Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies.

Soft and buttery shortbread cookies flavored with cherry and almond, then finished off with sweet white chocolate.

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies on

Recipe #4 of my Christmas Cookie Palooza is so pink, it makes our bridesmaid dresses look pale. The cookies get their girly color from maraschino cherry juice and their flavor from butter, almond extract, and cherries. Cherry and almond is a divine combination and these have to be one of my best cookies yet!

Sally's Christmas Cookie Palooza

Seriously, how can you not smile biting into a cookie like this??

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies on

Do you like shortbread cookies? They were never a favorite when I was younger. I’d often turn my nose up to them in favor of something a little more… exciting. Like a chocolate peanut butter sprinkle carmel drizzled candy bar loaded something. But now, I can’t get enough of these tender little cookies. I can now appreciate their simple taste, crumbly texture, and out of control butter flavor.

There are three main ingredients in shortbread cookies. Butter, sugar, and flour. Diet cookies? These are not. All three are imperative to the structure, texture, and taste of shortbread cookies. I’ve had a lot of problems in the past with shortbread cookies spreading. There’s so much butter that spreading is often an issue unless you have the right recipe. There are also no eggs present to give the cookies structure.

I played around with my Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies (also shortbread) to include cherry juice. I made many, many failed attempts. Adding a thin liquid like this (and liquidy maraschino cherries) to a cookie dough so high in butter can spell disaster. More flour, less flour, more cherry juice, less cherry juice, etc. I ended up reducing the butter slightly and that seemed to solve all the problems. The shortbread cookies still have all that extraordinary buttery flavor, but now include the taste of cherries.

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

My favorite part about these cherry almond shortbread cookies? Besides the color of course. All the cherry chunks. Chunks of sweet maraschino cherries in every single bite.

Be careful baking these cookies (1) from a texture standpoint, overbaking shortbread cookies strips their tender, soft texture. And you’re left with hard cookies. Not crumbly. Just hard. And (2) from an appearance standpoint. Overbaking will leave orange brown dark spots on top of the cookies. A brown-ish underside (and edge) to these cookies is normal because, well, they are cookies.

The white chocolate drizzle! I mean, the white chocolate pizazz! While the cookies have so much cherry, butter, and almond flavor, I felt the cookies lacked something on the outside. A simple white chocolate drizzle makes them a little snazzy, right?

They are so soft inside. ↓ ↓

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies on

A cookie almost too pretty to eat.

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Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Soft and buttery shortbread cookies flavored with cherry and almond, then finished off with sweet white chocolate. This cookie dough must be chilled, so plan accordingly.

Yield: about 2 dozen


  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
  • 16 maraschino cherries (drained and chopped)
  • 4 ounces white chocolate (optional)


  1. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on high, slowly drizzle in 1 Tablespoon of the cherry juice. Beat for 1 minute on high. Turn the mixer off and pour the flour into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed, then, with the mixer still running on low, add the chopped cherries. Beat just until the cherries are disbursed in the dough. Press the dough down to compact it and tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill until firm, at least 4 hours (and up to 3 days). If the cookie dough is not sufficiently chilled, your cookies will spread all over the cookie sheet.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (silicone mats preferred to reduce spreading). Shape the cookie dough into balls. Mine were about 1 Tablespoon of dough per ball. Make sure they're nice and smooth. If you find that the balls of dough are sticky and/or have gotten a little soft after rolling- place the balls of dough back into the refrigerator to firm up. You absolutely DO NOT want soft dough.
  3. Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not overbake.  In fact, I only baked mine for 10 minutes. I prefer them a little soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with white chocolate. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, in 20 second increments, stirring after each increment until melted. I used a plastic condiment bottle to drizzle the melted white chocolate.
  4. Make ahead tip: Store cookies covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 6 days. Shortbread cookie dough may be frozen up to 2 months; baked cookies may be frozen up to 2-3 months.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.


Try my Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies next!

Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies. Get this buttery shortbread cookie recipe at


And these Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies


See more Christmas recipes.

See more Cookie Palooza recipes.

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies





  1. I host an annual Holiday Cookie Exchange and I made these yummy cookies won “best dressed” and “most unique”! Love the tips along the way-valuable to the success of this delicious cookie.

  2. Im making these today and I let my dough chill overnight. I think a good tip might be to roll the dough into tubes wrap in Saran Wrap and chill. That way you can slice and bake. This cold dough is rough on the hands!

  3. Sally,
    I made your holiday sugar cookies with my two young boys and they were a HUGE hit. With this recipe do I compact the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or should I roll this dough and wrap tightly? Also, you say to let chill for at least 4 hours, would overnight be good? It’s already 6:30 here. I don’t want to stay up all night baking lol. I have a 4 yr old who loves to wake mommy up super early. Thanks

    I love love all of your recipes. Thank you for sharing them with us

    • Compact the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and yes– overnight chilling is just fine. Take the cookie dough out and let it sit at room temperature for 30ish minutes because it will be extremely firm right out of the fridge. I’m so glad you all enjoyed my sugar cookies!

