DessertDecember/January 2008

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

A good gluten-free sugar cookie recipe is an invaluable resource for any time of year! Use it for holiday baking, birthday parties, or another other cookie occasion!

gluten free christmas sugar cookies

These beautiful gluten-free sugar cookies are tasty, moist and tender. A family favorite, they’re sure to disappear quickly.



1½  cups confectioner’s sugar
1  cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
1  egg (or 1½ teaspoons egg replacer* mixed with 2 tablespoons rice milk or water)
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
2½  cups gluten-free cookie flour mix
½  teaspoon xanthan gum
1  teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon cream of tartar


4  cups confectioner’s sugar
4  tablespoons dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
2  egg whites (or egg replacer mixed with rice milk or water)
-  Pinch of salt
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
-  Food coloring and colored sugars, optional

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies


1. To make cookie dough, place 1½ cups confectioner’s sugar and 1 cup shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and slightly fluffy.

2. Add egg (or egg replacer mixed with rice milk or water) and vanilla extract. Mix well. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour mix, xanthan gum, baking soda and cream of tartar.

4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating on low speed until thoroughly combined.

5. Gather up dough into a ball and chill it for 2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Using a thin spatula, transfer cookies to cookie sheets. Gather up remaining scraps of dough and roll out again, cutting and rolling until you’ve used it all.

8. Bake cookies in preheated oven on center rack for 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

9. To make icing, combine all icing ingredients and mix until smooth. For colored icing, add a few drops of food coloring.

10. Ice cookies while they’re still slightly warm. Then sprinkle immediately with decorative sugars. Cool completely to set.

Each iced cookie contains: 255 calories, 10g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 9mg cholesterol, 41g carbohydrate, 165mg sodium, 0g fiber, 1g protein

Gluten-Free Cookie Flour Mix


4 cups superfine brown rice flour
1⅓ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca flour/starch

Combine all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Vegan Icing Variation

For vegan icing, combine 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 4 tablespoons rice milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Beat until smooth.

*TIP If you use egg replacer instead of eggs to make cookies, follow directions up to step 4. Roll out soft dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper until the dough is ¼-inch thick. Transfer the dough, still between parchment paper, to a cookie sheet and chill for 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let sit about 5 minutes. Remove top sheet of parchment paper. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters. Egg-free dough is slightly more crumbly, so use your hands to pinch the edges together as necessary. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Once you’ve cut out the first round of cookies, proceed as the recipe instructs, gathering up scraps of dough, lightly flouring your work surface and rolling pin, and rolling out remaining dough and cutting cookies.

Recipe by Cybele Pascal, author of The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook (Vital Health Publishing) and The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Celestial Arts). 

Comments (22)

Hi Mamaash1 - This is a shortbread-like cookie. However, the flour blend in the recipe calls for the following ingredients - roughly 2:1 rice flour to starch. If the arrowhead mills flour blend contains more rice flour, the cookies might be a little bit more crumbly. Hope that helps, Beth

Posted by: Moderator | December 8, 2016 10:48 AM    Report this comment

I am new to gluten and dairy free baking and just mixed up a batch of this cookie dough using arrowhead mills gluten free all purpose baking mix instead of making my own flour. The dough is relatively crumbly more like a shortbread cookie. Is this the proper consistency?

Posted by: Mamaash1 | December 3, 2016 6:39 PM    Report this comment

For rice free I used 1 C sorghum flour, 1/2 C potato starch, 1/2 C tapioca starch, & 1/2 C blanched almond flour. I also used 1/2 C butter & 1/2 C Crisco. The dough was sticky but rolled out easily with more sorghum flour. The cookies did flatten after baking but hold together well & taste great!
We are thrilled to have a good cookie"

Posted by: Linda K | December 27, 2014 7:19 PM    Report this comment

I substituted 1 and 1/2 cups Arrowhead Mills gluten free baking mix and 1 cup almond meal flour from Bob's Red Mill for the flour in this. I used crisco as the oil. The cookie dough sat in the fridge over night. The dough was easy to work with and the cookies are the tastiest sugar cookies I have ever made. The cookies puff up a little while cooking and then go flat. As soon as they go flat I look for the first hint of browning around the edges and quickly take them out of the oven. I let them cool completely before icing as the cookie will be stronger. I did not use the icing recipe given here, just powdered sugar, water, and lemon juice. These cookies are gluten and cow dairy free. Perfect!

Posted by: Mmaureen | December 9, 2013 10:01 AM    Report this comment

ops forgot to add I had 1/2 cup or so of extra flour I did not use!

