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Orange Chocolate Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

These sourdough orange chocolate shortbread cookies are a twist on my classic sourdough shortbread cookie recipe that is sure to please the chocolate orange lover in your life. The dough is flavored with zesty orange and finished by being dipped smooth dark chocolate after baking. Not only are these cookies delicious, they are easy to make and beautiful in appearance. 

orange chocolate sourdough shortbread cookies on parchment paper.

Why You Will Love these Sourdough

Shortbread cookies are one of the simplest things to make with your excess sourdough starter. They have only a few ingredients and can be made the same day or you can freeze the dough to make them ahead of time. These slice and bake cookies have so many potential variations (check out my sourdough maple pecan shortbread cookies). 

How to Use Sourdough Starter for Shortbread Cookies

The key to using sourdough starter in shortbread cookies is to not use too much. We want minimal moisture in shortbread cookies to keep them crisp and buttery. Too much moisture also results in the cookies spreading too much. 

You can use either active sourdough starter or sourdough discard in this recipe.

Ingredients and Substitutions

orange chocolate sourdough shortbread cookie ingredients in individual measuring cups and bowls.
  • Flour: Use regular all purpose flour or bread flour in this recipe. 
  • Butter: I recommend unsalted butter but you can also use salted for this recipe. 
  • Sugar: We use sugar in the dough and just before cutting and baking the dough to roll the cookie dough in. This creates a beautiful shimmery crust around the edges of the cookies once baked. 
  • Salt
  • Sourdough starter: active starter or discard straight from the fridge will work well in this recipe. If using active starter, I recommend weighing it. This is because the bubbles will artificially inflate the volume of the starter. This means you might not use enough if measuring with cups.
  • Vanilla extract: I recommend pure vanilla extract rather vanilla substitute.  
  • Orange zest: This recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of orange zest, which is about the zest of 1 lemon. If you don’t like orange flavor you can skip this step or substitute lemon zest. 
  • Chocolate: I used dark chocolate chunks in this recipe but you can substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips or a chopped dark chocolate bar.

How to Make 

Step 1: Use a stand mixer to cream together the butter, sugar, and orange zest. 

Step 2: Add the sourdough starter, vanilla extract and salt and continue to mix until combined. 

Step 3: On low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined.

sourdough orange chocolate shortbread cookie dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer.

Step 4: Roll the dough into a long cylinder. 

Step 5: Roll the dough in sugar.

orange chocolate sourdough shortbread cookie dough rolled into long cylinder.

Step 6: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer).

Step 7: Cut the dough into 1/3” pieces. 

sourodugh orange shortbread cookie dough sliced into 1/3 inch pieces and placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Step 8: Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to fully cool.

Step 9: Melt the chocolate. 

sourdough orange shortbread cookies and melted dark chocolate to dip the baked cookies.

Step 10: Dip half of each cookie in chocolate and place on wire rack to set. 

orange chocolate sourdough shortbread cookies dipped halfway in melted dark chocolate and placed on a wire rack to cool.

How to Make Ahead

To make these cookies ahead of time, simply cut the shortbread cookie dough log in two before cutting it into individual cookies. Then, wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and place in a gallon freezer safe zip lock bag. Store in the freezer and use within 3-4 months. When ready to bake, defrost in the fridge in the day before, then slice and bake as directed. 

How to Store 

Store these sourdough butter cookies in an air-tight container, a gallon storage bag, or a plate wrapped in plastic wrap. They are best consumed within one week. 

If you love sourdough discard recipes, check out these other favorite sourdough recipes:

orange chocolate sourdough shortbread cookies on parchment paper.

Chocolate Orange Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

These sourdough shortbread cookies have an extra twist from the flavors of zesty orange combined with rich dark chocolate. They only require a few basic ingredients and are read the same day.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 22 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 130 kcal


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest about the zest from 1 large orange
  • cup sourdough starter active starter or unfed discard from the fridge
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cup all purpose flour

For Coating the Shortbread Dough

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Finishing Touches

  • 1⅓ cup dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate
  • flaky sea salt optional
  • extra orange zest optional


  • Cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Add the sourdough starter, salt and vanilla extract and continue to mix until fully combined.
  • Slowly add the flour with the mixer set to low speed until just fully combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a smooth cylinder measuring approximately 14 inches long.
  • Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar along the long side of the shortbread dough on the work surface. Roll the dough over the sugar to completely coat it on all sides.
  • Cut the dough cylinder in half, creating two equally sized cylinders, and wrap the pieces in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 48 hours for a long fermentation.

When Ready to Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  • Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut the dough into approximate 1/3 inch cookies.
  • Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown.
  • Allow to cool in the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Finishing Touches

  • Once the cookies have fully cooled, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Heat at 15 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the chocolate is smooth and fully melted. Do not overheat or the chocolate may burn or seize.
  • Dip half of each shortbread cookie in the chocolate, then return to the wire cooling rack. Let the chocolate mostly cool before sprinkling with garnishes.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate with orange zest or flaky sea salt if using. Allow to the chocolate to set completely before serving.


Calories: 130kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 73mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 159IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 0.5mg
Keyword Cookies, Egg-free, Sourdough, Sourdough Discard
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