Classic shortbread cookies got a major upgrade with fresh cranberries and orange zest!! You’ll love melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture with bright holiday flavors!
Key Ingredient Notes:
All-purpose flour – I highly recommend a kitchen scale to weigh your flour. It’s the best way to accurately measure flour without getting too much. If you don’t have one, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the flat edge of a butter knife.
Sugar – Shortbread are subtly sweet! You only need 1/3 cup and a tablespoon.
Cornstarch – A small amount of cornstarch produces a softer cookie.
Salt – Salt enhances sweetness and rounds out the flavors. Don’t skip it. Cookies without salt taste flat and one-noted.
Unsalted butter – I always bake with unsalted butter, so I control the amount of salt. If you only have salted butter, omit the salt from this recipe.
Fresh cranberries – I prefer fresh cranberries for their tangy flavor, but dried cranberries work great too! If using dried cranberries, use the exact same amount, ¼ cup equals 35 grams of dried cranberries.
Orange zest – Use a microplane to zest the outside of an orange. It’s where all the citrusy flavor lies. Avoid the white pith, since it has a bitter flavor.
How to make these shortbread cookies:
1. MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Add the butter cubes and mix until the butter is evenly dispersed throughout the flour, about 3 minutes. The mixture should look like wet sand and form into a ball when you squeeze it with your hands.
Stir in the cranberries and orange zest.
2. ROLL & SLICE THE SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Dump the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat, and knead it into a smooth ball.
Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll it into a 4×12-inch rectangle. Use your hands to help you shape it.
Place the rectangle onto a sheet pan and put it in the freezer. Let the dough freeze for 20 minutes so it’s easier to slice.
Remove the cookie dough from the freezer and carefully slice it into 24 evenly sized sticks. Place the cookies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
3. BAKE THE COOKIES
Bake the shortbread for about 20 minutes at 325°F, or until the edges turn slightly brown. If the cookies look too brown when they come out of the oven, they’re overbaked!
Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.