Cranberry Cookies





Introduction: Cranberry Cookies

About: I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodesk. Follow me for food and more!

Cranberry cookies make great Christmas cookies, but are also a great way to use up leftover fresh cranberries after the holidays.  These are my favorite cranberry nut swirl cookies -  they're well worth freezing cranberries so you can make them any time during the year!

These are great make-ahead cookies! You can freeze the rolled log indefinitely, then slice and bake the cookies whenever you like!  Then as scooch would say, you're only 12 minutes away from fresh hot cookies!

Fun bonus note:
these cookies won a cooking contest when I was 8 years old.  I made them with my grandma and my little brother, and we were pleasantly shocked to win first prize!  They've been a family favorite ever since.

Sneaky Valentine's Day mod:  pinch the cylinder of dough on one side, and poke it in on the other before freezing it to make a heart-shaped cross-section.  Delicious, and arguably romantic. ;)

Step 1: Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sugary goo:

5 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon milk (or cream)


1/2 cup ground cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc)
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel

Step 2: Prep Dough

Beat together:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
(I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer, but a fork, wooden spoon, or whisk will do nicely)

Then mix and add:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

This is a variation on a sugar cookie dough, meaning it will be reasonably thick.  Expect a consistency like a slightly greasy playdough.  (Of course, this dough is much tastier raw than playdough!)

Step 3: Wrap & Refrigerate Dough

Roll the dough into a flattened ball, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Deposit it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Step 4: Prep Filling

1/2 cup ground cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc)
2+ Tablespoons grated orange/tangerine peel
optional: pinch of your favorite spices (I used allspice and a bit of fresh-grated nutmeg)

I pulsed the nuts and cranberries (separately) in my cuisinart, and zested the oranges with my microplane.  You want identifiable bits of cranberry and nuts - not a paste, or distractingly big chunks. 

Step 5: Prep Sugary Goo

5 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon milk (or cream)

This should make a thick, syrupy paste that's just barely spreadable.

Step 6: Roll Out Dough

Roll out the chilled dough on a flexible surface.  I used a Silpat, but waxed paper, parchment, or plastic wrap are also fine.  You'll just need to be able to roll the dough up later without tedious de-sticking.  Don't flour the mat or your rolling pin - the dough is greasy enough that it shouldn't stick hard.

Roll and shape the dough to create a roughly 10"x10" square; the dough should be about 1/4" thick.

A handy note:  measure your hand span and other physical metrics for easy measuring and estimation.  Because I know my outstreached hand measures 9 inches thumb to pinky tip, it's easy to identify a 10-inch square.

Step 7: Cover in Sugary Goo

The title says it all! 

Scoop the brown sugar mix and spread it over your dough.  Make sure you've coated the entire surface - it's the "glue" that will help keep your filling in place.  

Step 8: Cover in Filling

Spread the cranberry-nut filling evenly over the sugared dough.

Leave about 1/2-3/4" clear at either end of the dough in preparation for wrapping.  This will keep the filling from bunching in the center of the roll, and allow you to properly seal the end and prevent dreaded filling explosions.

Step 9: Roll

Remember when I said to use a Silpat or other flexible sheet for rolling?  This is when it all pays off:  start rolling the silpat, and peel the dough off as you go.  Roll the dough into a cylinder, continuing to peel from the silpat as you progress.  This will get even easier as you go along.

Be careful not to introduce air bubbles, as this will create holes in your cookies.  The dough should be pressed gently but firmly against the filling - think cookie sushi.

When you reach the end, run your finger along the edge with gentle pressure to seal the end of the dough into the roll.

Step 10: Wrap and Freeze

Keep rolling your dough over right onto a sheet of waxed paper. 

(If you rolled it out on waxed paper in the first place - bonus!)

Tuck the ends to avoid spilling any filling, and put the whole roll in the freezer.  If you're going to leave it longer than a day or two, add a layer of aluminum foil.

Step 11: Slice

Use a large, sharp knife (non-serrated) to cut the still-frozen cookie log into 1/4" thick slices.  This is about 6-7mm for you metric folks.

If the cookie roll cracks, let it soften a bit on the counter; if it mushes, return it to the freezer to resolidify.

Step 12: Bake

Spread the cookie slices on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes until the edges are just golden brown.

These cookies don't spread too much, so 1/2" spacing between unbaked cookies is fine.

Step 13: Cool

Allow the cookies to solidify on the baking sheet for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

If the cookies deform or tear as you remove them from the baking sheet, wait longer before transferring.

Step 14: Serve and Store

I like these best served warm, with a cup of hot cocoa.  I'm told they're also good dunked in milk, and they're certainly delicious served cold.

To store:  cool completely, then store in a sealed container.  Like any good Christmas cookie, these are fine to make ahead and store for parties, but somehow mine never seem to last that long!



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    24 Discussions

    About how many cookies does this recipe make? Thanks.

    Hi, these were great, and I made them last month. I did want to try a chocolate version of it though, and ofcourse, that was a bit of a disaster as chocolate doesnt really behave the same way as fruits and nuts when baked.
    I made a sticky paste with sugar, milk, cocoa powder and a little nutella, and sprinkled walnuts and chocolate chips on it.
    It was okay-ish, but after being about 8 minutes in the oven, the chocolate would bubble up and spill onto the surrounding bits.
    Do you have any ideas what might be done to make a chocolatey versoin of this cookie? :)

     hello there!! the recipe sounds good, i wanna try it!!! But i have a question.. what's the weight for the stick of butter? It looks big tough hahaha

    3 replies

    a stick of butter is:
         ~8 tablespoons
         ~4 oz
         ~125 grams

    Thanks for the conversion help, smms!

    And arku, let me know if you try them.

    I do tried them, and they were great! All of my friends loved them

    both very tasty and very easy. i just had a bit of a problem rolling the dough

    My mother makes cookies almost exactly like this every christmas. She got the recipe from my dad's mother, who made them a hundred years ago this way. The only difference is we don't use cranberries (we call them 'grape swirls').

    Couldn't help but comment, I saw the picture and was instantly nostalgi-lized.
    Everyone should try these out, if you don't like or can't get cranberries, experiment with other fruit.

    Thanks for the amazing recipe! They were a huge hit at my neighborhood Christmas party! And they left the entire house smelling of cranberries. :)

    1 reply

    Awesome, glad to be of help!
    There's nothing like the smell of fresh cookies. They're the best ever.

    Yum.  Wow these are good -- the the instructions are perfect.  Thanks!  I'm marking these to make again...

    I did try them heart-shaped as you suggested, and turned them into valentines for friends.  Here's what I came up with:

    1 reply

    Awesome! I love the picture - the next set I make will have to be heart-shaped too. Thanks for sharing.