gluten free drop cookies
Eve Becker

Making GF sugar cookies can be challenging, so use these tips for rolling out and cutting out cookie dough or for making drop cookies.

william sonoma gf sugar cookies
Eve Becker

For the December/January issue of Gluten Free & More magazine, our theme is sugar cookies. You’ll find our best homemade sugar cookie recipes, as well as our exclusive product review of the best gluten-free sugar cookie mixes on the market.

To determine the best sugar cookie mixes, our editorial staff taste-tested more than a dozen mixes. It was a blast to test — and to taste — the cookies.

Sugar cookies are an ideal holiday treat. The dough can be rolled out and cut out into a variety of shapes for all sorts of occasions — from Christmas trees for Christmas, to stars and menorahs for Hanukkah, to snowflakes that are seasonal all winter long.

gf sugar cookies
Eve Becker

The trick with sugar cookies is cutting out the dough. It’s always tricky, but especially more so with gluten-free dough, which can be soft, sticky or crumbly. Sometimes, the dough is impossible to cut out; it adheres to the cookie cutters or doesn’t come cleanly off the parchment paper or rolling surface. Other times, you successfully cut out a shape, but in the oven it puffs up and looks like a bloated amoeba, rather than a star.

gf sugar cookies
Eve Becker

Try these tips help with GF sugar cookie success:

  1. Chill your cookie dough before rolling out. When you’ve mixed your cookie dough, shape it into a couple of big balls, flatten the balls into discs, wrap the dough in wax paper and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and cutting. If I’m short on time, I chill the dough in the freezer, but I’m not sure that’s officially recommended by experts.
  2. Roll out the cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap. (I grew up using wax paper, because it was cheaper.) If the dough still feels sticky, lightly flour the bottom piece of parchment paper with gluten-free flour.
  3. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and transfer the cut-out shapes to the parchment paper. It is so much easier to remove baked cookies from parchment paper than from directly on the baking sheet. After the cookies have baked, just slide the parchment paper onto a wire rack to let the cookies cool, and then eventually pick them off the parchment paper and put them directly on the wire rack to finish cooling.
  4. After the cookies are cut-out and are placed on the baking sheet but before they are baked, pop them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so to chill. This is an extra step that I don’t always take, but it helps the cut-outs to keep their shape in the oven. If the dough is cold when it goes into the oven, it will take a little longer for the butter to melt and it will help prevent the dough from spreading.
  5. If your dough is a disaster, don’t fret. If you can’t roll it out or cut it out successfully, you can always make drop cookies. Just drop the batter by the spoonful onto your parchment-paper-lined baking sheet or roll the dough between your two palms to make a ball and place the ball onto the lined baking sheet.
  6. Drop cookies can still be decorated. Yes, they’ll be shaped like a circle instead of a snowflake, but the circle is actually a great canvas for decoration. Use festive colored icings and sprinkles to decorate the circle-shaped cookies.
  7. When I tested the Williams-Sonoma gluten-free sugar cookie mix, it gave fun suggestions for making the cookie. For the drop cookies, it included a sugar packet and suggested rolling the balls of dough in the sugar before baking. I was skeptical — why would a sugar cookie need more sugar? But I loved the result. The sugar gave the outside a sweet crunch, which contrasted with the soft interior of the cookie.
  8. Looking for other ways to spice up drop cookies? Roll the cookie dough balls in cinnamon-sugar before baking for a snickerdoodle flavor. Or, as the Pamela’s gluten-free sugar cookie mix suggests, roll in sprinkles before baking or mix in some lemon zest into the cookie dough.

Check out the December/January issue of Gluten Free & More magazine for GF sugar cookie recipes as well as the results of our taste-tests of sugar cookie mixes! Let us know your favorites, too!