  4. I made these today and they are amazing! Absolutely my favorite “new” Christmas cookie. I ended up re-chilling the formed dough balls for about 45 mins, just to be safe. I then lightly pressed them with the bottom of a glass mid-way through baking (I always rotate the sheet), and it made them look more uniform. The white chocolate addition is beautiful and yummy! I added a small amount of vegetable oil to the melted white chocolate to get it to pourable condition, which worked like a charm. I also made your cranberry white chocolate cookies (sans pistachios – the original one) and the M&M cookies from your cookbook today with holiday colored M&Ms. I can always count on your recipes! 🙂 I usually bake around 18-20 different cookies each Christmas, and your recipes are quickly adding to mix!

  5. These taste great! I feel like I am baking them wrong. Lol after 11 minutes they still feel soft and like gooey almost.

  6. Hi Sally,
    I just made these tonight and they are going to fast! Love the combination of flavours! I just have one question though, mine didn’t get as pink as the recipe picture and I used 1 TB of the cherry juice. Should I add more?

    Also, a suggestion for the white chocolate drizzle if you don’t have a plastic squeeze bottle is to spoon the chocolate into a small ziplock bag and make a slight cut at the corner of the bag for piping/ drizzling. Easy solution 🙂

  7. I made these for a New Year’s Eve party and they were a hit! The host’s husband as an egg allergy so these were the perfect dessert. I had many requests for the recipe. Thanks!

  8. These are delish!! I made two batches at Christmas, one for work and one for family. So cute and different!! And your website is a danger, it’s making me want to bake all the time. Cheers to the new cookbook!!

  9. Cherry almond is one of my most FAVORITE flavor combinations! I saw this on Pinterest a couple of days ago and it’s been repinned 25 times already. Since it didn’t cross my path until after Christmas, I they look perfect for Valentine’s Day and can’t wait to try them.

  10. I’m disappointed! I followed this recipe exactly (I even measure the flour according to your tutorial) and my dough came out beige (not even even close to the same pink) and extremely crumbly. I chilled it for about 2 hours and it was hard as a rock and disintegrates in my hands . I haven’t baked them yet, but am wondering why the colour didn’t pop and why the pre-chilled dough was stiff and crumbly rather than pliable and sticky?

    • Do you think you overmeasure the flour at all? Did you change anything about the recipe? The butter amount? The chopped cherries beaten into the dough usually help intensify the pink color.

  11. I just baked these like a second ago but they came out beautifully. Thank you, your website has been an inspiration to this wannabe baker 🙂

  12. Hi sally not to get overly scientific or anything ! But when you say 1 tbs of cookie dough ( when making the dough balls ) ROUGHLY how much would that be in grams ?
    Thanks …. And the cookies look ammmmmazzzing

  13. Oh god it happened again ! Posted the same thing twice ….. So sorry

  14. Hey Sally can this dough be used in other ways ? like for rolling and cutting out? or forming into a log and then slice and bake? or do you have any other shortbread recipe that can be used in many ways?…I hoping to bake them as gifts – it will be nice to have a little variety!…

  15. going to make these for Easter . I think the pretty pink will work splendidly . My sister gave to me some hand soap that was called cherry almond shortbread…and if these cookies tastes as good as the handsoap smells they will be awesome…I’ll report back in a week or so .

    • WELL I did make these…and I would not really call them shortbread…but I will call them delicious…these will be on my cookie table for Christmas.

  16. I am making these now… just put them in fridge to chill. I am surprised they do not use any eggs. I am so glad others made this already and I can’t wait to share them this weekend for after-church refreshments.

    I usually use Montana wheat (all-purpose flour) and my doughs are always crumbly. I also use a vegan butter (earth balance), too. I hope the dough “sticks” and the cookies are not crumbly. I am making 4 dozen; plus, 4 dozen of your white chocolate cranberry cookies which have been a hit the last time I served them.

    Looking forward to trying these…

  17. Are these cookies soft? What type of texture?

  18. Hi Sally, I made this dough yesterday.  I love the look and texture but I get a medicine taste. Should I use a specific cherry brand? I am not sure why the taste is off. 

    • Really?? I usually just just store brand maraschino cherries– and it’s usually walmart or my grocery store. That’s so odd. Maybe try a new bottle from another store?

