Make Orange Cardamom Cookies the new star of your cookie tray! Every year I strive to find my new *favorite* Christmas cookie and this year I decided to use a spice that is all too often overlooked: cardamom.
With a lovely aroma and little black flecks of cardamom, it will have your guests pointing to the mystery cookie asking “what are these?” and then saying “they are delicious, but I can’t quite put my finger on the spice”. It can be our little secret or you can kindly share this recipe for cardamom cookies.
Why You’ll Love Our Orange Cookies
There are several reasons to love this recipe beyond it being a nice change from the traditional Christmas cookie.
- Orange Flavor- So many cookies use lemon, even lime, but orange is refreshing. The zest and juice offer significantly different flavor profiles so using both makes it a balanced cookie
- No Molasses or Ginger– So many of the other cardamom cookies use either molasses, ginger or both. While these are lovely friends of cardamom, they mask the freshness of orange. this cardamom cookie recipe allows both flavors to shine.
- Slice and Bake Cookies- Slice and bake are an excellent cookie dough to keep in the freezer for unexpected visitors. Bright and just the right amount of sweet, they are the perfect thing to pair with a cup of tea or coffee.
- Global Fusion- These cookies hail from Finnish culture, but have weaving themselves more and more into American cuisine. Cardamom itself is used in many global foods.
- Holiday Season– While I make mine in the fall months, these are honestly a great cookie to bake year around.
What is Cardamom?
If you have never had cardamom, you are missing out. It is made from the pods of seeds that come from the plants that belong to the ginger family. You’ll likely see it marketed as cardamom pods (usually green) but also flecked in a black pepper that looks like black pepper, but is much more soft and fine.
What Does Cardamom Taste Like?
It has a light peppery flavor with hints of lemon and mint which means it pairs well with citrus of all kinds.
It’s flavor lends itself extremely well to both savory and sweet dishes such as curries and garam masala spice mixes as well as chai spice mixes and other desserts. It complements citrus extremely well too which is why we used it in these cookies.
Two Types of Cardamom
There are two types of cardamom that grow in different regions of the world: green cardamom and black cardamom. Both are sold as whole pods (which contain the seeds), seeds, as well as ground and have great cardamom flavors.
For baking purposes and especially for cookies, ground is typically the best thing to buy.
There is actually a third, white cardamom, but it is just green that has been bleached.
Substitutions for Cardamom
It has a unique flavor that is challenging to replicate, although most recipes will still work and complement other flavors if one of these alternate spices is used. Use a 1:1 ratio.
Orange Cardamom Cookies Ingredients
This recipe uses simple ingredients with the exception of cardamom which is sometimes with the premium spices and can be a tad pricey. The good news is that after you discover it, you’ll want to use it in more and more recipes, like my Lemon Cardamom Cake. Or at the very least, make this one over and over again.
- Flour – All purpose flour works great for giving them structure. I’ve never used almond flour or coconut flour, but let us know in the comments if you do!
- Baking soda – The air bubbles that baking soda gives off when baked provide a light and airy texture.
- Salt – I like to use coarse kosher salt. If using salted butter, make sure to omit the salt altogether and if using a fine sea salt, reduce the volume by half. No one likes a salty cookie! I take that back… I kinda do.
- Sugar – Although cardamom spice tastes great in savory recipes too, we need a sweet element to these cookies. White granulated sugar works great.
- Butter – I always opt to use unsalted butter when baking so that I can control the amount of salt in a recipe. It’s always easier to work with when it’s room temperature.
- Egg – Eggs provide structure, leavening and moisture to baked goods, and that’s exactly why we need one in this recipe.
- Orange – Not only will we be using orange zest, but also fresh orange juice. This helps to bring out the fresh and bright orange flavor. Zest comes from grating the orange peel and the juice comes from squeezing the inside pulp.
- Cardamom – Above we discussed the different types of cardamom. For these cookies we want to use ground black cardamom. You can either grind your own for maximum flavor or buy it ground from the store. Use a coffee grinder or spice grinder to make a fine powder if doing it yourself.