Posted by: donna c | July 29, 2013 5:29 PM    Report this comment

Ok. I admit it. I am impatient. I tried to improvise myself. I followed the directions using spectrum shortening and Ener-G egg replacement. Since we can't have rice, I read somewhere I may be able to sub it 1 to 1 with sorghum flour so that is what I did. So, my flour recipe was: 2 cups sorghum, 1/3 cups tapioca, 2/3 cup potato starch (I halved the flour recipe since it was enough for more than 2 patches of cookies!).
And the results? Well the "dough" is more the consistency of wet sand. And the texture is a bit different but the taste was pretty much like a normal sugar cookie dough.
It did not hold together well at all. I flattened it using two pieces of wax paper and put it in the frig over night (about 20 hours). Took it out today and it was HARD. Tried several cookie cutters but it simply would not work...they kept falling apart! So I used a knife and cut the "dough" in small 1.5 inch or so squares and baked them.
The cookies are very crumbly but do taste good.
Next time I plan to try adding another fake egg or some more xanthan gum and I will use 1/2 oatmeal flour and 1/2 sorghum.
Live and learn...but they DO taste good!

Posted by: donna c | July 29, 2013 5:25 PM    Report this comment

I see someone else has already asked but I don't see an response. Is there a suggestion of what to use in place of rice flour? My son has allergies to wheat AND rice so rice flour is not an option for us either.

Posted by: donna c | July 28, 2013 4:07 PM    Report this comment

I love these cookies!!!! The second day was even better. I made these cookies without an electric mixer and combining all ingredients was manageable with breaks. My friends and family love them also and they do not have gluten issues. I am making these cookies all year long. L Tebo

Posted by: Dairyfree | February 2, 2012 4:27 PM    Report this comment

I used Crisco and the cookies turned out perfectly. First time that a rolled cookie worked. They were delicate until almost completely cooled and then my 4 and 2 yr old grandchildren handled and decorated them with no problem. A new tradition at our home as we struggle with severe allergies. Thank you so much!!!

Posted by: Suzanne S | December 26, 2011 11:29 PM    Report this comment

I followed the recipe, using crisco, and they are awesome! The dough was really easy to work with. The cookies came out fluffy and delicious, but a little delicate. I left some of them in a couple minutes longer than suggested to see if they would harden up a bit, and that definately helped. I even rolled the last little bit of dough in cinnamon and sugar for a snickerdoodle-type and they look amazing! The only down side to this recipe, no chocolate! ;) Maybe I can add some chocolate frosting.

Posted by: Bridget | December 20, 2011 4:07 PM    Report this comment

I followed the recipe exactly, and used Spectrum shortening. They were great! My smaller cookie (2") cutters worked better than my larger ones (4"), as the cookies are a little delicate. They taste great, though, and the dough was easy to work with.

Posted by: Robin S | December 20, 2011 12:00 PM    Report this comment

I was happy to finally see s receipe that I could use my cookie cutters with. However, this is not it. This was the biggest mess I ever made. I used Earth Balance Shortening. I used all the correct measurements. After trying to roll out the very sticky dough--in fridge for over 3 hours. I put them in the oven and then ran into a pool of fat. They are not edible. I AM SO TIRED OF RECIPES THAT DO NOT WORK!

Posted by: mushroom | December 15, 2011 11:29 AM    Report this comment

Are there any suggestions for those of us who cannot have sugar. The only sweetener I can tolerate is stevia and some fruits.

Posted by: Janelli Doubleya Brown | December 15, 2011 10:25 AM    Report this comment

Thanks, but no. If I can't use butter I'm not interested. I am NOT a fan of shortening or butter substitutes. I will use the recipe I used last year for my Christmas cookies. These just looked so nice, I thought I'd try this recipe this year. Back to my tried and true.

Posted by: Country_Girl | December 12, 2011 3:29 PM    Report this comment

The amount of flour in the recipe is correct. Butter or most oils would give you "flat cookies" that run together. Our test kitchen had great luck with these - please try again.

Posted by: LW Moderator | December 12, 2011 1:32 PM    Report this comment

I used butter, and my cookies are flat and turned into a sheet of dough. I doubt butter is the reason for that. Is the amount of flour in this recipe right??

Posted by: Country_Girl | December 12, 2011 1:20 PM    Report this comment

I'm allergic to rice, what type of flour would be a good substitute for the rice flour?

Posted by: Raquel J | December 9, 2011 3:55 PM    Report this comment

We checked with our Food Editor, Beth Hillson, on these questions. Here are her answers:
I would use Earth Balance buttery sticks as my first choice. Butter would spread out too much in baking. Coconut oil might work but it's very high in calories.

In place of potato starch, you can use cornstarch. And I would not make any adjustments in this recipe for altitude except to bake about 2 minutes less or at least check the cookies starting at 8 minutes.. If they are browning too fast, then the temperature can certainly be reduced by 10 degrees.

Posted by: LW Moderator | December 9, 2011 12:49 PM    Report this comment

We have the same question - what do you mean by shortening - and, can we use butter instead? Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

Posted by: Bunny H | December 8, 2011 6:43 PM    Report this comment

Can you give some high altitude advice. I leave at 8,200 ft. Thanks

Posted by: jamiegunion76 | December 8, 2011 12:15 PM    Report this comment

I can't use potato-what substitute can I use?

Posted by: Holly P | December 8, 2011 11:50 AM    Report this comment

Can these be made with out shortening and use butter instead, not a great fan of shortening, and this recipe looks great.

Posted by: Judah58 | December 8, 2011 10:10 AM    Report this comment

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