  19. Hi Sally!  just made these cookies and followed the recipe exactly but they came out so small and did not spread out at all!! They also seem very undercooked in the middle even after baking for over 12 minutes. I left the dough in the fridge for almost 2 days….could it be the dough was too cold and therefore too dense?? Please help because they taste soooo good, but they are so tiny 🙁 

    • Jackie, they won’t spread *too* much. The dough could have been super cold or even a little dried out. Try chilling for less time. And letting the dough/dough balls come to room temperature before putting into the oven.

  20. Can’t wait to make these, cherries and almonds go together very nicely.  My Grandmother was an incredible cook and baker; she was known for her cherry pie and her secret was a tiny bit of almond flavoring in the filling, it amps the cherryness.

  21. I put a hersheys kiss ( cherry cordial when available ) in the center when they comemout of oven ,, kind of like a cherry blossom

  22. I absolutely LOVE these and can’t wait to make them again this year. I can’t have chocolate so I am always looking for delicious non-chocolate recipes. I have a request, though. I have been searching for a lemon butter cookie that is exactly the same consistency, shape, etc. as these; only with lemon. I don’t want cut-out cookies or traditional shortbread. How can I adapt this recipe to be lemon instead of cherry? Maybe with a lemon glaze on top, too. Thank you! I love what you do, Sally! This is my go-to site!

    • Carin, that sounds SO good. I would just leave out the cherries and add lemon extract. (Keep the almond and vanilla.) It’s that easy! With a lemon glaze, too.

      • How much lemon extract, do you think? I’m not good at these things. I definitely would want the lemon to stand out more than the almond. Thanks!

  23. Should I use regular flour or the king Arthur brand for this recipe?

  24. I doubled the recipe – I am doing half with chocolate kisses and drizzled dark chocolate and I am doing the rest with white chocolate drizzle.  Dang!  They are yummy!  I have already had two.  I did have to bake them for around 14 minutes to get the bottoms a little brown.  Could it be my higher altitude?

    Anyway, super yummy!


  25. I would love to make these cookies for Christmas but my daughter has a nut allergy. Do you think they would still be good if I omitted the almond extract and just used the vanilla? Do you think I could use candied cherries as well?

  26. Could I use Cherry chips instead of maraschino cherries?

  27. As to the chilling of the dough for 4 hours…after making the dough I found the dough easy to handle so I rolled the dough into 24 balls…put them on a cookie sheet and into the freezer for 15 minutes…from the freezer to the oven…and I baked them for about an extra 2 minutes…they cookiespretty much held their shape and the center of the cookies were still soft and delicate

  28. I did not have 4 hours for the dough to chill, so I made my balls and placed them in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. The cookies came out perfectly!! They did not spread out too much in the oven. Wonderful cookies and very pretty too 🙂

  29. When I tried to make these cookies (twice) the dough was so dry after the blending of ingredients…? (Yes, I doubled and tripled checked the ingredient amounts called for in the recipe.

    • It’s supposed to be a little dry and crumbly. Can you form it into balls?

      • The first time I blended the ingredients with a hand mixer and the dough became flour like in consistency. The second time, I would describe the dough as dry and crumbly, but I was able to make a ball although I wasn’t convinced the ingredients were thoroughly mixed (but I didn’t want the dough to become flour like again by additional mixing).

  30. Hi! I made these today and I refrigerated then and after a couple of hours brought them out to roll into balls and placed back in the fridge for a total of 4 hours refrigeration.  When the cookies came out of the oven the are didnt come out dome shaped like yours.  They were a little flat.  Do you think I needed to keep in fridge longer?  

    • Longer chill time will help, for sure. If you make them again, try adding 2-3 more Tbsp of flour. That should help bulk them up a bit!

  31. I love these so much! I made them last year around Valentine’s, and they came out perfect. I just tried making them again, but with much less success. I refrigerated the dough overnight, rolled them into balls this morning, and then put them in the freezer for an hour. I put them into the oven from right out of the freezer, and they’re spreading all over the place! Any idea what I did wrong? Maybe the freezer did them in?

    • Doing anything different this year, Karen? The freezer could have been the culprit. Adding a little more flour to the dough (maybe 3-4 Tbsp) if you try them again would help.

      • Yup, I realized I had been in another apartment last year, so I’m working with two different ovens. After some internet research I learned that over-beating the butter will put too much air in the batter, which contributes to spreading. I totally over-beat the batter, because I was lazy and didn’t chop up the cherries, first! I did a second batch with a little more flour (only about a tablespoon), beat the batter until it was just crumbly, raised the temperature to 375, and actually wound up baking them for about 14 minutes. I only had time to refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours, but it was enough. They came out perfect!

  32. Hi Sally,

    Would it be possible to roll out this dough and use a cookie cutter? I am trying to make cookies in the shape of tea bags for an afternoon tea event I am hosting, but didn’t want just plain shortbread. 

    Thank you!

  33. tart, zero sweetness

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