Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-6

Ever cook something for the first time and then wonder, “Why in the world haven’t I been making this all along!?” That’s how I feel about shortbread. For some reason, I’ve never made shortbread cookies until this year - but now, I’m completely hooked. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve quickly baked (and eaten) enough of these buttery, sweet, crumbly cookies to make up for all the years they’ve been missing from my kitchen.

For this recipe, there are five basic ingredients. That’s it - just five! And you most likely already have them in your pantry: butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and salt. I added orange zest and dried cranberries, but you can experiment with what you have readily available. Whip up a batch with chocolate chips, add your favorite spices (cardamom and clove are my current faves) or throw in different kinds of nuts. You can even get creative and try different cookie and beverage pairings - like a bold coffee with dark chocolate shortbread or rooibos tea alongside my cranberry version below.

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-4

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-3

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-2

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-7

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-5

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Adapted from Ina Garten

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
½ to ¾ cup dried cranberries
Additional sugar for sprinkling

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Mix in the vanilla along with two teaspoons of water.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, ground ginger and orange zest. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour in the dried cranberries and stir with a spatula until evenly distributed.

3. Place the dough on a floured surface and form into a log shape. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice it into about ½ inch slices. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle on a little bit of coarse sugar (such as turbinado). Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown.

5. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!

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  1. These look delicious - you’ve inspired me to make some!

  2. They look great, and i love cranberries so much :-)

    On another note, I’d like to suggest something: I hit your print-button, because I thougt I would get a slimmed down version of this site, the recipe and 1 picture or so. Now I have a total of 9 sites, all enormous pictures - what a waste of ink and paper. Maybe you could start to incorporate a print version or something? That experience was quite unpleasent.

  3. Just for sake of a review- I will testify that these are absolutely fabulous. I haven’t made them yet but tasted the originals, and I was instantly in love! Thanks for sharing!

  4. LOVE these! I am a new shortbread cookie person too and I am beyond excited to make these!

  5. Wow this looks delicious!!

  6. This is, hands down, my most favorite flavor combination of all time. It speaks of Winter, and cold and crackling fires, hunkering down with a good book and the scent of orange zest clinging to my fingers. Added to shortbread? Spectacular.

  7. i have all these ingredients! but i’m wondering how rosemary would fit in here, it pairs so well with cranberries that i think it could work. i’ll just have to give it a shot! ;)

  8. Hi! I just stumbled across this on my hunt for new cookies, and it looks perfect! Exactly what I was thinking I needed. Two quick questions, though, since I generally don’t know what I’m doing. Why add the 2tsp water to the vanilla extract, would using orange juice instead make the cookies too orangey? Also, is the ginger part of the shortbread cookie or the cranberry - orange flavor? Like, if I wanted to do blueberry-lemon, should I still put it in?

    Sorry for all the questions, and thanks again for your awesome recipe!

    • Great questions! As far as the water, that’s simply to help the dough come together. Since there’s no other liquid in the recipe other than a little vanilla, you need a little water to make the dough stick and become workable. Otherwise, it may be too crumbly. With that being said, I think you could definitely try orange juice! I haven’t tried that myself, but that’s a great idea! Regarding the ginger, in this recipe that flavor isn’t super pronounced - it just adds a tiny bit of extra flavor to complement the orange and cranberry flavors. For blueberry-lemon (which sounds delish, by the way), the ginger would work really well I think. However, I wrote it as an optional ingredient because it’s not 100% necessary to make the recipe work. I hope that helps! :)

  9. Last week I made two batches of these cookies (sans the ginger) and they were delicious! I did use a hand mixer and it may take a bit more time but is totally doable. My three sisters (and all the husbands) loved these and are now including this recipe in their favorites.
    Thank you for the recipe!


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