Cranberry shortbread cookies are buttery, soft, and they melt in your mouth! Hands down, one of the best Christmas cookies to make and share.
Baking season is here, and we absolutely love to make all kinds of cookies! Crinkle cookies, thumbprint cookies, sandwich cookies, and chocolate chip cookies are just some of the cookie recipes we have.
Shortbread cookies are soft and airy made with a whole lot of butter! Originally a British treat (also known as a “biscuit” overseas), the US has taken a liking for these holiday cookies.
Compared to traditional sugar or chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies use less ingredients, and incorporates cornstarch.
The key to keeping shortbread cookies from spreading is to chill the shortbread cookie dough to bring the butter back to a solid state.
Using cornstarch to make shortbread cookies allows the cookies to have less gluten, which helps keep the cookie soft and light in texture, instead of so dense from the added gluten. (Plus, it’s a cheaper alternative to cake flour!)
Fresh cranberries are not ideal to use in shortbread cookies. The liquid to dry ingredients ratio must be precise to ensure the best shortbread cookies.
Dried cranberries are a must for cranberry shortbread cookies.
In a large bowl, mix the butter until light and creamy. This should take abut 4-5 minutes.
Remember, softened butter is the key! Do not melt butter in the microwave either.
Quick Tip: Warm a tall glass cup with water in the microwave for about a minute. Empty cup and flip upside down to cover an upright stick of butter.
Leave alone for a few minutes. This helps soften the butter, repeat as necessary.
Once the butter is creamed, add in the vanilla extract and the powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
Next, pour in the flour and cornstarch mixture (a little at a time), fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture with a mixing spoon or spatula.
DO NOT OVER MIX! Over mixing cookie dough results in tough, hard cookies because the gluten is over activated.
Fold in the finely chopped white chocolate chips and finely chopped dried cranberries to make the cranberry shortbread cookie dough.
Next, with your clean hands, gently form a ball with the shortbread cookie dough.
Refrigerate cranberry shortbread cookie dough for a minimum of 30 minutes, and ideally for an hour or two.
Once the cookie dough has chilled, place on a floured surface to roll until it’s a quarter inch thick.
If your cookie dough is thicker than a quarter inch, the chances of your cookies not being super soft goes up, since it will take longer to cook the center of a thicker cookie.
Cut out circles with a 2 ½ inch circle cookie cutter, and place onto a parchment paper lined metal baking sheet pan.
Metal keeps an even cooking temperature and heats up quickly, which ensures you do not have damp cookies.
You can use fun and festive cookie cutters, just keep them around 2 ½ inches so that they bake evenly.
Using parchment sheets makes for an easy cleanup and ensures the cookies release easily. (Although, they should since shortbread cookies are a high butter content cookie.)
After the cookies are rolled and cut, we refrigerate them for about 30 minutes before baking. This helps the cookies retain their shape.
Place into a preheated oven for ONLY 18-20 minutes or until the edges JUST start turning slightly golden.
The trick to super soft shortbread cookies is to remove the cookies from the oven about a minute or two before they’re completely baked through.
Remove and place the sheet pan over the stove. Let the cookies rest for five minutes. While resting the cranberry shortbread cookies can continue cooking with the heat of the pan.
After five minutes, transfer to a cookie rack to cool completely.
To fix crumbly shortbread cookie dough, add in a few drops of water or wet your hands with a little softened butter. Do this sparingly and with caution, you do not want to over-wet or over mix your cookie dough.
Thankfully the shelf life of shortbread cookies is long!
As long as these cranberry shortbread cookies are stored in an airtight container, it should last up to 4 weeks in a cool dry place. (Do not pack them in tightly, give them space to breathe.)
Freezing shortbread cookies is completely fine to do!
To freeze baked shortbread cookie dough, first make sure that the baked cookies are completely cooled.
To use the frozen shortbread cookie dough, place the cookie dough into a bowl and let it completely defrost and come to room temperature before rolling.
Quick tip: Hold the defrosted dough in your hands for a minute or two so your body heat can transfer into the cookie dough to hopefully soften the center more.
Then you can stack 3-4 cookies with a small piece of parchment or freezing paper between the cookies. Flash freeze these cookie bundles, and then place them into a freezer friendly air tight container or bag.
Baked shortbread cookies freeze well for 3-4 weeks.
To reheat frozen baked shortbread cookies, let the cookies completely thaw and come to room temperature before breaking apart the stacks and serving.
Give the gift of cookies to co-workers and neighbors this year with these great cookie recipe ideas: