You need these Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies on your holiday cookie tray this year. They are rich, buttery and filled with zesty orange and tangy cranberry bits. Impossibly delicious!
Ingredients for cranberry orange cookies
Scroll down to find printable recipe card with exact amounts and instructions.
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour
- unsalted butter
- vanilla extract
- orange juice
- candied orange peel
- vanilla sugar
- dried cranberries
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How to make cranberry orange shortbread cookies
In a medium bowl combine sugar with the flour. Using a pastry cutter (or your fingers), cut in the cold, cubed butter until the dough forms fine crumbs.
Add the vanilla, orange juice, cranberries and orange peel. Knead until it comes together into a ball.
If too crumbly, add orange juice, a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Ccover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness and use a round cookie cutter to cut dough into circles.
Dip top of each cookie into vanilla sugar to coat, then place on baking sheet.
If the cookies are too delicate to dip after cutting, let them chill for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet before attempting to dip again.
Bake the cookies for about 12-14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for a minute or two before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
Substitutions and variations
- substitute almond extract in place of vanilla extract
- use fresh orange zest in place of candied orange peel
- instead of vanilla sugar, use sanding sugar
Questions you may have about cranberry orange shortbread cookies
What’s the difference between shortbread and sugar cookies?
Shortbread is less sweet and has a more buttery taste with a tender, crumbly texture. It usually has a 1,2,3 ratio of one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour.
Why do you need to chill cranberry shortbread cookies before baking?
Chilling the dough firms up the butter and helps prevent the cookies from spreading.
Can you freeze cranberry orange shortbread cookies?
Before baking: Place the plastic-wrapped dough in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight when ready to bake.
After baking: Place completely cooled cookies in an airtight freezer container with waxed paper or parchment paper between cookie layers.
How thick should cranberry orange cookies be?
I roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness for these cookies, but you could go a little thicker if you’d like.
Is the dried fruit making it tough to use a cookie-cutter?
If your cookie cutter edge is over a piece of orange peel or cranberry, it may take a little extra muscle to push your way through and sometimes a little fruit flap hangs over creating a messy edge. I just fold the extra flap around the cookie and gently press it in. You could also chop the candied fruit into smaller pieces before you start baking, but I think the big chunks are what make the cookies so festive looking.
Can I slice and bake orange cranberry cookies instead of rolling/cutting out?
You totally could! Just remember that the thickness of your slices should be consistent for every cookie. Thinner cookies will be crispier.
Other Christmas cookies you’ll love
- Polar bear cookies
- Christmas crinkle cookies
- Chocolate star gingersnaps
- Stained glass cookies
- Lump of coal cookies
- Caramel candy bar cookies
- Marbled star cookies
- Christmas Rice Krispies Treats gifts
- Snowball cookies
- Chocolate pecan cookie crisps
- Pecan pie bars
- Chocolate dipped orange pecan logs
- Peppermint bark
- Salted caramel thumbprints
- Peppermint Oreo balls
- Chocolate chunk cookie bark
- Stained glass candy
- Old-fashioned cornflake candy
- Christmas cornflake wreaths
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter cubed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon orange juice
- ⅓ cup candied orange peel
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- vanilla sugar
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or fingers until dough forms fine crumbs.
- Add the vanilla, orange juice, cranberries and orange peel. Knead until it comes together into a ball. If dough is still crumbly, add more orange juice one tablespoon at a time until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill for at least 2 hours.
- Roll dough on a floured surface about 1/4-inch thick. Cut circles out of dough and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Put vanilla sugar in bowl. Carefully dip tops of chilled cookies into sugar. If they bend or break, chill for longer before dipping.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet for several minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.