These cranberry cookies are from my grandmother’s recipe, and they are simply perfect. The softness of the cookie and the slight crunch of the sugar coating make them a delicious classic for Christmas or any time of year.
When I’m looking for ways to simplify in the kitchen, I often think about how my grandmothers used to cook. Neither of them would have been classified as amazing cooks, but they both had a few things they made really, really well.
Every time my Grandma Ealy came to visit during the holidays, she would bring a huge batch of her famous raisin sugar cookies, which managed to stay perfectly soft for days on end.
My Grams never failed to bake her thin, crisp sand tarts every year at Christmastime, and when we visited her house on Thanksgiving we could count on a pan of peas and mushrooms simmering on the stove, and thick pieces of the famous peanut butter fudge for dessert.
I love to try out new recipes, but all the pressure to continually be changing and updating and impressing just gets to be way too much. When did it become lame make the same recipes again and again, even when they’re delicious and everybody loves them?
We feel obligated to scour magazines and the internet for the prettiest, newest, most show-stopping recipes, and then wonder why we’re so much more stressed out than our grandmothers were.
This year, I’m going back to the basics…with just one itty-bitty twist. I made my Grandma’s famous original cookie recipe, but instead of using raisins, I swapped in Craisins (any sweetened, dried cranberry will do) to turn them into cranberry cookies.
The Secret to Soft Cookies:
I admit, when I first saw this ingredient in my grandma’s recipe, I hesitated. I thought maybe I should try a more “modern” or “healthier” substitution. But nope.
The secret ingredient? Using Crisco instead of oil or butter.
I know Crisco has gotten a bad rap over the years. No, it’s not the healthiest ingredient in the world. But guess what — these are COOKIES!
They’re not meant to be healthy. ;) I learned from my grandma that if you want really soft cookies, Crisco is the way to go.
The other secret to this recipe is to simmer dried cranberries (Craisins) in water to rehydrate them. This gives them an amazing plump texture, while still allowing them to retain the sweetness you just can’t get from fresh cranberries.
These cranberry cookies are not super decadent or overly sweet, but the sugar coating on the outside gives them a yummy little bit of crunch while keeping the inside really soft.
Can you freeze sugar cookies?
This recipe freezes really, really well. I bake them first and then pop them into the freezer in freezer bags after they’ve cooled. This batch was baked about two weeks ago, and we’re still enjoying them from the freezer (they thaw in mere minutes on the countertop).
If you’re looking for a simple, back to basics cranberry cookie recipe for the holidays or any time of year, please try out my grandma’s recipe. It might just become your family favorite, too!
Soft Cranberry Sugar Cookies
- 10 oz. Craisins or other sweetened dried cranberry
- 1 1/2 cup sugar plus extra for rolling
- 1 cup Crisco
- 2 eggs
- 3 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Combine Craisins and 1 cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove and let cool.
- Combine flour and baking soda in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine sugar, Crisco, eggs and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
- Add Craisins and flour mixture alternately.
- Mix well.
- Shape into small balls (about 1 1/2″ big) and roll in sugar until the ball is thinly coated.
- Bake 10-15 minutes until edges are slightly browned.