Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies

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Published: 08/25/2020 | Updated: 03/28/2024

These Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies will quickly become one of your favorite cookie recipes! A delicious butter cookie filled with a sweet filling the blends perfectly!

cranberry walnut shortbread cookies in a stack with text labeling them in the upper left corner

I found this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Pinwheel cookies in an old Taste of Home magazine probably 20 years ago. It’s one of those recipes that caught my eye because it’s such a pretty cookie to look at, but for some reason I never made them.

Until a few years ago when I decided to try cranberry walnut shortbread bars and I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not making them sooner.

I am begging you… MAKE THIS COOKIE!!

It is hands down on of my favorite cookies ever and that’s saying a lot coming from someone who normally can’t get enough chocolate!

The cookie portion is such a tender and buttery shortbread that it honestly would be delicious on its own. But paired with the sweet yet tart filling, it is just perfection!

How to Make Cranberry Nut Shortbread Cookies

You want to make your shortbread dough first, because it needs time to chill. There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but a lot of the time involved is chilling time rather than hands-on time.

To make your cookie dough, in a stand mixer bowl, combine your softened butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add that to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.

Then refrigerate your prepared dough for an hour.

While that’s chilling, you can make your filling. The key to the filling is getting your cranberries and walnuts chopped finely enough that a thin cookie can hold them, but you don’t want them chopped so fine that they just become mush.

I use a small food chopper for this step and just give short quick pulses until they’re the size I want.

Then in a small bowl, combined your chopped cranberries, chopped walnuts and some orange zest. Set it aside until your dough is ready.

Once your dough is done chilling, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. You should be able to roll it out into about a 10″ square.

Then in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and milk. Spread the brown sugar mixture over the entire square of dough.

Then spoon the cranberry walnut mixture over the dough leaving about a 1/2″ edge along the sides.

Roll the dough up tightly in a jelly roll style. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for a few hours or even overnight.

When you’re ready to bake your cookies, remove jellyroll from fridge and slice dough crosswise. Your slices should be about 1/4″ apart. I usually get 40-45 cookies from this recipe.

a jelly roll log of cranberry walnut short bread cookies with some sliced and half the roll unsliced

Grease a cookie sheet really well. The brown sugar tends to caramelize on the bottoms of these cookies which tastes amazing but also means it has a tendency to stick to a pan. So really grease your baking sheets or use a silpat liner.

Place your cookies on the cookie sheet making sure to leave space between them. They really do puff up. Here’s how I spaced them before baking:

a cookie sheet with unbaked cranberry walnut cookies lined up

and take a look at how much they puffed up and how they’re pretty much touching after baking!

cranberry pinwheel cookies lined up on a cookie sheet

Once you have your cookie sheet filled with the cookie dough, bake at 375 for about 14-15 minutes.

The cookies should just slightly be brown on the bottom but the tops of the cookies should still look not done. If they look brown everywhere, that means you cooked them too long and the won’t be quite as tender.

Let sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

upclose shot of a cranberry walnut shortbread cookie on a cookie sheet

A couple tips to making shortbread cookies:

  • You can use chopped pecans in place of the walnuts
  • Be sure you’re using fresh cranberries. I suppose dried cranberries wouldn’t be the worst thing, but the fresh is really the way to go with this recipe.
  • These cookies freeze really well too. I’ve made the recipe as stated up until the point where you roll it up jelly roll style. At that point, you can wrap really well in freezer paper and plastic wrap and store in the freezer until you’re ready to bake.
  • If you take these anywhere, make sure you also take copies of the recipe because everyone will want it!

up close shot of a cranberry walnut pinwheel cookie with more stacked behind it

Looking for more dessert recipes

Dessert recipes are often a favorite part of any meal. Whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory, there’s sure to be a recipe that hits the spot. Here are some delicious dessert recipes to get you started:

Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies

These Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies will quickly become one of your favorite cookie recipes! A delicious butter cookie filled with a sweet filling the blends perfectly!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time14 minutes
Chilling Time4 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry walnut cookies
Servings: 40
Calories: 71kcal
Author: The Endless Appetite


  • 1/2 cup Butter softened
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 cups Flour
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cranberries finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Orange Zest
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar packed
  • 2 tsp. Milk


  • In a stand mixing bowl, add butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy, scraping the sides if necessary.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and beat until combined.
  • Place cookie dough in fridge to chill for one hour.
  • In a small bowl, combine chopped cranberries, chopped walnuts and orange zest. Set aside.
  • Once dough is done chilling, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out into a 10" square.
  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and milk. Spread evenly over cookie dough. Top with cranberry mixture, leaving about 1/2" edge along all the sides.
  • Roll up tightly like a jellyroll and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge to chill for several hours or overnight.
  • Remove from fridge and cut into 1/4" slices. Place on well greased cookie sheets.
  • Preheat oven to 375 and bake cookies for 14-15 minutes or until the bottom edges are very lightly brown. Let sit on cookie sheet for a minute or two and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

In conclusion, these cranberry cream cheese bars are the perfect holiday treat! They are easy to make, and can be made ahead of time. Be sure to use fresh cranberries, as they will give the best flavor. Enjoy!


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pinterest image for cranberry walnut shortbread cookie

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