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These cranberry spice cookies combine cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and dried cranberries with buttery shortbread-like cookie dough. It’s an easy cookie recipe prepared in 1 bowl with 9 simple ingredients. The creamy eggnog icing is optional, but I recommend it– it tastes divine with these festive spice flavors!

cranberry spice drop cookies

Welcome to day 4 in Sally’s Cookie Palooza!

We started my annual Christmas cookie countdown with Butter Cookies, enjoyed Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints and Chocolate Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies, and now we’re ready for something equally FESTIVE and FUN.

These are my Cranberry Spice Cookies with Eggnog Icing!

What are Cranberry Spice Cookies?

Like little drops of Christmas cookie heaven, cranberry spice cookies combine cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and dried cranberries with buttery shortbread-like cookie dough. We’ll cover the teeny cookies with sweet and creamy eggnog glaze, a combination of confectioners’ sugar, real eggnog, vanilla, and cinnamon. Honestly the cookies don’t even need icing on top, but I couldn’t resist a little eggnog addition here!

cranberry spice drop cookies with eggnog icing

Here’s Why You’ll Love These

  • 1 bowl recipe
  • Brilliant & festive spice flavor
  • 9 simple ingredients in the dough
  • Only 30 minutes chill time
  • Bite-sized & adorable
  • Crumbly & soft
  • Topped with creamy icing

And bonus: If you skip the eggnog icing, the cookies are totally egg-free! If you’re interested, see below for some icing alternatives, too. 🙂

cranberry spice drop cookies

How to Make Cranberry Spice Cookies

Adapted from my snowball cookies and pistachio cookies, these cranberry spice cookies have the same shortbread-like crumbly texture, while remaining extra soft and buttery.

  1. The first step is to chop dried cranberries into itty bitty pieces. These cookies are small and we want to make sure there are a lot of cranberries in each bite. The smaller, the better. Dried cranberries are a little sticky, so be patient and use a very sharp knife.
  2. The next step is to beat room temperature butter until it’s creamy and smooth.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sweetens the cookies and replaces some of the flour. (The cookies dry out with too much flour.) The butter and confectioners’ sugar combination will be extremely creamy and lush. See photo below.
  4. Add vanilla extract and the remaining ingredients: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, flour, and cranberries. The cookie dough will be extremely crumbly and you will definitely doubt that it will all come together, but I promise you– it does! Keep on mixing.
  5. Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes, then roll into balls.
  6. Bake until lightly browned, then top with the icing.

creamed butter and powdered sugar

Note: The cookie dough will seem dry, but keep mixing because it will eventually combine. The dough is still a little crumbly, see photo below, but will easily roll into balls after the 30 minutes of chilling.

chopped dried cranberries and cranberry cookie dough in a glass bowl

cranberry spice cookie dough on baking sheet

cranberry spice drop cookies

Eggnog Icing

Ok so these cranberry spice cookies taste great on their own, but taste even better with a little icing. You need eggnog (I just use store-bought), confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Whisk together, taste, then add a pinch of salt if desired. You can add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken the icing or more eggnog to thin it out. It’s creamy, sweet, and tastes like melted vanilla ice cream. (It really does!)

If you’re not a fan of eggnog, I have other options for you:

cranberry cookies with eggnog icing

These have a way of NOT making it out of the kitchen. Should any survive to land on your holiday cookie platters, I know they’ll be equally loved. The cookies are uniquely tasty, plus the ingredient list is short and the preparation is simple. Christmas cookie success!

What is Sally's Cookie Palooza?

Sally’s Cookie Palooza is my annual Christmas cookie countdown tradition. First starting in 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row. Over the next two weeks, I’m publishing 10 new cookie recipes. This is the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Sign up for instant updates and you’ll receive a free email alert whenever I publish a new recipe. 🙂

Click to see Sally’s Cookie Palooza over the years!

