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The secret to the absolute best cranberry orange cookies is using fresh cranberries. The fresh cranberries add a deliciously tart flavor to these buttery shortbread cookies and the colorful red swirls from the fresh cranberries create a visually beautiful cookie. Celebrate Christmas with a new holiday favorite.
If it’s true that we eat with our eyes then you’re going to gobble these cranberry orange cookies right up, so make a double batch to ensure you have enough for friends and family. The fresh tangy cranberries are perfect in this cookie. The cookie is tart, sweet, salty, and melt-in-your-mouth good. You won’t be able to stop at just one. And this is why I think this is the best cranberry orange cookie you will ever have.
To help ensure that my cookies have a great texture I used Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Their flour is finely milled flour which helps produce baked goods with a tender and light texture.
Why This Recipe Tastes So Good
This recipe is a variation of my Shortbread Cookie recipe. Orange zest is rubbed into the sugar to release the oils in the orange zest and give the cookie a strong orange flavor. The egg yolk helps tenderize the cookie and the final cookie is buttery and soft.
The cranberries give the cookies a refreshing sharp taste. Finally, the cookie dough log is rolled in demerara sugar which gives the cookie a nice crunchy edge. This combination of ingredients makes a really good cookie.
Ingredients You’ll Need for These Cookies
Here is what you’ll need for these amazing cranberry orange cookies
- Fresh Cranberries: Fresh cranberries are the star of this cookie. The cranberries add a nice tart flavor that goes well with the sweetness of the cookie. Plus they add beautiful jewel tones to the cookie. If you don't have fresh or frozen cranberries this recipe can be made with the same amount of dried cranberries. Just make sure to chop them before adding them to the cookie dough.
- Fresh Orange Zest: Orange and cranberry are one of the best combinations. The sweetness of the orange pairs so well with the tartness of the cranberries. The orange zest is rubbed into the sugar to give the cookies a beautiful floral orange flavor in every bite
- Bob's Red Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: The flour provides the structure that holds these delicious cookies together.
- Unsalted Butter: Butter adds amazing flavor to the cookies, plus it creates the tender texture of the shortbread. I always recommend unsalted butter, so you can control the amount of salt. If you like your cookies salty, you can use salted butter, but remember to eliminate the salt called for in the recipe.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar not only adds sweetness but also adds moisture to the cookie and granulated sugar produces slightly crispy edges.
- Large Egg: The egg yolk will be used in the cookie and the egg white is used to help the sugar adhere to the surface of the cookie dough. The egg yolk contributes to the color of the cookie and helps produce a nice tender cookie. If you’re allergic to eggs you can eliminate the egg. You will need to mix the dough a little longer for it to come together and knead the dough more to form the cookie log.
- Kosher Salt: A little salt elevates all the other flavors in this cookie recipe.
- Turbinado Sugar: This sugar adds a nice crunch to the outside of the cookie.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Cookies
During the holiday season, cranberries are one of my favorite holiday flavors which is why I think you'll love this cranberry orange cookie. And if you like the cranberry-orange combination too try these Cranberry Linzer Cookies.
Place the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and zest the orange directly onto the sugar until it looks like you have about 2 teaspoons. You may need two oranges depending on their size.
Rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers. This step further releases the citrus oils into the sugar and will help create a really fragrant orange cookie. Put the cranberries in a mini food processor and process for about 5 seconds. The cranberries should be a combination of large and small pieces.
Add all the butter and with the paddle attachment mix on medium speed until the batter is creamy about 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Next, add the egg yolk and mix on medium speed until the egg is thoroughly incorporated.
Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture starts to come together and forms large clumps. Add the chopped cranberries and mix on low speed until the cranberries are distributed throughout the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough until it comes together. Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll them into 1-1/2 inch logs that are about 7 inches long each.
Wrap each one in wax paper or plastic wrap that is at least 7 inches longer than the log. Roll the dough log back and forth a few times to even it out and make it rough.
Chill the cookie dough logs for at least one (1) hour and up to two days. You can also freeze the cookie logs for up to 2 months. When ready to make the cookies set them on counter to thaw out for 30 minutes before slicing.
