These fruitcake shortbread cookies combine butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and flour to make one delicious cookie! The glaze on top softens up the shortbread which creates a delicious flavour and texture.
Crisp edges with soft middles, these cookies are perfect for your cookie exchange or your holiday baking tray.
My husband and his family who love traditional English fruitcake enjoy these as a fun shortbread alternative and eat these and my mini fruitcakes in batches.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Rich and buttery flavour of the shortbread combined with the sweetness and fruity flavors of the fruit peel is so delicious
- Use rum for a classic fruitcake flavor
- Festive traditional addition for many holiday gatherings
- Visually stunning addition to any holiday dessert platter
- Make a perfect homemade gift for fruitcake lovers and sturdy enough for packaging into gift boxes for cookie exchanges
Ingredients & substitutions for fruitcake shortbread cookies
For full recipe & instructions, scroll to the bottom of the page for recipe card. Below, you will find a few notes about the ingredients:
- Butter should be at room temperature
- Glacé (glazed) cherries and peel. I like to use a mixture of both. You can also use just one or the other.
- Rum is completely optional for the glaze. You can also use the same amount of milk to make the glaze.
- All purpose flour
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
STEP ONE - In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or by hand with wooden spoon, beat together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
STEP TWO - Gradually add in flour and stir just until combined. Over mixing the dough will alter the texture of the cookies.
STEP THREE - Fold in the fruit just until it is mixed into the dough. I like to mix the fruit in with clean hands, working the dough as little as possible.
STEP FOUR - Divide the dough in half and shape into two 7-inch squares. The shape doesn't have to be perfect! The dough is easier to work with between two sheets of plastic wrap.
STEP FIVE - Wrap both squares of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
STEP SIX - Preheat oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
STEP SEVEN - Remove dough from refrigerator and cut into 1 and ¾" wide strips.
Cut each strip into three or four pieces. I make my cookies a little on the larger size but you can certainly make them shorter. I found 2 inches to be a great length.
A pizza cutter makes slicing easy. Otherwise, you will need a sharp knife.
Place on prepared baking sheets.
STEP EIGHT - Bake in 325°F oven for 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.
TIP: Place parchment paper under cooling racks to catch the drizzle from the glaze.
STEP NINE - MAKE THE GLAZE: whisk together powdered sugar and milk (or rum). You may need to add either a little more milk or rum & powdered sugar to achieve a consistency that can be brushed onto the cookies.
STEP TEN - Brush glaze over top of cookies. The glaze should set up quickly and you will be able to stack the cookies within an hour.
Variations for glazed fruitcake cookies
- You can use a cookie cutter to cut out into shapes, gently press the remaining dough back together and press into a square and cut for more shapes
- For an even more classic fruitcake flavor, consider adding a teaspoon or two of brandy or dark rum extract to the dough, glaze or soak the fruits
- Add the zest of citrus fruits like orange or lemon for a bright and zesty twist
- Use crushed fruitcake cut up into small pieces in the cookie dough for an authentic fruitcake twist in the cookie.
Top tips for making the best English fruitcake shortbread glazed cookies
- The flavors meld together after they sit for a day or two making them taste even better!
- Place parchment paper under the cooling racks to catch any drizzle while glazing
- Line the baking trays with parchment paper to prevent the bottom of the cookies from browning too much
- Be sure to chill the dough for 25 minutes
- Using a pizza cutter makes it easier to cut.
Storage and freezing instructions for fruitcake shortbreads
Use parchment paper to line between any layers in an airtight container for up to 3 - 5 days or in the fridge for 7 - 10 days.
Freeze using a freezer-safe container layered between parchment paper for up to 3 months.
Thaw completely in the fridge overnight before serving.
More Christmas recipes to try
- Miniature Christmas fruitcakes
- Cranberry and pistachio shortbreads
- Empire cookies
- Maraschino cherry thumbprint cookies
- Cherry shortbread cookies
- Cranberry magic bars