Orange Rosemary shortbread cookies are just right for afternoon tea or coffee or to share with a friend.  A buttery shortbread with orange zest and rosemary that makes a great hostess gift.

Orange Rosemary Shortbread Cookies and a cup of tea

Since most of my friends and acquaintances know that I like to cook, I generally take cookies for a hostess gift.  Orange rosemary shortbread cookies are a simple cookie that look pretty, taste great, and are small enough that if your hostess is watching their calories will not overwhelm them.  There are no nuts for food allergies, just a simple butter cookie with a subtle orange and rosemary flavor.

Great with tea on rainy days like we’ve been having.  You can make these in advance and freeze the roll of dough and bake them in less time then it would take to make a trip to the wine store.

I think shortbread cookies get the short end of the stick since they don’t look gooey like a chocolate chip cookie, or fancy like carrot cake cookies.  But looks can be deceiving and after one bite of a buttery shortbread and you’ll be searching for more shortbread cookie recipes.

A platter of orange rosemary shortbread cookies

What’s the difference between a shortbread cookie and a sugar cookie

The big difference between a shortbread cookie and a sugar cookie is the butter to flour ratio. Shortbreads have the highest butter ratio making them more crumbly than a sugar cookie.  That’s why it’s best to use a sugar cookie recipe if you’re going to make cut out cookies, they will hold their shape better.

The dough for orange rosemary shortbread cookies

Not only are they buttery, but shortbread cookies are typically less sweet. This recipe has only a half of cup of sugar in the dough. The sweetness comes from Demerara sugar that they are dipped into before baking, giving them a crunchy slightly sweet exterior.

Stacks of orange rosemary shortbread cookies

How do you make a buttery orange rosemary shortbread cookie

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar and add rosemary, orange zest and egg yolks.  Next add flour and cornmeal. For the cornmeal, use a medium ground cornmeal like Bob’s Red Mill.

Orange zest with rosemary for shortbread cookies

Step 2: Roll the dough into a log and refrigerate for several hours or freeze for 45 minutes.

Step 3: Remove from the refrigerator and slice into squares.  Coat the squares with Demerara sugar and bake.

The rosemary is a subtle and unexpected flavor that when combined with the orange zest makes a fabulous cookie. You can keep this dough frozen and bake them when you need something in a pinch.  Or bake them and freeze them so that you’ll have them on hand when you need a little pick me up. Your friends are going to love you!

Most shortbread cookies are square or round shaped, but if you want to be fancier, try piping them like Joanne does on Fifteen Spatulas.

Orange Rosemary Shortbread Cookies on a plate


More SHORTBREAD cookies

  • Pistachio shortbreads cookies are great with a bowl of ice cream
  • One of my favorites is chocolate chip shortbread cookies
  • Mike loves pistachio cranberry shortbread cookies with expresso

A gift bag of orange rosemary shortbread cookies

More ideas for edible gifts

  • Everyone loves chocolate caramel bark
  • If you’re in a hurry, white chocolate chex mix is a big hit
  • Try your hand at vanilla caramels
  • White chocolate pretzel bark for a sweet and salty treat

If you make Orange Rosemary Shortbread Cookies,  be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! I would love to see your creation.


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Adapted from The Sugar Cube

A platter of orange rosemary shortbread cookies
Print Recipe

Orange Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Orange Rosemary shortbread cookies are just right for afternoon tea or coffee or to share with a friend.  A buttery shortbread with orange zest and rosemary that makes a great hostess gift.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rosemary
Servings: 48
Calories: 71


  • 1 cup butter room temp
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal medium ground
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 egg yolk room temp
  • ¼ cup Demerara sugar for coating


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the four, cornmeal, and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium high until incorporated but not fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the citrus zest, rosemary, and egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, mix just until combined.
  • Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half. Shape each half into a 12 inch long log, pressing the sides against the work surface to flatten them so that the cookies will end up square. Wrap tight in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours, or freeze for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place sugar in a bowl. Cut the logs into 1/3 inch thick slices. Toss each slice in the sugar to coat. Place cookies 1 inch apart and back until lightly golden, 15-17 minutes.
  • Let cool for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.


Use a medium to fine ground cornmeal.


Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 59mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 138IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg