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Fruitcake Shortbread: Easy Fruited Christmas Shortcake Cookie Recipe

Fruitcake Shortbread is an easy fruited Christmas shortbread cookie recipe. It marries two traditional flavors –  colorful combination fruitcake mix and the warm richness associated with shortbread.

This is an easy bar cookie recipe to use if your friends and relatives wrinkle their nose at traditional fruitcake or if you have leftover fruitcake mix. It’s hard to beat shortbread’s flavor, no matter what you add to it!

The bars call upon the traditional ingredient ratio in shortbread, with one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts white flour. 

Contrary to the popular belief that fruitcake had its origins in Dickensian England, the earliest fruitcakes were made in ancient Rome. Traditional Christmas fruitcake grew more popular in Europe with sugar imports from the American colonies. Cooks discovered that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits, creating an excess of candied fruit which they used in cake, hence “fruit cake.”

Fruited Christmas Shortbread from The Cookie Elf

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 35-40 minutes

Makes about 3-5 dozen slices


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup powdered sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup candied fruitcake mix

½ cup any combination: dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

¼ cup sherry, wine, or brandy (optional) or water

Directions for Fruitcake Shortbread

  1. Before baking the cookies, set dried cranberries, raisins, and/or apricots together with the sherry, wine or brandy in a bowl. Let the fruit soak for at least an hour and up to 8 hours. (This step is optional.)
  2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 325º F. 
  3. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl continually, about 2-3 minutes. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating in between additions until mixture is pale, about 2 minutes. Add lemon zest.
  6. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, scraping the bowl continually, just until the cookie dough is combined.
  7. Drain soaking fruit. Add candied fruit and drained fruit to the cookie dough and combine.
  8. With floured hands, press the dough into the prepared pan. 
  9. Bake cookies for 35-40 minutes.
  10. Remove baking pan from the oven. Cut bars immediately before the cookies begin to cool. Use a sharp knife to score cookies into bars, ¾ inch by 1 ½ inches.
  11. Let shortbread cool completely. Lift ends of parchment paper from the pan. Separate shortbread cookies.
  12. Store cookies in an airtight container with waxed paper between layers.

Special Baking Tips for Fruitcake Shortbread

The sherry, brandy, or wine adds an extra bite to the flavor of the cookies, similar to the taste of traditional fruitcake. You can substitute water for this ingredient if you don’t care for “fruitcake tang” or if children will eat the cookies. It's important to soak dried fruit before baking so that it doesn't absorb fluid from other ingredients and dry out the dough.

You can score the shortbread before baking. Once you remove the baking pan from the oven, cut shortbread along the same lines for an even cleaner cut.

See more shortbread recipes on our Shortbread Pinterest board.

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