Orange, cranberry, and pistachio shortbread cookies are a delicious version of one of my favorite cookies. Buttery and flaky, the shortbread cookie dough is super versatile. With green pistachios, red cranberries, and orange zest for flavor, this version is one of my favorites around the holidays.
Shortbread Cookie Base
This shortbread cookie base recipe is super easy and very versatile. The dough recipe is the base of several of my favorite cookies. It works perfectly for these simple Earl Grey Short Bread Cookies and is also a surprisingly great base for these spicy Jalapeno Lime Shortbread Cookies. For the holidays I more making a large batch and serve these Orange, Cranberry, and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Cardamom Shortbread Cookies Dipped in Chocolate and Almonds and Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies with Vanilla Glaze.
These shortbread cookies freeze amazingly well too. You can freeze the dough, but what’s great is that they hold incredible texture in the freezer even after being baked. That way, in a pinch, you have ready-to-eat shortbread cookies anytime you need a slightly buttery treat. I like to hide them in the back of the freezer, so I am the only one who knows they are there.
Orange zest is a flavorful ingredient that can add a bright, citrusy twist to traditional shortbread cookies. Orange zest is packed with aromatic oils that bring a zing of fresh flavor to baked goods. When making shortbread cookies, incorporating a the orange zest in the softened butter 2 hours before making the dough will enhance the flaver.
Dried cranberries and pistachios
Dried cranberries and pistachios are a winning combination when it comes to shortbread cookies. The dried cranberries add a chewy texture and a sweet-tart flavor, while the pistachios provide a crunchy contrast with their nutty taste. The festive pop of red and green from the cranberries and pistachios not only makes these cookies a visual delight but also a delicious treat for the holidays. Whether you chop the cranberries and pistachios for a more rustic texture or leave them whole for a pop of color, adding them to shortbread cookies is a simple way to elevate the flavor and texture of these classic treats.
Butter is the key ingredient in shortbread cookies and it is crucial to use butter that is at room temperature. When butter is too cold, it can lead to dense and heavy cookies, while using melted butter can cause the cookies to spread too much during baking. Room temperature butter is soft and pliable, which allows it to easily mix with the other dry ingredients and create a smooth and creamy dough. To ensure the butter is at the right consistency, leave it on the counter for about 30 minutes to an hour before starting the recipe. Properly softened butter is essential in creating a tender and crumbly shortbread cookie that melts in your mouth.
Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners' sugar, is a common ingredient in shortbread cookie recipes. While it adds a touch of sweetness to the cookies, its main purpose is to help create a tender and delicate texture. Powdered sugar is finer than granulated sugar and dissolves more easily, which results in a smoother dough and a lighter, more crumbly cookie. The fine texture of powdered sugar also helps to keep the cookie from becoming too dense or heavy. using powdered sugar in shortbread cookies is an essential step in achieving the delicate and tender texture that makes these cookies so irresistible.
Flour is a crucial component in shortbread cookie recipes and all-purpose flour is the preferred choice. Without flour, the mixture would simply be buttercream frosting, (which let's be honest would not be the worst thing :), but it would lack the structure and body necessary for a cookie. The flour provides the stability and structure to the dough, allowing it to hold its shape during baking and creating a crumbly and tender cookie.
Start prepping your butter to room temperature.
Once your butter is soft enough, mix in the orange zest. (if you’re looking for a more robust orange flavor, let the butter sit with the orange zest for two hours- but if you are not patient enough for this step, no one will judge you).
Mix in the salt and vanilla extract until it’s fully incorporated into the butter.
Next, you will slowly incorporate the powdered sugar into the butter.
If you’re using a stand mixer, keep the speed on low. Scrape the bowl with a spatula as needed to ensure everything gets incorporated.
Mix the flour into the dough, one cup, until thoroughly combined.
Add the chopped cranberry and pistachio and mix until thoroughly combined.
Once the mixture comes together into a workable dough, move it to a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick log. Tightly wrap in dough and parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350.
After the dough has time to set up and chill in the refrigerator, use a sharp knife to slice the dough into ½ disk.
Alternatively, if you want more uniform shapes, use a lightly floured rolling pin to work the dough into a thin sheet. Start using the rolling pin like a hammer to loosen the dough up. Once it is softer, switch to a rolling motion to create a quarter-inch thin sheet. Be sure to flip the dough over and lightly flour the rolling pin and dough as needed to prevent sticking to the working surface.
Use a sharp knife or a cookie cutter to create your preferred cookie shapes.
Place the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until just slightly golden on the bottom side.
Allow the cookies to cool slightly before serving.
Store the cookies at room temperature for up to a week in an airtight container. You can also freeze the baked cookies for months. It’s incredible how well they hold their buttery, flaky textures for so long in the freezer.
If you’ve tried this Orange, Cranberry, and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies recipe or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals and anything else I’m up to.
Orange, Cranberry, and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
- 10 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ salt
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ all-purpose flour
- ½ dried cranberries
- ½ chopped pistachios
- Start prepping your butter to room temperature.
- Once your butter is soft enough, mix in the orange zest.
- Mix in the salt and vanilla extract until it’s fully incorporated into the butter.
- Next, you will slowly incorporate the powdered sugar into the butter.
- Mix the flour into the dough, one cup, until thoroughly combined.
- Add the chopped cranberry and pistachio and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Once the mixture comes together into a workable dough, move it to a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick log.
- Tightly wrap in dough and parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- After the dough has time to set up and chill in the refrigerator, use a sharp knife to slice the dough into ½ disk.
- Use a sharp knife or a cookie cutter to create your preferred cookie shapes.
- Place the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until just slightly golden on the bottom side.