Christmas cranberry cookies are sweet sugar cookies with cranberries on top. The sparkling garnish on top is an easy way to dress up desserts for Thanksgiving and Christmas. These sparkling frosted cranberry cookies pair the sugared cranberries with homemade cookies plus a simple buttercream to make festive treats in the true spirit of holiday cheer.
There are so many extra-special Christmas cookies to choose from, it can be hard to decide which to make. If you like contrasting flavours and textures, this fresh cranberry cookies recipe is ideal for your holiday cookie platter.
Christmas Cookies with Sparkling Cranberries Ingredients
The sugar cookies are made with butter, sugar, egg, flour, baking powder, and salt. You will also need vanilla extra, almond extract, lemon juice, and dried cranberries to give them a wonderful flavour.
The buttercream frosting is a blend of butter, shortening, vanilla and almond extracts, salt, heavy cream, and powdered sugar. If you want to stick to only vanilla or only almond in the cookies or frosting or both, then that would work just fine.
The sparkling cranberries are a combination of fresh cranberries, sugar and water. The naturally tart cranberries are perfect for this recipe because they contrast with the sweet cookies and buttercream frosting. Plus they look wintry and festive, with the sugar on them resembling snow.
How to Make Sparkling Frosted Cranberry Cookies
Chop the dried cranberries up. You don’t have to worry about making the pieces evenly sizes. Beat the sugar and butter using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a handheld electric whisk.
Next add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat some more. Add in the lemon juice and mix again. Now add 2 cups of the flour, the salt and baking powder, then keep adding small amounts of flour until you get a doughy texture which can be rolled into a ball without being too sticky.
If the cookie dough is too dry you can add some milk or water at this point. Mix in the dried cranberries then roll the dough into a ball and refrigerated it for 15 to 30 minutes. Roll the cookie dough out on a floured surface so it’s about 3/8-inch thick. Use a 2½ or 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out the cookie shapes.
Arrange the cookies on a couple of parchment paper-lined baking sheets or silicon mats. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until they’re golden brown at the edges.
While the Christmas cranberry cookies cool completely on a wire rack, you can prepare the sparkling cranberries. Pour 1½ cups of sugar on a baking sheet. Combine the rest of the sugar with the water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
Let it boil for a couple of minutes then add the fresh cranberries and stir until they’re all coated with the syrup mixture. Discard any syrup that drips off the cranberries before rolling them in the sugar on the baking sheet.
To make the buttercream frosting for your sugar cookies, beat the butter and shortening and then add the vanilla and almond extracts before beating again. Next beat the powdered sugar into the mixture and then the heavy cream. The frosting should be airy and light, which means several minutes of beating.
Now you’re ready to put the components of the Christmas cookies with cranberries together. One a room temperature cookie, pipe the frosting on top of each cookie with a big piping tip, swirling it in from the outside. Next place cranberries on the top of each cookie. You will love this delicious recipe and the cookies are best when eaten after decorating.
This is a great way to use up leftover cranberries. If you’re a real cranberry fan, I bet you’d also like cranberry cream cheese stuffed flank steak.
Cranberry Sugar Cookies Variations
You can change the extracts from vanilla and almond to whatever you like. I bet orange extract would go well in these cranberry cookies. If you don’t have shortening, just use extra butter instead. Try using a different berry if you’re making these for another occasion, perhaps strawberries or cherries.
Christmas Cranberry Cookies FAQs
If you make them a day ahead and them keep the cookies in an airtight container they will soften up a little more. However, don’t add the cranberries until just before serving, since once you’ve rolled them in sugar they don’t tend to keep for long. You can always prep them ahead and keep them in a Ziploc bag or another airtight container and then just roll them in a little extra sugar.
The sugar cookies shouldn’t do this unless you didn’t add enough flour to the dough or you didn’t chill them for long enough. If they do spread out a little, it shouldn’t matter too much. They will just have a more rustic look!
You can freeze them for up to about 45 days but bear in mind the sugared cranberries might lose their crisp coating and also the red colour might run into the frosting so they won’t look quite as pretty.
Sparkling Frosted Cranberry Cookies Recipe
Sparkling Frosted Cranberry Cookies
- ⅓ Cup water
- 2 ⅔ Cups sugar divided
- 2 Cups cranberries fresh
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a couple cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Using a food processor or by hand, chop the dried cranberries into small bits. It is OK to have a variety of sizes, it is just fine if some of the pieces are larger or even left hole.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until combined.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, beat until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and beat until combined.
- Add 2 cups of the flour, the salt, and baking powder. Once combined with the butter mixture, continue to add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until the mixture comes together and becomes a nice doughy texture. (TIP – you should be able to roll a ball of dough in your hand without it sticking much or at all, if you feel you have added too much flour you can add 1 Tablespoon of water or milk at a time until the right texture has been achieved.)
- Add the chopped dried cranberries and give the dough a final mix to incorporate.
- Form the dough into a ball or disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. (This would be a good time to make the sparkling cranberries)
- Once the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge. Lightly flour a clean work surface that you can roll the cookie dough out on.
- Unwrap the cookie dough and place on your floured surface. Roll the dough to about ⅜” thickness. Use a 2.5” or 3” round cookie cutter to cut the disks of dough. Place the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheets leaving about 1” of space or more between each cookie.
- Bake in the preheated oven, start checking on the cookies around 12 minutes, and remove from the oven once cooked through and just a bit golden around the bottom edges. Let cool completely
- On a baking sheet pour 1 ½ cups of sugar, set aside.
- In a small saucepan make a simple syrup by bringing ⅓ cup of water and ⅔ cups of sugar to a boil. Let boil for a couple minutes then remove from heat.
- Pour the fresh cranberries into the syrup and stir until all of the berries are coated. Use the final ½ cup of sugar as needed to help coat the berries
- Drain excess syrup from the cranberries then roll the cranberries in the sugar on the baking sheet until covered.
- Make sure all of the berries are separated and let sit on the tray until dried.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add ½ cup softened butter and ⅓ cup vegetable shortening. Beat until smooth.
- Add the vanilla, almond extract, and salt, beat again until combined.
- Add in the powdered sugar, beat until smooth then add the heavy cream and beat until the frosting becomes light and airy (approx 3 to 5 minutes).
- To assemble the cookies, place the frosting into a piping bag and use an extra large round piping tip to frost the tops of the cookies with a swirl starting from the outside of the cookie moving towards the centre.
- Top each cookie with 3 sparkling cranberries.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Sparkling frosted cranberry cookies are gorgeous little sugar cookies with buttercream frosting and frosted cranberries on top of each cookie. They’re great for a holiday bake sale or Christmas cookie exchange, as well as the perfect addition to your holiday table. These old fashioned sugar cookie recipe with sugared cranberries and frosting will be perfect for your holiday cookie tray this holiday season.
Other Recipes You Will Love
Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.