With their typically predictable texture, biscotti make darn good dipping devices. Espresso. Coffee. Tea. Or even, for the toddler set, milk. And these vibrant biscotti are no exception. Yet you may wish to refrain from dipping so you can experience the unique and compelling juxtaposition of chewy and sweetly tart cranberries with crunchy and buttery rich pistachios unhindered.Renee Schettler Rossi

Several cranberry pistachio biscotti cookies tied together with raffia

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

4.85 / 13 votes
These cranberry pistachio biscotti, a sweet, tart, and nutty cookies made from cranberries and pistachios, make a great gift to make for Christmas.
David Leite
Servings34 biscotti
Calories140 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 45 minutes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest, (from 1 orange, preferably organic)
  • 1 1/4 cups shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup dried cranberries


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  • In another bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until lighter in texture. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat until fully blended. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the vanilla and orange zest and mix until combined. With the beater on low speed, mix in the flour mixture just until the dough starts to clump together. Mix in the pistachios and cranberries. Using your hands or a rubber spatula, gather the dough into a ball and then divide it in half.
  • Using lightly floured hands, place each half of the dough on one side of the prepared sheet. Shape the dough into rectangular loaves about 13 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide each. Make sure the loaves are at least 3 inches apart on the sheet.
  • Bake, rotating the sheet from front to back about halfway through baking, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the loaves are nicely golden and the tops feel mostly firm when gently pressed. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (160°C).
  • After 10 minutes of cooling, carefully peel 1 of the loaves off the parchment paper and transfer it to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife in a long sawing motion, cut the loaf on a slight diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Discard the parchment and place the biscotti, cut side down, back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the other loaf. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the biscotti over to the other side and bake for about 10 minutes longer or until lightly toasted. Remember that the biscotti will crisp even more as they cool. Transfer the biscotti to the rack to cool. (You can store the biscotti in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze them for up to 2 months. You can perk up the biscotti by toasting them in a 350°F (175°C) oven for about 5 minutes.)
Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn

Adapted From

Christmas Cookies

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Serving: 1 biscottiCalories: 140 kcalCarbohydrates: 22 gProtein: 2 gFat: 5 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 2 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 18 mgSodium: 23 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 12 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Lisa Zwirn. Photo © 2008 Corinne Planche. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These are the biscotti I’ve been seeking. Just the right amount of sturdy and sweet, scented with orange and studded with red and green. The easiest Christmas cookies on the plate—and also the ones I’ve hoarded away, perfect for snowy afternoons.

The trick to cutting the biscotti into perfect fingers is to do so while warm—the 10 minutes of cool time is perfect—and, using your fingertips, lightly dampen the surface of the logs with water just before cutting. For the first time ever, I experienced no crumbling! (Wait, that means fewer damaged cookies for the baker!) This made 30 perfect biscotti.

Often, when I’m making something that I haven’t made before but have enjoyed, I’m surprised when the recipe turns out just like the “real” thing. It’s a curious reaction but I had it again after making these delicious cranberry pistachio biscotti. A perfect crunch (the real key to any biscotti, imho), super balance between the sweet from the cranberries and the savory from the pistachios, and a wonderful hint of orange. And the recipe was straightforward and simple. A perfect combination, in my book.

The other nice thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot of biscotti, so if you have any left over (haha!) they can make a great holiday gift. There is really nothing more to say—no strange twists or head-scratching directions—except go make these now!

I have not made biscotti before so was looking forward to trying out the recipe. The biscotti came out very well and the use of the orange zest really help add great flavor to them. I do a lot of baking and was impressed at how well the recipe was written. The measurements were spot on for both the cup and gram measures. The instructions regarding how big to make the loafs were extremely helpful.

Go ahead, fellow dunkers out there, these biscotti don’t get soggy! And they’re delicious-no surprise as the combination of flavors here is already known to be fabulously harmonious.

I had never made biscotti before, but I found this recipe easy to follow. It’s basically a one-bowl cookie dough that gets baked twice. Since shelled pistachios are expensive and not always available, I purposefully bought whole pistachios for the test. For 1 1/4 cups (150g) shelled nuts, I needed 10 oz (284g) of pistachios with shells (I prepared them the night before; took about 20 minutes). The dough came together very easily and wasn’t sticky at all, so I didn’t need to dust my hands with flour when forming the loaves.

When cutting the biscotti, pieces of the crust came off of the first few slices. With a little practice and patience, I found the following method to work very well. Starting from the left (I’m right-handed, by the way), hold the sides and top of the loaf with your fingertips to support the crust—the “claw” position in knife skills 101—to the left of where you’re going to cut. Your fingers will protect the crust from the back-and-forth movement of the blade, and keep it from separating and falling off the loaf. GENTLY saw through the top crust, then about 1/3 of the way in, press the blade down at once to cut through the loaf.

For the second baking, the visual clue for doneness (evenly colored on both cut sides) was very helpful. I had a small amount of dark chocolate in the pantry, so I melted it to coat the tips of some of the cooled biscotti-a tweak that was welcomed by my tasters!

