This Cranberry Orange Shortbread recipe combines the buttery richness of traditional shortbread with the bright flavors of cranberry and orange to make it extra festive!
In a world of over-the-top cookies where more is more, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of a good shortbread—but that doesn’t mean we can’t add a little something extra, too! This cranberry orange shortbread pairs a classic vanilla- and almond-flavored base with tart dried cranberries and fragrant orange zest, making a good thing even better.
Why You’ll Love This Cranberry Orange Shortbread Recipe
- Buttery, delicious shortbread. Shortbread is a classic, old-fashioned cookie that never fails to please with its rich, buttery flavor. The addition of cranberries and orange elevates it to a whole new level. (If you love shortbread, be sure to check out my Peach Shortbread Cookies and Brown Sugar Shortbread, too!)
- Perfect balance of flavors. The tartness of the cranberries beautifully balances the sweetness of the shortbread, while the orange zest adds an irresistible brightness.
- Easy to make. This recipe is surprisingly simple to make, as it relies mostly on pantry staples and the prep time is minimal. You can even prepare the dough in advance and freeze it to streamline your holiday baking!
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- All-purpose flour – Here’s how to measure flour for baking.
- Almond flour – Almond flour adds a little more richness to the cookie dough thanks to its higher fat and protein content.
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter – Using unsalted butter gives us better control over the flavor of the cookie dough. Learn more: Unsalted or Salted Butter: Which is Better for Baking?
- Confectioners’ sugar – While most cookie recipes call for granulated sugar, making cranberry orange shortbread with confectioners’ sugar gives it that wonderful melt-in-your-mouth quality.
- Vanilla extract – Use pure vanilla extract, not imitation. Homemade vanilla extract is fantastic!
- Almond extract
- Orange zest – I recommend using a fine microplane zester; the finer the zest, the more evenly distributed it will be throughout your cookies.
- Dried cranberries – Coarsely chop the cranberries; this will make it easier to cut the cookie dough logs into rounds and give you more cranberry in every bite.
Can I Replace Almond Extract With Vanilla Extract?
Yes, you can substitute the almond extract with more vanilla extract if you’d like. However, the almond extract adds a fantastic amaretto-like aroma that complements the flavors of cranberry and orange beautifully. The combination of vanilla and almond extract is common in sugar cookies and shortbread, as the almond extract adds that little extra something.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla, almond extract, and orange zest.
- Finish the dough. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined.
- Add the cranberries. Fold in the cranberries until they’re evenly distributed.
- Chill. Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll each into a log about 7 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper, then refrigerate at least 4 hours.
- Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
- Form the cookies. Unwrap one log of cookie dough and slice it into 1/2-inch rounds. Place the rounds of dough onto the prepared pans with about an inch or two of space between them. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake. Place one pan at a time in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and very lightly browned.
- Cool. Set the pans on wire racks and allow the cranberry orange shortbread to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, transfer the cookies from the pans directly onto the wire racks to finish cooling. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)
Tips for Success
- Soften the butter. This is crucial for achieving the perfect shortbread texture. The butter should be soft enough to easily mix with the other ingredients, but not melted. Learn more: How to Soften Butter.
- Don’t over-mix. Mix just until all the ingredients are combined. Over-mixing can result in a tough cookie.
- Chill the dough. Chilling the dough helps keep its shape and prevents spreading during baking. If your kitchen is warm, chill the sliced cranberry orange shortbread for about 10 minutes before baking to minimize spreading.
- Don’t reuse hot baking sheets. If you need to reuse the same baking sheet for this recipe, you’ll need to let it cool completely before making the next batch of cookies. A hot pan will cause your cookies to spread and over-bake on the bottoms.
- Add chopped nuts. For added crunch and nuttiness, replace some of the cranberries with chopped pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.
- Drizzle or dip in chocolate. For an extra touch of sweetness, drizzle melted white or dark chocolate over the cooled cookies. You can also dip the cookies in melted chocolate, as in this Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread recipe.
- Make it gluten-free. Use a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour substitute in place of the all-purpose flour to make this cranberry orange shortbread gluten-free.
How to Store
These cranberry orange shortbread cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze This Recipe
For longer storage, you can freeze baked cranberry orange shortbread in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. Let them thaw at room temperature before serving.
You can also wrap the logs of dough tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before slicing and baking as directed.
More Shortbread Recipes
- 3-Ingredient Shortbread Cookies
- Brown Sugar Toffee Shortbread
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread
- Cinnamon-Shortbread Icebox Cookie Stacks
- Butter Pecan Shortbread