White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

I’m not exactly sure how such things are determined but apparently, these cookies have been rated (by all-knowing entities like Pinterest and the general internet) as one of the top Christmas cookies of all time.

Hmmmm. That alone makes me skeptical. In fact, so much so that I really didn’t want to make them. I wanted to bypass them and turn up my nose at such apparent snobbery. But I had already bought the maraschino cherries and they were taking up precious space on my very limited pantry shelves (thanks to a dollhouse-sized kitchen).

So I made them. And to say they exceeded my expectations was an understatement. Best Christmas cookies ever? Well, that’s a pretty bold statement, but I will say they are extremely refreshing and delicious. The cherries and white chocolate pair beautifully in a buttery, shortbread cookie. Not only are they pretty, but they are really, really tasty and extremely simple to make. Bring on the Christmas cookies, I say! This one is definitely a keeper.

See all of this year’s Sugar Rush treats HERE.

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies


  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped (juice reserved)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
  • 4 ounces white baking chocolate, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • White candy coating or additional white baking chocolate for dipping
  • Sprinkles for decorating, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the chopped cherries on paper towels to drain well. Don't forget to reserve the juice!
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the drained cherries and chopped white chocolate. Stir in the almond extract and enough reserved juice to form a smooth ball. Gradually add a tablespoon of the juice at a time and mix with your hands until the dough comes together.
  3. Shape the dough into 1- or 2-inch balls. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten the balls to about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the centers are set. Cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dip the cookies in melted white chocolate (or white candy coating) and before they set roll the edges in sprinkles. Let the chocolate set before stacking or serving. The cookies can be made, dipped (if desired) then covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Recipe Source:
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

43 Responses to White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

  1. Caroline says:

    Do you think you could make the dough balls and freeze that?

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried it that way but you could definitely try it out. I think it stands a good chance of working since shortbread can usually be frozen quite well.

  2. Carol says:

    I made these yesterday for a party and they were buttery and melt in your mouth wonderful! They were all gone by the end of the party and the kids loved them too!
    Very festive and perfect for Christmas! Thank you!

  3. […] For making cookies Yukon and I made some very good White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies from Mel’s Kitchen Café. He helped me with the measuring and making the cookies into ball shapes. They turned out very pretty. North has helped dump things into the mixer to make cookies before but I find that my patience is exhausted for a week after having a 1 year old AND a 3 year old helper at the same time so now we trade off who gets to help. Cookie Recipe Here: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2012/12/white-chocolate-cherry-shortbread-cookies-sugar-rush-6.html […]

  4. lindsay says:

    Just tried these today on a snowy NJ afternoon– so impressed! Didn’t have a chance to dip them as my husband was already gobbling them up!

  5. Sherry Connelly says:

    I have to be honest. Not good. For one, why in heavens name would Martha use a pastry blender to mix in butter? This is not a pie crust where you want the buttery flakes of crust. the butter needs to be mixed in better. Also, you end up using so much cherry juice that they no longer resemble a shortbread at all. These should not even be called shortbread since they do not have a shortbread taste or texture at all. I think I would prefer to make my usual true shortbread recipe and add the cherries to get a better tasting cookie. Unfortunately, these are not up to my “cookie snobbery” standards, and they are going in the trash. I am going to try the thin mint cookies next and hope they fare better.
    I do have to say, you have a wonderful selection of cookies here, and I will be trying quite a few to see if any of them can be added to my “forever” collection of Christmas cookies.

  6. Juli in VA says:

    Okay, just finished my first batch of these! WOW! Super, duper YUMMM! They live up to the internet hype fo sho! 🙂

  7. Cotton says:

    I made these and the white chipper chocolate cookies and put in gift baskets this year! Yah….let’s just say I am a “favorite” person in the neighborhood…thanks Mel.

  8. Rachael says:

    Made these tonight and the taste is incredible. I broke the shortbread rules and added two pinches of salt. My only disappointment was that the edges spread and feathered. Did you refrigerate your dough at any point?

  9. Michelle says:

    Nevermind Mel, silly question. I’m sure the white chocolate chips will work great:-)

  10. Michelle says:

    Hi Mel! Thanks for all the yummy recipes! Do you think I could use chopped white chocolate chips instead of buying a block of white baking chocolate? Just trying to use ingredients already in my pantry 🙂 Thanks again!

  11. Christie says:

    These cookies were a little too buttery for me. Very pretty presentation, but not my kind of cookie.

  12. Ashley says:

    Not going to lie, I make a ton of stuff from your blog, but these just didn’t do it for me! They looked gorgeous and festive but I didn’t think the taste was there! Just my opinion!

