cranberry pistachio cookies
Cookies,  Dessert,  Recipes

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Last year around this time Harper’s Girl Scout troop had a cookie swap. I had never heard of it but basically, each of the girls baked a batch of cookies. Then they went around grabbing one off each platter along with a recipe for each of the cookies. What they ended up with was a bunch of new desserts to try along with recipes in case they wanted to make them. She loved it and through the year we’ve tried a few of them, even adding a couple to our baking rotation. Apparently, this is a common practice and I kind of love it so all week we’re sharing some of our own cookie recipes.

We’re also hosting a little cookie recipe swap over on our Facebook page, so check that out to find something new and share something old. This cranberry pistachio cookie is a newcomer around here but a big hit. Crumbly, buttery, sweet, and a little savory, the test batch lasted less than a day.  This post contains  affiliate links. If you purchase an item via our links, we get a small commission. Using our link does not cost you anything.

What We Love About these Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

These cookies look a lot like a sugar cookie but they have a different texture. The way they break apart in the mouth is different, more crumbly and less chewy but with big chunks of roasted pistachios and bits of dried cranberries for a sweet, tart reprieve from the otherwise decadent treat. They are also unlike anything we have in our regular baking rotation and it’s fun to try new things.

baking cookies with kids

Some Tips

Sift all the dry ingredients. While I always recommend sifting when you bake, due to the buttery texture of this particular cookies, clumps of anything are really obvious and unpleasant. The kids prefer our sifter with the turn crank, mostly because it’s fun to use, but a fine sieve would also work for this.

Don’t be afraid to add some moisture. Butter is the only wet ingredient in this recipe. No eggs, no milk, and on top of that it calls for moisture sucking products like all purpose flour and powdered sugar. I find that in the winter, my flour is drier. Since it’s kept in a sealed container regardless of the season, I think it must  dry out on the store shelf before it makes it home with me. This dough should come together into one big lump by the time you are done mixing.

If it’s still too crumbly you can add a little more butter (up to two tablespoons) but after that more butter can make these cookies spread on the baking sheet and cause them to taste more like a savory biscuit than a cookie. Adding just a tablespoon of water can pull together an otherwise hopeless shortbread dough.

Spoon and level the flour. Instead of dipping the  whole measuring cup into the flour and then leveling, spoon the flour in and then level it. You’ll notice, by weight, the amount of flour is less. Since these cookies can suffer from being too dry to begin you don’t want to add any unnecessary flour.

Be patient. This recipe has a lot of ingredients and since it’s baking, it’s important to be precise but it’s worth it!

cranberry shortbread

Helpful Tools

Side note: I believe most things can be done with what you have at home. In fact most of the recipes I share here have been frankensteined over time, depending on what gear I have at home or the ingredients I can easily find where I already do my shopping. These items make my baking life easier and with three kids in the kitchen with me most of the time, sometimes it’s the difference between a counter full of cookies and an empty one. A few of these are necessities but most you could work around.

Kitchenaid Mixer: I pull out my mixed pretty much anytime I bake anything. A hand mixer could also probably do the job for most baking except for breads.
Baking Sheets: Light colored baking sheets give you more control over how quickly your recipes bake.
Pot Holders: I actually need to buy some more, as mine are in tatters.
Parchment Paper: Even though many baking sheets are nonstick, over time stuff starts to stick and the first time you scrub a batch of cookies off of a baking sheet without even getting to eat one, you’ll wish you had taken the extra two seconds to put down the paper. Another, possibly more eco-friendly option is a silicone baking mat.
Rolling Pin: to roll out the dough to an even thickness.


For this recipe you’ll need

  • 1 cup unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup roasted + salted pistachios, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon water, room temperature
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour

pistchio cookies


  1. Cut 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) into tablespoons and add to the mixer along with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. For now, omit the the additional two tablespoons of butter and set aside for later. Using a medium speed, cream together until the butter and sugar are light, fluffy, and lacking any grittiness. This will take anywhere from two to five minutes depending on how cold the butter was when you started. The colder it is the longer it will take.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and granulated sugar. Set aside.
  3. Give the pistachios a rough chop, you don’t have to be super careful but you will want the pistachios cut into at least thirds. If you see any big pieces chop them down to size.
  4. Repeat the chopping process with the dried cranberries.
  5. Turn the mixer down to the lowest setting and add the sifted flour/powdered sugar mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium until the dough comes together which shouldn’t take longer than a couple minutes. The dough should be tacky and fairly dry. If the dough doesn’t come together, add your reserved butter, one tablespoon at a time. If it is still too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water and let mix for two minutes, continue adding water, 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough tightens up.
  6. Lightly flour your counter and your rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  7. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out your cookies and place them at least an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Rinse, Repeat until you run our of dough.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes. Wait impatiently. Make silly faces. Twiddle your thumbs or make fart jokes. kid baking cookies
  9. Preheat your oven to 350*F.
  10. After the 30 minutes are up, remove the cookies from the refrigerator and place them directly into the pre-heated oven.
  11. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the dough along the bottom edge of the cookies is golden brown. Any darker than that and these cookies will harden too much as they cool and not be very tasty or easy to eat.
  12. Remove shortbread from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes before transferring them to a wire baking rack to finish cooling.
  13. Skip lunch and eat cookies instead.

cranberry pistachio cookies


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