These frosted cranberry cookies start with a gloriously soft cranberry shortbread cookie that is topped with a sweet vanilla icing and sugared cranberries. Also called cranberry meltaway cookies, they are so soft they almost melt in your mouth!
What makes these festive cranberry cookies so good?
- Sweet and Tart: These cookies combine the sweet and tart flavors of cranberry jelly and sugared craisins with soft, buttery shortbread. You won’t be able to resist!
- Soft: If you love soft, shortbread cookies, then these will make you swoon. The smooth, sweet frosting is a nice added textural element, too.
- Simple: While I do recommend using a hand mixer or stand mixer, even beginning bakers can make this easy meltaway cookie recipe. You don’t even have to chill the dough!
- Festive: The sugared cranberries and creamy icing not only add flavor, but also make the cookies so pretty and festive!
What You’ll Need
To make this cranberry cookie recipe, you will need a few basic baking ingredients, plus some cranberry jelly or sauce. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Flour: Plain all-purpose flour is perfect.
- Baking Powder: Make sure to use baking powder, not baking soda.
- Unsalted Butter: If you use salted butter, remove the added 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
- Sugar: For the cookies, use regular granulated sugar. For the frosting, you’ll need powdered sugar.
- Cranberry Jelly: I used canned cranberry jelly, however you can use leftover cranberry relish as well.
- Vanilla Extract
- Craisins: Roughly chopped and tossed in granulated sugar.
- Milk: To thin the frosting to the right consistency.
Making cranberry cookies is very simple, and you don’t even have to roll them out! This is a soft, sweet drop cookie recipe that’s a breeze to whip up.
- Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Wet Ingredients: Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the cranberry jelly, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Combine: Gradually add the flour mixture, about half a cup at a time, mixing until completely blended.
- Prepare: Drop rounded dough balls onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flatten each one into a disk shape with the bottom of a buttered and sugared glass.
- Bake: Bake cookies for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Topping: Toss the dried cranberries with the sugar, and set aside. Then in a mixing bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla till smooth. Top each cooled cookie with icing and cranberries, and serve or store for later.
If you plan on making these, be sure to check out these helpful baking notes to guarantee success!
- Cookie Doneness: These are super quick to bake – only ten minutes! Like other shortbread and sugar cookie recipes, you may think that they’re not quite done by that time, but if you let them cool, they will firm up nicely.
- Cranberry Sauce vs. Butter: Both canned and fresh cranberry sauce (or jelly) will work in this recipe. If you don’t have any on hand, you can just skip it and increase the butter to 1 cup (2 sticks). Then just add some extra craisins to the cookie dough for that pop of flavor.
- Icing: Aim for a consistency that’s thin enough to spread and settle, but not overly runny. To thicken icing that’s too thin, add extra powdered sugar. Alternatively, add extra milk if the icing is too thick.
- Sugared Craisins: Don’t skimp on the sugared craisins on top, they really set these cookies apart – both in flavor and presentation!
- White Chocolate: If you want to add white chocolate, skip the vanilla icing. Instead, dip the top of these cookies into melted white chocolate chips before adding the dried cranberries.
How to Store
Store your frosted cranberry cookies in an airtight container with parchment paper between the cookies to prevent the frosting from getting smeared and smushed. Seal the container tightly, and store at room temperature for a week.
Place cookies on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm. Then, transfer them to an airtight container with parchment paper between to prevent sticking. Frozen cookies can be stored for several months. Thaw to room temperature before serving.
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup canned cranberry jelly
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup craisins (dried cranberries), chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk, or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add cranberry jelly, egg and vanilla extract, mixing until combined.
- Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until completely combined.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, drop one tablespoon of rounded dough onto prepared pan. Lightly flatten into a disk shape with the bottom of a buttered and sugared glass.
- Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will not look browned or cooked, but they are! Remove from oven and let cookies rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, toss together cranberries and sugar, set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract – until smooth.
- Using a spoon, smooth icing onto the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with sugared craisins and let set for 10 minutes, or until hardened. Enjoy!
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