Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe with Orange Zest

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

butter and flour for baking

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What are shortbread cookies made of?

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. Basically, the ingredients are just one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour.

Homemade Shortbread Cookies with Cranberries
Why are shortbread cookies called shortbread?

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. 

In addition, 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. Don’t worry about baking the dough immediately.  You can store the rolled dough in the refrigerator for several days.

Cranberry Shortbread with fresh cranberries and orange zest

How do you know when shortbread cookies are done?

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


Yield: 2 dozen

Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe

shortbread cookies with cranberries and orange zest

Orange zest and fresh cranberries give these homemade shortbread cookies loads of flavor. This Cranberry Shortbread Cookie recipe is seriously addictive!

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes


  • 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


This shortbread dough will stay good in the refrigerator for several days.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 122mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information not always accurate.

34 thoughts on “Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe with Orange Zest”

  1. 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?

    • 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.

    • Two things that I’ve noticed effect my cookies: 1) be sure you are using pure cane granulated sugar. Generic sugar is made from beets not cane. I stick with either C&H or Domino; 2) use a quality flour. Again, generic flour will not give you good results. My go-to flour is King Arthur brand. I don’t know what they do to generic flour, but it does not work well for baking.

      • I am a huge fan of King Arthur Flour. And I agree that quality ingredients when baking really do make a big difference.

    • I have not tried to freeze them, however, I recommend that if you do, you slice, freeze on a cookie sheet, then put in a plastic storage bag in the freezer until baking.

  2. These sound very good. Going to put them on my Christmas cookie list this year. I bet some finely chopped walnuts would be good in these.

    • I would keep them in a sealed container at room temperature and they should last several days with no problem.

  3. Very good recipe, but I’m a big fan of shortbread. 1 batch plain, 1 batch with orange zest n 1 batch drizzled with icing. I think it needs something on top as they are a hair dry. Overall, this recipe is an absolute 💯 keeper.


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