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
4.82 from 43 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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119 Comments

  • Reply
    Katie
    December 21, 2020 at 5:37 am

    5 stars
    I just wanted you to know how much we enjoy these cookies. I’ve made them twice and they turn out perfectly and have so much flavor. I gave some to my neighbor and she’s raving about them too!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 21, 2020 at 5:52 am

      Hi Katie,
      Thanks so much! I really do love everything cranberries this time of year. Lucky neighbor to receive such lovely cookies!
      Kathy

  • Reply
    Marj
    December 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Can the dough be made ahead of time & put in the freezer? If so, for how long? TIA

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 15, 2020 at 4:40 pm

      Yes, the dough can be made ahead of time, filled and rolled up and then frozen. You can keep it in the freezer for one month (maybe longer but I’ve tested it with good results for up to a month!) To use just pull out and thaw and then slice and bake.
      Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    December 9, 2020 at 9:11 am

    3 stars
    Definitely off on timing ! 10 minutes mine were burnt 🙁 followed your measurements to a T. Would definitely check at 7 and pull at 8 minutes

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 9, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Hi Amanda,
      I’m sorry these were overcooked for you. Sometimes ovens can range in temperature. Make certain the dough is fully chilled before slicing and baking and your oven is fully preheated.
      Thank you,
      Kathy

  • Reply
    Julie Parker
    December 8, 2020 at 5:59 am

    Have you ever used this recipe but, rather than rolling/swirling, made them into bowtie cookies? Do you think it would work that way?

  • Reply
    Lorraine
    December 7, 2020 at 9:41 am

    I can’t buy fresh cranberries where I live. Do you have a good recipe using dried cranberries? Many thanks.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 7, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Lorraine,
      I have a recipe for oatmeal cookies that uses dried cranberries. It’s quite delicious! https://www.beyondthechickencoop.com/oatmeal-cranberry-cookies/
      Kathy 🙂

      • Reply
        Kristine
        December 21, 2020 at 8:46 am

        5 stars
        Since its a very soft dough, I find freezing the dough the night before works great for neat slices. I also brushed the tube with egg white and rolled it in sugar crystals for a little crunchy edge before slicing. Lovely having this in the cookie line up for Christmas Wish I could pic – they’re lovely! Merry Christmas!

        • Reply
          Kathy
          December 21, 2020 at 8:49 am

          Thank you for the tip! I love the idea of rolling in sugar for a little extra crunch! Merry Christmas!

    • Reply
      Tracy
      December 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

      1 star
      These turned out awful!! Very tasteless-more like flour and incredibly cakey. The dough was way too sticky so it was impossible to roll and definitely did not turn out like picture. The cookies just melted into itself. Very flat. All I could taste was orange and cranberry. I tossed them. Sorry

      • Reply
        Kathy
        December 20, 2020 at 9:29 am

        I’m sorry these didn’t turn out for you. The dough needs to be chilled twice – once when it’s first made or it will be too sticky and once before they are slice and baked or they will flatten and spread.

  • Reply
    Mira McLennan
    December 6, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    5 stars
    Love these! My family love how they look and taste too. Yum!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 6, 2020 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks, Mira! Thanks for letting me know how much you loved them! 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary
    December 6, 2020 at 6:02 am

    Is it literally just the peel of an orange? Not candied or anything?

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 6, 2020 at 6:04 am

      Yes, just the orange peel from a fresh orange. You want to just get the very outside of the peel and not the white pith. I use a very fine grater to zest the orange.

  • Reply
    Danielle
    December 5, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    I just got them started tonight. Will it be okay to do the first chill overnight then complete them tomorrow?

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 5, 2020 at 6:33 pm

      Yes, you can chill the dough overnight and bake tomorrow. Let me know how they turn out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Makenna
    December 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    5 stars
    I’m a 17 year old senior in highschool and with stressful distance learning in these hard times I just need a break, so I decided to try these out! I just tossed both rounds into the fridge for the first chilling and I’m so excited 🙂

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 4, 2020 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Makenna,
      Baking is a great way to take a break and destress! These are hard times, but we can keep making the best of it! Enjoy the cookies 🙂
      Kathy

  • Reply
    Valentina
    December 2, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    5 stars
    These absolutely go my “oohs and aahs” when they jumped out at me earlier today on Instagram. They’re beautiful and that filling is amazing! I’m in! 🙂 ~Valentina

    • Reply
      Kathy
      December 4, 2020 at 4:58 am

      Time to get baking! Then once you bite into these cookies there will even be more oohs and aahs!

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