These Linzer tart cookies are the best Linzer cookies ever! Made with a simple soft and buttery sugar cookie dough and filled with a fresh cranberry Port wine jam, these classic Christmas cookies are easy and fun to make, festive, and are almond and nut-free!
These Linzer tart cookies are on my cookie-to-make list every single year around December. Last year my friends and I held a cookie decorating party and we made these cookies.
Traditional Linzer dough is made with almond meal and cinnamon, but I wanted to make the dough easier and more accessible, especially if you don't have any almond meal on hand.
Instead, the cookies are made from soft cookie dough and then filled with a sweet and tart Port wine cranberry jam.
They are not your typical Christmas Linzer, but trust me when I say they are a thousand times better and you will be the talk of your neighborhood/family/friends when you share these with them!
linzer tart cookie highlights
- Soft and chewy cookie
- Delicious sweet and tart cranberry wine jam filling
- A classic Christmas cookie in a new fun way
- Fun to make with friends or family
- Cranberries: You can use frozen or fresh cranberries. The frozen cranberries will cook down faster than fresh ones, so the jam may take more time to thicken with fresh berries.
- Port wine: Any brand of Port wine can be used for this recipe! I don't recommend using another kind of wine because you want the super sweet flavor to balance out the tart cranberries.
- Brown sugar: I have used both dark brown sugar and light brown sugar in this recipe and both work great.
Full ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card below!
helpful equipment & tools
- KitchenAid stand mixer:
- Round cookie cutters: I used these cutters to make these cookies. They are 2 ½ inch cutters and you can use both the smooth edge or the ruffled edge. They also come with small cutters to punch out the middle!
- Make the jam
- Roll, cut, and bake the cookies
- Fill the cookies
step by step
Step 1: Make the jam
- In a small pot, combine the brown sugar, cranberries, and Port wine.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally until the jam is thick and the cranberries are broken down.
- Add the jam to a bowl and set it aside to cool completely on your counter or in the fridge.
TIP- Let the jam cool completely before using it to fill the cookies.
Step 2: Roll out the dough
- Lightly flour your surface and the top of the dough. Roll the cookie dough with a rolling pin to ⅛ inch thickness.
- Use a 2 ½ inch round cutter to cut out 36 rounds. You can re-roll the dough scraps two times. Use a 1 inch cutter or the bottom of a large piping tip to cut out the center of 18 of the rounds. These will be the tops of the linzer cookies.
- Transfer the rounds to a parchment lined baking tray and place them in the freezer while the oven preheats to 375 F/190 C.
NOTE: Find the full process shots of making the cookie dough in this post!
Step 3: Bake the cookies
- Bake the cookies on the parchment lined baking tray space 2 inches apart for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops look dry and matte. They will not look brown at all.
- Let the cookies cool completely, then separate the tops with the middles cut out from the bottoms.
- Dust the tops of the cookies (with the middles cut out) with powdered sugar and then set them aside.
Step 4: Fill and assemble the cookies
- Spread about 1 tablespoon of the cooled cranberry jam in the center of the bottom of the cookies.
- Place the powder sugared top on top of the jam and gently press it to sandwich the jam. The jam should poke out through the top of the round.
TIP- Dust the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar BEFORE sandwiching the jam, otherwise you will cover up the filling!
expert cookie baking tips
- Always spoon measure your flour when baking- This means using a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup. This will give the most accurate results when baking without a kitchen scale.
- Dark vs. light baking pans- Baking pans conduct heat differently depending on what color the pan is. If your pan is dark/black you should decrease the heat to 350 F/177 C.
- Cook the jam until thick- This recipe does not use any corn starch or extra thickener to keep the flavor so you should let it cook until its thick enough to not be runny.
- Don't cream the butter and sugar- To keep the cookies from spreading, mix the sugar and butter together until JUST combined.
- Freeze the cookies before baking- To keep their shape and keep them from spreading, make sure to freeze the cookies until solid.
- Don't over bake the cookies- These are meant to be soft and chewy so they have a very short baking time. If the edges of the cookies are starting to brown, that means they will be more crisp than chewy.
- Dust the tops with sugar before sandwiching- If you fill and assemble the cookies and then dust them with powdered sugar, it will cover up the pretty red jam!
- For more cookie dough tips see this post!
storage & freezing
- Room temperature: Once baked and filled, keep the cookies in a container at room temperature. If store properly they will stay fresh for 1-2 days.
- Freezer: Once baked and filled, the cookies will soften from the moisture in the jam. I recommend not filling them if you plan on freezing them! You can also freeze just the dough or the baked cookies in a sealed container for 2-3 weeks.
- Sugar cookie recipe: You can get the full sugar cookie dough recipe, tips, tricks, and process shots in this post!
- Yield: Using the sugar cookie dough recipe and a 2 ½ inch cutter yields about 16 assembled cookies.