How to Prep and Bake the Cookies
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you only have one cookie sheet, make sure the cookie sheet is completely cooled before baking the next batch of cookies.
Place one (1) egg white in a small bowl. Unwrap the cookie log and let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Brush the entire log with the egg white and then sprinkle the log with the turbinado sugar, rotating it to ensure you cover the entire log. Rotate the log a couple of times making sure to cover the entire log. Look for empty spots. You will need about two tablespoons per cookie log.
When the dough is completely covered slice the dough into 1/2-inch rounds. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet 1-1/2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes. The bottoms of the cookie will be a light golden brown so check the bottom of one of the cookies after 16 minutes. Since every oven is different I recommend doing a test bake of one cookie to see how long it takes to bake in your oven.
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling. These cookies are so good. They have a soft delightful texture and the sweet-tart combination tastes amazing. These cookies will make a nice addition to your holiday cookie tray
How to Store the Cookies
Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to two weeks. You can also freeze the baked or unbaked cookies for up to 2 months.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- Use oranges that look fresh for the orange zest. Do not use oranges that look dry or shriveled, you will not be able to get much zest or orange oil.
- Use a kitchen scale to weigh your flour. Too much flour will produce a dry cookie and too little flour will produce a cookie that won't hold its shape.
- Use room-temperature unsalted butter so that it easily mixes with the other ingredients
- Since butter is the prominent flavor use good quality butter. I recommend Tillamook or Kerrygold butter.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the cookie dough. Do not use a serrated knife.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, freeze the cookie dough after it's rolled into a log. Freeze the cookie dough for up to 2 months.
Yes, you can use dried cranberries instead of fresh cranberries. Substitute for the same amount.
Yes, you can make the cookies without the egg yolk. You will knead the cookie dough a little longer to form it into a log.
If You Like This Recipe, Try These Recipes
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Cranberry Orange Cookies
- 4 ounces (114 grams) granulated sugar
- 8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large (50 grams) egg separated
- 12 ounces (340 grams) Bob's Red Mill unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting the work surface
- 2 ounces fresh cranberries roughly chopped
- 1 egg white
- 1/3 cup demerara sugar
- Roughly chop the fresh cranberries in food processor or a by hand with a sharp knife. Separate the egg and place the egg yolk into one bowl and the egg white into another bowl. Refrigerate the egg white until ready to bake the cookies.
- Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Zest the orange on top of the sugar until you have about 2 teaspoons. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar. Add the kosher salt and the butter. With the paddle attachment beat the sugar, salt and butter on medium speed until it is well combined and looks creamy, 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add the egg yolk and mix on medium speed until the egg yolk is fully incorporated. Add all the flour and mix on medium-low speed just until the dough starts to come together and forms large clumps. Add the chopped cranberries and mix on low until the cranberries are dispersed throughout the dough. The dough will still be large clumps and have streaks of red.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Gently gather the dough together into a disk by gently pressing the dough together and shaping it into a round disk. Divide the dough into two pieces, weighing about 370 grams each.
- Shape each dough half into a 7-inch long, 1-1/2 diameter log, by forming it into a short cylinder and then rolling it back and form with open hands. Move your hands from the center to the outside edges and back again to maintain even thickness. Add additional flour to surface as needed.
- Wrap the parchment paper around your dough log, lengthwise. Then twist each end of the paper into pigtails in opposite directions (one towards you and one away from you) to form a locking mechanism. With each twist, the dough will compress and becomes smoothed out (think of it like a sausage in a casing). Roll from the center outward until you feel that you have a smooth, cylindrical log.
- Chill the dough for at least 1 hours and up to 2 days.
Baking the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Remove one of the logs of cookie dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Brush the entire cookie dough log with egg white and then sprinkle the dough with the demerara (turbinado) sugar. Press the sugar into the dough as you rotate the log.
- Slice the log with a sharp knife into 1/2-inch rounds and place them on a cookie sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 15-17 minutes. The bottom of the cookie will be light golden brown. If the cookies are brown on top reduce the baking time by 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then use a spatula to move them to a wire rack.
- Store the cookies in airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The cookies taste even better on the second day.
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