I make these cookies every year – cranberry pistachio shortbread cookies. Not only are they incredibly easy to make with just 7 ingredients, they’re all kinds of buttery and delicious.

If you love shortbread, you’ll love this chocolate chip shortbread and this ginger shortbread too.

A batch of square shortbread cookies.

Why you’ll love them

Aside from gingerbread, I can’t think of a cookie more perfectly suited to Christmas time than these cranberry pistachio shortbread cookies. Perfect for wrapping into little food gift parcels for Christmas or for having at the ready for holiday snacking, everyone loves these buttery cookies.

  • Easy to make – just 7 ingredients
  • All made in one bowl
  • Buttery and crumbly like shortbread should be
  • Filled with festive flavours
  • Perfect for gift giving
  • They keep well
  • Can be frozen before or after baking

They are everything shortbread should be, and more. They’re crumbly and taste super buttery. Crispy but in a melt-in-your-mouth kind of way and completely addictive. No, my friends, one will not be enough.

If you aren’t already convinced, it’s time to fall in love with shortbread. These are adapted from my spiced christmas shortbread which you can also see sitting pretty on top of these eggnog panna cottas.

Tools you’ll need

Just one bowl, an electric mixer (handheld or stand type), a rolling pin, some cookie cutters and cookie trays are all you need.

If you’re going to gift these, grab some cellophane and ribbon too.

Ingredients for cranberry pistachio shortbread

7 ingredients are all you need to create the most Christmassy Christmas cookie.

Ingredients for cranberry pistachio shortbread on a white marble surface.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Butter (5): Shortbread has three most important ingredients – flour, sugar and butter. Use unsalted butter so you can control the salt level.
  • Flour (4): Just use plain / all-purpose flour for these cookies.
  • Rice flour (3): Rice flour gives traditional shortbread it’s classic crisp texture. You can leave it out, just replace it with plain / all-purpose flour. Though not traditional, you can also add cornflour / cornstarch in place of the rice flour, which will give you an even meltier texture.
  • Sugar (7): Of course, a good cookie has to have some sugar. Just use white granulated or caster sugar here.
  • Dried cranberries (2): Use unsweetened dried cranberries and make sure to chop them up quite finely.
  • Pistachios (6): Use unsalted roasted pistachios, if you can get them but raw will work fine too. If you can only find salted, just wash and dry them well before using.
  • Orange (1): Orange zest is my secret ingredient in these cookies. It gives them a real festive vibe and orange goes so well with cranberries.

White chocolate also goes well with cranberries, pistachios and buttery shortbread so feel free to dip them at the end. You could also add a little vanilla extract if you like.

How to make shortbread

Shortbread is very simple to make and typically does not require chilling.

A collage of 5 images showing how to make the cookies.

Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Beat the butter and sugar: You need to cream the butter and sugar together – this requires beating them together for a good 5-6 minutes in a large bowl, scraping down the bowl from time to time, until it looks lightened and fluffy.
  2. Add the flour: Add the flours in 3 parts (photo 1) beating just until combined each time.
  3. Add-ins: Now add your pistachios, cranberries and orange zest (photo 2) and beat through on low.
  4. Roll and cut: Pull the dough together (photo 3) then roll it out to about 1cm or roughly ½ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes (photo 4) and transfer them to a cookie tray / baking tray (photo 5).
  5. Bake: Bake for around 14 minutes until the edges are just beginning to turn golden then let them cool on a wire rack.

There is no need to chill shortbread dough unless it’s very hot or the dough has become very warm from handling. There is enough flour in the dough to keep them from spreading too much.

Tips and tricks

  1. Creaming the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy is important so don’t rush this step.
  2. Don’t add too much flour when rolling the dough or you’ll end up with dry shortbread cookies.
  3. Make sure to chop your pistachios and cranberries – the smaller pieces make it easier to cut the dough with a cookie cutter.
  4. Don’t sit them too close together on the baking sheet. While shortbread doesn’t spread too much, they need space for air to circulate around them. Leave 1 ½ to 2 inches between them.
A stack of 5 square cranberry pistachio shortbread cookies.

Variations

While red cranberries and green pistachios give these cookies a totally festive vibe, once you have a shortbread dough, you can add any add-ins you like.

Try changing it up with other nuts like almonds or cashews. Add some white or dark chocolate chips. Or try other dried fruits (hint hint: dried apricots work beautifully with shredded coconut).

Storing shortbread cookies

Shortbread keeps well too. Stored in an airtight container, shortbread keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 weeks. The pantry is best.

Freezing shortbread

These cranberry pistachio shortbread cookies can be frozen too, before or after baking.

  • Before baking: Freeze the dough in a log, then use it slice and bake style. Or after cutting out the cookie shapes, let them get firm in the freezer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Once solid, transfer to an airtight container for up to 2 months. They can be baked from frozen but add 3-4 extra minutes.
  • After baking: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

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A cookie broken in half to show the inside, in the middle of a pile of cookies.

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A cookie broken in half to show the inside, in the middle of a pile of cookies.

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

4.31 from 13 votes
Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookies are buttery, crumbly and perfect for the holidays. Filled with tart cranberries, crunchy pistachios and a secret ingredient that makes them extra special, you’ll love these for gifting or just for snacking on.

Ingredients

  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened (1 stick / ½ cup / 4oz)
  • 50 g caster (superfine) sugar (or granulated) (¼ cup / 1.8oz)
  • 130 g plain (all-purp) flour (1 cup / 4.6oz)
  • 40 g rice flour (1.4oz)
  • Zest of one orange
  • cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  • Using a handheld electric beater and large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (5-6 minutes).
  • Sift together the flour and rice flour, then add to the butter and sugar in 3 lots until just combined each time.
  • Add the zest chopped pistachios and chopped cranberries and mix until well distributed.
  • On a very lightly floured surface, pull the dough together with your hands until smooth.
  • Roll the dough out 1cm (½ inch) thick. Cut out shapes (I used a square cutter approximately 4cm wide). Use a spatula to help to transfer the unbaked cookies to the baking trays and sit them at least an inch apart.
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the edges start turning golden.
  • Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  1. Make sure to cream the butter and sugar together well. Don’t skip this part.
  2. Baked cookies and unbaked cookie dough will freeze well for up to 2 months in an airtight container.
  3. Bake cookies keep for 3-4 weeks in an airtight container.
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