  13. Donna says:

    @Janel. That’s awesome! I’m hosting/participating in my first cookie exchange next Sunday. I wanted my mother in law to be included, but she’s not a baker! So these are the ones I am baking for her share! So excited! 🙂

  14. Janel says:

    I had a cookie exchange this weekend – 17 women brought cookies – one of them brought this recipe. They were voted the tastiest cookie! Great recipe!

  15. Donna says:

    Sara, I found mine in the aisle with the ice cream toppings.

  16. Cindy Harris says:

    Thanks–soft and buttery was right. The white chocolate thru them over the top!

  17. Mel says:

    Cindy – my cookies were not crisp. Not chewy either. Just slightly soft and buttery.

  18. Cindy Harris says:

    I made these cookies today because I love maraschino cherries and white chocolate. Because they were basically a shortbread type cookie I expected them to be crisp but they were a softer cookie. I cooked them quite a bit longer than the recipe stated–they never looked done.
    So I guess my question is should they be crisp or chewy? I also made mine bigger than the recipe stated I only got 30 medium size cookies not 60. If I made them smaller would they be crisp? Yes, I tend to over think things!

  19. Katy R says:

    How cute – these would make great valentine heart cookies in a few months too!

  20. What a great combo for shortbread!

  21. sara says:

    Anyone else struggling to find maraschino cherries?? I looked at two large groceries with no luck. I bought canned red tart cherries instead and and going to improvise…we’ll see!

  22. Mel says:

    Lyn – if you freeze them, I would recommend freezing the baked cookies before they are dipped in chocolate and dip them after you take them out of the freezer.

  23. EMichelle says:

    Oh My Goodness ~my grocery list is a growin’! I cannot wait to make these! I love the white & red but I’m thinkin’….maybe I’ll use green sprinkles too! Thanks Mel! Blessings, EMichelle

  24. Lyn says:

    Do you think you can freeze these? I’m looking for some cookie ideas that I can make this week (and freeze) then early next week (and freeze) and pull them all out the following weekend(when I’ll bake a couple more batches) for distribution? Would these work? If not, any suggestions?

  25. Tara says:

    I love your website and come here often for inspiration. I noticed that you enjoy cook’s country recipes, too. There is a cookie recipe I wish I could get my hands on but can’t access it. It is last year’s winner of Cook’s Country holiday cookie contest. The Hungarian cookie. Just wondering if it looked as good to you and if you wanted to highlight it. Happy Holidays!

  26. Jennifer says:

    These sound heavenly. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Staci says:

    I am making these tonight! They look amazing!

  28. oh yum! I love cherries, and white chocolate is my favorite!

  29. LeighK says:

    These look awesome and just what I need to WOW my co-workers at our cookie exchange. Question tho – how do you reserve the juice if you lay the cherries on a paper towel to drain? Can I just use the juice from the jar?

    • Mel says:

      LeighK – you do use the juice from the jar but you need to make sure you reserve it after you take out the cherries (or if you dump out the cherries, make sure to catch the juice so it doesn’t go down the drain).

  30. anon says:

    I’m the white chocolate fan in the family and I’m planning on making the recipe as written. However, my husband is a dark chocolate fan. How do you think dark chocolate would work in this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      anon – hmmm, I don’t know for sure since I haven’t tried it but I think in moderation the dark chocolate would be fine but it will definitely have a tendency to overwhelm the other flavors, where the white chocolate is more subtle so if you try it, I’d recommend going light with the dark chocolate.

  31. KelP in Indy says:

    Hi Mel! Just curious…any idea why these would need to be stored in the fridge?

    • Mel says:

      KelP in Indy – I think the refrigeration just helps them stay fresher longer (they will have a tendency to taste stale if left at room temperature for more than a day).

  32. Cotton says:

    Whoa, I am making these bad boys. Not interested in the sprinkles but the cherries and chocolate…aaaawww PERFECT! Thanks. Mel, how is the household organization coming and the garage building? Dying to know. Perhaps we should chat on the phone? lol

  33. Carmen says:

    I’ve made them, and I was super skeptical, preferring to slave away in the kitchen on super elaborate cookies with many ingredients and using many hours – after all, it’s not truly a Christmas if I haven’t martyred myself.

    But these were AWESOME.

  34. Kim in MD says:

    Ok, these cookies look crazy delicious, and so festive! I have to bake cookies for my annual neighborhood cookie swap party, and I am going to make these. I know everyone will love them!

  35. StephenC says:

    Maraschino cherries are another of those things that folks stick their noses up at. Should give them a Spam-wich with Velveeta and cherries on it. Serves ’em right.

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