Orange Shortbread Cookies

Orange zest gives these classic shortbread cookies a little citrus flair. Enjoy them at the holidays or anytime you're craving a sweet treat.

Shortbread Cookies

I don’t do crafty baking very often, but I had so much fun making and decorating these orange shortbread cookies!

This orange shortbread cookie recipe is based on the lemon shortbread cookies that I made last year. That recipe is a fan favorite, so I thought I’d do a more festive version of it for Christmas. This time, I cut the cookies into stars and decorated them with orange zest and these cute Supernatural white sequin sprinkles.

Orange Zest Shortbread Cookies

How to Make Orange Shortbread

Want to learn how to make these cookies? Here’s what you need to do:

First, cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the orange zest, orange juice, and then the flour and salt and mix until everything is well combined.

Next, chill the dough. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and transfer it to the fridge to chill for 15 to 30 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface or between two pieces of parchment paper. Be careful not to roll the dough too thin here. Aim for it to be about 1/4-inch thick.

Once you’ve rolled out the dough, use cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Re-roll the dough, as needed, to get as many cut-outs as you can!

Then, it’s time to bake. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the cut-outs to the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let them rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Orange Zest Shortbread Cookies

Recipe Tips

  • Chill the dough for 15 to 30 minutes. This will make the dough less sticky and easier to roll out.
  • Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes after they come out of the oven. If you move them too early, they will crumble. Let the cookies set up for a full 2 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Wait for them to cool completely before decorating. It’s tempting to start decorating these right away, but your cookies need to be at room temperature before you decorate them. Otherwise, the glaze will melt!
  • Amp up the orange flavor with a few drops orange oil. This is an optional step. On their own, the orange flavor in these cookies is pretty subtle. If you’d like a brighter orange flavor, add a little orange oil (the baking type, not the essential oil). You can find it in the baking aisle next to the vanilla extract.

More Favorite Cookie Recipes

If you love these orange cookies, try one of these favorite cookie recipes next:

For more delicious cookie recipes, check out this post!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Orange Shortbread Cookies

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
With a light citrus flavor from orange zest and juice, these cookies are perfect for holiday baking.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 30 cookies
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup cane sugar
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • A few drops of orange oil, optional, for more orange flavor
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • sequin sprinkles, for decorating, optional
  • zest of 1 orange, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then, add the orange zest, orange juice, and orange oil, if using, and mix again. Finally, add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a 1” disk. If the dough is sticky, wrap and chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm but still pliable.
  3. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until about ¼“ thick. If desired, you can roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Use 2” cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Keep any extra cut-out cookies in the fridge until ready to bake.
  4. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely before glazing.
  5. Make the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar and almond milk until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cookies and decorate them with sprinkles, if using, and orange zest.
note: your cookie yield may vary depending on the size of your cookie cutters.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Sheila

    I don’t know what I did not do correctly but these cookies spread out a mile. Any thoughts as to what went wrong?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Sheila, did you use regular unsalted butter and did you chill them the full amount?

  2. Jeanine Donofrio

    Hi Sarah, I wonder if your cutter used more surface area than my little stars. It can also vary depending on the thickness you roll them. I’m glad you enjoyed!

  3. kylie cotton

    These look delicious and healthier then regular cookies for sure!! Im so excited to try them!

  4. Susan

    I love this recipe – the dough is fairly easy to work with and the cookies have a delightful orange flavor. We used several different small cookie cutters and had fun decorating them for Christmas. I replaced some of the milk with orange juice in the icing for extra flavor instead of using more zest.

  5. Susan

    I haven’t baked cookies in years, and should not eat them, but this recipe sounds absolutely wonderful. I’m saving it for that moment when I just have to have some cookies. I need to consider the lemon ones, too. 🙂

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.