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Orange Shortbread Cookies | Easy & Delicious

Orange Short­bread Cook­ies melt in your mouth! They’re del­i­cate, citrus‑y and luscious!

orange shortbread cookies
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When I think of short­bread cook­ies, I pic­ture those swirly cook­ies that show up in hol­i­day tins around Christ­mas­time. As a kid, I liked them, but there were so many oth­er cook­ie options that they did­n’t real­ly hold my interest.

My Orange Short­bread Cook­ies are melt-in-your-mouth deli­cious. They’re sim­ple and they’re not over­ly sweet. 

The hint of cit­rus is what sets them apart and makes them so spe­cial. The crisp/soft cook­ie just sort of melts away as you chew. And you’re left with a lin­ger­ing citrus‑y sweetness.

As I have got­ten old­er, I’ve dis­cov­ered that the not over­ly sweet part has so much more appeal, for me. There are so many sweet and rich foods swirling around us over the hol­i­day sea­son. Some­times it’s just too much. 

I have found these lus­cious Orange Short­bread Cook­ies to be sweet relief! You’re gonna love them, too!

orange shortbread cookies

The Ingredients

  • But­ter
  • Flour
  • Pow­dered Sugar
  • Corn Starch
  • Orange Zest

How to Make Orange Shortbread Cookies

  1. Start by zest­ing two or three oranges to get 2 Table­spoons of zest. Save the oranges in the fridge, to eat or juice, lat­er on. They’ll keep in the crisper draw­er for 2 or 3 days with their zest missing. 
  2. The rest of this recipe is so sim­ple. You won’t believe how easy Orange Short­bread Cook­ies are to make!
  3. Cream togeth­er the but­ter, sug­ar and orange zest. You can mix these by hand or in a stand mix­er. I made quick work of it in my *mix­er.
  4. Now, add the flour and corn­starch and begin com­bin­ing them with the but­ter mix­ture. At first, it’s going to look crumbly and sandy as the dough starts com­ing togeth­er. Keep mix­ing. You will see larg­er clumps of smooth dough start­ing to come togeth­er. It will seem dri­er than reg­u­lar cook­ie dough and that’s right. You did every­thing perfectly!
orange shortbread cookies

Baking and Decorating Orange Shortbread Cookies

  1. To form the cook­ies, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place them on a greased or lined cook­ie sheet.
  2. Next you need to press them down until they’re about 3/8 inch thick. You can use the tines of a fork, the bot­tom of a glass, even a meat mal­let to press the cook­ies and cre­ate a design. I had a snowflake insert from an old cook­ie cut­ter and I used that for my press. Get cre­ative. I’ll bet you have things in the house that would make cute designs.
  3. It is com­plete­ly option­al, and not part of the recipe, but I like to sprin­kle the pressed cook­ie dough with sparkling sug­ar at this point. It adds just a touch of sweet­ness and crunch to the cook­ie and cre­ates a “spark­ly” appearance.
orange shortbread cookies
  1. Once the orange short­bread cook­ies are pressed out, bake them for 20 min­utes at 300°.
  2. When they come out of the oven, they’ll still be pret­ty del­i­cate. I set the tray on a cool­ing rack and let it be while I get a new pan of cook­ies ready for the oven. By the time I fin­ish, the cook­ies are ready to be trans­ferred from the tray to the cool­ing rack.
  3. These are best served com­plete­ly cool and are the per­fect com­ple­ment to a cup of tea or hot cocoa. In my opin­ion, Orange Short­bread Cook­ies are not just for Christ­mas­time. I think they would be an excel­lent “every day” cook­ie, since they are less sweet and are real­ly so versatile.

I hope you’ll enjoy the easy recipe for Orange Short­bread Cook­ies as much as I do! 

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orange shortbread cookies

Orange Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 40 min­utes
  • Yield: 3 dozen 1x


Orange Short­bread Cook­ies are melt-in-your-mouth deli­cious. Sim­ple to make. Not over­ly sweet. Love­ly cit­rus notes. My very favorite shortbread!


  • 2 cups but­ter, softened 
  • 1 cup pow­dered sugar
  • 2 Table­spoons orange zest (zest of 2 or 3 large oranges)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups corn­starch (or arrow­root powder)


  1. Cream but­ter, pow­dered sug­ar and orange zest in the bowl of a food proces­sor or stand mixer.
  2. Add the corn­starch and flour and mix to com­bine. The dough will come togeth­er, first, as crumbly and sandy.  Con­tin­ue mix­ing and it will become a smooth dough, that breaks apart into large clumps.  It will not hold togeth­er as one large ball.  The dough is dri­er than reg­u­lar cook­ie dough.
  3. Roll the dough into balls in the palm of your hand, press­ing them into a smooth sym­met­ri­cal sphere. Balls should be about 1 1/2 inch­es in diam­e­ter with no cracks in them.
  4. Place the balls on an ungreased cook­ie sheet and flat­ten using a fork or the bot­tom of a glass.  I had a snowflake insert for a cook­ie cut­ter that worked well.   Use any dec­o­ra­tive imprint­er you have to flat­ten the cook­ies to a thick­ness of 3/8″.
  5. Bake at 300° for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and leave on cook­ie sheet for 3 min­utes before putting them on the cool­ing rack.  Allow to cool com­plete­ly and then store for 24 hours before serving.


These cook­ies are so deli­cious and del­i­cate. They will melt in your mouth when you take a bite.  Wait­ing 24 hours to serve them is impor­tant, so they don’t crum­ble before they get to your mouth.   Patience will be a deli­cious­ly reward­ed virtue!

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Dessert, Cook­ies
  • Method: Bak­ing
  • Cui­sine: Amer­i­can

And, if you’re look­ing for even more cook­ie recipes to add to your hol­i­day reper­toire, check out my recipe for these yum­my Soft Chewy Gin­ger Cook­ies or any of the deli­cious cook­ies, below.

soft chewy ginger cookies

16 thoughts on “Orange Shortbread Cookies | Easy & Delicious”

  1. I love how easy these are to make! And the orange fla­vor is such a fun twist on tra­di­tion­al short­bread. Yum!

  2. These are beau­ti­ful and look­ing for­ward to mak­ing them. Where can I get a snowflake cook­ie cut­ter like this one you used?


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