Baking/ Cookies/ Desserts/ Holidays

Cranberry Orange Swirl Cookies

November 27, 2020

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Cranberry Orange Swirl Cookies are a tasty sugar cookie that are perfect for the holidays. Made with fresh cranberries and orange zest in the cookie dough and in the filling, these cookies are bursting with flavor.

Cranberry pinwheel cookies piled on a plate.

I started baking these cookies several years ago and they make it on my baking list every holiday season. There are so many things to love about these cookies!

  • First, they look great and often get oohs and aahs!
  • There is orange peel added in the dough and in the filling. Talk about flavor!
  • You can make the dough and freeze it and then bake when you need fresh cookies!
  • Finally, these may look complicated, but they are fairly easy to make!
Cranberry orange cookies on a white plate.

Are you ready for holiday baking? For me, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is baking season.  I love to bake and I love to bake holiday cookies!!! 

Key ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and measurements can be found below. Just scroll to the bottom!

  • Cranberries – For these cookies, I use fresh cranberries. You could also use frozen cranberries.
  • Orange – You’ll need a t least two medium sized oranges for the zest. There is zest in the dough and in the filling
  • All purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar

Instructions

A complete list of instructions is available below! Just scroll to the bottom!

  • Make dough by first combining butter and sugar.
  • Mix in vanilla, eggs and orange peel
  • Add flour, salt and baking powder and combine
  • Divide dough in two and shape each half into a flat round.
  • Cover each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour
Cookie dough formed into two disks and wrapped in plastic wrap.
  • Just before you are ready to roll out the cookie dough, place cranberries, sugar and remaining orange peel in food processor. Process until finely chopped
  • Roll out one disk at a time into a rectangle
  • Spoon half the cranberry mixture on the rolled cookie dough
  • Roll dough up forming a log – roll beginning with long edge so the log is longer rather than wide
  • Wrap each log with plastic wrap and place on a baking sheet
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Remove logs from refrigerator and unwrap
  • Slice each log into 1/4″ – 1/2″ slices
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes

Make ahead before baking

You can completely prepare these cookie ahead of time and bake just when you’re ready for freshly baked cookies

Store in refrigerator

Store rolled and wrapped cookie dough logs in the refrigerator for up to three days before baking. Make certain dough is on a flat surface while being refrigerated.

Store in freezer

Once the cookie dough is filled and rolled, it can be stored in the freezer. Double wrap logs with plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet or a flat surface and place in freezer for up to four weeks.

To bake, pull dough from freezer 12 hours ahead of time. Place dough in refrigerator to thaw. Dough need to thaw, but still be well chilled before cutting. Slice and bake according to directions.

Cookie dough logs wrapped in plastic wrap.

My tips for baking these cookies

  • Plan ahead – these cookies need to be fully chilled twice. The dough will be too sticky without proper chilling
  • Prepare the cranberry filling just before using. If you make too early, the cranberries mixture will become too juicy. If this happens, try to strain off the excess liquid prior to adding to dough.
  • No need to pinch the seam of the logs. Just roll into plastic wrap and chill. The dough will hold its shape once fully chilled.
  • Bake in a preheated oven
  • Store baked and cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to five days.
  • Cookies can be frozen once baked and cooled.
Cranberry filled cookies on a counter with a plateful of cookies in the background.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @beyondthechickencoop

Check out all my holiday recipes!

Cranberry pinwheel cookies piled on a plate.

Cranberry Orange Swirl Cookies

Kathy
Sugar cookies filled with fresh cranberries and orange peel
5 from 21 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 42 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 50 cookies
Calories 88 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel (fresh)
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Filling

  • 1 cup cranberries (fresh)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon orange peel (fresh)

Instructions
 

For the Dough

  • In a mixing bowl add butter and sugar and mix until fluffy.
  • Mix in vanilla, eggs, and orange peel.
  • Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix.
  • When dough is well mixed, remove from bowl and form into two rounds. 
  • Wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. 
    Cookie dough formed into two disks and wrapped in plastic wrap.

For the Filling

  • In a food processor add cranberries, sugar and orange peel. Process until finely chopped. 
    Finely chopped cranberries in a food processor.

Rolling the Dough

  • Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 10 x 14″ rectangle. 
  • Add half the filling mixture on top of the dough leaving a 1/2″ border.
    Rolled out cookie dough topped with chopped cranberries.
  • Carefully roll dough into a log.
  • Place log on a piece of plastic wrap wrap tightly. Place log on a baking sheet. 
    Two logs of rolled cookie dough on a baking sheet.
  • Repeat with remaining dough and filling. 
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Slicing and Baking

  • Remove logs from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. 
  • Slice dough into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
    Sliced swirled cookies on a white surface.
  • Bake in a 375 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. 
    Rolled cookie dough filled with cranberries on a baking sheet.
  • Remove from baking sheet and cool on a baking rack. 

