I always, always have one last-minute recipe to share riiiight before Christmas. But, with a recipe like these Orange Shortbread Cookies with Cranberry Glaze, I had to make sure to share as soon as possible!
These Orange Shortbread Cookies with Cranberry Glaze are the most flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread you've ever tasted! Flavored with orange zest and orange oil, with a beautiful glaze made from fresh cranberries, you'll want make these beauties for the holidays and all winter long!
Here is everything that you'll need for this recipe! You'll notice that powdered sugar is in the photo twice, and that's because you need it for both the cookies and the glaze. Measurements for each of the ingredients is included in the recipe card, below.
Orange Shortbread Cookie Ingredients
- Flour - Provides structure for the cookies. I used all-purpose flour.
- Salt - To balance and enhance the flavors of the cookies.
- Unsalted Butter - For moisture and richness. Unsalted butter so that you control the amount of salt in the recipe. You want your butter to be at room temperature.
- Powdered Sugar - For sweetness. I use powdered sugar here because it gives you that melt-in-your-mouth texture that all shortbread should have!
- Orange Zest - For flavor.
- Orange Juice - For flavor and moisture.
- Orange Oil (optional) - I use orange oil to heighten the orange flavor in the cookies. I've found that the oil has more concentrated flavor than orange extract. If you'd prefer not to buy orange oil, you can use orange extract or just add a bit more zest to your dough.
Cranberry Glaze Ingredients
- Cranberries - For flavor and color. You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. If using frozen, there is no need to thaw them, they will just take a few extra minutes to break down. (Make sure you check the recipe notes if you're considering using store-bought juice!)
- Powdered Sugar - For sweetness, and because it dissolves and gives the glaze a smooth texture. I sift my powdered sugar first to ensure the glaze isn't lumpy.
Here is how to make these cookies, step by step! Additional detail is provided in the recipe card, below.
Combine the butter, powdered sugar, and orange zest. Add orange juice and orange oil and mix to combine.
Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix just until no flour can be seen. Press dough into a ball.
Roll dough into a log, then roll in sparkling sugar, if desired. Chill at least one hour.
Cut log into slices and freeze 10 minutes before baking.
Bake until edges are just barely golden, then cool completely.
Dip cooled cookies in cranberry glaze, and allow to set before serving.
Hint: I placed two strips of orange peel on top of the glaze as a garnish. While beautiful (and yummy), it doesn't last long before the peels starts to sink into the glaze and/or start to dry out. If you want to add this detail, I suggest waiting until close to when you plan to serve the cookies to do so. The glaze sets up in about 30 minutes. (Also--if you're interested, there's a link to the tool I used to make the strips in the "Equipment" section, below.)
Never miss a recipe! Sign up as a Live to Sweet VIP and receive a weekly newsletter with recipes and tips--no spam ever! Sign up here
Here are a few quick and easy changes you can make to the recipe to have an entirely different flavor profile!
- Lemon and/or Lime- Instead of orange zest and orange oil, use lemon and/or lime!
- Grapefruit- Somehow grapefruit is the citrus that's always overlooked! For an unexpected treat, use grapefruit zest and juice to make grapefruit shortbread!
- Chocolate Orange - Instead of using cranberry glaze, which has a decidedly holiday (or at least winter) vibe, dip the cookies in melted chocolate instead for a year-round treat!
For another fruity shortbread cookie recipe, check out my Strawberry Shortbread Cookies!
You don't need to have any special equipment to make this recipe, but here are a few things that I used to make it a little easier:
- Microplane Zester - Most people already have a zester or grater of some kind, but this one is my favorite.
- Bowl Scraper - I like to use a bowl scraper to press the dough together in the bowl because it's flexible shape makes the job much easier, and it keeps my hands and countertop a bit cleaner. They're easy to store and easy on the wallet if you'd like to get yourself one!
- Nonstick Parchment - I like using nonstick parchment on my pans to ensure no sticking and for easier cleanup.
- Citrus Tool - If you're interested in making the orange peel strips that I made to garnish the cookies, this tool is how to make them! Check the recipe notes for more detail on the garnish!
This cookie dough can be frozen (already rolled into a log) in an airtight container for up to three months, then just slice and bake!
Baked and cooled cookies can be well wrapped in an airtight container and frozen for up to three months. It's best to freeze them without the glaze, then add the glaze after they're thawed.
The baked, cooled, and glazed cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days, but they have the best texture in the first 2-3 days. Be sure to separate layers of cookies with parchment or wax paper so that they don't stick together.
I don't suggest making the glaze in advance. It has the best consistency when you've just made it. That said, the cranberry juice can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, which makes making the glaze super simple and fast!
You may be tempted to use store-bought cranberry juice, which I can understand due to the small amount of cranberries needed and the added step in the recipe. Just note that store-bought juices sometimes contain more than just cranberry juice ("cranberry juice cocktail"). Also, store-bought juice will be thinner than what I used, since it contains no pulp at all. This means that if you use store-bought juice, you will need less of it to reach a glaze consistency, and your flavor and color will likely not be as strong as mine.
Other Recipes You May Like
Orange Shortbread Cookies with Cranberry Glaze
Orange Shortbread Cookies
- ½ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (see note)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, powdered sugar, and orange zest. Beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add orange juice and orange oil (see note) and mix to combine.
- Gradually add the flour/salt mixture and mix just until you can't see flour anymore. Mixture won't come completely together into a ball and will be a bit crumbly, which is what you want.
- Use a bowl scraper (see note) to press the dough together into a ball inside the bowl, or turn the dough out onto your counter and press together with your hands. (I like to use the bowl scraper to keep my hands/counter cleaner.) Roll the dough into a 12-inch long log that's as round as you can manage. Roll the log in sparkling sugar, if desired.
- Wrap the dough and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour (you can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to two days if you'd like).
- Once chilled, preheat your oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
- Slice the dough into ¼-inch rounds. I find that a thin, serrated knife (like a bread knife) works best. Place the rounds 1-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and freeze for 10 minutes before baking.
- Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are just barely golden around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
For Cranberry Glaze
- Warm cranberries and water in a small saucepan over low heat until cranberries burst and give off their juice. I smush them with a spatula once they've burst to help them along. If you're using frozen cranberries, there's no need to thaw them, they will just take a few minutes longer to break down.
- Press the cranberries through a fine mesh strainer, saving the juice. I ended up with about 2 tablespoons of juice. Discard the cranberry pulp/skin left in the strainer.
- Pour the cranberry juice (see note) into the sifted powdered sugar and stir to combine. If the mixture is too thin you can add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it. If too thick, add a small amount of water (½ teaspoon at a time) until you reach the desired consistency.
- Dip each of the cooled shortbread cookies into the glaze, allowing the glaze to set before serving. If desired, you can garnish with orange peel as I did (see note).Enjoy!