These White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies are a family favorite! In fact, my family loved this recipe so much that they now refer to them as “crack cookies”. If you love soft and chewy cookies with tons of flavor, this is the cookie for you.
While I tend to bake these during the holiday season, they work well any time of the year. You can’t go wrong with the irresistible combination of white chocolate and cherry!
In fact, a couple of years ago, I made these particular cookies around Christmas. After my family sampled a few of the cookies, they quickly were deemed their favorite cookie. They are just incredibly delicious and, yes—totally addictive.
Now, not only do I make these cookies every Christmas, but I’m required to make them pretty much anytime our family gets together.
Fair warning: if you make this recipe, your family may have similar demands!
White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies Ingredients
The ingredients for these yummy shortbread cookies are pretty standard. With the exception of maybe 1-2 items, you likely already have these all in your pantry!
- Cherries: yes, these treats are made with real cherries. You’ll need maraschino cherries and some of the liquid from the jar too.
- Flour: a basic all-purpose flour will do.
- Sugar: a basic granulated sugar will do.
- Kosher salt: you’ll use just a tiny bit, but it helps add a lovely flavor balance to this recipe.
- Unsalted butter: to prep for this recipe, grab your butter and cut it into small cubes. You’ll want them to be cold, not softened, however.
- White chocolate: I recommend grabbing a bar of high-quality white chocolate, then finely chopping it rather than using something like white chocolate chips. You’ll get a much better flavor this way!
- Almond extract: Opt for pure almond extract and avoid imitation for the best flavor.
- Food coloring: I opt to use a touch of red food coloring to play up the cherry factor. However, feel free to use any other color, or skip the dye totally.
- Shortening: I use Crisco.
- Nonpareils: this is the technical name for those tiny, ball-shaped sprinkles you can see in the photo below. I used white, but you can switch it up if you prefer. You can also grab sprinkles (or be like me and use both!).
- Colored sanding sugar – I think the fine dusting of red sanding sugar gives these cookies even more festivity. Plus, I like the sensory experience of the slight crunch it adds to this soft cookie.
How to Make Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Preheat your oven, and set out all your ingredients.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Then, cut in the cubed butter by using a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender, see the FAQ section below for alternative methods.
Next, stir in the cherries, some of the chopped white chocolate, and almond extract. If you are using food coloring, add a few drops in here. Then, knead the mixture until it forms a ball. If you find that the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add a tiny bit of cherry juice.
Roll out and shape the dough into 3/4″ balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet 2″ apart, then flatten them. My trick for doing this is to use a flat-bottomed drinking glass that’s been dipped in sugar to press down on the cookies.
Bake them until the centers are set. This takes about 10-12 minutes for me. Allow to cool for a minute or so, then move the cookies to a cooling rack.
While they are cooling, combine the remaining white chocolate with the shortening in a double boiler. Heat and stir until the chocolate is melted. Don’t overcook! Dip half the cookie into the icing and then roll it in the nonpareils or dusting sugar. Allow the cookie to cool until the icing is set, then enjoy!
FAQs About Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Now that you know how to make this delicious cookie, let me answer a few FAQs I commonly get about them. Have another question? Drop it in the comments and I’ll do my best to get back to you!
What is a shortbread cookie?
Shortbread cookies are a type of cookie made with a simple combination of butter, sugar, and flour.
It’s believed that shortbread was first developed in Scotland sometime during the 12th century. It was once referred to as “biscuit bread” because it was made using leftover bits of dough from biscuit making.
Modern shortbread recipes still often include similar ingredients but have been adapted to suit different tastes. Today, you’ll find lots of variations of shortbread cookies, including cherry shortbread cookies like the ones I just shared!
Some of my other favorite shortbread cookies include these salted caramel shortbread cookies, these pistachio shortbread cookies with dark chocolate drizzle, and these peanut butter shortbread cookies.
What can I use instead of a pastry blender?
If you don’t have a pastry blender (the hand-held tool used to add butter into dough), don’t panic. While that’s certainly the easiest and most effective way to correctly incorporate butter into the dry ingredients, there are a few alternative methods you can try.
- One option is to use a food processor. You’ll want to put it on the lowest setting possible, then do short, quick pulses. Do not overwork the dough or it will become too tough.
- Another option is to use two forks or knives and press the butter into the dry mixture in a criss-cross pattern. This will require quite a bit of elbow grease, but it should work!
- Lastly, you can use a potato masher. To do this, you’ll need to work the butter into the flour mixture until it becomes crumbly and resembles coarse sand. Again, just make sure not to overwork it!
Can I freeze cherry shortbread cookies?
Yes, absolutely! While these cookies are best enjoyed fresh, you can definitely store them for later enjoyment. To do this, let your baked cherry shortbread cookies cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container or bag.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, let the frozen cookies thaw at room temperature before you ice them and dig in!
That’s a Wrap on Cherry Shortbread Cookies!
So, if you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth with a classic yet delicious treat, give these cherry shortbread cookies a try.
Whether you’re baking them up for yourself or sharing them with friends and family, they’ll certainly be a hit. Enjoy!
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White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies
- 1/2 cup maraschino cherries - drained and finely chopped (reserve the cherry liquid)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter - cold and cubed
- 12 ounces white chocolate - finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 drops red or purple food coloring - or purple food coloring
- 2 teaspoons shortening
- White nonpareils and colored sanding sugar
- Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter. Continue cutting until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Stir in the cherries, 2/3 cups of chopped white chocolate, and almond extract. Add food coloring, if desired. Knead the mixture until it forms a ball. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, use some of the reserved cherry liquid to help bring it together.
- Shape the dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten the balls to 1 1/2 inch rounds.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the centers are set. Allow to cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a double boiler, combine the remaining 8 ounces of white chocolate and the shortening. Heat until the chocolate has melted. dip half of each cookie into the chocolate. Then, roll the dipped edge into your nonpareils and / or colored sanding sugar. Allow the cookies to cool on waxed paper until the chocolate is set.
This recipe was adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.