Sweet-tangy, chewy, delicious… and whole wheat. WHITE whole wheat.

Whoa! It’s not even Thanksgiving, and the parade of holiday goodies has begun. The eggnog French toast. The chocolate-dipped vanilla cookies. And that butter-pecan kringle

It may be time to add something a bit less disastrous to your dessert diet.

Something made with whole wheat, perhaps. Something lower in sugar, higher in healthy antioxidants, and with a mere 1/2 teaspoon fat per serving.

Something like Sparkling Cranberry Gems.

These tangy-sweet, mildly chewy treats are less guilt-inducing than most holiday cookies. And I’ve discovered they’re a most-welcome gift for friends trying to “eat healthy,” for whatever reason: losing weight, watching their cholesterol, or lowering carbs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These aren’t sugar-free, fat-free SnackWell clones. They’re still a homemade cookie, with the standard attributes – both good (fresh, delicious), and “bad” (calories).

But if you’re going to eat a cookie anyway, why not enjoy one with some nutritional positives?


Like this flour. Our King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour is a 100% whole wheat flour that’s lighter colored, milder tasting, and a somewhat finer grind than standard red whole wheat flour.

Don’t misunderstand – white whole wheat (milled from white, rather than red wheat berries) is WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR (not “white” flour). It has all the fiber and nutrition of traditional whole wheat, but acts much more like white flour in your baking.

Which is a good thing, for those of us who don’t love the taste of whole wheat.

We routinely substitute white wheat for 100% of the all-purpose flour in cookie, muffin, brownie, pancake, and other recipes where the difference won’t be noticeable.

Warning: don’t make an angel food cake with it! But banana bread? Chocolate chip cookies? Blueberry muffins? Go for it!


Now, let’s get to those cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur White  Whole Wheat Flour (or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, if you insist); and 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) dried cranberries (pack the cup tight) in the bowl of a food processor.


Process until the cranberries are coarsely shredded.


Imagine a single dried cranberry cut into about 3 to 4 pieces: that’s your goal.


Whisk the flour/cranberry mixture with 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.


Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pats.


Mix until the butter is thoroughly distributed, but some pea-sized chunks still remain.


Dribble in 3 tablespoons of milk, continuing to mix.


The dough will become cohesive.


Place a scant 1/2 cup coarse white sparkling sugar in a shallow bowl or round cake pan. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop the dough by 1 3/4-teaspoonfuls (about 1 1/4” balls) into the bowl or pan.


Scoop about 6 or 8 at a time.


Gently shake the bowl or pan to coat the balls with sugar.


Place them on the prepared baking sheets, and use the bottom of a measuring cup or a glass to flatten them to about 1/4” thick (about 1 1/2” in diameter).


Like this.


Bake the cookies for 16 to 17 minutes, until they’re set and barely, BARELY beginning to brown around the very edge; the tops shouldn’t be brown at all. If you gently tilt a cookie off the pan, the bottom should be brown.


See the lightly browned bottom (l), and the barely browned edge (r)?


Yes, the bottoms will be a pretty brown, but the tops will look quite pale. That’s OK; these cookies are supposed to be moist, so you don’t want to over-bake them.


The liberal helping of chopped cranberries in each cookie adds great flavor and a pleasantly soft/chewy texture.


Bag ’em up; head ’em out. YEE-HAW! A great gift for the “Sorry, not on my diet” crowd.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Sparkling Cranberry Gems.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Mike T.

    Made them last year. Everyone went “Um okay…” but then they were the first to go! 🙂 I HIGHLY recommend them!

  2. ER

    Can you make these with the regular Whole Wheat flour? I have that & don’t want to buy another bag! If so, how would you do it?