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cranberry spice drop cookies

Cranberry Spice Drops with Eggnog Icing

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 dozen 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Adapted from my Snowball Cookies, these soft and crumbly Cranberry Spice Cookies have deliciously festive spice flavor. The cookie dough is made from 9 easy ingredients and requires just 1 mixing bowl. There’s only 30 minutes of cookie dough chilling needed, making this a quick cookie recipe.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (90gconfectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries*

Eggnog Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 23 Tablespoons (30-45ml) eggnog
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar then beat on medium-high speed until creamy and combined. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, flour, and dried cranberries and beat on medium speed until combined. The dough may not come together at first, but keep mixing. The cookie dough will be thick and a little crumbly.
  2. Cover the cookie dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 3 days. (If chilling for 2+ hours, let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling into balls. The cookie dough will be very stiff after being in the refrigerator that long.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  4. Roll the cookie dough into balls, about 1 scant Tablespoon of dough each, and place dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. If the cookie dough is too crumbly, keep rolling and working it with your hands. The warmth of your hands will help bring it together.
  5. Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom edges and just barely browned on top, about 14-15 minutes.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. Make sure cookies are cool to touch before dipping in icing.
  7. For the icing: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tablespoons (30ml) of eggnog, vanilla, and cinnamon together. It will be very thick. Whisk in the remaining Tablespoon of eggnog. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if desired (I always do). Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more eggnog to thin out, if desired.
  8. Dip cookies in icing and/or drizzle on top. If desired, sprinkle extra cinnamon on top of the icing. If coated lightly, the icing will set after a few hours.
  9. Cover leftover iced cookies tightly and store at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Cookies without icing can sit covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Freeze baked cookies with or without icing for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough or cookie dough balls for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking.
  2. Confectioners’ Sugar: Use confectioners’ (powdered) sugar. Don’t use granulated sugar. The cookies will over-spread and have a granular texture.
  3. Dried Cranberries: Use dried cranberries, not fresh or frozen cranberries. Chop the dried cranberries into itty bitty pieces. These cookies are small and we want to make sure there are a lot of cranberries in each bite. The smaller, the better. Dried cranberries are a little sticky, so be patient and use a very sharp knife.
  4. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: cranberry cookies, shortbread, Christmas cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. These look so great! What are your thoughts on adding some orange zest/juice to make these cookies cranberry orange spice drops? How much do you think I’d need?

  2. These look deeeeeeeeeelicious, Sally! I can’t wait to try them 🙂 Do you think they would taste good without the icing and rather dusted in confectioner’s sugar, like snowball cookies are? Or perhaps drizzled with white chocolate, since I LOVE white chocolate and cranberries together? And, would a bit of orange zest be good in these? Thanks!

  3. Can I make the icing ahead of time? I have the dough made and in the fridge, but I’m going to bake them tomorrow. Can I make the icing tonight and use it tomorrow or best I make it tomorrow?

  4. I just made these cookies and they taste incredible! It’s going to be hard for me not to eat the entire batch. I made vanilla icing instead of eggnog icing and it tastes great.

  5. Just made with gluten free flour. Almond essence icing with Christmas sprinkles.. Absolutely YUM..

  6. These little gems are delicious!! I love anything egg not flavored and I figured these were a perfect fit for my Christmas cookie tray . The icing on the top is absolutely perfect for the flavors inside. If I had to say one thing I would do differently next time I would say that I would make them bigger!! Great recipe Sally! Thank you so very much!!!

  7. LOVE THESE COOKIES! Sally, these little gems are easy to make and a nice addition to my cookie tray. I did add a little fresh orange zest and chopped pistachios to your recipe and I sprinkled a little chopped cranberries and pistachios to the top of the eggnog frosting. Thanks for this recipe.

  8. Is there a reason fresh cranberries don’t work for this recipe? Do they turn the cookie to mush? I love using them fresh during the winter months when they are so readily available and inexpensive!

  9. Hi Sally, I would really like to make these but I couldn’t find cardamom at the grocery store. Can I replace it with something else or leave it out?
    Thank you

  10. These were easy and delicious for my cookie exchange! I added orange zest, and doubled the cardamom. Very tender and delicious, and I loved the eggnog topping! Thanks for the recipe, Sally!

  11. I was looking for a holiday cookie that was different and delicious and came across your site and this recipe. Absolutely delicious cookies and so pretty too! For fun I added dark pink food coloring to half the glaze and drizzled a bit of the white and the pink n each cookie. I love your site, thanks so much!