How to Make Orange Cardamom Cookies
Making these cookies is easy, but it does take a little planning since the dough needs to chill or a significant amount of time. The dough can also be frozen in logs, making these easy to pull out and bake.
- Sift dry ingredients. Sift together the dry ingredients. Sifting seems like an unnecessary step, but don’t skip it. It will cut down on the amount of time you need to mix your dough and also evenly distribute the leaveners.
- Cream butter and sugar. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter well and then cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Add egg through cardamom and mix well. Get them all good and mixed before you add the flour so you don’t have to overmix and create more gluten and add air, which leads to dry, frail cookies instead of soft ones.
- Whisk flour in. Add flour mixture until just combined.
- Roll into log. Form cookie dough into a log about 12 inches long and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Dough will be very soft. My best advice is to pour it onto the plastic wrap along an edge and then wrap it up, forming the log as you go. It might have a lot of bumps and this is ok, as it starts to harden, you can roll it on the counter or another hard surface to make a perfect circle. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours but up to 5 days. If freezing, double wrap with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.
- Slice. When ready to bake (thaw if frozen), preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the cookie dough into 1/4 inch disks and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet sheet about 2 inches apart. Cookies will spread, so make sure they have some room.
- Bake cookies. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and puffy. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Oven temperatures and cooking times vary greatly. The goal is for a crunchy cookie around the edges, but a soft cookie in the center.
These orange cardamom sugar cookies are delicious just like this. But there are plenty of different varieties to make them your own.
- Royal icing – I like the warm spices of these sweet treats just as they are, but you can certainly take them up a notch by adding some icing. Icing sugar mixed with a couple tablespoons of milk, egg whites and vanilla extract makes for a great royal icing to pipe on the tops of the cookies.
- Orange glaze – You could also top these cookies with an orange glaze, a basic powdered sugar glaze but with orange juice instead of milk or water. Orange extract or fresh orange juice mixed with confectioners sugar or powdered sugar and melted butter.
- Food coloring – For an extra burst of color, you could definitely add a couple drops of orange food coloring to your cookie shortbread dough.
- Extracts – Take the flavor of these orange sugar cookies up a notch by adding vanilla or almond extract to the cookie base.
- Chocolate coating – Dip baked cookies in melted chocolate, either dark chocolate or milk chocolate chips, for a whole new flavor experience.
- Browned Butter– Browning butter adds even more depth and nutiness to the cookies, but will take more time. You’ll need to brown the butter and then allow it to come back to room temperature before making the cookie dough. The color will a deeper brown.
Make-Ahead, Storage & Freezing
How to Store Cardamom Cookies
Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They will be best enjoyed within a week. Adding a few slices of sandwich bread to the container will assist in keeping them soft for longer.
Can I Freeze Cardamom Cookies?
Yes, these orange cookies can be frozen in a log of dough or as baked cookies. To freeze the cookie dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then again in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour before slicing and baking or in the fridge overnight.
Cooked Orange cardamom cookies can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature.
Commonly Asked Questions
Unfortunately, no, this recipe isn’t great for cut-out cookies because the dough does spread so the shapes will not hold.
Cardamom is earthy like cinnamon, but I would say it is more akin to ginger and pepper with a spicy, fruity flavor. They do work interchangeably.
More Delicious Cookie Recipes
Here are even more delicious cookie recipes.
Orange Cardamom Cookie Recipe
- Sift or whisk together the flour, cardamom, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Blend in the egg, orange zest and orange juice.
- Slowly, add the flour mixture until fully combined.
- Form the cookie dough into a log about 12-inches long and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Dough will be soft and sticky. Pour it onto the plastic wrap along an edge and then wrap it up, forming the log as you go. It might have a lot of bumps and this is ok, as it starts to harden, you can roll it on the counter or another hard surface to make a perfect circle.
- Place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours but up to 5 days. If freezing, double wrap with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.
- When ready to bake (thaw if frozen), preheat the oven to 375°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut cookie dough into 1/4 inch disks and place on the prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Cookies will spread, so make sure they have some room.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Cooking times vary based on your oven, so watch them closely and remove when centers are tacky and shiny.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.