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Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies are simply delicious cookies made with a short list of ingredients. They’re a terrific addition to your holiday baking plans!

stack of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies with more cookies surrounding the stack

Easy Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies are one of the finest examples of just a few basic ingredients making something incredibly delicious. I admit that I have a bit of a shortbread weakness. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to bake. And to eat, too, for that matter.

These Cranberry Shortbread Cookies are one of my all-time favorites. I like that they aren’t too sweet. The cranberries add a bit of sweetness as well as some tartness. These simple, buttery cookies are really just delightful!

Whip up a batch of these cookies for an everyday treat or an easy baking project. If you’re working on your Christmas cookie trays, they’re a great addition to offset some of the extra-sweet treats of the season.

overhead view of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies piled on a white serving tray

What You’ll Need

If you have dried cranberries in your pantry, then you likely have everything you need to make these shortbread cookies! See the recipe card below for specific quantities and full instructions. Here are some notes about the ingredients you’ll need.

overhead view of ingredients for Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
  • All-purpose flour – Use a digital kitchen scale to measure by weight if possible. Otherwise, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup until it’s over-filled, and then level the top with a straight edge like the back of a butter knife or a ruler.
  • Unsalted butter – Let the butter soften before mixing by allowing it to sit at room temperature. It should still be cool and not all the way to room temperature. Learn more: How to Soften Butter
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract – Try almond extract for a different flavor.
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sanding sugar – This is optional but adds a little sparkle and an extra bit of sweetness to the cookies.
overhead view of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies scattered on a marble countertop and on a large white plate

How to Make Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

These cookies mix quickly and easily, and just need a short chilling time before getting rolled, cut, and baked. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Begin mixing. Place the flour, butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat these ingredients until combined. The dough will be crumbly but will hold together when pinched.

Add the cranberries. Stir the cranberries into the cookie dough.

Chill. Gather the dough mixture into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The dough should be cool and easy to handle. You may find you need a bit more time for chilling.

Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Roll and cut the dough. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly-floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to a 10-inch square that’s 1/4-inch thick. (It doesn’t need to be perfect; just use this as a guideline.) Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Carefully transfer the cut cookies to the prepared pans. If you want to top them with sanding sugar, do that now.

Bake. Place one pan at a time in the heated oven, and bake for 20 to 24 minutes. The cookies should be lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

Cool. Place the pans on wire racks, and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies from the pan directly onto a wire rack to cool completely.

overhead view of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies on a wire cooling rack

Ideas for Variations

I tend to make these Cranberry Shortbread Cookies just like the recipe, but there are some easy tweaks you can make if you want something a little different.

  • Use another dried fruit. Substitute your favorite dried fruit in place of the cranberries. There are lots of flavors to choose to keep these interesting all year!
  • Add orange zest. Cranberries and oranges go so well together. Try adding a couple of pinches of fresh orange zest when mixing the dough.
  • Dip in white chocolate. For a fancier look, dip the cooled cookies in melted white chocolate. You can even add finely chopped nuts, sprinkles, or a colored sanding sugar on the chocolate to take them up another notch.
  • Add a glaze. A simple sweet glaze like the one on top of Cinnamon Bun Scones is a good choice. Or use orange juice instead of milk for a bite of citrus.
  • Use a cookie cutter. If you prefer, you can use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies instead of cutting them into squares. Go with stars or snowflakes for a holiday theme.
overhead view of a stack of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies surrounded by more cookies

Tips for Success

These are my best tips for helping ensure your Cranberry Shortbread Cookies are their very best!

  • Measure accurately. This is always important in baking, but errors in measuring really stand out when making shortbread. The usual culprit is too much flour, so take care to measure accurately. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Chill the dough. Just a half hour in the refrigerator will help your shortbread cookies hold their shape. The dough should be chilled and easy to handle. All of our kitchens are different, so you may find that you need to give them up to an hour in the refrigerator. If your kitchen is especially warm, consider returning the rolled and cut cookies to the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes before baking.
  • Make clean, even cuts. To cut the dough into squares, use a sharp knife, a bench scraper, or a pizza rocker to make those slices. For precision, use a ruler to measure and mark where you need to make your cuts. Make confident cuts, and avoid using a sawing motion.
  • Don’t over-bake. The cookies should be lightly browned at the end of the baking time. If they’re left in the oven too long, they can become overly crispy.
Cranberry Shortbread Cookies served on a rectangular white plate

How to Store Leftover Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Place the cooled cookies in an airtight container, and store them at room temperature up to 4 days.

