Orange Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Prep 10 mins
Cook 14 mins
Add'l 5 mins
Total 29 mins
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These Orange Whipped Shortbread Cookies are crumbly, buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread cookies with a surprise lightness from added orange zest! They’re not only perfect for the holidays, but they’re a great cookie to have on hand all year long.

Orange Whipped Shortbread Cookies

The bright citrus flavor combined with the buttery shortbread and the way that these cookies just melt in your mouth is pure perfection. While I tell my brain to just eat one, my hands tend to have a mind of their own and always grab for one more.

Since these whipped shortbread cookies are easy enough to whip up, I have no problem making a batch of these to leave on the counter for a quick and sweet snack during the week. We switch it up with different extracts or citrus zests, but the overall recipe stays the same.

If you are an orange dessert fan, make sure to check out these other reader favorites: Southern Orange Coconut Cake, Cranberry Orange Bread and this chocolate orange Cannoli Dip!

Shortbread cookies on a white plate with oranges and a pitcher of milk in the background.

Why do they call it shortbread?

Shortbread cookies got their name because of their crumbly texture from the high fat content from the butter. The word crumbly is actually derived from an old meaning of the word “short,”. So thus, shortbread was named “short” bread because it was crumbly!

What is the difference between a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie?

Sugar cookies not only look different than shortbread cookies (they’re typically larger in size and flatter) but they also have a different texture. Sugar cookies are going to be crispier when cooked and this can be partly because of the ingredients used and partly because of the size. 

Sugar cookies can also be made soft and chewy, like my favorite Soft Sugar Cookies. Sugar cookies tend to also taste a bit sweeter and can be found with toppings and decorations on top as well. Both versions are very different from shortbread with a denser, dryer and crumbly texture.

If you are looking for more shortbread ideas, try out my Almond Tea Shortbread Cookies, Malted Shortbread or Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies.

ingredients for shortbread cookies in bowls on a marble table.


Ready to get started? Gather up the list of ingredients and get organized because this recipe goes quickly!

  • Unsalted Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Orange Zest

It’s just a few simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand! I know the two ingredients that will have questions, so let me share why they are important:

Powdered Sugar: This is essential to the overall texture. Whipped Shortbreads are a very soft dough and granulated sugar would be too grainy in these cookies.

Cornstarch: Yes, you need it! Whipped Shortbreads are lighter than traditional shortbreads and also a much softer dough. To keep that texture perfect, you need cornstarch in the dough. Then you will need cornstarch again to roll the cookies because the dough is too soft otherwise to roll into balls!

Butter and powdered sugar beaten together in a glass bowl with a tea towel.

How to make Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Preheat: Preheat the oven to 325°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Mix: In a large bowl beat the butter and powdered sugar for 3 minutes, until light and airy. Beat in the flour, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla extract, until well combined. The dough will be very soft.

Shortbread dough rolled into a ball with dough in a bowl behind with a cookie scoop.

Create: Dust your hands with cornstarch, then form the dough into balls about 1 tablespoon in size and roll into a ball.

Cookie sheet filled with shortbread dough balls.

Prepare:  Place on the lined cookie sheets, leaving a little room for spreading. Cookies will not spread much as they bake. Optional: you can also press down the top of each dough ball with a fork that has been dipped in cornstarch (to prevent sticking) for a flatter final cookie.

Orange shortbread cookies on a cookie sheet with a spatula.

Bake: Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops look just set. The cookies will not brown but will be done. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a cookie cooling rack to finish cooling.

Orange whipped shortbread cookies on a white plate with one torn in half to see the inside.
Tips for The best whipped shortbread cookies

  • Don’t skip the cornstarch. The added cornstarch makes these cookies have the perfect lighter texture of whipped shortbreads versus the traditional, very dense shortbread cookie.
  • This is a soft dough! The dough will be very soft and you will need to add cornstarch onto your hands to roll the cookies into balls. Do not add more flour thinking they are too soft.
  • Switch it up. You can use any zest or extracts you want to flavor your whipped shortbread cookies. Other ideas: almond extract, lemon zest, or lime zest.
  • Do not over bake. Do not overbake these cookies. They will not look “done” like a traditional cookie, but they will be finished cooking.
  • Allow them to cool. You have to let these cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving. If you move them too soon, they will fall apart and crumble!

How do you store shortbread cookies once baked?

Once they are baked and cooled down completely, you’re going to want to store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. This will keep their texture and taste sealed up nicely and give you and your family a tasty treat for the entire week…if they last that long!

Overhead shot of whipped shortbread cookies on plates with oranges, milk and a tea towel.

These crumbly, buttery shortbread cookies have a surprise lightness from a sprinkle of orange zest. They are bound to be one of your new favorites that you can switch the flavors and customize to your favorite combinations!

These Orange Whipped Shortbread Cookies are completely addicting and one of our favorite cookie recipes. They are easy and use ingredients you most likely already have on hand.

Head on over to Dixie Crystals for the full recipe I developed for them!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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6 Responses
    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.

      Hi Lisa! My apologies, but I have not tested this recipe with almond flour yet. If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out!

  1. Michelle

    I have some frozen orange zest. Can this be used or will it have too much liquid once thawed to use in this recipe?

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.

      Hi Michelle! Not sure. If the zest is just orange zest that has been frozen, it should be ok! If it’s frozen in any kind of liquid, then I would use fresh instead.


I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.