Chocolate Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

5 from 2 votes
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Chocolate cranberry orange shortbread cookies are simple to make and full of dried cranberries, milk chocolate, and plenty of orange zest for a sweet, buttery flavor that’s out-of-this-world!

Prepare them ahead of time for edible gifts and sweet snacks whenever the craving strikes.

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Chocolate cranberry orange shortbread cookies on a plate.

What can I say? As soon as the holiday season rolls around, I can always be found baking up a storm in the kitchen. Cookies are my love language, and with recipes like my Christmas cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, and more, there’s always plenty to go around!

Are Shortbread Cookies the Same As Sugar Cookies? 

Although they’re both delicious shortbread cookies and sugar cookies are not the same. To be honest, shortbread cookies are in a league of their own. For example, sugar cookies are a light dessert that is made with a leavening ingredient such as baking soda or baking powder.

Meanwhile, shortbread cookies are made with just a few ingredients and no leavening agent for a texture that is dense and crumbly.

cookie dough in a bowl with orange zest and dried cranberries.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions 

  • Butter – Unsalted butter works best, but salted butter can be used if that’s all you have on hand. Just omit the extra salt or adjust it to taste. 
  • Confectioner’s Sugar – Unlike regular granulated sugar, confectioner’s sugar (also known as powdered sugar) contains cornstarch. This helps absorb extra moisture in the dough and creates the tender texture we’re looking to achieve. If you want to replace it with granulated sugar, you can. Just be sure to beat the butter and sugar for at least 10 minutes or until they are creamy and fluffy. 
  • Salt – Used to enhance the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Flour – Regular all-purpose flour is used in this recipe for shortbread cookies. I haven’t tested it, but a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour should work just as well. 
  • Cranberries – Dried, sweetened cranberries add a pop of festive color! Or, fresh cranberries would also work too. 
  • Orange Zest – Combines perfectly with the cranberries to balance out the sweetness with a slightly tangy, tart taste. Chocolate Chips – Everything is better with chocolate, right? I use milk chocolate chips, but dark or even white chocolate would be delicious, too.
Two cookie dough logs wrapped in plastic.

Top Tips for the Best Shortbread Cookies

  • Let the butter come to room temperature for easy mixing and the best flavor. 
  • Feel free to use fresh cranberries instead of dried ones if you prefer. Just be sure to use a food processor to chop them up before adding them to the cookie dough. 
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer, feel free to combine the ingredients with a hand mixer instead. 
  • For even baking, I recommend placing your baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven for even baking, and only use one baking sheet at a time.
  • Avoid overbaking. You’ll want to pull the cookies out of the oven as soon as they begin to turn a golden brown. They might look slightly underdone, but they will continue to bake on the sheet as they cool.
slices of raw shortbread cookie dough.

Are Shortbread Cookies Supposed to Be Soft or Hard? 

Once fully baked, shortbread cookies should have a slightly crisp exterior yet a soft and slightly crumbly exterior. If they begin to fall apart when you pick them up, they are undercooked. Conversely, if they are crunchy, they have been cooked too long.

Decorating Options

These chocolate chip shortbread cookies are already infused with color and dipped in chocolate for a beautiful presentation. However, feel free to spruce them up and decorate them to fit your needs. Some of my favorite options include: 

Sprinkles: Add an extra pop of festive color and cheer with your favorite sprinkles in the batter or add to the chocolate before it dries. 

Drizzled Chocolate: Feel free to drizzle instead of dunking the chocolate. Or, do both! A drizzle of white chocolate on top of the milk chocolate would look super pretty and taste incredible. 

Chopped Nuts: For a bit of extra crunch, add chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans on top of the chocolate dip. 
Icing: For an extra sweet flavor and cute design, decorate the top of your shortbread cookies with your favorite royal icing.

Chocolate cranberry orange shortbread cookies cookies up close.

How to Store and Freeze

Room Temperature: Shortbread cookies are great to give as gifts because they stay fresh longer than your average cookie recipe. Placed in an airtight container, they can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 week

Freezing Baked Shortbread Cookies: Fully baked cookies can be placed in a sealable bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. To prevent them from sticking together, I recommend wrapping each cookie in parchment paper. Or, place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes or until solid before transferring them to a container. 

Freezing Unbaked Shortbread Cookies: If you want to prepare your dough in advance, combine the ingredients as usual. Then, arrange the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet, and flash-freeze them for 1-2 hours or until solid. Transfer them to a freezer-safe container, and store them for up to 3 months

Then, when you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven, and bake as usual. You don’t have to thaw the dough, but you will likely need to add a few extra minutes of baking.

Tried these chocolate cranberry orange shortbread cookies? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. And consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Chocolate cranberry orange shortbread cookies on a plate.
5 from 2 votes

Chocolate Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate cranberry orange shortbread cookies are simple to make and full of dried cranberries, milk chocolate, and plenty of orange zest for a sweet, buttery flavor that’s out-of-this-world!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 22 minutes
Servings: 30
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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened at room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips , melted

Instructions 

  • In a stand mixing bowl combine butter and confectioners sugar and beat on medium speed until the mixture turns light and fluffy for 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla extract and salt and beat further for a minute.
  • Add the flour in batches and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Add the chopped cranberries and orange zest and mix until well combined.
  • Divide the cookie dough into two equal portions. Shape each portion into a log approximately 7 inches long and 2 inches wide (diameter) and wrap them on a cling wrap or plastic wrap separately. Refrigerate the cookie dough log for at least 1-hour minimum or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • When it's time to bake, remove the cling wrap and cut the cookie dough log into slices (about ⅓ inch thickness). Place them on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to turn a golden barely.
  • Once done, allow the cookies to cool down for 30 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, melt the milk chocolate in the microwave at intervals until completely melted. Dip each cookie in melted chocolate or drizzle some on the cookies and place it on parchment paper.
  • Once the chocolate on top is set, serve the cookies immediately or store them in an airtight container.

Notes

  • Let the butter come to room temperature for easy mixing and the best flavor. 
  • Feel free to use fresh cranberries instead of dried ones if you prefer. Just be sure to use a food processor to chop them up before adding them to the cookie dough. 
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer, feel free to combine the ingredients with a hand mixer instead. 
  • For even baking, I recommend placing your baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven for even baking, and only use one baking sheet at a time.
  • Avoid overbaking. You’ll want to pull the cookies out of the oven as soon as they begin to turn a golden brown. They might look slightly underdone, but they will continue to bake on the sheet as they cool.

Nutrition

Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 22 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 30
Calories: 127
Keyword: chocolate shortbread cookies, orange cranberry shortbread cookies, shortbread cookies
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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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