Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

3.75 from 16 votes

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This buttery shortbread is filled with cranberries, pistachios and orange zest. It’s an easy slice and bake cookie is perfect for the holidays.Cranberry pistachio shortbread with a glass of milk

If you’re looking for a buttery, flavorful shortbread recipe – then this cranberry pistachio shortbread is perfect. Sometimes I find shortbread can tastes bland or boring, but not these. They have a delicious crunch without being dry, and are filled with Christmas flavors thanks to fresh orange zest, tart cranberries and pistachios.

Stack of slice and bake cookiesLike all classic shortbread – there are only 3 main ingredients: butter, sugar and flour. The classic, buttery shortbread flavor comes from the obvious culprit. So you really must use 100%, real butter – no substitutions here. Because butter is rich on its own, there isn’t too much sugar in the recipe. Then we’re using just the right amount of flour. Make sure to whisk the flour first, then spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the top when measuring. Or use a weigh scale which is definitely the most accurate way to measure – I’ve included the weights in the recipe.

Note – too much flour and shortbread gets dry and flavorless. Not enough and it can fall apart or spread too thin.

Then for flavorings we’re adding in freshly grated orange zest, dried cranberries and pistachios. You’ll need to roughly chop the cranberries and pistachios first. This is important because if you don’t the cookies can fall apart if the pieces are too big.

What’s great about this shortbread recipe is that it’s a slice and bake variety. Therefore you can make the dough in advance and pop it in the fridge for up to 4 days before baking, or freeze for up to 2 months. Then thaw in the fridge overnight before baking. You’ll divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, and then form each half into a log shape about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. It’s really important to form the dough into a dense, tight log. Continue to press the dough together tightly as you form each log. You’ll wrap each log in wax paper or parchment, twist the ends and then pop it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, simply unwrap the log and slice into cookies about 1/4 inch thick.

Log of unbaked shortbread cookie dough sliced into cookies.

This tasty cranberry pistachio shortbread is simple, buttery, and not too sweet. If you’d like to take it up a notch, you can even dip half of each cookie in white chocolate.

I love cranberries, pistachios and orange zest as a delicious flavor combo for the holidays. And if you’re looking for more cranberry recipes, I’d recommend trying:

Cranberry orange shortbread on a plate with a glass of milk.

Note: After receiving comments from readers that the dough was difficult to work with and too dry, I updated this recipe December 1, 2023 to adjust for this.

Stack of slice and bake cookies
3.75 from 16 votes

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

This buttery shortbread is filled with cranberries, pistachios and orange zest. It's an easy slice and bake cookie is perfect for the holidays.
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Chilling: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 36 cookies
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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar*
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour*, AKA plain flour - 250 grams
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries , chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted pistachios*, chopped

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • With the mixer on low speed mix in the flour, salt and orange zest until just combined. The dough will be thick.
  • Stir in the chopped cranberries and pistachios.
  • Place a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Take 1/2 of the dough, place it on the sheet of wax paper and form it into a log shape about 1 to 1 1/2 inch (2-3 cm) in diameter. Roll up the log in wax paper and twist the ends. Really think of packing the log tightly as you form the log.
  • Repeat the process with the 2nd half of the dough, so you end up with 2 logs.
  • Place the logs in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or up to 3 days. Logs can be frozen for up to 2 months in a freezer container, then thaw overnight in the fridge before baking.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325F (16FC) and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
  • Take 1 log out of the fridge at a time, unwrap the log and slice into cookies about 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick (about 0.5 cm).
  • Place cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake for 14-17 minutes, or until the tops looks set and around the edges are starting to turn golden brown.

Notes

  1. Recipe Update: After reviews from readers about the dough being too crumbly to work with, the recipe was updated December 1, 2023. 
  2. This recipe doesn't use too much sugar - which is typical of shortbread. 
  3. Make sure to measure the flour correctly. Either whisk it first, spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the top. Or use a weighing scale for the most correct measurement. 
  4. You'll want to use shelled pistachios with the skin off.
  5. Logs can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days before baking. Or place cookie dough logs in a freezer container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw logs in the fridge overnight, then slice and bake. Do not thaw dough on the counter because it will get too soft.
  6. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months.
  7. Nutrition information is an estimate only and based on 1 cookie, assuming the recipe yields 36 equal-sized cookies. 

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 17mg, Potassium: 37mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 164IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I followed the former recipe and made two separate logs out of the dough. I used baker’s sugar, a 1/2 cup, and 2 1/2 cups of flour. I didn’t see the edited recipe with the extra quarter cup of sugar, “powdered”, and less flour until now.
    I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap as suggested and put the logs in the refrigerator for about 5 hours. They were very firm and sliced up easily before baking. The slices are small so if you like a larger cookie make a fatter log out of the dough but still slice them as indicated. These cookies do not spread; I did not place them 2 inches apart. They were fine with just a little space between each. Cookies turned out very well! Delicious! Not sure if I’ll try the edited version, however.

  2. 5 stars
    I made these gluten-free using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour. I measure gluten-free flour by weight and used 270 g plus 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum. The dough held together just fine and was easy to work with. I did detect a slight bitterness but am thinking that may have come from the orange zest. These are a delicious non-chocolate addition to my Christmas cookie lineup.

  3. Is this only 2 inches? Mine did not melt into a cookie and I did EXACTLY what the new recipe called for.EXACTLY. It tasted okay just really small for a cookie

    1. Hi Stacy,

      I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure what you mean by melt into a cookie. The cookies will be the same size as the slices. They are definitely smaller in size, compared to say, the very large cookies you buy in cafes like Starbucks.

  4. 4 stars
    many said dough was crumbly? Mine was fine but I used all granulated sugar. I did leave in freezer one night then defrosted over night in fridge

  5. Mine turned out great! I did the prep yedtersay, refrigerated overnight, and baked today. I followed the recipe. The cookies turned out light and buttery. They were perfect with hot tea this morning. 💜

  6. Thank you Fiona for sharing your recipe. I made them and dipped them in white chocolate and red decorator sugar and they turned out so beautiful!

  7. My favorite cookie recipe! I followed the directions to the letter and had no problem.
    I suggest having the logs throughly chilled and use a very sharp knife to cut the dough before baking.

  8. 5 stars
    I am just baking the second roll now. The shortbread turned out perfectly. I followed the directions exactly as written. I do plan to either dip or drizzle with white chocolate to “fancy” them up a little. Can’t wait to taste them!

      1. 5 stars
        I followed your recipe and the cookies turned out delicious! I sprinkled just a little powdered sugar on the cookies after they cooled, and even though they were wonderful without it, it added a whole other level of deliciousness!! The downside of adding the powdered sugar is that it hides how beautiful the cookies are with the pretty red cranberries and green pistachios!