 medium orange for zest
- 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (60 g) dried cranberries, chopped
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
Shortbread cookie dough
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done with a hand mixer or a stand mixer.1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened, ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- Mix in the vanilla extract and orange zest until well combined. The orange zest adds a burst of citrus flavour.½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 medium orange for zest, ½ teaspoon orange extract
- Add flour and chopped dried cranberries to the butter mixture, mixing until the dough is crumbly. Take spatula and gently scrape the sides of the dough.2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour, ½ cup (60 g) dried cranberries, chopped
- Place the dough on lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently with hands until it comes together. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hour, or until firm.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Once the dough is firm, use a sharp knife to slice the logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12–15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Be careful not to overbake; the cookies should remain pale.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
White chocolate drizzle
- Melt the chocolate in a small microwavable bowl, by heating for 30 seconds at 70% power. Stir with a spoon and repeat heating the chocolate at the same interval if not fully melted. Stir again. At this stage, the chocolate should be melted. Take a small teaspoon and drizzle the white melted chocolate over the cookies.½ cup white chocolate chips
- Let the white chocolate drizzle dry for 10–15 minutes. Enjoy the cookies!
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