The Best Vegan Cranberry Orange Pinwheel Cookies! These eggless & dairy-free cookies combine an orange shortbread cookie with swirls of a fresh cranberry sugar filling for a truly unique & absolutely delicious Holiday cookie.
Okay, can we all just admit cranberries have SO many better uses than just cranberry sauce?
I feel like this time of year, cranberries get pushed aside for chocolate, citrus, or they just get used as a pretty sugared garnish. But, this recipe is here to celebrate all things cranberries and show you just how delicious they can be!
This isn't the first time we have made an epic vegan cranberry dessert. In SGTO's first year we made Vegan Cranberry Orange Sticky Buns that still remain a reader favorite! Since then, we've also made Vegan Gingerbread Scones with cranberry glaze and my personal favorite- Cranberry Orange Smoothie Bowls!
If it isn't clear to you by now, I like really really love cranberries. Yes, they are super tart but mix them with a little sugar and some zesty citrus and you have a magical combination that always tastes amazing!
How to make cranberry sugar cookies
These cranberry sugar swirl cookies may look complicated, but we are going to break it down step by step here so you can be 1000% confident making these fresh cranberry cookies!
First make the orange cookie dough
This orange cookie dough is based on my favorite Vegan Orange Cardamom Sugar Cookies. Except, we skip the baking powder and add more flour to make a dough that doesn't spread when cooked.
First, cream together the butter, sugar, and orange zest until nice and fluffy- about 1 minute. Then add in the orange juice and ground flax seed and mix for an additional 30 seconds or so to combine.
Next, add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl and mix into a thick cookie dough. The dough should not be crumbly, so keep mixing until it holds together (see picture for reference)
Make the cranberry sugar filling
Once the dough is ready, make the cranberry cookie filling! This cranberry sugar filling is super easy and just involves three ingredients- frozen cranberries, sugar, and orange zest.
Add everything to a food processor and blend until the cranberries are finely ground. Since we are using frozen cranberries, a food processor or high-speed blender is necessary for this filling.
Add filling & roll the dough
Next, take the orange cookie dough and roll it into a 1-inch thick rectangle between two sheets of parchment paper. This is my KEY trick to making these cookies. Rolling between parchment paper helps it so the cookie dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin and allows you to roll the dough out completely flat. It's a trick I first used in my Vegan Cinnamon Roll Cookies and is a MUST for the best results.
Then, add on the cranberry sugar filling. It's really important to add on the sugar filling while it is still cold/frozen or it may be too hard to roll the dough without the filling oozing out.
Then roll the dough into a tight log. If the dough breaks at all while rolling, just press it back together!
Freeze cranberry cookies, then slice & bake
Once the dough log has been formed, add it to the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Adding the dough to the freezer at this point helps to make those nice evenly cut cookies we are looking for. While the dough is in the freezer, preheat the oven to 350F.
Then, slice the dough into 16 small cookies using a sharp knife and place them onto a tray topped with parchment paper.
Add to the oven to bake for 14-17 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned and cooked through. Keep in mind, the cranberry pinwheel cookies will continue to bake a bit on the tray once they are out of the oven, so it's okay if they're still slightly soft right out of the oven.
Once the cookies are baked, let cool completely. Then, top with an optional orange icing and dig in!
FAQ & Substitutions:
I haven't tried making these cookies gluten-free and I really wouldn't recommend it. The dough really needs the gluten to hold together when being rolled.
As for refined sugar-free, I usually don't think it works great in sugar cookies, but if you do try it make sure to use granulated sugar like coconut sugar or maple sugar.
Yes! Just use the same amount of fresh cranberries, it works just as well to make the filling!
Yes, you can! You can either leave it as a log in the freezer or pre-slice the cookies and bake them later.
If you do keep them in the freezer longer than the recommended 15 minutes, just keep in mind you will likely have to increase the baking time by an additional 2-3 minutes.
Cranberry orange sugar cookies can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days in a closed container, in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to one month.
Just make sure to store between sheets of parchment paper so they do not stick together.
I can't wait to see these Vegan Cranberry Orange Pinwheel Cookies become part of your cookie season celebrations! They make an amazing vegan Christmas cookie to add to any cookie box and could even be a great present to gift to friends. Enjoy!
More vegan cookie recipes to make for the Holidays:
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Vegan Cranberry Orange Pinwheel Cookies
Orange Cookie Dough:
- ½ cup vegan butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed must be ground not whole
- 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup frozen cranberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- First, make the orange cookie dough. Add the vegan butter, sugar, and orange zest to a large bowl and cream together until light & fluffy (about 1 minute). Then, add in the orange juice and ground flax seed and cream together another 30 seconds. Add in the flour and mix until a thick cookie dough forms. The cookie dough will be relatively thick, but it should not be crumbly so keep mixing until it holds together.
- Add the cookie dough to a sheet of parchment paper. Then, layer another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the cookie dough between the two sheets of parchment paper into a rectangle about ½ inch thick in height.
- Once the dough is rolled out, make the cranberry filling by adding the frozen cranberries, sugar, and orange zest to a blender or food processor. Blend until the cranberries have been finely chopped and are evenly mixed with the sugar.
- Remove the top layer of parchment paper from the cookie dough and add the cranberry filling on top. It is very important to add the filling while it is still cold for the best results.
- Then, carefully roll the dough into a log. Press the dough edges together to seal. If the dough cracks at all while you roll it up, lightly press it back together and continue rolling. Also, make sure not to let the filling ooze out of the sides of the dough as you roll it up.
- Next, lay parchment paper on top of a large baking tray and place the rolled up cookie log on top. Place the tray with the log in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to solidify before cutting.
- While the dough is in the freezer, preheat the oven to 350F. Then, remove the dough from the fridge, place it on a cutting board, and slice into 16 cookie slices that are about 1 inch thick.
- Lay the cookie slices onto the baking tray covered in parchment paper, making sure to leave space between each cookie. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until firm and very lightly browned (too browned will mean you overcooked them and cooking time will vary on how thick you cut the cookie slices). Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes. Then, remove and place onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once the cookies have cooled make the (optional) glaze. Add the orange juice and sifted powdered sugar to a small bowl and whisk together until a thick glaze forms. Then, drizzle the glaze over the cookies. Let the glaze harden for 1-2 minutes, then serve!
- Cookies can be stored in a closed container at room temperature for 3-4 days, in the fridge up to 1 week, or in the freezer up to 1 month.
- Fresh cranberries can be subbed from frozen cranberries 1:1