- Double the recipe: You can double the sugar cookie dough and the jam recipe to make more for the holiday's or cookie party!
- Jam: You can fill these cookies with any other jam you prefer! The classic Linzer filling is typically raspberry or apricot, but any of your favorite jam flavors will work.
Not measuring the flour properly can result in a dry and crumbly dough. I HIGHLY recommend using a kitchen scale whenever measuring dry ingredients or using the spoon measure method if you don't have a scale.
Definitely! The classic filling for these cookies is either a raspberry, black currant, or apricot jam, but you could use any jam you want!
Yes, see storage and freezing instructions above on how to store them properly!
Yes! Simply press the dough into a flat slab and wrap it a few times in plastic wrap before freezing. You can freeze it for 2-3 weeks.
more christmas cookie recipes
Cranberry Linzer Cookies
- small pot
- Stand mixing bowl with paddle attachment
- Large parchment paper sheets
- Rolling Pin
- 2 ½ inch round cookie or biscuit cutter
- 1 inch round cookie cutter or the bottom of a piping tip
- baking tray
- fine mesh sifter
Cranberry Jam Ingredients
- 2 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup port wine
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
Cookie Dough Ingredients
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature 226 grams (2 sticks)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 300 grams
- 1 large egg, room temperature 55 grams
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- 3 cups all purpose flour 360 grams
- 2 tablespoon corn starch 17 grams
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- powdered sugar for dusting
Making the Jam
- In a small pot, add the cranberries, port wine and sugar. Heat over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until the cranberries are completely broken down and the jam is thick.2 cups cranberries, ¾ cup port wine, ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- Transfer the jam to a small bowl and allow to cool completely in the fridge or at room temperature.
Making Cookie Dough
- 3 cups all purpose flour, 2 tablespoon corn starch, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- In a stand mixing bowl, add the room temperature butter and sugar. Mix with the paddle attachment on low until JUST combined. Don't cream them together or the cookies will spread!8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix on low until combined.1 large egg, room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- Add the bowl of dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough starts to come together. When there are no more large pockets of flour, stop mixing.
- Grab half of the dough from the bowl and place it on top of a piece of parchment paper. Place a second sheet of parchment paper on top and press the dough down into a flat disk. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into ⅛ inch thick round and then transfer it to a baking pan. Place the pan in the freezer while you roll out the other half of the dough the same way.
- Leave both slabs of dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes or until the dough is cold and firm. Remove the top sheet of parchment and use a 2 ½ inch round cutter to cut out the cookies. You will have about 36 rounds from the entire batch. You can re-work and roll the dough scraps twice.
- Transfer 18 of the rounds to a parchment lined baking tray and place them in the freezer.
- Take a 1 inch round cutter or the bottom of a piping tip to cut out the center of the other 18 cookies. These will be the tops. Place them on a lined tray and freeze them while the oven preheats to 375 F/190 C.
- Bake the cookies on a lined tray, spaced 2 inches apart for 10-12 minutes or until the tops look matte and dry. You may have to bake them in batches. Keep the raw cut cookies in the freezer when not being baked so they stay cold. Let the tray cool completely on a wire rack before removing the cookies.
Asssembling the Cookies
- Separate the tops and bottoms of the linzers.
- Use a fine mesh sifter to dust the tops of the linzer cookies with powdered sugar.powdered sugar
- Using a spoon, add 1 tablespoon of the cooled jam in the middle of the bottom cookie. Sandwich the filling with the dusted top cookie by gently pressing them together.
Expert Tips for These Cookies
- Always spoon measure your flour when baking-This means using a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup. This will give the most accurate results when baking without a kitchen scale.
- Dark vs. light baking pans- baking pans conduct heat differently depending on what color the pan is. If your pan is dark/black you should decrease the heat to 350 F/177 C.
- Cook the jam until thick- this recipe does not use any corn starch or extra thickener to keep the flavor so you should let it cook until its thick enough to not be runny.
- Don't cream the butter and sugar- to keep the cookies from spreading, mix the sugar and butter together until JUST combined.
- Freeze the cookies before baking- to keep their shape and keep them from spreading, make sure to freeze the cookies until solid.
- Don't over bake the cookies- these are meant to be soft and chewy so they have a very short baking time. If the edges of the cookies are starting to brown, that means they will be more crisp than chewy.
- Dust the tops with sugar before sandwiching- if you fill and assemble the cookies and then dust them with powdered sugar, it will cover up the pretty red jam!
- For more cookie dough tips see this post!
Storage and FreezingOnce baked and filled, the cookies will soften from the moisture in the jam. I recommend not filling them if you plan on freezing them! You can freeze just the dough or the baked cookies in a sealed airtight container for 2-3 weeks. Once baked and filled, keep the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.