Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

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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.

A pile of shortbread cookies

What are shortbread cookies?

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.

Do I have to chill shortbread cookies?

The key to keeping shortbread cookies from spreading is to chill the shortbread cookie dough to bring the butter back to a solid state.

Ingredients Used In Shortbread Cookies

  • softened salted butter
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract (almond extract works too)
  • all-purpose flour
  • cornstarch
  • dried cranberries
  • white chocolate chips

Why do shortbread cookies use cornstarch?

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!)

Can I use fresh cranberries for my shortbread cookie?

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.

ingredients for shortbread cookies

How To Make 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.

creaming butter for cookies

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.

creamed butter and flour in a mixing bowl

Fold in the finely chopped white chocolate chips and finely chopped dried cranberries to make the cranberry shortbread cookie dough.

mixing shortbread cookies

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.

rolled out cranberry shortbread cookies

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.

cookie cutter cutting circles

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.

cookies on parchment paper

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.

cookies cooling on a rack

What if my shortbread cookie dough is too crumbly?

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.

How long with cranberry shortbread cookies last?

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.)

Can you freeze shortbread cookies?

Freezing shortbread cookies is completely fine to do!

  • To freeze shortbread cookie dough, roll the cookie dough into a ball, and place into a freezer safe Ziploc bag.
  • The cookie dough will last in the freezer up to three months.

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.

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

4.70 from 10 votes
Cranberry shortbread cookies are buttery, soft, and they melt in your mouth! Hands down, one of the best Christmas cookies to make and share.
Servings 28
Prep Time 15 minutes

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  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • In a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream the butter until light and creamy.
  • Mix in the vanilla.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar to the butter mixture beating well.
  • In a medium bowl mix together the flour and cornstarch.
  • Gradually stir the flour/cornstarch mix into the creamed mixture until just incorporated.
  • Fold in the cranberries and white chocolate. Mix just enough to evenly combine.
  • Use your hands to form the dough into a ball.
  • On a floured surface roll the dough to ¼ inch thick.
  • Use a 2 ½ inch round cutter to cut out cookies and place on prepared pans.
  • **Chill the dough for about 30 minutes before baking.**
  • Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until just set and very lightly browned on the edges.
  • Allow to cool on the pans for 5 minutes before removing cookies to wire rack to cool completely.


The calories shown are based on the recipe making 28 cookies, with 1 serving being 1 cookie. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**


Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 18mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 124
Keyword cranberry dessert, EASY COOKIE RECIPE, shortbread cookies

Holiday Cookie Recipes To Give Away

Give the gift of cookies to co-workers and neighbors this year with these great cookie recipe ideas:

Cranberry shortbread cookies are buttery, soft, and they melt in your mouth! Hands down, one of the best Christmas cookies to make and share.
About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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4.70 from 10 votes (5 ratings without comment)
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1 year ago

4 stars
I use the ingredients listed, but I don’t roll them. Simply drop a tablespoon – ish of the dough onto my parchment paper. One of my all time favorite cookies!

Lorena Van Koll
3 years ago

5 stars
I made these today and they are my new favourite cookie. I followed the ingredients and mixing directions exactly but then instead or rolling and slicing I used a 1Tbsp scoop and flattened them to 1/4 in and baked without chilling.
They turned out amazing!

Michelle Johnson
3 years ago

4 stars
I made these exactly like the recipe and used unsalted butter. They definitely needed salt. Of course either used salted butter or add salt. This was obvious and I’m kicking myself for missing the step.

3 years ago

I should have rolled into a log before chilling………….absolute nightmare to roll. I won’t try these again. Instead, I will stop into my local bakery. Good Luck Bakers! I’m sure you will have more success than I did………

Charlotte Moore
4 years ago

5 stars
I made these cookies yesterday. I used half salted and half unsalted butter. Ha!! My husband really liked them. I rolled mine into a lob and sliced them. I don’t like to roll out and cut cookies. HA!! I also added a little orange zest. Rolled 1 log in fine pecans.

Charlotte Moore
4 years ago

5 stars
Since there is no added salt do you use salted butter? These really look good.