    The regular whole wheat will yield a denser cookie and may have a tannic or bitter taste. You could offset the bitterness and the texture by adding some orange juice to your dough. 1-2 teaspoons per 1 cup of regular WW flour should do it. You could also substitute 1/2 c. of regular WW flour and 1/2 c. all purpose for the 1 c. of the white whole wheat flour in this recipe. Elisabeth @ KAF

  3. Jules

    These look amazing! I happen to have an abundance of fresh cranberries. Do you think I could use some of those in place of the dried?
    Hi Jules,
    Sure, try some of the fresh cranberries to replace the dried. Just use a small amount, as they will definitely give off moisture. ~ MaryJane

  4. Becky

    Perfect!! My mom is trying to lose weight and I hate to tempt her with my usual (okay, YOUR usual) baked good 🙂
    I think I’ll be making these to take to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving!

    How fast do they get dry? Are these a “bake and serve the same day” cookie or do you think they’d still be okay after a day or two?

    Becky – These cookies would be fine the next day and maybe even the day after that. But be very careful about not overbaking them or else they may dry out faster. Elisabeth

  5. CindyD

    I’m headed to Sprouts today and will add the dried cranberries to my list so I can bake them for book club, but I’ll be making them a tad more healthier by using Smart Balance baking sticks instead of butter. Also have to find or order some sparkling sugar…

  6. linda

    super yum…pj, if one wanted to “spike” with a liqueur which would you choose…or would it not be right for these beauties?…or add chocolate?
    Hi Linda,
    You can certainly try “tweaking” the recipe with liqueur (use one that you like) and or chocolate. The key is to make small changes to one ingredient at a time, so that if you don’t care for the new version, or it doesn’t behave well, you can pinpoint the last change and go forward from there. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

  7. Alissa

    These look great. Hmm…I think I’ll try subbing fiori di sicilia for the vanilla for a cran-citrus take on it. Thanks for helping my diet along.

  8. Sue

    I love cranberries, so I think I would really like these. I still haven’t tried the KA WWW flour. I wonder if anyone carries it locally? I’ll have to look harder.
    The cookies are really pretty with the sparkly sugar. I wonder how they’d look with a roll in confectioners sugar?
    Sue – We have a store locator on our website. It will tell you which stores carry our flour but not which flours they carry, unfortunately. The best thing to do is to ask the store to carry what you are looking for. Sometimes they oblige if there is enough demand! Confectioners sugar may be nice too. I prefer something crunchy like sparkling. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/flours/where-to-buy.html Elisabeth @ KAF

  9. HMB

    Weren’t these the cookies featured some time ago with the “tart and sour” flavor? I had some red-pink-white sugar crystal mix that I thought would look pretty with these cookies, but the flavoring made the colors run and turned the sugar an orangey pink! Maybe I’ll try again without the flavoring.
    1/8 teaspoon of the tart flavor added to the sugar was part of the recipe. As we no longer offer the flavor, the recipe was updated for this post. Thanks! ~ MaryJane

  10. Helen

    I don’t see anything about sweet/sour crystals in the ingredients. Did I miss something?
    1/8 teaspoon of the tart flavor added to the sugar was part of the original version of the recipe. As we no longer offer the flavor, the recipe was updated for this post. Thanks! ~ MaryJane

  11. Tracey

    I tried your white whole wheat flour recently after a few friends of mine raved about it. I love it!! I’ve never liked the taste of regular whole wheat flour, but the white whole wheat is so much milder. Since then, I’ve routinely substituted it for some of the all-purpose in recipes and no one has been able to tell 🙂
    Good for you Tracey, I agree 100%! ~ MaryJane

  12. Lish

    I already put these on my Christmas baking list. I was thinking about using the orange flavored dried cranberries, since cranberry orange is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Can this dough be frozen ahead?
    Sure Lish, you can freeze the unbaked dough for up to 3 months. Enjoy!~ MaryJane

  13. Maggie

    I seem to recall this recipe with the sour tart flavoring you sell, but I don’t have a copy of that recipe. I actually bought the sour tart flavoring to try here, but I’m a slow baker these days. If you wanted to give these a little extra tart zing, how much would you add? Also, would you add it to the sugar coating or the cranberries themselves? Thanks!
    Hi Maggie,
    1/8 teaspoon of the tart flavor added to the sugar was part of the recipe. As we no longer offer the flavor, the recipe was updated for this post. Thanks! ~ MaryJane

  14. Mary

    In response to Sue, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my WalMart Superstore actually carries both KAF Whole Wheat AND KAF White Whole Wheat flours! (Now, if they’d just stop dropping all the other things I love! LOL!)

