Don’t you just love holiday cookies? Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies are a favourite at my house this time of year, and baking them together around Christmastime has become a highly-anticipated tradition. These shortbread cookies — which are, by the way, one of the “official” holiday cookies — truly embrace the decadence of winter wonderlands and delicious feasts. And you can achieve that decadence right at home! It is amazing how the simplicity of butter, sugar, and flour can transform into the melt-in-your-mouth, soft, chewy goodness of a classic shortbread cookie.
Shortbread: A Delicious Classic Cookie
This simple cookie has staying power, and not just in the kitchen. Fun Fact! Shortbread actually originated in Scotland, possibly as long ago as the 12th century, and in the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots was said to be very fond of them. I learned these interesting facts in Bon Appétit’s article: Is Homemade Shortbread Worth the Effort? Yes, yes it is, my friend — give it a read!
Fortunately for us, you don’t have to be royal to enjoy these quick and easy Christmas cookies. Made with a classic brown sugar shortbread, these Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies feature tart cranberries and the crunch of toasted walnuts, which perfectly balance out the rich, buttery sweetness of this holiday classic. These cookies are both festive and deliciously decadent — they are the most fitting addition to any holiday gathering, big or small.
Are Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies Hard to Make?
Not at all! Shortbread is probably one of the simpler cookies that you can make. The dough itself requires only five ingredients, and start to finish, you can have 60 cookies made in just half an hour. Oh, and I promise, adding the cranberries and walnuts in this recipe doesn’t add much time or any difficulty! Best of all, shortbread cookies are great to make ahead of time. I like to make a batch and keep the dough in the freezer; then I can bring them out to bake when it’s time for Christmas cookie decorating or just an afternoon snack.
Here’s What You Need to Make This Cookie Recipe
- Unsalted butter
- Light brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Fresh cranberries, chopped
- Walnuts, chopped then toasted
How to Make This Recipe, Step By Step
Preheat your oven to 350°, then line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. Mix the dough.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Next, add in flour and salt and beat until a soft dough forms.
3. Add the cranberries and walnuts.
Stir in fresh, chopped cranberries and chopped, toasted walnuts.
4. Divide the dough.
Portion the dough in half and roll into balls.
5. If freezing.
At this point, you can either wrap the dough balls in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to a week, or freezer for up to a month. If you’re ready to bake, then move on to the next step!
Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the dough, one ball at a time, to 1/4 inch thick. Then using a cookie cutter, cut into rounds and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, or until edges turn golden.
7. Cool and serve.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely before serving.
Tips to Make the BEST Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies
Chill the dough.
While the taste of these cookies is reason enough to bake them, I honestly really like to focus on the presentation, especially if I’m giving these shortbread cookies as holiday gifts or serving them at a Christmas gathering. For best results, I actually try to chill the dough TWICE — yep, two times. I like to chill the dough once before I shape the dough and then again after (but before baking). Chilling the dough goes a long way toward helping each cookie keep its shape. Take my word for it, the extra steps make a huge difference.
Use fresh cranberries.
Cheerful, bright red cranberries add a festive appearance and a delicious tartness to these buttery little gems. You could substitute dried or frozen cranberries, but I just love the “freshness” of fresh ones — especially at this time of year, when we (at least here in Canada), don’t have a lot of freshness to choose from. Cranberries, although harvested in the fall, keep for a long time, and I always look forward to using fresh ones during the winter.
Add toasted walnuts.
Walnuts add a little bit of a bitter hint and a nice, subtle crunch to all the sweet richness of this buttery shortbread, which, I love. These walnuts are local, too — frozen for the winter, but perfect for so many recipes! We are fortunate to be able to get them, grown right here.
Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts toasted
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
- Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
- Add flour and salt and beat until a soft dough forms.
- Stir in cranberries and walnuts.
- Divide the dough in half and roll into balls.
- At this point, you can wrap the balls in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to a week, or freezer for up to a month.
- Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out dough, one ball at a time, to 1/4 inch thick.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut into rounds and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in center of the oven for 10 minutes, or until edges turn golden.
- Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.