  12. This looks like a very fun cookie. I can’t wait to make it!

    I have been wanting to collect a variety of cookie dough balls in the coming weeks so I can just pop in different types for Christmas Eve.

    Can I ask why in this recipe you say to thaw frozen dough before baking?
    Usually cookies just get baked a minute or 2 longer when frozen… which is what I was hoping for.

    1. You can definitely bake these cookies from the freezer, but they will take longer than an extra minute since the dough balls are rather heavy and sturdy.

  13. These were great!! I used spiced eggnog in the frosting and it was delicious. I think I made them too big as I only got 16 cookies out of it, so next time I would make them smaller. Definitely printing this recipe out to make again for the future.. I wouldn’t change anything about the recipe, 5 stars!

  14. I made these for an event yesterday and they were a huge hit. The taste is a pleasant surprise. I made an eggnog glaze to drizzle on them instead of icing. These will definitely become a part of my holiday baking from now on.

  15. Sally, you have outdone yourself with this recipe! I have never publicly commented on any of your recipes but this recipe was hands down the most outstandingly delicious cookie I have ever had in my life. I used a food processor to chop the dried cranberries teeny tiny and topped with brown butter icing. Incredible! A perfect blend of spices.

  16. These look awesome! I may have missed it, but do these have to be refrigerated at all bc of the egg nog in the icing? Do you think I could ship these to family with an icing like this? I look forward to trying these!!

    1. Hi Ashley, Cover leftover iced cookies tightly and store at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Cookies without icing can sit covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

  17. These cookies were delicious! This was the first time I tried baking a shortbread type cookie so I was not sure what to expect but this recipe was very easy to follow. I made the cookie dough in advance, rolled them, and then froze them. When baking them, I made sure to thaw the dough at room temperature before baking. The cookies were buttery and perfectly crumbly. I did not put icing on them because my family doesn’t like them but the cookies were still great without the icing. I will make sure to always have this cookie in the freezer so that I can bake them when guests unexpectedly arrive.

    1. Made these again last night. Some advice for those who don’t like super sweet things – the cookie is perfect as is. I tried the cookie with eggnog icing as well as rolling it in confectioner’s sugar (as snowball cookies) and I thought it was too sweet and masked the buttery goodness of the base cookie. Also, for those who are freezing the dough beforehand, I think the cookie comes out better if you completely defrost the cookies to room temperature (about 1-2 hours).

  18. Hi Sally,
    May I ask if I could make the cookies first and keep them in room temperature for a few days and then I make the egg noc icing days later and pour over some of these cookies ?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Arlena, Yes you can. Cookies without icing can sit covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

  19. These were easy, delicious, and pretty. I found that 3Tb eggnog in the frosting made it too thin. They ended up looking glazed rather than frosted, which was a bummer for me because I love a good glob of frosting, but my husband loved them as is.

  20. loved these cookies!! such a rich, festive flavour and a nice addition to a cookie box 🙂 my boyfriend said they are a very sophisticated cookie

  21. Wow! Just made these cookies and they are delicious! I added about 2 teaspoons of orange zest as mentioned in another comment and subbed freshly ground allspice for the nutmeg. Your tip on room temp butter being 65 degrees was very helpful. I actually measured my butter with a thermometer and everything came out perfectly.

  22. I made these and they are delicious! I might dress them up a bit with sprinkled chopped cranberries and pistachios on top. I think that will be more festive for my cookie exchange. Perfect recipe!

  23. disaster. followed the recipe to the letter and did not get a “crumbly” dough. that should have been my first warning but i went ahead and tried to bake them anyway and ended up with a mess in my oven. same thing happened with the cranberry white chocolate cookies. not sure what the problem is but it seems improbable that i would mess up TWO types of dough from the same site … time and money down the drain!

  24. Hi Sally, I love this recipe and I will be making and gifting these for Christmas so I can’t use the eggnog icing because I don’t want to refrigerate them and have that possibly change the texture. Instead of rolling in powdered sugar after baking do you think I could roll in cinnamon sugar or vanilla sugar prior to baking or do you not recommend? Thanks!

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