By/ Last Modified On February 8, 2024
These gluten-free sugar cookies are a classic dessert that everyone can enjoy. Whether you're making them for a special occasion or just for a sweet treat, they're always a crowd-pleaser. They're versatile and can be decorated in countless ways for various occasions. Plus, they're a fun activity for kids and adults alike.
Do you love cookies? You'll want to make these gluten-free recipes too! These classic Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies, and Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies are so good and so easy! These Gluten-Free White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, Gluten-Free Spritz Cookies, and Gluten-Free Snowball Cookies are also reader favorites. Which one of these gluten-free cookie recipes will you make?
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies Recipe
I've published a gluten-free Halloween sugar cookie version, but I want you to know that these gluten-free sugar cookies can be made any time of the year and for any occasion.
We typically make these gluten-free frosted sugar cookies for every holiday, including Easter, Mother's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We decorate them to match the holiday or occasion.
These gluten-free sugar cookies are soft, tender, and better than any store-bought sugar cookie. They get softer as they sit due to the frosting. We like to enjoy them a few hours after we frost them when they start to soften.
We've topped these gluten-free sugar cookies with buttercream frosting and occasionally cream cheese icing. I've only included the recipe for buttercream frosting since it's usually everyone's go-to frosting for cookies.
Why You’re Going to Love These Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Perfect for any occasion - You can keep these plain or decorate them for any holiday or occasion.
Soft and tender - These gluten-free sugar cookies are soft, tender, and in my opinion, so much better than any store-bought cookies.
A great activity with children - You can make circle-shaped cookies or get some cutouts ready, and your kids will enjoy playing with the cookie dough and making their creations.
Ingredients in Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
For The Cookies:
Shortening - provides fat for texture and flavor.
Granulated sugar - sweetens the cookies and helps with spreading.
Gluten-free vanilla extract - adds flavor to the cookies.
Egg - acts as a binder and provides structure to the cookies.
Milk - adds moisture to the cookie dough.
All-purpose gluten-free flour blend - This gluten-free flour blend replaces wheat flour and provides structure to the cookies.
Gluten-free baking powder - helps the cookies rise and become fluffy.
Salt - enhances the flavor of the cookies.
Xanthan gum - replaces the gluten in wheat flour and helps bind the cookie dough together.
For The Frosting:
Butter - provides fat for texture and flavor.
Gluten-free vanilla extract - adds flavor to the frosting.
Powdered sugar - sweetens the frosting and thickens it.
Milk - thins out the frosting to make it easier to spread.
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Equipment Needed for Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Mixing bowl - used for combining ingredients.
Baking sheet - used for baking the cookies in the oven.
Parchment paper - is used to prevent the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet.
Rolling pin - used to roll out the sugar cookie dough.
Cookie cutters (Optional) - You can use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired shapes.
Cooling rack - used to cool the cookies after baking.
If you have any questions about making Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies, please leave a comment, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
How to Make Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- Add shortening, sugar, vanilla, and egg to a large mixing bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, mix until combined.
- Stir in the milk.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum in a separate bowl.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Roll dough into 1½-inch balls, or use a rounded tablespoon. Place the dough balls onto the cookie sheet two inches apart. Press each one down with the bottom of a cup until the cookie is round and approximately ½ inch thick.
- Bake as directed. Cool and frost.
Tips for Making the Best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Use the correct flour - Don't use coconut or almond flour, as these flours don't contain binders and require more liquid.
Chill the dough - Leave enough time for the dough to chill - a few hours or overnight would be perfect.
Use flour on equipment - Use a rolling pin and cookie cutters that are dusted with gluten-free flour to prevent sticking.
Don't overwork the dough - It may become tough.
Use parchment paper - This is used to line the baking sheets to prevent the cookies from sticking.
Baking time - Bake the cookies until they have crispy edges.
Let the cookies cool completely - Before decorating them, ensure they are cooled so you can apply the icing or sprinkles.
Troubleshooting Common Issues With Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Cookie dough is crumbly - If the dough is too dry or if it's overworked, it can result in crumbly cookie dough. Overbaking the cookies can also cause them to become crumbly.
Cookie dough is so sticky - This could result from too much liquid, high humidity, insufficient flour, and insufficient chilling time.
Some sugar cookies are hard, and others are soft - Overbaking, ingredient ratios, dough handling, and cooling time could contribute to this happening.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Store These GF Sugar Cookies?
Storing traditional sugar cookies properly can help keep them fresh and delicious for longer. It's important to let the cookies cool completely before storing them. Once cooled, you can store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Can I Make These GF Sugar Cookies in Advance?
Yes, you can make this GF sugar cookie recipe in advance. Once the cookies are completely cooled, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you need to store them for longer, you can freeze the cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw the cookies at room temperature before serving. If you plan to decorate the cookies, it is best to do so shortly before serving.
Can I Make Cut-out Gluten-Free Cookies?
Yes, you can use this gluten-free sugar cookie recipe to make gluten-free cut-out sugar cookies. Simply roll the dough into a ball, cover it, and chill it for 2 hours.
Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper and cut your shapes. Carefully transfer the cookies to your baking sheet and bake as directed.
Let them cool completely before frosting.
How Do You Work With Gluten-Free Flours?