    These look wonderful, and I may well try them (although, being diabetic, I usually stick to recipes that give some idea of carb contents of the final product).

    But I do have a “special request.” I’d really like to see you folks come up with some recipes using a stevia sweetener (like Truvia). It’s challenging to replace even some of the sugar with stevia in baking. So far I’ve seen recipes that use Truvia AND processed sugar, but I only use Truvia and natural sweeteners (honey, agave nectar, maple syrup) in my house, and I’d like to see some recipes using that combination (since I know that, unfortunately, stevia doesn’t have enough bulk on its own).
    Thanks for the suggestion Mary. Glad you were able to find the flours. ~ MaryJane

    Mary, I actually do have the nutritional facts for this one – it’s now at the end of the recipe. 10g carbs, 1g dietary fiber. PJH

  15. Wilma Mann

    Can’t they open a store in the Los Angeles area ? ! ?
    Shipping is so costly now–I’m sure that they would do great ! ! ! !
    A chicken in every pot, and an King Arthur store in every town. What a wonderful world it would be ~ MaryJane

    1. Sally

      If you open a store in L.A. you might as well hit Henderson or Las Vegas too. Now that would be a wonderful world. Maybe Amy(?) would like to return to Henderson. 🙂

  16. Amy

    I don’t own a food processor. Do you think the cranberries need to be chopped up? Any ideas on an alternate method or piece of equipment to do the chopping? Or should I skip this recipe and let someone make them for me?

    Blender? Or – food grinder? Or… maybe someplace sells diced dried cranberries? You can certainly just not cut them up and use them whole – you’ll just have more bigger chunks, and maybe a slightly less moist cookie. Give it a go, Amy – I’m sure they’ll still be delicious. PJH

  17. Cate

    Wow on these pictures! This is my first time reading through a recipe on the blog and the pictures are great. Even for a simple cookie like this, it’s nice to see all the steps ahead of time so you understand what you’re doing. This recipe looks delish and I’ve added prep stuff to my shopping list (even though I have almost all the ingredients already). I’ll post a review on the recipe once I’m done.

    We’ll look forward to seeing a link to your review, Cate – Have fun! PJH

  18. Lee

    Thanks for posting another delicious way to use white whole wheat!
    Thanks, also, for using real butter. I’m still astounded when people call butter unhealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Real butter, especially from grass-fed cows, is full of healthy vitamins and healthy fats. These chemistry experiments masquerading as health foods should be outed for the sham they really are. Smart Balance has soy and canola- GMO foods, monoglycerides are a form of trans fat, artificial flavor – artificial anything is NOT food! Calcium disodium EDTA has been classified as a persistent organic pollutant. The ingredient list goes on and on. The ingredients for unsalted butter: cream

  19. cindy leigh

    oh cool! I have to start baking cookies for 2 cookie fair fundraisers. And my KA order just arrived yesterday, and included 10 lbs white wheat, and that beautiful coarse sugar. I’ve got cranberries in the pantry, so I’m good to go!
    After baking, can these cookies be frozen for a few weeks?

    Cindy, they actually keep very well, but yeah, for several weeks’ worth of storage, I’d wrap tightly and freeze. PJH

  20. Alsace

    Okay, I thought that 1 c. flour weighed 5 oz. You specify 4 1/4 oz. Is WWW lighter by volume than AP? Or am I totally off?

