Orange sugar cookies are soft, chewy, and have the slightest hint of citrus flavor! They make a great addition to any dessert board or cookie plate!
While these orange sugar cookies are technically called Christmas sugar cookies, I’m honestly not sure where the name comes from. Other than the fact that they use orange, which is something I use in my Christmas punch and cranberry orange bread.
But I wouldn’t necessarily say orange is a holiday flavor. And other than that, there’s really nothing super Christmasy about them. So instead of Christmas sugar cookies, I’m calling them orange Christmas cookies because they’re more orange than Christmas to me.
That being said, they would be great on a holiday cookie plate! They were the first cookies gone when I made a bunch of my cookies recipes earlier this year!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Citrus flavor – there’s just a slight hint of citrus flavor in these sugar cookies, but it’s enough to make them stand out from other sugar cookies you might make.
- Sprinkled with sugar – they are lightly stopped with sugar giving these a sweet finish and honestly, a prettier look.
- No chill dough – unlike many cookie recipes out there that use butter, you don’t need to chill this dough. That means they can be ready to eat in less than 20 minutes.
- Orange peel – you can either use fresh orange peel or a bottle of grated orange peel like you see in the picture above.
- Butter – unsalted, softened butter that will cream well with the other ingredients.
- Milk – I recommend whole milk in this recipe for its thickness.
How to make orange sugar cookies
Before you get started making the cookie dough, preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
First you’ll cream together the sugar, shortening/butter, orange peel, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
Add the egg and mix well then stir in the milk and mix until combined. It may seem a little liquidy, but it’ll all work out in the next step when you add the dry ingredients!
Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the creamed mixture. This will thicken up the dour so that you can handle it to make the orange sugar cookies.
Use a small cookie scoop to scoop out dough then roll it into a ball using your hands and place those balls on the prepared baking sheet.
Dip the bottom of a flat glass (small mason jar works well) in sugar. Press down on the cookies with the sugared side of the jar gently to flatten and add a little sugar to the tops.
Keep going until all of the cookies are flattened and ready to bake – redipping the jar in sugar as needed. I typically did it every other cookie or so to make sure they got a nice sugaring.
You want them to have a light dusting of sugar without being completely coated – so not like these cinnamon sugar rolled snickerdoodles.
Bake cookies for 6-8 minutes, let cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish letting the cookies cool.
Unlike cinnamon cookies, these cookies are designed to be fairly small. If you make them much larger, you’ll have a hard time flattening them properly with the mason jar.
Add sprinkles, drizzle with the orange glaze I use on these cranberry orange muffins, or just enjoy them without any toppings at all.
I also love to add crystalized flavored sugars like these ones for a hint of added flavor.
Or these would also be good drizzled with a little sugar cookie icing before you add sprinkles or sugar.
Double this recipe if you want a lot of cookies. This recipe is written for a small batch of cookies (check the recipe card for full details). I always double it
Dip the mason jar in sugar regularly so that you can have plenty of sugar to transfer over to the cookies when you press them down.
Try using different flavored sugars on these cookies for some fun extra flavor. Raspberry is my favorite!
Don’t over bake. You want these cookies to be soft and if you leave them in the oven too long, they’ll get crispy instead of soft.
Store for up to five days in an airtight container. I typically just use a zipper plastic bag.
These cookies freeze beautifully. Bake the cookies, place them in a freezer safe airtight zipper bag with as much air as possible removed, then store in the freezer for up to three months. Pull individual cookies out of the freezer and let thaw on the counter until they’ve come to room temp before eating.
You can substitute 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest for the grated orange peel included in this recipe.
More Fruity Desserts
- Cherry cheesecake cookies – a sugar cookie topped with cherry cheesecake filling is one the entire family will love!
- Cherry cake – whether you want to call it cherry pie squares or cherry cake, this cherry dessert is bound to be a favorite!
- Red velvet cake – this gorgeous red velvet cake is topped with homemade cream cheese frosting and sugared cranberries.
- Easy peach cake – a delicious vanilla cake topped with an amazing cream cheese frosting and fresh peaches!
- Apple crumble – apples topped with a crumbly topping, best served warm with vanilla ice cream!
Orange Sugar Cookies
- ⅔ cup butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ tsp grated orange peel
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 4 tsp milk
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cream together sugar, butter, orange peel, and vanilla extract. Add egg and mix then add milk and mix well.
- Add flour, baking powder, and salt to creamed mixture and mix well.
- Shape dough into balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass or mason jar dipped in sugar.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes.