Chocolate orange shortbread cookies are perfectly crispy and pack chocolate chunks and fresh orange zest into a melt in your mouth cookie perfect for a Christmas cookie exchange.

Chocolate orange shortbread cookies in a distressed muffin in on a white farmhouse background

Christmas cookie exchanges are back and it’s time to get those gorgeous recipes back out to share. And boy, do I have a sensational shortbread cookie recipe for you! This is absolutely going to be a regular in my Christmas cookie rotation and I know it will be for you as well. The chocolate and orange combination is perfect for the holiday season, bringing in rich chocolate with the fresh, in season zest of orange.

These are a quick shortbread recipe to have on hand, and you can roll and freeze them so they make a fun cookie to slice and bake when the craving or cookie exchange strikes. These cookies are slightly adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s Bourbon Sables from her STELLAR 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen cookbook. I am IN LOVE with this book. And if you know Sarah, she tests, retests, and excels at every single recipe she creates.

If you are looking for a new baking book, make this IT!

Chocolate orange shortbread cookies on a gold baking sheet

What You’ll Need

The recipe list for these cookies is really simple and you will mostly likely already have everything on hand!

  • Flour – use all purpose for these cookies.
  • Salt
  • Butter – use unsalted recipe for these cookies to control how much salt there is.
  • Sugar – white granulated sugar is used in this recipe.
  • Egg yolk – not the whole egg, just that buttery middle yolk
  • Vanilla Extract – or use vanilla bean paste if you have it.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate – you can use semi-sweet chocolate too.
  • Orange Zest – fresh orange zest gives these a delightful fresh flavor profile.
  • Sanding Sugar – also known as sparkling sugar

How to Make Shortbread Cookies

Beat together the sugar and butter. Beat together the sugar, butter, and salt until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg. Along with the vanilla extract.

Mix in the dry ingredients. Add in the flour until just combined.

Add in the chopped chocolate. Don’t forget the orange zest.

Roll dough. Roll dough into a 12 to 15 inch log, and roll in sparkling sugar if desired. Wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Slice and bake when you’re ready.

Chocolate orange shortbread cookies in a distressed muffin tin with chocolate chunks surrounding it

Tips for Success

Use unsalted butter so you can control how much salt content is in your cookie. Salt adds a wonderful dimension to sweet treats, but you don’t want too much.

Refrigerate or freeze dough – Cold dough means the shortbread cookies won’t spread while baking.

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Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies

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Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Megan Keno
  • Prep Time: 2 Hours 25 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 30 Cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Chocolate orange shortbread cookies are perfectly crispy and pack chocolate chunks and fresh orange zest into a melt in your mouth cookie perfect for a Christmas cookie exchange.


Units Scale
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp Orange Zest, more if desired.
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 3 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup Sanding or Sparkling Sugar


  1. In a bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat again if needed to ensure the mixture is evenly mixed.
  2. Add in the egg yolk, vanilla, and orange zest.  Add the flour and mix until just combined.
  3. Lastly, add in the chocolate pieces and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface, and roll the dough into a 12 to 15 inch long log. Sprinkle the dough with sparkling sugar and gently press to adhere. Wrap the log of dough into plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the cookies into 1/3-1/2″ thick rounds. Place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 15 minute, rotating the pan around halfway through baking to ensure they bake evenly.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on the pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Use two baking sheets and parchment to make this bake go faster, baking one tray at a time.


Adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s Bourbon Sables with Chocolate from 100 Cookies Cookbook.

Keywords: Cookies, Shortbread, Chocolate, Orange, Slice and Bake, Baking, Recipes

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