Cranberry-Studded Melted Butter Shortbread

Recipe by Kye Ameden

When you want your kitchen to smell like the height of the holidays — a spell-binding combination of vanilla, citrus, herbs, and baking cookies — this is the recipe you need. Melted butter shortbread has all the tenderness of traditional shortbread, but there’s no waiting for your butter to reach room temperature. Because the dough can chill briefly or be stashed in the freezer for several weeks, festive shortbread cookies are never too far away.


20 mins
15 to 17 mins
1 hr 35 mins
about 35 small (1 1/2") cookies
Cranberry-Studded Melted Butter Shortbread  - select to zoom
Cranberry-Studded Melted Butter Shortbread  - select to zoom
Cranberry-Studded Melted Butter Shortbread  - select to zoom
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  1. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter in the microwave in 30-second intervals just until melted. Alternatively, melt the butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

  2. Add the rosemary, zest, vanilla, and salt to the melted butter; whisk to combine. 

  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch and whisk for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the mixture has thickened and is smooth, emulsified, and slightly cooled.  

  4. Use a flexible spatula to stir in the flour until a soft dough forms. Mix in the chopped cranberries until evenly distributed. 

  5. To use the Slice-and-Bake Cookie Dough Keeper, press the dough into one half of the keeper, distributing it evenly from end to end. Use lightly greased hands to smooth the dough into an even log that’s slightly domed. Cover with the other half of the keeper. Alternatively, transfer the dough to a piece of parchment and shape it into a log that’s roughly 1 1/2" wide and 11" long. To make a perfectly round log, fold the parchment away from you to encase the dough. Use your non-dominant hand to press a long, straight object (a ruler or a bench knife works well) in between the dough and the work surface, then use your dominant hand to gently tug the top piece of parchment away from you. This should pull the dough so that it butts up against the straight object and forms a very smooth, symmetrical log. Twist the ends of the parchment to keep the dough enclosed.  

     Bench Knife Cookie Roll
  6. Chill the dough inside the keeper or parchment for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 days. The dough can also be frozen for several weeks. If freezing the dough, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking the next day.  

  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. If the dough has been chilling for longer than 1 hour, let it rest at room temperature to warm up slightly.  

  8. Place the sugar in a pie plate or small rimmed baking pan.

  9. Remove the dough from the keeper or parchment. Cut the log in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the log in the sugar until the outside is evenly coated. If the sugar isn’t sticking, press the dough gently into it to adhere. Repeat with the other half of the dough. 

  10. Use a sharp knife to slice the sugar-coated log at the score marks (if you used the keeper) or roughly every 1/4" (if the dough was chilled in parchment).  

  11. Arrange the shortbread cookies evenly on the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1" apart. 

  12. Bake the shortbread cookies for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the edges just barely start to turn light golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  

  13. Serve the melted butter shortbread cookies slightly warm or at room temperature. Store leftover shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Baked shortbread can be frozen for longer storage if the coating is omitted. (Otherwise, the sugar becomes sticky when thawed.) 

Tips from our Bakers

  • To lean into the citrus flavor of these cookies, omit the rosemary and add 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon of Fiori di Sicilia to the dough, along with the vanilla.