These cranberry orange shortbread cookies are easy to make slice and bake cookies that are a perfect cookie for the holiday season! These tasty icebox cookies are simple to make and the perfect addition to your Christmas cookie trays.
Cookie baking is one of my favorite Christmas traditions and these tasty cookies are full of seasonal flavors. The old fashioned icebox cookies have a delicate sweetness with a touch of tartness from the cranberries and citrus flavor from the orange zest.
And I love that you can make the dough ahead of time and then just slice off some cookies and bake them whenever a craving strikes or unexpected guests arrive. It is so easy and convenient!
Sometimes shortbread cookies can be a little boring, but adding cranberries and citrus makes for a combination of flavors that is irresistible. Because the cookies aren’t rolled out and cut with cookie cutters they have a light and crumbly texture that practically melts in your mouth.
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
Butter – Butter is most important ingredients in shortbread and gives these their classic buttery flavor and texture.
Egg yolk – Adding egg yolk makes these sturdier, so they don’t fall apart and crumble as easily.
Vanilla extract – Almond extract could also be substituted for a slightly different flavor.
Orange peel or orange zest – Freshly grated orange peel will give these an amazing fresh flavor. Grate or zest the peel of one orange. If you substitute dried zest the cookies won’t taste the same.
Dried Cranberries – Fresh cranberries would add too much moisture to the recipe, so use dried.
Walnuts – The cookie logs are rolled in nuts before slicing and baking. You can substitute any chopped nut, like pecans or pistachios.
Flour, sugar, salt – These baking staples complete the recipe.
Key Tips for This Recipe
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
As with most cookie recipes room temperature butter is best.
Freshly grated orange zest will give you amazing flavor.
Thinner slices (1/8 inch) will result in crispier cookies and bake faster. Thicker slices (1/4 inch) will be chewier and take a minute or two longer to bake.
Decorate the cookies with either sparkling sugar or glaze, but not both.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
1. Make the Batter
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat them with a mixer until they are fluffy and light.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract to the mixer bowl and mix.
Then gradually add the flour, mixing after each addition. The dough will be stiff.
Fold in the dried cranberries and the orange peel. Just stir it in with a spatula, don’t use the mixer for this addition.
2. Make Cookie Logs
Spread two sheets of parchment paper on the countertop. If you are using nuts to coat the outside then finely chop them and spread them out on top of the parchment paper.
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log about 1 inch in diameter. If using the nuts roll the dough log in the chopped nuts to coat the edges.
Wrap the dough logs up securely in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least 2 hours or until they are firm enough to slice.
3. Slice and Bake
When you are ready to bake preheat the oven at 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Slice the dough log with a sharp knife, preferably a serrated one. Roll the log every time you cut off cookie slices, so it stays mostly round.
If you like your cookies crispy then cut the slices of dough about 1/8 inch thick. If you want them chewier make them about 1/4 inch thick.
If you aren’t using a glaze then sprinkle some sparkling sugar on top before baking. Using both glaze and sparkling sugar will make them too sweet though!
Bake the slices in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the bottom. Thicker ones might take a minute or two longer to bake.
4. Optional Glaze
Cool them completely on wire racks. To make the glaze mix the powdered sugar and milk until it is smooth. Then drizzle it over the baked and cooled cookies.
How to Store
You can keep the dough logs in the refrigerator for 5 days and then just cut off cookie slices as you want to bake them. Or you can keep baked cranberry orange shortbread cookies in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.
How to Freeze
These freeze very well. You can either freeze the dough log or freeze the baked cookies.
Freeze Dough Log – Make sure you wrap the logs well before freezing them. I wrap them in plastic wrap and then put them in another container like a freezer bag. They will keep for 3 months in the freezer. To thaw just put the dough log in the refrigerator overnight to thaw and then slice and bake.
Freeze Baked Cranberry Shortbread Cookies – Store them in an airtight freezer container. Separate layers with pieces of parchment paper. To thaw leave the container at room temperature overnight.
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- 2 1/2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped dried cranberries
- ¼ cup (from 1) grated orange peel or orange zest
- Chopped walnuts, optional
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
- In another large bowl, use a mixer to beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
- Gradually add flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until well mixed.
- Fold in dried cranberries and orange peel. It will be a very stiff dough. Stir with a spatula, not the mixer.
- Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log shape.
- If you want to coat the outside in nuts finely chop the walnuts. Set up two sheets of parchment paper on a counter and spread the walnuts evenly on the paper.
- Add a dough log on top of walnuts and roll it to coat the edges. Repeat with the other log.
- Cover each dough log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm enough to cut.
- When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Slice into rounds about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place on the prepared baking sheet. If you aren't planning to glaze them you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar for a decorative sparkly finish.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
- Remove them from the oven and put on wire racks to cool.
- If you want to add glaze mix the powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle it over cooled cookies.
- Store in airtight container for 4-5 days. Unbaked cookie dough logs will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days.
1/8 inch thick slices will be crispier. 1/4 inch thick slices will be chewier and might need to bake for another 1-2 minutes.
To Freeze the Dough Log - Wrap the logs well before freezing. The dough will keep for 3 months in the freezer. To thaw just put the it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw and then slice and bake.
To Freeze the Cookies - Store them in an airtight freezer container. Separate layers with pieces of parchment paper. To thaw leave the container at room temperature overnight.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 77Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 1g
Nutrition facts are estimates.