Orange and Black Tea Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies

A recipe for rich, olive oil shortbread cookies flavored with black tea and orange zest, rolled in sugar or with an orange glaze drizzled over the top.
Orange and Black Tea Olive Oil Shortbread #cookie #recipe via

I cleared and wiped down the counter for the seventh time since waking up that morning, rinsing the washcloth under the scalding water and wringing it out. The dishwasher hummed to life, and on the stovetop pans, knives, cutting boards, and bowls dripped dry over the grated burners. The end of the day had come.

Without missing a beat, I reached over them and turned the oven on, pressing hard on the dying touchpad to get it to take. The oven asking, “Are you certain we’re going again?”

I ripped a piece of parchment to fit my favorite cookie sheet, set out the cooling rack, and retrieve the dough from earlier in the day. The freezer door sucks shut as I turned to meet a small face staring up at me, grey eyes open wide.

“What are you making, Mommy?” quips his innocent voice.


His impossibly long lashes spread even wider across his cherub face. “For me?”

“You can have one before bed if you help me with them.” Immediately he gallops over to the table, dragging the bench over to assist in cookie preparation. His tiny hands roll edges in sugar and lay them out on the baking sheet. We sit together on the couch reading while they bake, and then he hovers while they cool, eagerly anticipating this rare before-bed treat.
Orange and Black Tea Olive Oil Shortbread #cookie #recipe via

Each year I send my friend Mandi from Life Your Way a box of cookies for Christmas. This year, however, she had a baby, and when she’s nursing she doesn’t eat dairy. This means no butter and, subsequently, no cookies.

Rather than be defeated, I came up with a plan. It only took me a few weeks to see it through. Now she only has to wait for me to mail them (if I don’t eat all of them first). I did warn Magnus that he was going to have to share with his girlfriends in West Virginia.
Orange and Black Tea Olive Oil Shortbread #cookie #recipe via
I’ve done tea-spiked glaze on shortbread in the past, so for these shortbread I went with crushed tea leaves added directly to the dough. I used a Kusmi Tea blend with ceylon black tea that has notes of bergamot and citrus and added orange zest for a few bright notes. Any black tea with citrus notes will do here.

The dough pulls together with olive oil, resulting in a smooth, supple dough. It stays soft even after it is cold, so the easiest way to make shaped cookies is to freeze it for an hour to help firm it up. It should still have give as long as you don’t forget it in there overnight. If cut cookies aren’t your thing, this also works well docked and scored in a pan or in shortbread molds, and it holds shape wonderful while cooking with very minimal spread to the cookie.

Orange and Black Tea Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black tea leaves, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced (about 4T)
  • 1 cup olive oil


  1. In a medium bowl or stand mixer, add the flour, 1¼ cups powdered sugar, tea leaves, salt, and the orange zest and two tablespoons juice. Stir to combine.
  2. Slowly pour in the olive oil while stirring. Continue to stir until the olive oil is incorporated and a soft dough forms.
  3. Split the dough into two equal parts and roll into 2" thick logs. Wrap each log in a piece of parchment or wax paper. Place in the freezer and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  5. Unwrap the logs of dough and slice ½" thick discs. Place the discs 2" apart on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 18 minutes until the bottoms are just turning golden.
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool completely.
  8. Once the cookies have cooled, mix together the remaining powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Add more orange juice until a thick and smooth consistency is reached.
  9. Using a pastry bag or a small sandwich bag with one corner snipped, drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies. Allow to set before packaging.
  10. Makes 5 dozen cookies.


If desired, cookies can also be left without the added icing. The edges may also be rolled through granulated sugar before baking. These won't look "done" in a traditional cookie sense, but they will firm up as they cool.
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 15



  1. Just beautiful, Shaina. I’ll have to make these for James, who is also avoiding butter and most dairy. We’re loving banana muffins made with olive oil, so why not cookies? And how could you ever resist those eyelashes? That Magnus is such a cutie.

  2. wow, I love these!! I have to try making shortbreads with olive oil. Thanks!

  3. Oh, yum!!!

    For the record, I don’t plan to share any of them with Magnus’ girlfriends. Dairy free treats are prized possessions around here!

  4. Wow! These look so good! I love the olive oil and these are beautiful!

  5. These are gorgeous and sound fabulous Shaina!!

  6. These look lovely. Is extra-virgin olive oil ok, or should I use something milder–maybe a mixture of oo and vegetable oil?

  7. Lucky Mandi! And Magnus.

    Can’t wait to try your version of shortbread.

  8. Shaina, these cookies are calling my name!!

  9. I just love shortbread cookies and I think these are totally irresistible!

  10. Yum these look amazing! Loving the tea infused glaze, I bet these are to die for. I would love to receive these as a gift. What a thoughtful and beautiful gift for a friend. I am sure she appreciated these cookies.

  11. Shortbread has become my family’s favorite cookie. They never last a day. I’m so intrigued by adding tea leaves to the cookies, I know I would love it!

  12. These sound amazing Shaina – reminds me of these little shortbread cookies they sell at our farmer’s market in the summertime that are flavored with earl grey tea.

  13. I’m the biggest sucker for shortbread in any form and flavor! I’ve never tried them with black tea and orange – which is my FAVORITE tea!! These are a winner, I know it 🙂

  14. That sounds like an amazingly fragrant and tasty combination of flavors!

  15. these sound amazing! Pinning now

  16. These cookies sound amazing! I bet the smell is heavenly when they are baking!

  17. Sharon Chen says:

    Hi, I just tried making them with your recipe. I put them in the freezer for over an hour. When i take one log out to cut it, it started to crumble. I had a hard time slicing them and keeping them stick together. What did I do wrong?

    • Was your dough dry before you put it in the freezer? It should be a very tender dough with the olive oil and the orange juice.

      When I didn’t leave it in the freezer long enough mine had a habit of collapsing on the rolled shape, but I haven’t had it crumble. I would suggest trying to leave it out for minute and then trying again to see if it’s maybe simply too cold and a bit frozen.

      • Hi thanks for responding. No, I didn’t over stir it. It kinda ended up feel like damp sand textture. I tried to compress it when I roll them or they will have chuncks split out or fall off. So, next time if I leave it in the freezer longer, such as two to three hours. I will be able to slice it thin without crumbling?

        • You should have two tablespoons of orange juice in the mix. If your dough still feels dry, add a bit more olive oil. My dough was quite soft, and so I want your dough to feel that way before it goes into the freezer, otherwise freezing longer won’t help alleviate this problem.

          Also, be sure that you’re using a spoon and sweep method when measuring flour. If you scoop flour out of the bag or container using the measuring cup it can become compressed. It may be that you have extra flour if you used this method, and that would definitely make the dough dry.

          Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’ll be happy to help!

          • Sharon Chen says:

            Thank you for the suggestions. it helped to add more olive oils and juice. It worked better this time 🙂 Tasted great too!

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