I love these biscotti and have been making them for years. They look like the holiday season with the dried red cranberries and the green pistachios. The orange zest adds a wonderful aroma.

The first few times I made this recipe, I misread it and cut the biscotti into 1/4-inch-thick slices. When I realized what I had done wrong, the next time I made them, I sliced the loaves into the 3/4-inch-thick slices called for. The thicker cookies are just as delicious as the thin ones, however, I really love the thin crisp ones. I bake them for only 4 to 5 minutes a side. The added bonus is that you get so many more biscotti out of each loaf, which for me makes them last longer. I can use some self control and limit myself to just a couple of those thin cookies. If I’m eating the thicker ones, I still eat 2 of them, leaving not that many behind.

While I am not a coffee drinker, I couldn’t resist trying these biscotti out for the holidays due to the festive red and green colors! They were super easy to pull together. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making these! The flavors are great—the orange zest comes through and pairs well with the cranberry while the pistachios give a nice crunch. Looking forward to serving these to our holiday guests!

The sweetness is perfect. Just sweet enough to know it is a sweet.

The flavors are subtle. I would add a smidge more cinnamon (or mace?) and certainly more zest. I had 1 tablespoon of zest and think it could have had another teaspoon easily. And I will drizzle a confectioners’ sugar and water icing on top but add a bit of the zest to that, too, just to finish them nicely.

I’ve made biscotti a number of times I didn’t do the serrated knife, sawing thing. I learned long ago that doesn’t work for me. I have a large sharp plain blade knife and just cut in one fell swoop and it works. My concern was whether this would work with the dough being so dry to start. To my surprise they sliced just fine. I cut them about 3/4 inch thick and got 27 biscotti.

Normally I’ve found that cookies work pretty much the same way whether using regular all-purpose or gluten-free all-purpose flour, but in this case not so much. Having said that, the flavor was still outstanding and the results difficult not to consume even as I was slicing them for their second round in the oven and once out of the oven. The directions were very easy to follow. And the ones that worked were so flavorful and appealing that my taster can’t stop snitching away at them. If the flavor was that good with my iffy results, I can only imagine how good and true to form they will be using regular flour.

The problem with my seriously miscalculating the amount of flour arose during the initial baking. After 35 minutes in the oven, the biscotti felt firm but apparently were not firm enough. After cooling for 10 minutes, when I attempted to slice them, there were lots of crumbs and shards plus a few complete slices near the ends, which suggested that they needed more time overall to reach the point where slicing would work. For those that went into the oven for drying, 20 minutes total was perfect timing to produce a nice crisp, toasted cookie with clearly recognizable hints of vanilla and orange, a little cinnamon, nuts, and fruit.

The biscotti make a wonderful addition to any cookie platter. They are beautiful with the color contrast between the green pistachios and dark pink cranberries. I couldn’t find plain pistachios, so I used what the package called “lightly salted” nuts. I loved the contrast between the sweet cookie and the slightly salty nuts. I will definitely be adding these to my regular cookie rotation at the holidays.

I baked my biscotti a little too long during the second bake—some of them were a little hard. Next time I will remember that they crisp more after cooling. We enjoyed the extra crunchy ones dipped in hot coffee or tea. All of my taste testers loved the combo of sweet cookie, salty nuts, and sweet-tart cranberries highlighted with a hint of citrus and vanilla.

I couldn’t really taste any cinnamon in the baked cookies, but I think the spice added a bit of depth to the flavor that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. The flavor of the biscotti deepened after a couple of days in an airtight container. They were good right after baking but even better as they matured a bit.

The cookies from the middles of the logs had a line in the center of slightly moist dough. I was afraid they were underbaked and wouldn’t toast well, but they were fine after the second baking. The cookies were a bit crumbly when slicing. I had to remind myself to go slowly and let the knife do the work.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Lovely biscotti recipe (and not just for Christmas)! I love my biscotti a little more eggy so I added an extra egg. Otherwise pretty much followed the recipe to a T.

  2. 5 stars
    I loved the flavors in the biscotti. My batch of dough seemed very dry, wonder if my large eggs were large enough. Many broke apart when “sawing” the loaves.
    Delicious enough to make again, but I will make sure the eggs are largest in the carton.
    Merry Christmas

    1. Thanks Kathi! And Merry Christmas to you and yours. We’re delighted you enjoyed them so much. The dough can be quite dry, and several of our testers also found this. Do use your biggest eggs, and play around a little with the cutting technique. Our tester reviews offer a few suggestions on what worked best for them for slicing through a crumbly dough.

  3. 5 stars
    The orange zest really made this fairly simple​ biscotti​ recipe shine, and the colors and flavors of the cranberry and pistachio added a really lovely wintertime feel. The dough was easy to mix​,​ even without a stand mixer, and a cinch to shape on the pan. ​I will absolutely be making this recipe again to hand out as holiday gifts.