We’re back at it today with another cookie for the holiday season, and something really perfect for any gifting you have coming up. These little shortbread cookies are full of flavor and have a perfect little crunch with walnuts running throughout.

I love the addition of orange in these perfect square cookies, and it makes for something completely addictive, no joke!

How to Make Orange Walnut Shortbread

These cookies start off super simple, by beating together butter, sugar, and orange zest until fluffy. If you have some, toasted sugar really brings these cookies to another level! Then, add in some vanilla and orange juice, which creates a kind of creamy orange flavor, almost like a creamsicle. Add in your flour and salt, and finally, beat in the finely chopped walnuts.

The dough will look crumbly and dry at first, but just keep beating until it is very well combined and a firm dough forms. Wrap it in plastic, and it’s off to the fridge. I usually don’t like cookies that need to be chilled before baking, but it’s really important in this case. If you don’t let the cookies fully chill, they will spread in the oven and lose their shape.

Once the dough has chilled, you can pound it out with your rolling pin to make it easier to roll, and then roll it into a thick slab, about 1/4 thick or slightly more. You can use a small square cutter, or you can just use a knife to cut the dough into small squares. I like to sprinkle on some coarse sugar as well at this point and press it into the dough.

Bake the cookies in batches, keeping the second batch in the fridge while the first one bakes. Then it’s just time to cool and eat them!

Tips & Tricks for High-Altitude Shortbread

Shortbread is a notably simple cookie, but I’ve got a few tips to help you along the way.

  • Don’t skip the fridge time! It’s so important to keep these cookies cold. While they don’t contain any eggs or leavener, they can still spread if they aren’t completely chilled before baking.
  • Chop the walnuts pretty finely You want to still have some texture in there, but you don’t want huge chunks!
  • Docking the dough is optional Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t. In the case of these cookies, it’s more of an aesthetic thing, so if you like the look, go for it. If not, no problem!
  • Swap in the flavors you prefer! You can use lemon instead of orange, any extracts you prefer, and any nuts you have on hand. This recipe is super flexible on flavor since it’s so simple. That said, the orange walnut combo is definitely a great choice!
  • I’m at about 5,000 ft. above sea level and I usually find that most people who live at about 3,000 ft to 7,000 ft do not need to make any adjustments to my recipes.
  • You can make these cookies any size but I like the small cookies because they bake really well, and they are the perfect little bite-sized treat. Just watch the bake time if you go above a 1 1/2 inch cutter here- they will take longer in the oven!

I hope you guys enjoy this one- I know it’ll be on my list for holiday cookie boxes this year!

Orange Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Servings 40 small cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 cup toasted sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1-2 tbs. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs. orange juice
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbs. coarse sugar


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and orange juice, and beat until combined. Beat in the flour, salt, and walnuts and beat until well combined. It will take a few minutes for the dough to come together, but just keep beating until it does!

  2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and form into a disc. Chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days depending on when you want to bake the cookies.

  3. On a floured surface, bang on the cold dough with your rolling pin to help get it started, and then roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick or slightly thicker. Use either a small cookie cutter (1 1/2 inches) or use a knife to just slice the dough into small squares. Optionally dock the dough, and then sprinkle on the coarse sugar and press gently into the dough.

  4. Place the cookies onto baking sheets, and place them in the fridge while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until they are just starting to become golden on the bottom edges. Cool completely and enjoy!


  1. Sherri Jo

    December 11, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Greetings: This looks amazing! I will certainly be making these, love shortbread!

    I actually have a question on a recipe posted earlier… the apple cider bread. I made the cider reduction, I cooked for probably more than 45 minutes, kept an eye on it, didn't really " thicken" to syrup consistency… BUT, when cooled, it was perfect! I love the syrup on pancakes and waffles… not over sweet. My question is… how long can I keep this in the fridge? Can I freeze the syrup? It really made more than I can use, but maybe I need to look at more recipes to use it in!

    Thank you… I live in Grand Lake, CO at 8600 feet elevation. Baking is 'interesting', but I am starting to figure it out… some things turn out, some don't. : )
    sherri jo

    • Dough-Eyed

      December 16, 2020 at 11:39 am

      Hi there! I'm glad you liked it, that syrup is incredible, isn't it? I would say it should last about 2 weeks in the fridge, and you should be able to freeze it (but just make sure it's in a container with a little room for it to expand as it freezes) and that should last quite a while, I would guess several months!

  2. Katie

    December 23, 2020 at 6:23 am

    Thank you for the recipe! If I wanted to make plAin shortbread, so I substitute water or milk for the orange juice? K know how picky dough can be at altitude.

    • Dough-Eyed

      December 29, 2020 at 11:48 am

      Hi there! You can definitely sub milk for the orange juice and that should work perfectly!


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