Notes

  • Plan ahead – these cookies need to be fully chilled twice. The dough will be too sticky without proper chilling
  • Prepare the cranberry filling just before using. If you make too early, the cranberries mixture will become too juicy. If this happens, try to strain off the excess liquid prior to adding to dough.
  • No need to pinch the seam of the logs. Just roll into plastic wrap and chill. The dough will hold its shape once fully chilled.
  • Bake in a preheated oven
  • Store baked and cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to five days.
  • Cookies can be frozen once baked and cooled.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 88kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 44mgPotassium: 15mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 115IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cranberry cookies, cranberry orange cookies, Holiday cookies, pinwheel cookies
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

This post was originally published in December 2016.

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87 Comments

  • Reply
    Janer
    November 23, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    This recipe was simple. The outcome is delicious. Make sure to let the dough chill completely both times.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      November 23, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks! And you’re right, chilling of the dough is an important step. Otherwise it will be too sticky too roll and the second time the rolled cookies won’t hold their shape. Just plan for the chilling time and you’ve got it made!
      Happy Baking 🙂

  • Reply
    Steffany
    November 7, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    We tried this recipe tonight and the flavour was wonderful! Ours did not look like yours. They were not plump and did not hold their shape; instead, they spread and had a lot of air. Any suggestions? How many grams of flour did you use?

    • Reply
      Kathy
      November 8, 2020 at 5:02 am

      Hi Steffany,
      Did you fully chill the dough before slicing and baking? That would be the biggest reason for them spreading out. I only measure my flour with measuring cups so I don’t know the amount in grams.
      Kathy 🙂

  • Reply
    TERRY C.
    December 21, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Hello Kathy,

    I found your recipe and can’t ant wait to to try it out, in fact tomorrow is the day. I purchased the fresh cranberries and 2/3 of the berries were kind of soft. My guess is that those are not to be the ones I use since they are going into the food processor, correct? The firm ones so that the fruit even though chopped up will hold its shape when spread on the dough.

    I would appreciate a quick reply if possible. I was able to get a cup of firm berries needed for the recipe from the bag at least. 🙏🏻

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. 🎄

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 21, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Terry,
      I would use the firmer berries. If you don’t have enough, use some of the softer berries and if it seems too juicy, just strain off any excess liquids. Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    Angela Harrington
    December 18, 2019 at 5:30 am

    5 stars
    Orange flavor really comes through in the dough, love it! Gorgeous appearance due to the cranberry swirl, very holiday. Hoping to impress coworkers at the company bake sale tomorrow. Should have made a double batch so some could stay home! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 18, 2019 at 5:41 am

      Thanks, Angela! I think your coworkers will be impressed! 🙂

  • Reply
    Gloria
    December 16, 2019 at 10:32 am

    5 stars
    My family loved these cookies. These will definitely be a repeat year after year.
    I spooned a little glaze on top made from fresh squeezed orange juice and powdered sugar. It was a nice finishing touch.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 16, 2019 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Gloria! I’m so glad everyone loved them. I love your idea of adding a glaze. I’ll need to give that a try!
      Happy Holidays,
      Kathy

  • Reply
    Patty
    December 15, 2019 at 10:30 am

    5 stars
    Made these yesterday and yes they are a lot of work but so worth it! Will make again!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 15, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks, Patty! These can also be assembled ahead of time and then baked when you need them. That helps save time when a lot is going on.
      Happy Baking!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    December 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    5 stars
    Delicious and pretty. Definitely worth the effort!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 6, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Julie Parker
    December 3, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve made 2 batches of these so far; they are a total hit, even with people who say they don’t like cranberries. I’ve been asked to “please make more soon.” Now it’s after Thanksgiving & the stores aren’t carrying fresh cranberries. Has anyone tried using craisins or the new “baking cranberries?”

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 3, 2019 at 6:42 pm

      Hi Julie,
      I’m so glad everyone loved these! I have only made these with fresh cranberries!
      Kathy

      • Reply
        Julie Parker
        December 6, 2019 at 7:20 pm

        It worked with the craisins just fine; I squeezed one of the oranges into the filling to add the missing moistness.

        • Reply
          Kathy
          December 7, 2019 at 7:23 am

          That’s awesome! We can make these year round and not have to wait just for cranberry season! Thanks for giving it a try and letting me know! 🙂

          • Lois
            December 24, 2019 at 7:10 pm

            Another idea would be to soak the craisins in some orange juice

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