Orange Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze

These soft, buttery orange cookies are made from scratch, flavored with orange zest and orange juice and iced with a sweet orange glaze. Their old-fashioned flavor will remind you of your grandma’s kitchen!

A stack of orange cookies with a glass of milk in the background.

Many years ago, after making a batch of Italian Easter bread, my husband asked if I had a recipe for orange cookies. Specifically, the soft, chewy kind with a glaze on top. I couldn’t remember my grandma making anything like that (even though it sounded incredibly Italian!) so I did some searching around and found tons of amazing-looking recipes to try. This was definitely the best of the bunch.

These cookies are so light and refreshing compared to some other heavier favorites like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. They’re a soft, buttery cookie, much like a puffy sugar cookie. The difference? They are thoroughly infused with fresh orange zest and juice to amp up their flavor. In addition, a sweet orange glaze using more zest and juice is slathered on top.

Rubbing orange zest into sugar.

Get Maximum Orange Flavor!

Back when I started doing a lot of baking on my own, one of the first books that I really dug into was Dorie Greenspan’s Bake: From My Home to Yours. In one of the orange or lemon-flavored recipes in the book, she shared a technique for ensuring that the citrus flavor was really infused throughout the recipe, and I have used that same technique every single time I make a recipe using orange zest, lemon zest, or lime zest.

The secret?

Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar that’s called for in the recipe. It takes a few minutes, but eventually, all of the zest (including its oils!) will be absorbed by the sugar and it will have the consistency of wet sand. Now, when the butter and sugar get creamed together, all of that wonderful orange essence will be infused throughout the entire batter. It makes for a flavor that is far more potent and cookies that are more aromatic than compared to just mixing the zest in with the other ingredients.

Make-Ahead Notes

If you’d like to prepare these cookies in advance or get a head start on holiday baking (these would be perfect for Easter or Christmas!), here are some tips:

  • Refrigerate Dough: You can refrigerate the dough, covered, for up to 2 days before scooping and baking. Allow it to sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes to make scooping easier.
  • Freeze Dough: Scoop the cookies and place on the baking sheets, then place in the freezer until the balls of dough are completely frozen. Transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen, adding a couple of minutes to the bake time.
  • Freeze Baked Cookies: Fully baked, cooled, and iced cookies (be sure the icing has had a chance to fully set) can be frozen by placing the cookies on a baking sheet, placing the sheet in the freezer until the cookies are completely frozen. Transfer the cookies to an airtight container, separating layers with parchment or wax paper, and freeze for up to 3 months.

A cookie sheet with balls of orange cookie dough.

I absolutely love the burst of flavor that these cookies have; they’ll definitely brighten up your day!

Whether you’re searching for something a little bit different for your Easter or Christmas baking, maybe you want something a little unique for a wedding cookie table, or just LOVE citrus, these orange cookies will wow you time and again.

An overhead photo of orange cookies on a plate with a cut of milk.

More Orange-Infused Recipes:

Orange Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze

Servings 24 cookies
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 12 minutes
Chill time 30 minutes
Total 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

These soft, buttery orange cookies are flavored with orange zest and orange juice, and iced with a sweet orange glaze. Their old-fashioned flavor will remind you of your grandma's kitchen!

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

  • cups
    all purpose flour
  • 1
    teaspoon
    baking powder
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 1
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 2
    tablespoons
    orange zest
  • 1
    cup
    unsalted butter
  • 2
    tablespoons
    fresh orange juice
  • 1
    egg

For the Sweet Orange Glaze:

  • cups
    powdered sugar
  • 1
    tablespoon
    orange zest
  • Fresh orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats; set aside.

  2. Make the Cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the the sugar and orange zest, rubbing them together with your fingers until the zest is completely incorporated into the sugar.
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and the orange zest-infused sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and orange and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. If the dough seems a little on the soft side, refrigerate it for up to 30 minutes.

  5. Using a medium cookie scoop (or 2 tablespoonfuls), scoop out the dough and roll them into balls, placing them 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges, but still pale in the middle. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  6. Make the Sweet Orange Glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, orange zest, and enough orange juice to achieve the desired consistency (less juice for a thicker glaze, more for a thinner one). Spread glaze over top of the cooled cookies, and allow to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container (divide layers with wax paper so the cookies don't stick together).

Recipe Notes:

  • You can substitute the orange zest and juice with lemon, lime, or even grapefruit for different flavored cookies.
  • If you're like me and love the orange and chocolate flavor combination, feel free to add some chocolate chips to the cookie dough. I would recommend 1 cup of mini chocolate chips.
  • Make-Ahead (Refrigerate Dough): You can refrigerate the dough, covered, for up to 2 days before scooping and baking. Allow it to sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes to make scooping easier.
  • Make-Ahead (Freeze Dough): Scoop the cookies and place on the baking sheets, then place in the freezer until the balls of dough are completely frozen. Transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen, adding a couple of minutes to the bake time.
  • Make-Ahead (Freeze Baked Cookies): Fully baked, cooled, and iced cookies (be sure the icing has had a chance to fully set) can be frozen by placing the cookies on a baking sheet, placing the sheet in the freezer until the cookies are completely frozen. Transfer the cookies to an airtight container, separating layers with parchment or wax paper, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition:

Calories: 180kcal
Fat: 7g
Saturated fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Sodium: 28mg
Potassium: 38mg
Carbohydrates: 26g
Sugar: 15g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 250%
Vitamin C: 1.7%
Calcium: 13%
Iron: 0.6%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Originally published in 2012, this orange cookie recipe has been updated to include new photos and more in-depth recipe tips.

[photos by Dee of One Sarcastic Baker]