These cranberry orange shortbread cookies are sweet and flavorful, dense and just melt in your mouth! Our shortbread has dried cranberries, fresh orange zest and juice, and just a hint of almond for the most delicious shortbread cookie around!
So what is shortbread?
Shortbread is actually a traditional Scottish cookie or biscuit as they like to say! Shortbread gets it name from they crumbly texture of the dough. As you see when you’re making these cranberry orange shortbread cookies, the dough is quite crumbly and really has to be pushed together to get it into shape. Shortbread is a very dense cookie, you’ll notice we don’t have any eggs or leavening agents (baking soda or baking powder) that would make these cookies rise or spread.
Traditional Scottish shortbread had one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. We have obviously delved away from these traditional ratios and upped our sugar, because being American we like our desserts SWEET!
Crispy or Soft?
Now, most Brits would bite into my shortbread and say ughh, it’s soft! Yep. I like my shortbread soft, what can I say? I love the soft and buttery texture of them soft. If, you however, are Team Crispy Shortbread (to each his own) simply up the bake time! For soft shortbread I bake these for 12-15 minutes, if you want a crispier shortbread try 15-20 minutes, let them get a bit more golden color too them, but watch them, you don’t want them to burn!
Making this Shortbread
Do I really need to cream it for 5+ minutes?
Your first step to making this shortbread is VERY important one: Creaming the butter and sugars together. In the directions I instruct you to cream them together for 3-5 minutes if you’re using a stand mixer or 6-8 minutes if using a hand mixer.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Does it really make a difference? YES! Check out this picture below, the butter and sugar on the left was creamed together for 1 minute, the one on the right was creamed together for 4 minutes. Do you see the difference? The one on the right is much smoother, creamier, and even paler in color. This is what you want! It makes such a difference in the cookies!
Don’t over mix the flour!
After creaming it all together you’ll add in your flavorings—in this case your chopped dried cranberries, orange zest, and orange juice. Once this is mixed in add in your flour. Now be really careful here when adding in your flour. It’s tempting to just keep beating the dough with your mixer until the flour is fully incorporated, but exercise restraint! I usually mix in my flour by hand—you don’t want to over mix the flour in there or it will start to develop gluten making your cookies tough, and we want our shortbread nice and tender. So mix it until just barely combined and then move on to dividing and wrapping your dough.
Divide, Wrap, Chill
At this point you should have a very crumbly dough. Divide your dough approximately in half and place each on a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands and with the assistance of your piece of plastic wrap, shape your dough into a log approximately 1 ½-2 inches in diameter. Really push that dough together, remember it’s supposed to be dense! Wrap your dough log up completely in plastic and chill for about 2 hours.
Slice and Bake
After your dough is chilled, slice your dough into slices ¼-½” thick. Coat them in granulated sugar for some extra crunch and sparkle and then bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Feel free to place these cookies close together, because they have chilled and don’t have any eggs or leavening agents they won’t spread much! Cool completely and then eat!
I love the cranberry and orange flavors in these shortbread cookies—they always remind me of Christmas, but honestly I will eat these any time of year!
Check out these other Tasty Recipes!
- Cranberry Orange Brown Sugar Cake
- Cranberry Almond Baked French Toast
- Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
- How to Make a Hot Chocolate Bar
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Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- 2 ½ cups/326 grams all purpose flour
- 10 tablespoons granulated sugar plus extra for rolling cookies in
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup salted butter room temperature (if you only have unsalted butter, add ¾ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- ½ cup dried cranberries chopped
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, sugars, and almond extract on medium-high till it’s super light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes for a stand mixer; 6 to 8 for a hand mixer). This is really important, don't skimp on the time! Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl every minute or so.
- Mix in chopped dried cranberries, orange juice, and orange zest until thoroughly combined. Then add in the flour is just incorporated, you do not want to over mix the dough. If necessary, knead the dough with your hands to make sure the flour is totally incorporated.
- Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic over so that it covers the dough to protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a log shape with a 1 ½-2 inch diameter; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. Really push the dough together, shortbread is supposed to be dense. Chill until totally firm, about 2 hours.
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. Using a large knife slice the log in to ¼ -½ inch slices and dip the cookie slice in granulated sugar. You can skip this part if you’d like, but it gives them a bit sparkle and crunch. If the slices fall apart when cutting, just push the dough back together. Place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart (they won’t spread much). Bake 12 to 15 minutes—do not over bake them. Cool completely before enjoying.
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Originally posted December 19, 2018