Spruce up your festive baking with these gluten-free cranberry orange shortbread cookies. You’ll notice with each bite of cookie delivers a subtle orange flavor, sweet and tart cranberry chunks, and crunchy on the outside yet chewy on the inside textures that everyone will love. Not only will you love the taste of these cookies, but you’ll also want to cozy up on the couch as the pleasing aromas fill your home as the cookies bake in the oven.
Since there are no eggs used in this recipe, you can easily substitute ghee with coconut oil for vegan cookies. The texture will slightly differ so, although I did not experiment with coconut oil in these cookies, I do think you’ll need to adjust the liquid to accommodate this change.
If you do choose to use coconut oil, soften in a little before mixing it with the coconut sugar. If the coconut oil melts completely, you’ll need to place the cookie dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes before baking. I love using this coconut oil because it’s always mixed perfectly and it’s way more affordable than other brands. Some coconut oil isn’t mixed well, so you’ll often get hard portions some of the time and softer / liquid portions other times, which presents a challenge with using it for baking.
If you’ve been with me a while, you know by now that I am a citrus fan. I love anything flavored with lemons, limes, and oranges. Honestly, I could have added more zest to the cookies and totally been happy with it! Zest delivers a stronger flavor than using just the orange juice. Feel free to adjust the zest to your liking. And if you’re like me and love any and all things citrus, I highly recommend you make this lemon breakfast bread with blood orange glaze (depending on where you live, blood oranges are in season through the fall and winter months). It’s seriously one of my absolute favorite sweet breads I’ve made (thank you lemon and orange combo).
Oh, and hah, as I am currently drinking a lime and club soda cocktail, I am reminded by the freaking delicious and refreshing sparkling cranberry holiday cocktail I made last year during the holidays. Seriously, it’s soooooo good!
Another thing to keep in mind when you bake these cookies is oven temperature and times vary greatly. My husband is in the Army and I swear I curse during the first 2 weeks in a new home solely because I can’t seem to figure out the strength of the oven.
Mine is super strong, and I over-baked the first batch (ugh). They were a bit crunchy, and you may love that texture. My kids sure didn’t mind. But, I prefer shortbread cookies to be crunchy just on the outside and soft/chewy on the inside. I recommend cooking them at the lowest time for the first batch – let them sit for about 10 minutes on the sheet pan before you transfer them to a serving dish (or your pie hole). You’ll need to be patient and let them cool – it sucks, I know.
FESTIVE CRANBERRY ORANGE SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Yields about 2 dozen cookies
- 1 cup grass fed ghee at room temperature (see note)
- 2 cups coconut sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2¾ cups gluten-free oat flour
- 2 cups dried cranberries (see note)
- 4-6 tablespoons milk of choice (or juice from an orange or water)
- Preheat oven to 325F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat ghee and coconut sugar with a hand-held mixer for 2 minutes on high speed.
- Add vanilla, salt, and zest to the bowl. Beat for another minute.
- Add in almond flour and oat flour. Mix with a spoon or mix on low speed just until combined (batter will be thick).
- Stir in dried cranberries.
- Pour milk or juice into the bowl and, using your hands, combine batter until it holds its shape (if the batter crumbles easily, add more liquid. If the batter is runny and unable to hold together, add more oat flour or almond flour – see note).
- Generously flour a flat working surface and rolling pin with flour. Gather dough, form into one large ball, and place on the flat surface.
- Using the rolling pin, smooth cookie dough until you get one even layer that is about ½ inch thick.
- Using a cookie cutter of choice, cut cookies and place them on the prepared sheet pan. I used a 2-inch round cookie cutter, which yielded a little over 2 dozen cookies.
- Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.
- Let cool and enjoy!
- You can sub ghee with grass fed butter or coconut oil.
- You can substitute almond flour and oat flour with any gluten-free baking mix of choice.
- When selecting dried cranberries, make sure to look at the ingredients. Many brands have added sugar. Look for one that is only sweetened with unrefined ingredients, like these dried cranberries that are sweetened with apple juice.
- Shortbread cookies are a bit thicker than ordinary chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies. You will likely need to adjust the liquid or flour (based on what you use) to reach the desired texture and consistency of shortbread cookies. You want the dough to hold together and keep its shape when mixing.
- Use freshly squeezed orange juice for the liquid for an added flavor boost!