Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe with Orange Zest

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Looking for easy cranberry recipes this month?  This mouthwatering homemade shortbread takes only minutes to assemble and has a rich but simple flavor.  Since I stock up on cranberries every fall, I am always looking for new ways to use them.  I mean, cranberry sauce is delicious but I don’t want to eat it every day!  However, I would happily gorge myself on shortbread cookies all year round!  I added fresh orange zest to this cranberry shortbread cookie recipe and I think the two flavors blend beautifully together!

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Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe

What are Shortbread Cookies?

Shortbread cookies are seriously the simplest cookie you can possibly make.  Just butter, flour, a small amount of sugar and whatever flavor or add in you want to include.  Today’s shortbread cookies used cranberries and orange zest.  But if you want something more exotic, try my lavender shortbread cookies.  If you have a bit more time for rolling and cutting, make my easy gingerbread cookies

What is the difference between a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie? Sugar cookies tend to me MUCH sweeter and have a ton more ingredients like eggs, vanilla, etc.  The beauty of homemade shortbread is in it’s simple ingredients and buttery flavor.  

Homemade Shortbread Cookies with Cranberries

Why do they call it shortbread? The term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly. The large percentage of butter in a shortbread cookie recipe makes the texture very crumbly.  Hence, the name ‘shortbread’.

More Cranberry Recipes

Cranberry Shortbread

Tips for Making Homemade Shortbread Cookies

Ok, shortbread cookies are incredibly simple to make, but, these tips will make them even easier:

  • Use only REAL butter.  There is no substitute!  You will need it to be very soft.  I recommend leaving it at room temperature overnight so that it is soft enough to blend easily in with the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Finely chop your add ins.  You don’t want large chunks of stuff in your shortbread cookies.  It will be much harder to slice.  I used a food processor to finely chop the fresh cranberries.
  • You can store the rolled dough in the refrigerator for several days.
  • This cranberry shortbread cookie recipe really does  not really brown much, even when they are done cooking.  You will just be able to see a slight browning around the edges.  Do not overcook!
  • If you want a shape other than round, check out Amazon for some beautiful shortbread pans.  You can get some amazing patterns in your shortbread by making them in a traditional shortbread pan.  


Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe

This easy shortbread cookie recipe is perfect for fall entertaining.  Make up the dough ahead of time and bake right before your guests arrive.  And if you have extra cranberries, use them in my homemade cranberry scrub or make Cranberry Wreath DIY Place Cards! 

Cranberry Shortbread Recipe


Yields 2 dozen

Serves 12


Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe

2 hrPrep Time

20 minCook Time

2 hr, 20 Total Time

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Recipe Image


  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries finely chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest


  1. Combine the butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed until well blended.
  2. Add flour about 1/2 cup at a time and mix until combined.
  3. Add cranberries and orange zest. Mix well.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log and wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to three days
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  7. Cut dough into 1/4 inch rounds.
  8. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies start to brown.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet.
  10. Makes about 2 dozen



236 cal


16 g


23 g


2 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info


  1. Can’t wait to try these! I, too, have cranberries to use. Thanks for posting this one. Merry Christmas!
  2. Hi, wonderful recipe. I was just wondering if dried cranberries could be used in place of fresh?
  3. I made these cookies today and they spread out instead of keeping their shape. I used real butter and left the m in the frig overnight. What went wrong?
    • Diane Hoffmaster says
      Im not really sure. Not enough flour can cause spreading, as can an oven that is too hot, I think? If you try again, you may want to add more flour.
  4. Does this recipe call for white granulated sugar?
  5. Hi, what texture do these cookies have? Are these crisp or soft? Thanks!

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