Just right for cold weather, cranberry orange shortbread cookies need just 6 ingredients and make a sweet-tart cookie perfect for holiday baking. Optionally rolled in raw sugar for a hint of crunch, these are a classic shortbread with fantastic wintery flavour. Adapted from our earl grey shortbread cookies.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Icing sugar: also called powdered sugar and confectioner's sugar. Granulated sugar can't be substituted for this recipe, but you can make icing sugar by blending regular sugar until it turns powdery.
- Orange: use an organic, unwaxed orange if possible, because you're using the zest. Wash it well in warm water before zesting in any case.
- Demerara sugar: also called raw sugar. This is for coating the cookies and is optional but delicious.
- Make them vegan: use a good vegan butter that comes in stick or block form, like Miyoko's. The cookies might be a little softer so make sure to chill the dough long enough.
How to Make Cranberry Shortbread
Step 1: cream the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla.
Step 2: beat in the sugar and orange zest.
Step 3: add the flour and mix again until just combined.
Step 4: mix in the cranberries.
Step 5: the dough will look crumbly, but will hold together when pressed.
Step 6: divide the dough into two equal pieces, then form two logs. Wrap and chill.
Step 7: roll the logs in demerara sugar before cutting into slices and place on a baking sheet.
Step 8: bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just lightly golden.
- Don't add orange with the dry ingredients: the oils from the orange zest will be most noticeable when blended with the other fat - butter - and that's why it's mixed into the butter rather than the flour.
- Chop the cranberries if needed: if your cranberries are whole and quite large, you can chop them roughly by hand or whiz them up in a food processor. This makes for a more even bite, and whole cranberries can cause the cookies to fall apart when cutting.
- Don't over-mix: this is more for bringing the dough together after mixing in the cranberries. Don't knead the dough, that will make it tough. Work with light quick hands for tender shortbread.
Use the zested orange to make an icing for the cookies if you'd like. Start with a cup of icing sugar, and add the orange juice 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency (think thick, but able to drizzle). Top the cooled cookies with it if you'd like a sweeter treat. We recommend this if you choose not to add the raw sugar.
How to Store
Storage: keep the cookies in a sealed container at room temperature for up to week. If you've added icing, let it set completely at room temperature before storing, and keep parchment between the layers of cookies.
Freezing: transfer fully cooled, un-iced cookies to an airtight container and freeze up to three months.
What are common mistakes when making shortbread?
The most common problems home bakers make with shortbread is over-mixing, adding too much flour, and baking too long. All of these will lead to tough cookies.
What happens if you don't chill shortbread before baking?
Shortbread is short - that means it contains a lot of butter - and that butter will cause the cookies to spread too much in the oven if it's soft. If you don't chill the shortbread dough, it will spread and you won't have nice crumbly biscuits.
Is it better to use salted or unsalted butter for shortbread?
We prefer salted butter, as it is just as good as unsalted for baking nowadays. If you want to use unsalted butter, you will need to add some salt to the dough.
If you make this Cranberry Orange Shortbread recipe or any other cookie recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Electric mixer
- Beeswax wrap or plastic wrap
- baking sheet
- 1 cup salted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup icing sugar
- Zest 1 orange about 2 teaspoons
- 2 cups white all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dried cranberries roughly chopped if large
- Raw sugar for coating demerara sugar
- Add the butter to a large mixing bowl and mix on high speed for 4-5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.1 cup salted butter
- Mix in the vanilla, then add the sugar and orange zest. Beat again to combine, starting on a low speed and increasing once the sugar is partly mixed in.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¾ cup icing sugar, Zest 1 orange
- Add the flour and mix until just combined. Gently mix in the cranberries by hand to incorporate.2 cups white all-purpose flour, ½ cup dried cranberries
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a rough ball. Divide into two equal pieces, then shape each into a log about 7 inches (18 cm) long. Wrap well and chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 12 hours.
- Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Coat the outsides of the logs with demerara (raw) sugar if desired. Cut into ¼-inch (.5 cm) thick cookies and place 1-inch (2 cm) apart on the baking sheets.Raw sugar for coating
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are just starting to turn lightly golden.
- Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before carefully removing to cool fully on wire racks. Make sure the cookies are cool before icing or storing.