Soft and Chewy Vanilla-Orange Cranberry Cookies: home(run) for the holidays

There’s just something about orange and cranberry that tastes like Thanksgiving, isn’t there?

Cranberry-orange muffins. Cranberry-orange bread.

And my favorite: Tart-sweet, uncooked cranberry sauce: just ground cranberries, an orange (peel and all), walnuts if you like, and sugar to taste.

Now THAT says Thanksgiving!

As do these soft, moist sugar cookies, laced with grated orange peel, studded with cranberries, and flavored with a hint of vanilla – for that Creamsicle® effect.

Speaking of, did you know August 14 is National Creamsicle Day? Mark your calendar now.

And in the meantime, rustle together the ingredients for these cookies. They’re super easy to put together; you can have warm cookies on the table in just about 25 minutes; and they’re a delicious way to begin the countdown to Thanksgiving.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment.

Next, grate the peel from a medium to large orange. A microplane zester works very well here.

How large should the orange be? Well, how much orange flavor do you want in your cookies? Up to you.

Usually, I’d suggest orange oil as an alternative here. But I really like the added moistness the peel lends the cookies. Substitute 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon orange oil if you like, but the cookies’ texture will be slightly different.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
3/4 cup sugar
grated peel of 1 medium to large orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat to combine.

Add 1 large egg. Beat to combine again. The mixture may look slightly curdled; that’s OK.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Finally, add 2 cups dried cranberries; or a mixture of dried cranberries and toasted chopped walnuts or pecans.

Stir to combine.

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2″ between them. A teaspoon cookie scoop works very well here.

Using the flat bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, flatten the dough balls slightly, to a scant 1/2″ thick.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 9 minutes, until they’re barely set, and a light golden brown around the edges. Don’t over-bake; if you do, the cookies will be hard, not soft and chewy.

To keep cookies soft and chewy, they shouldn’t brown on the bottom. The cookie pictured on the left will harden as it cools, rather than stay soft.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool them right on the pan. If you need a pan to bake the remainder of the cookies, give the cookies about 5 minutes to set before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Light gold and bright red: the colors of the season. Enjoy!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Soft and Chewy Vanilla-Orange Cranberry Cookies.

Print just the recipe.

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. Sue Hankins

    How do you store these? Zip lock bag? Cookie tin? They came out perfectly at 6 minutes per batch. Only change I would make is use fewer cranberries. Some hardly had any “cookie” between the cranberries. Husband said it was a perfect combination of sweet/sour.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sue, store these cookies in an airtight container (either a cookie tin, zip lock bag, or plastic/glass container) for about 4-5 days at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. Michelle Perrine

    I Pinned this recipe a few years back and then forgot about it! I finally made it over Christmas and wow, they’re so good! I had a bag of cranberries in the freezer so I used those instead of dried and I really liked the contrast of the tart with the sweet. Really a great cookie!

  3. Mary

    Just came across this orange/cranberry cookie recipe I’ve been looking for.
    Would like to know if I used a box cake with pudding in the mix instead of the flour?
    If so, how much and would it taste signifantially different? Need to know ASAP.
    Thanks, Mary

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI Mary,
      Sorry, that’s not something we’ve tested at all with the recipe, we can’t really say if it would come out well at all. ~ MJ

  4. Edwina Madeley

    Hiya PJ! I thought you may like to know that I’m using your recipe for our 4* Safari Guest Lodge (Themba Sunset Lodge in South Africa!! EVERYONE raves about them ~ all our guest have a cookie jar in their rooms filled with these and a couple of other choices…. Thanks so much for blessing guest from all over this magnificent planet! Hugs Edsxxx

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Eds, I’m honored! So cool that the recipe has found its way from Vermont to South Africa – and I’m glad you’re able to get the dried cranberries there. Thanks for letting me know – and for sharing your baking with your lucky guests. PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Try using half butter and half oil. The cookies will spread a bit more and be a bit softer. ~ MJ

  5. Veronica

    Mine didn’t come out as well as expected. They taste very good but the texture is somewhere between a bad cookie and a bad cake. Kind of flat, spongy, and greasy instead of what a great cookie should me. I’m sure it was because I didn’t have butter so I substituted margarine. Now I know, butter is a must when baking! I have to say the flavor combination is perfect in this recipe though.

    You hit the cookie on the head, Veronica: margarine would create a very poorly-textured cookie–most margarine brands contain less fat compared to butter–the rest of margarine is water and other “fun” additives, which wreaks havoc on cookie recipes. Stick with butter and all should be well! I hope your next batch is spot-on! Kim@KAF

  6. Colleen

    I just made these and they are awesome. Instead of the whole 1 and 1/2 cup of flour, i used 1 cup of flour and a 1/2 cup of almond meal. I also used white whole wheat flour. They are so good. THanks! I will definitely make these again.

  7. Doreen

    Just wondering if frozen cranberries would work in this recipe…I have bags of them in my freezer and would love to use them up…This recipe sounds amazing am going to give it a try…Thanks for sharing 🙂 Email address:

    Sure, Doreen – just uncover, pour onto a baking sheet, and thaw them at room temperature first, OK? Good luck – PJH


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