How to Freeze These Cookies

For longer storage, place the cookies in a freezer bag or container in a single layer or with parchment paper between layers of cookies. Properly stored, the cookies should keep in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw for an hour or two at room temperature.

stacks of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies on a rectangular white plate

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Yield 25 2-inch cookies
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies combine sweet shortbread with tart dried cranberries. A fantastic addition to your Christmas cookie baking lineup!

stack of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies with more cookies surrounding the stack

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoons (141g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (38g) dried cranberries
  • sanding sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the flour, butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until combined. The dough will be crumbly but will hold together when pinched. Mix in the cranberries.
  2. Gather the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to a 10-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2-inch squares.
  5. Carefully transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheets. If you like, sprinkle the top of each cookie with a heavy pinch of sanding sugar.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on the pans for about 5 minutes. Then, transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Notes

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.

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    17 Comments on “Cranberry Shortbread Cookies”

  1. oh that sounds divine!!
    I am a shortbread junkie

  2. My mom makes cranberry and pistachio shortbread every Christmas. It’s the only cookie recipe she makes (and makes well), and it just exudes winter and holidays every time I have it!

  3. I love that you made your shortbread quite thin and delicate! I’ve only ever eaten quite chunky versions of the stuff and usually its super rich! this sounds perfect for tea 🙂

  4. i’ve never made fancy shortbread – im quote the traditionalist. and i agree with lil deli – thinner slices would be wodnerful with tea, not so rich and heavy. thanks for the ideas!

  5. These look delicious. I think they would be the perfect treat to have with my coffee each night. I am always looking for something sweet that is not too heavy and these definitely fit the bill.

  6. I love shortbread! It makes me feel so refined, for whatever reason 🙂 These looks like the perfect morning-after-Thanksgiving snack.

  7. Hi! I’ve been following your page for some time now and I just love the stuff you put up! I decided to try this cookie today since Christmas is coming… And it turned out just like your picture! I did tweak it a little. I added orange rind and I needed 1/3 cup more flour to get it to the right consistency. And i sprinkled some sugar on top of the cookies after baking. Thanks for the recipe! I will definitely be making them again!

  8. Loved this reciped. It is now my “go to” shortbread. I also liked Selene NG’s suggestions for adding orange rind and sparkling sugar on top! I think I may try a batch with diced apricot in it. That would be pretty as well as tasty. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. These Cranberry Shortbreads look so good. I love Shortbread and I love Cranberries so I can’t wait to try your recipe. 
    I so enjoy your recipes Jennifer. How you come up with so many different and yummy Cookies is beyond
    me. I love your Cakes and Pie recipes too.  You are a very talented lady. 
    Thank you. 

  10. I LOVE this shortbread recipe! I’ve made it a few times now. The dough is always so crumbly I never think it will stay together. But it helps to use a rolling pin and roll towards the middle instead of away from the middle. I have also used almond extract instead of vanilla with dried cranberries. Another time I used peppermint extract and added chopped mint chocolate candies. Delicious! 

  11. Thank you for converting US cups to grams in so many of your recipes. I am in Australia so it is much appreciated. I would just to confirm that 1/3 cup dried cranberries is 76g as stated in the recipe.. Everywhere I look on the internet says 1/3 cup is 43g or 76g is 1/2 cup. Can you please clarify this for me? Many thanks and joy to Christmas Cooking !!

  12. Hello!
    My dough did not come together, it was very crumbly.  I kept in the refrigerator for about 4 hours while I was out running errands.  When I unwrapped the plastic wrap the dough was so crumbly.  Wonder what I did wrong?  Can you maybe guide me?  I want to try these again.
    Thank you so much!

    • Forgot to mention, I ended baking it as one big piece and it came out heavenly, like a crumble.
      Thinking about using this as a cake filling or as a crunchy texture for mousse. 

    • Hi, Janette. Shortbread dough takes some work to get to hold together. Make extra, extra sure you’ve measured correctly, and work the dough for several minutes to get it to come together. If all else fails, you can sprinkle a little water over the dough as you’re mixing, but be careful as that can make the cookies tough.

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