When working with or measuring gluten-free flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level. Do not scoop your measuring cup into the gluten-free flour.
The best method really is to weigh the gluten-free flour, but I don't have the ingredient weights for all my recipes yet.
What Ingredient Substitutes Can I Make In This Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe?
Dairy-Free Option - For the frosting, you can use dairy-free milk in this gluten-free sugar cookie recipe and dairy-free milk with dairy-free butter. In the early 1900s, bakers used shortening and sugar to make frosting because it was less expensive. If needed, you can use shortening for the frosting, but it's not my favorite type of frosting.
Vegan Option - You can substitute an egg in this gluten-free cookie recipe with 1 Tablespoon of flax meal and 3 Tablespoons of warm water per egg.
Add orange - Try adding the grated rind of 1 orange and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg to add a little bit of variation to the flavor.
What Gluten-Free Sprinkles Do You Recommend?
Most sprinkles don’t have wheat or gluten in them, but they are usually processed in a facility that processes other glutinous ingredients. Make sure to check labels for allergen information.
What Gluten-Free Flour Blends Do You Use?
I use my blend plus 1 teaspoon of xanthan or Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 + ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum. Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 has xanthan gum in it, but because these cookies are high fat, I recommend adding ½ teaspoon of extra xanthan gum.
Can You Freeze Gluten-free Cookies?
Yes, you can freeze them frosted or un-frosted. I like to freeze them frosted so they don't dry out too much in the freezer. Store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Looking for more cookie recipes? Check out our top Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes.
Can I Use Baking Powder Instead Of Xanthan Gum In This Recipe For Gluten-Free Cookies?
Xanthan gum and baking powder have different functions in a recipe, so substituting one for the other can result in a different texture and structure.
Xanthan gum is a common ingredient in gluten-free baking recipes as it helps bind and thicken the dough, giving it a more elastic texture like traditional wheat-based dough. Conversely, baking powder is a leavening agent that helps the dough rise and becomes fluffy.
If you do not have xanthan gum, you could try using a different binding agent, such as guar gum or psyllium husk powder, but the cookies' texture and structure may still differ from the original recipe. Substituting baking powder for xanthan gum is not recommended as it will not provide the same binding properties needed in gluten-free baking.
Can I Make Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Mix In Advance?
Yes, you can make a gluten-free sugar cookie mix in advance. You can mix all the dry ingredients and store them in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 3 months. When you're ready to make cookies, simply add the wet ingredients and mix the dough according to the recipe.
Why Are My Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies Falling Apart?
Gluten-free sugar cookies can fall apart for several reasons, including using the wrong type of gluten-free flour, not adding enough binders like xanthan gum, overbaking them, or not letting them cool down completely before handling them.
Additionally, if the dough is too dry or too wet, it can cause the cookies to crumble. Following the recipe accurately, using high-quality ingredients, and properly measuring and mixing can help prevent the cookies from falling apart.
How Do You Decorate Sugar Cookies?
Here is a guide to decorating your sugar cookies, don't be afraid to experiment:
- First, make sure your cookies are completely cool before decorating.
- Choose your decorating tools, such as icing bags, tips, and food coloring.
- Prepare your icing or frosting. You can use royal icing, buttercream frosting, or fondant, depending on your preference.
- Use an offset spatula or a piping bag to apply a base layer of icing onto your cookie. Allow the icing to dry for a few minutes before adding any additional decorations.
- Use food coloring to dye your icing, if desired.
- Use piping bags with small tips to add details to your cookies, such as lines, dots, and swirls.
- Use sprinkles, sanding sugar, or other edible decorations to add texture and color to your cookies.
- Let the cookies dry completely before serving or storing them.
For the cookies:
- ⅔ cup shortening
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 4 teaspoons of milk
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (we used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour)
- 1½ teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum
For the frosting:
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
- 4½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Position the oven rack in center of oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream shortening, sugar, vanilla and egg. Stir in the milk.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Make sure to mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined.
- Roll dough into 1½-inch balls, or use a rounded tablespoon.
- Place the dough balls onto the cookie sheet two inches apart. Press each one down with the bottom of a cup until the cookie is round and approximately ½ inch thick.
- Bake for 8–10 minutes until light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully remove the cookies from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.
- Finish cooling on a wire rack. Once completely cool, frost with butter cream or cream cheese frosting. Store cookies in an airtight container.
- For the frosting: In a medium mixing bowl, beat together butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well. Alternate one cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk until all ingredients are blended. Beat in additional milk if needed to obtain desired constancy. You can store frosting in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week.
- Cutout Cookies: Roll the dough into a ball, cover it, and chill the dough for 2 hours. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper and cut your shapes. Carefully transfer the cookies to your baking sheet and bake as directed. Let them cool completely before frosting.
- Dairy-Free Option: You can use dairy-free milk in this gluten free sugar cookie recipe, and dairy-free milk with dairy-free butter for the frosting.
- Working with gluten free flours: Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level. Do not scoop your measuring cup into the gluten-free flour.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 214Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 58mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 0gSugar: 27gProtein: 1g
This nutrition info is based on the exact ingredients and brands that I used a the time. It may not be 100% accurate. Please check your ingredients nutrition labels.