Tea For Two? Try Orange Shortbread Cookies

We often find recipes for lemon shortbread cookies, but rarely see a recipe for orange shortbread cookies. I just had to try something different, and these orange shortbread cookies did not disappoint.

The orange season was nearing an end when I made these cookies. I had a few oranges that needed using up and so I adapted a shortbread cookie recipe to include some “orange” ingredients. It made sense to me that even if there are only 3 tablespoons orange juice and 1 teaspoon orange zest in the recipe, it was a legitimate enough reason to make these cookies. Right?

Back in the day when I belonged to the Victorian Tea Society in Orange County, California, these cookies would have been valued like gold. Not only because they are tasty, but the recipe makes a lot! And when the tea society put on teas to raise money for the Heritage Museum of Orange County (which included two Victorian Homes) there would always be a large turnout (or sell out!) and lots of cookies were needed to feed the attendees. 

The members of the tea society would dress up in their finest Victorian Tea attire, hats, and gloves too! We would make and serve tea, sandwiches, and cookies. We were all volunteers and it was a lot of fun, exhausting, and rewarding experience! I do miss all my tea society friends since I’ve moved to Oregon. I must have been having a nostalgic moment when I made these cookies. 

Whether you are having tea for two, twelve, or twenty, this recipe will accommodate the quantity you want/need. I keep a log of dough in my freezer in case I want to bake up a dozen when friends drop in. Tea is optional. 🙂

Orange zest smells so good! 

The cookie dough is fairly solid. 

Roll dough into logs with straight sides or rounded. I tried a combination of both. Meeh. Next time I’ll choose one or the other. 

The cookies don’t spread much when baked so they can be somewhat close together on the baking sheet. 

These cookies make an excellent “tea” cookie with their sweet/slightly tart flavor. 

Enjoy these cookies with tea or coffee, and/or ice cream! A nice complement to go with after-dinner drinks too. 

Orange Shortbread Cookies

Yields 7 dozen

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  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in orange juice, zest and vanilla.
  2. Mix flour and salt together, then add it to wet ingredients.
  3. Shape dough into two 11-12-inch long rolls. (I squared my dough instead of rounding it.] Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Cut rolls into 1/4 inch slices and place on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
  6. Cool for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet and laying out on wire racks to finish cooling.


Optional: Drizzle with orangecello (limoncello's cousin liqueur) mixed with powdered sugar to create an icing. 

Cookies pair nicely with ice cream, coffee or tea, and as an accompaniment to after dinner liquors. 

Dough keeps in freezer nicely if you don't want to bake the entire recipe all at the same time. I like having a 1/2 batch in the freezer in case friends drop by - I can pop them in the oven and have freshly baked cookies in minutes.

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