My soft and chewy orange cranberry cookies are infused with real orange zest and juice (no extracts or flavors!). They’re punctuated with pops of fresh cranberries and are so festive. No chilling required!
A Festive Flavor Combination
Following closely on the heels of my cranberry orange muffins, today I have another fun & festive cranberry-infused recipe to share. While the cookies themselves are quite easy to make, the recipe itself was a bit tricky to master.
To get an authentic orange flavor without any extracts, I incorporated orange juice and orange zest into the batter. These added amazing flavor; however, they were very wet and created cakey cookies–something that needed to be fixed as I’m team soft and chewy cookie.
To remedy this, I knew I had to cut the liquid elsewhere. In this case, that meant omitting the egg whites and using just 2 egg yolks instead (a tip I picked up from my lemon poppy seed cookies).
The end result? Soft, chewy, and brightly flavored orange cookies punctuated with pops of tart cranberries. We’ll roll them in a little orange sugar before baking, too, which adds the final extra punch of orange flavor to balance that strong, tart flavor of the cranberries. These are seriously SO good, brightly flavored and perfectly festive, and I can’t wait for you to try them!
What You Need
Before we begin, let’s briefly go over the ingredients you need to make this cookie recipe a success:
- Fresh Oranges. How many oranges you need will depend on their size. I can often get away with one large one, but I’d recommend grabbing two just to be safe!
- Cranberries. Make sure to wash, dry, and inspect your cranberries before adding them to the cookie dough. I talk about making these cookies with dried cranberries in the FAQ section below.
- Unsalted butter. We’ll start with softened butter and cream it with our sugars and orange zest. This step draws out the oils in the orange zest and infuses that flavor throughout the dough. If you only have salted butter, you can reduce the salt in the recipe to ¼ teaspoon.
- Egg yolks. As I mentioned above, we will only need egg yolks in this recipe. You can discard your egg whites or use them to make coconut macaroons (my recipe uses exactly two egg whites!), meringue cookies, or French macarons.
- Cornstarch. A tablespoon of cornstarch here ensures our orange cranberry cookies will stay tender and chewy, but NOT cakey.
Just like with my cranberry orange muffins, we are intentionally leaving out the vanilla extract in this recipe, as I found it conceals the orange flavor too much.
SAM’S TIP: Spruce up your orange cranberry cookies with white chocolate! You can either add white chocolate chips to the batter or drizzle the tops with melted white chocolate after they cool.
This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Orange Cranberry Cookies
- Beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl until smooth and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks and orange juice, then mix until fully incorporated.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the wet ingredients.
- Fold in the cranberries until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Make the orange sugar – rub the orange zest and granulated sugar together with your fingers, making sure to fully infuse the sugar with orange zest.
- Scoop and roll 1 ½ tablespoon balls of dough between your palms before rolling the orange sugar topping. Place 2″ apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 11-13 minutes at 350F (175C) and let cool for 5-10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.
SAM’S TIP: For soft and chewy results, take the cookies out of the oven when the edges are just starting to turn a light golden brown. We’ll let them cook a little longer on their baking sheets outside the oven, then remove them to a cooling rack.
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven’t tried this myself with this recipe. While I think you could, it would change the texture of the cookie as the fresh cranberries actually add some moisture to the dough. I do worry the cookie dough will be a bit drier than it is when made as written (or too sweet, as sugar is often added to dried cranberries), but feel free to experiment. You could also consider plumping the cranberries with boiling water or liquor before adding them to the dough.
Sure! My vanilla glaze would work well here. You could even substitute the vanilla extract and milk with orange juice to make an orange glaze.
I supposed you could add some, but I don’t find it necessary here with the orange zest and juice. I don’t recommend substituting the orange zest and juice with orange extract, though–this dough was specifically designed to accommodate those ingredients and will not turn out properly otherwise.
Love cranberry cookies? Try my white chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies!
Orange Cranberry Cookies
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter softened (226g)
- 1 ⅓ cups (267 g) granulated sugar 267g
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 2 large egg yolk
- 3 Tablespoons orange juice
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour 375g
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups (200 g) fresh cranberries 190g
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar 100g
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy.1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, 1 ⅓ cups (267 g) granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- Add egg yolks and orange juice and mix until well combined.2 large egg yolk, 3 Tablespoons orange juice
- In a separate, medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon table salt
- Gradually add dry mixture to wet, stirring until completely combined. Gently fold in cranberries, folding dough with a spatula until evenly distributed.2 cups (200 g) fresh cranberries
- Make the sugar topping by combining sugar and orange zest in a small dish and using your fingers to rub the sugar and zest together until all the sugar has been infused with orange.½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Scoop dough by level 1 ½ Tablespoon-sized scoop and roll gently between your palms to make a smooth ball. Roll cookie dough through orange-sugar topping, thoroughly coating all sides. Place on baking sheet, spacing cookies at least 2” apart.
- Bake in center rack of 350F (175C) oven for 11-13 minutes, until edges of cookies begin to turn light golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.