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 Barbie’s corvette 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!

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

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 11 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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.


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


  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.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). 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.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: cherry almond shortbread cookies, cherry almond shortbread

See more Christmas and Cookie Palooza recipes.

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies



Comments are closed.

  1. sharon austin says:

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

    1. Maria Contarino says:

      Can you substitute real cherries instead of Maraschinos? If so, what quantity? Should fresh cherries be cooked prior?

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

      2. Corinne/Colorado says:

        You could also use Lemon zest & juice for alittle more zing in cookie. Just a thought cuz I make Lemon bread & use both in it. 

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

    1. King Arthur is always my go=to choice when making cookies.

  4. 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!


    1. Could be the high altitude yes, but whatever it takes to get them done. So happy you love them!

  5. 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?

    1. Candied cherries work! And yes, you can leave out the almond extract.

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

    1. I don’t see why not!

  7. 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

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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.

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

      1. 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).

  10. 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?  

    1. 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!

  11. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  12. 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!

    1. These would spread too much– not really hold their shape at all! My sugar cookies would work, maybe you can add a flavor extract?

  13. tart, zero sweetness

  14. Do I use a round pizza pan for the giant Reese’s cookie?

  15. Hi! I’m making these gems for a cookie swap this year…Oscar the recipe easily doubled or tripled? Thanks!

    1. I never have luck doubling or tripling the recipe– the dough becomes so, so thick and crumbly. I always suggest making 2 or 3 batches.

  16. I tried this recipe for a cookie swap. My cookies didn’t spread at all. They look EXACLTY like they did after I rolled them. I baked them for about fourteen minutes and they still seem underdone. What am I doing wrong? 

  17. I’m making these for a cookie exchange and they don’t seem to be turning out as described. I used a medium sized ice cream scoop to scoop out the cookies. They never spread out at all. The outside of the cookie is hard/crunchy and the inside texture is like a raw cookie. I tried keeping a batch in the oven until the bottom was pretty brown and the inside was still the same consistency. Any thoughts?

  18. I’m going to try making these tonight. It’ll be my first time ever making shortbread cookies. Can I roll them into balls and place them on cookie sheets prior to chilling them? Do you have any other tips? I only get one shot because they’re for an event tomorrow and I’ve been promising my sister that I would make them lol.

    1. Hi Stephanie! I do recommend chilling then rolling. You could, however, chill for 2 hours, then roll, then chill for a remaining 2 hours. Let me know how they go!

  19. I just made your peanut butter cookies and they were the BEST I ‘ve ever made. I am looking for a regular short bread recipe, but I can’t seem to find one on your site.  Do you have a recommendation?

  20. Tammy Marinelli says:

    Hi. Do you sift the flour for this recipe? Thanks

  21. OH.. MY.. HEAVENS, these are DELICIOUS!!!

  22. Hi there,

    I made these last year and they were a big hit! I am planning to make them again this year, and wondering if salted butter will make such a difference? 

    Thanks so much for the great recipes (my mother and I love the raspberry thumbprints too!)


    1. Hi Amber! Sorry for the delay responding. You can use salted butter instead of unsalted. I’ve done it before (accidentally actually!) and didn’t notice a taste difference at all.

  23. Trying to make these for xmas i do not have a paddle attatchment, can you use the whisk attatchment?

  24. Carrie Anderson says:

    Hi Sally,
    Thanks for sharing such a great recipe! I found this is the perfect POP of color for my Christmas Cookie Tray.

    One Question, how can I get more cherry flavor without messing with the consistency of the dough? I felt like some of the actually almond/cherry flavor was lacking. I used salted-butter, could that have caused it? Would it be okay to use cherry extract?

    Thanks again!

    1. I’ve seen cherry extract online before and have heard wonders about its flavor. Even a 1/2 teaspoon of that can help!

  25. Ok did i do something wrong? the dough is so floury!! i think i need to add more liquid… not making dough at all, keeps falling apart its so dry. i double checked the measurements of my ingredients and they were all correct. not sure what happened? any quick suggestions?? thank you

  26. Lauren Zinn says:

    How can I make them bigger?

  27. I’d like to get a jump on my Christmas cookie baking. Can I make the dough, roll them and freeze on a tray, then bag them up and hold them in the freezer until a week before Christmas? Or is it better to bake them off and freeze them after they’ve cooled?

    1. Either way works, I prefer to make the dough balls now, freeze, then bake them so they’re “fresh” 🙂

  28. Thanks for an amazing recipe! These are SO delicious! It’s nice to have something new for the Christmas cookie plate. I added a few extra maraschino cherries to my recipe (20 total), and omitted the white chocolate, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfect. Great cherry flavor and texture! 🙂

  29. Sally, I love your recipes. You are my go-to person. Quality recipes and helpful details. Thanks for the idea of the plastic bottle to drizzle chocolate. What a life saver! Less mess.


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