    Hi Alsace – according to our KA measuring method, 1 cup of whole wheat flour weighs 4 to 4 1/4 ounces; 1 cup of all-purpose, 4 1/4 ounces. IF you dip your cup into the canister and kind of tamp it down, it’ll weigh 5 ounces; but that’s not the method we write our recipes for. Take a look at our measuring video – I think you’ll find it enlightening. PJH

  21. CindyD

    Amy – you could use a pastry blender or kitchen scissors. Good point, Lee, but our cholesterol has gone way down since we started using it.

  22. AJ

    I knew there’d be a use for my impulse buy of a bag of dried cranberries-
    the busy little elves at KAF were on my case! This is perfect for a holiday
    cookie exchange where a large percentage of the goodies will have choolate in them. I love the combination of orange and cranberry…any
    suggestion about the amount of grated/shredded orange peel I should add?

    AJ, my immediate reaction is 1 to 2 teaspoons for milder flavor, a full tablespoon for more assertive – let us know how it goes, OK? PJH

  23. Amy S.

    Has anyone tried adding chopped walnuts? Or substituting chopped apricots for the cranberries?

    Amy, I’m sure both would be delicious- PJH

  24. charmaine

    omg! those cookies look so delicious! gosh gosh…feel like stretching my hand into the PC and picking one up!

    is it possible to use just unbleached all purpose? would it affect the taste?

    Charmaine, AP is fine – it’s an option in the recipe; no changes needed, and they’ll taste great. Go for it! PJH

  25. Sandy

    Yummo! These look fabulous and so seasonally festive! These are a must-make. Your mention of the eggnog french toast made me so hungry for that. I make eggnog french toast during the “nog” season. I picked some up today at Harris-Teeter but it was Pumpkin Eggnog! I can’t wait to have Pumpkin Eggnog French Toast! I use challah bread that I buy at a wonderful bakery in town.

  26. Sara

    I made them last night with some changes to make them Parve (Dairy Free). I used Earth’s Balance Margarine and Soy Milk. They came out really nice, but my dried cranberries were sweetened so I though it was a little too sweet.

    1. Sally

      Sara, I’m highly Lactose intolerant, but i love everything Lactose sooo I keep a box of Lactaid in the cupboard and one pill before eating Lactose stops all that growling and gurgling like I’m starved sound.

  27. Kim

    I made these cookies last night as I have an over-abundance of dried cranberries. (I bought the motherload bag of Craisins at Costco and they take me (a single person) a long time to use.) I love the sparkling sugar on the outside. They don’t look super appetizing, but you forget about that after the first bite. Yum! When I like a recipe, I copy it down and put it in my recipe box – this is the newest addition!

  28. Liz from Ocean County, NJ

    I love your white whole wheat flour! I have been using it for a couple of years now in my Christmas cookies, especially in my grandmother’s Scottish shortbread recipe.

    I like to bake one new cookie each year to go along with the old favorites and I think I’ll try this one. I’ve gotten to really like things with cranberries in them (and we have a lot of cranberries here in the NJ Pine Barrens).

    So this year my family will get Scottish Shortbread (plain, lemon and chocolate chip), Empire Biscuits (a large sandwich cookie type cake), Christmas Tree Spritz, Lemon Cream Cheese Spritz, these Sparkling Cranberry Gems, and either Magic Bars or Ribbon Cookies. I can’t wait to start baking.

  29. Jill

    These look terrific. Any idea on whether substituting 3tbs coconut milk would work?
    Now that sounds festive! i can’t think of any reason why this would not work. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  30. Noreen

    This is a perfect recipe to use up the 80 bags of fresh cranberries that I have lying in the bottom of my deep freeze! Don’t be alarmed, I got them on sale at the end of the holiday season for, get this, 5 cents a bag! How do you pass that up? Then it occured to me, what will I do with 80 bags of cranberries? I’ll make these cookies, and maybe some muffins. Thanks!

