This festive fresh cranberry shortbread cookie recipe uses fresh cranberries instead of dried. The fresh cranberries give this recipe a nice tart flavor and I promise you won't miss the extra sugar.
This is the best time of year to make fresh cranberry shortbread cookies. You may be able to find frozen cranberries any time of year, but why not buy a couple of extra bags now, and toss them into the freezer, while they are still in season?
Using Fresh Cranberries in Shortbread Cookies
I wanted to use the fresh cranberries that I had bought for some other recent projects like the wood, candle, cranberry, fresh evergreen centerpiece, and cranberry garland in the rustic tree decoration post.
There are many cranberry shortbread recipes out there, and they are all very similar. Heavy on butter, usually no baking soda or baking powder, making them dense and delicious.
However, most use dried cranberries. That's fine but they typically are loaded with sugar and not as tart. I really like the tartness of the cranberries. And less sugar is always a bonus as long as the taste is there.
The result was amazing, and I felt good about using the fresh cranberries because it cut down on the sugar content. But let me tell you they are still plenty sweet.
What You'll Need
- Fresh cranberries
- Butter - I use salted. If you want to use unsalted butter add 1 teaspoon of salt to the flour and mix well.
- Sugar - regular granulated white
- Flour - standard all-purpose
- Lemon zest - can substitute orange zest here
Cookie Baking Tips:
- If you use a food processor to chop the berries you may find extra liquid that will turn the dough pink. If the color doesn't bother you then go ahead and use it. However, you can also chop by hand or dry the chopped berries with a paper towel to keep the dough white.
- My mother taught me this and I almost always do it when baking cookies. Halfway through the cooking time switch the trays. Move the top cookie sheet to the bottom rack and the one on the bottom to the top. It really helps the cookies bake evenly.
- Once you mix up the dough you need to refrigerate it in logs. I like this because you can make the dough in a short time, and then whip up the cookies later or even the next day. Since all you have to do is slice them and place them on a cookie sheet, they come together pretty quickly.
- Also, if you bake often you may notice that your oven and my oven are not exactly the same. You may need to leave the cookies in for an extra minute or two. Or, you may need to take them out a little early.
Can you use frozen cranberries in this recipe?
Though fresh is best for this recipe, in my opinion, you may note that some of my readers have used frozen cranberries with no problem. One did say that the dough turned a little pink but they liked it.
Can You Freeze Them?
They freeze really well, so you can make them ahead. I think it's because they have a high butter content. It might make them a good candidate for shipping to family and friends too.
I think they are one of the prettier Christmas cookies I make. A great festive color for your holiday cookie tray or a cookie exchange party.
Fresh Cranberry Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh cranberries roughly chopped
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Combine butter and sugar and mix together in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended.
- Add the flour about 1/2 at a time and mix until combined.
- Add chopped raw cranberries and lemon zest, mix well.
- Transfer about 1/2 of the cookie dough onto plastic wrap and roll into a log.
- Continue with the remaining dough.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Slice dough into 1/4 inch rounds onto baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes.
- Switch pans by moving the top pan to the bottom and the bottom pan to the top, then bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the cookies start to brown.
- Remove the baked cookies from oven for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Store in an airtight container or freeze.
- Makes about 2.5 dozen.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts have been made to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.