    And the cranberry cake that’s posted on the blog today… and LOTS of good fresh cranberry relish… yumyumyum – you’re RICH! PJH

  31. Heather

    These are great, although a bit too sweet for my taste. I didn’t have any coarse sugar so I used granulated instead…that might be part of the problem, but I think I will reduce the confectioner’s sugar a bit next time. If I want to halve it, should I add another dry ingredient in its place, and if so, what do you recommend? I also added 2 tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut to the mix. All in all, very yummy!

    Heather, leave the sugar off the outside rather than reduce the confectioners’ sugar – that should do the trick. PJH

  32. Rocky

    About the sweet-tart flavor…I have citric acid in the cupboard which I have used in the past, mixed with sugar, to make a “Super Sour” type cookie. How much of the citric acid would I want to use here?

    Not sure, Rocky – If you’ve used it in the past, maybe you kind of know? How about start with 1/16 teaspoon, and go from there? Let us know… because it’s a great idea. PJH

  33. Pat

    YUMMMM! These are delicious and so easy to make. I used the food processor for the entire recipe. The cranberries were very fine but everything was mixed well and quick! And they look pretty, too. The best thing is they’re a healthy treat, too! Can’t wait till they come out for the dessert part of tomorrow’s festivities. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

  34. Suzanne

    Your white whole wheat flour is on my “thankful for” list this Thanksgiving. Love it!!!

    I’m with you, Suzanne – it’s really a godsend, for those of us wanting to add fiber to our diets. PJH

  35. bonnie

    Another yummy recipe! I just read the “FREEZE! Time-savers for the Holidays” blog about freezing the unbaked chocolate chip cookies. Can I do the same with these Sparkling Cranberry Gems? Also, the recipe calls for dried cranberries. Can I use the same amount of Craisins? Do I have to adjust the sugar to compensate for the sweetened Craisins? Thanks for your amazing work and support to all of us!

    You’re welcome, Bonnie – Yes, use Craisins, absolutely; no adjustments needed in sweetener. And yes, freeze on the sheet, then bag and put back in the freezer – should work just fine. PJH

  36. Amanda

    I made these cookies last week, and they were delicious! I was originally going to use unsweetened dried cranberries, but they were so dry that they were like flakes. I didn’t know if that would affect the texture of the cookies, so I ended up using sweetened dried cranberries.

    Could I have just soaked the unsweetened ones to plump them up (They were pretty much like flakes of cranberries!)? I was trying to find ways to reduce the sugar but still keep the coarse sparkling stuff. I also used 5 T of butter since that’s all I had and the cookies were still tasty!

    Yes, Amanda, the too-dry cranberries would have soaked moisture out of the cookies, and they wouldn’t have been as good. Unless, as you say, you soaked them. Still, I don’t think the cookies would have been as tasty; you did the right thing with the sweetened ones, as far as a successful recipe goes. PJH

  37. Lesley

    What should I substitute for the sparkling sugar? I have turbinado sugar or regular table sugar.

    Turbinado would be your best bet, Lesley – should work just fine, just a bit less crunch. PJH

  38. Carolyn

    The best cranberry cookie yet! I did the whole thing in the food processor…came out just fine. Just watch to see that you don’t overdo….Didn’t think about freezing the uncooked dough balls..If they go right into the oven frozen, is the temp. still the same and the time 16-17 min. And, I used Craisins…I love the sugar sparkle.
    This is a keeper… The time would increase by about 5 minutes if you baked them frozen. mary@ KAF

  39. Katherine

    Have everything but sparkling sugar. Think plain white sugar would be okay? I don’t want to run out to the store again because I know it will be very busy today.

    They probably wouldn’t have coarse white sugar at the store anyway, Katherine. Try with granulated; it won’t be the same effect, as you’ll lose the crunch, but they should taste good. And, you might want to stock your pantry with some of the coarse white sugar sometime; it’s awesome on muffins, cookies, pie, scones, all kinds of sweets where you want a touch of crunch and some pretty “glitter.” PJH


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