I love decorating sugar cookies with my kids for the holidays. That’s why I’m excited to say that this gluten-free sugar cookie recipe works like a charm every time. It tastes great, doesn’t spread (if you follow the chill instructions carefully – and see my notes on spreading), and brings holiday joy to all. Please note this post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill and contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures for details.
I keep getting requests for a gluten-free sugar cookie recipe, so I decided this year would be the year I would create one… actually, this is the year I would perfect a gluten-free sugar cookie recipe. Yes indeed, these cookies are perfect in taste and texture.
Of course there are a ton of gluten-free sugar cookie recipes widely available on the Internet, and I’ve tried a lot of them.
Honestly, none of them wowed me. Some were too crunchy and grainy. Some recipes even failed miserably because the cookies spread and didn’t keep their shape as promised.
Having no luck on the Internet, I tried to create a recipe of my own using a variety of gluten-free flours. Some turned out okay … but in all honesty, the ones that turned out the BEST were made with my trusty Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend.
This 1:1 gluten-free flour blend works like a charm each and every time I use it.
The inspiration for this no-spread gluten-free sugar cookie recipe came from the book, Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.
Ruhlman is a baker who has decoded the secrets to baking to specific ratios or combinations of fat, flour and sugar.
Ruhlman’s sugar cookie ratio calls for equal parts sugar and fat (so 8 ounces of butter and 8 ounces of sugar) along with an egg and 1.5 parts flour (or 50 percent more flour). It gets a little confusing to a novice baker like me, but Ruhlman explains all the science in his book and I’m willing to just go with it!
With this knowledge, I decided to create my own gluten-free sugar cookie recipe using the Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend and the ratios set forth by Ruhlman. I have found that Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend can be used in most recipes as a cup for cup substitute for wheat flour. Bob’s makes gluten-free baking so easy to do and you can convert just about any recipe that calls for wheat flour into a gluten-free masterpiece.
After playing with the ratios a bit, and a bunch of trial and error, I came up with this absolutely perfect gluten-free sugar cookie recipe, one that I use year round but especially over the winter holidays. I can cut these cookies into any shape and the shape will hold!
How to Make Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
You might chuckle at how easy it is to make this recipe. So easy!
To make the dough, you cream together butter and sugar for 30 seconds in your standing mixer. Then you add your egg and vanilla until well combined, and then add the 1:1 gluten-free flour.
Mix the dough until all the flour is just incorporated. Do not overmix.
You’ll then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Do not skip this step!
Refrigeration is key to ensuring these cookies hold their shape. Please see notes below for other tips to prevent the cookies from spreading and ensuring they keep their shape.
Tip! Most sugar cookies call for baking powder or baking soda. These ingredients leaven cookies and would interfere with them holding their cut-out shapes. Skip the baking powder and baking soda – you won’t miss it, trust me!
When you’re ready to make the cookies, roll out the dough to about a one half inch thickness and cut the cookies into the desired shapes.
Next, place your baking sheet (with cut out cookies on it) back in the fridge for another hour or even overnight. The cold air will help the cookies keep their beautiful shape so they look at good as they taste. The longer your refrigerate them before baking, the better! (See Notes below to prevent cookies from spreading and losing their shape.)
Tip! You’ll want to use a well-floured surface to roll out the cookies, however, when you do that, it adds more flour to the mixture and dries out the cookies. Instead of using flour, I use powdered sugar to “flour” my surface. Works like a charm!
Once the gluten-free sugar cookies are chilled, place them in a 350º F preheated oven and bake for 13-15 minutes. I suggest cooking them until the bottoms just begin to brown. It’s better to undercook them than overcook them, especially if you’re looking for a chewy, soft-baked texture.
Once the cookies are fully cooled, it’s time to decorate them – the fun part!
To make royal icing, mix egg whites in a standing mixer over medium speed for one minute, then add butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Tip! If icing is too stiff, add a little bit of milk; if mixture is too runny, add more powdered sugar.
You’ll then want to portion the icing so you can dye it with different colors. Put a little icing in a variety of bowls and then add desired amount of food coloring to each.
I prefer to use food dye from India Tree because the dyes are vegetable colorants vs. artificial dyes. I personally think no one needs to be eating artificial dye and try to avoid it when possible. You’ll just need to use more food dye than usual when you use the natural stuff.
While I use royal icing to “frost” these cookies because it provides a beautiful, glossy sheen to the cookies, you could also make traditional buttercream frosting, which is fluffier and some might say tastier too.
How Do They Taste?
These gluten-free sugar cookies are surprisingly soft yet still have a slight crunch to them too. (If you slightly undercook them they will be super soft and doughy – so good!!) They’re sweet, tender and perfect for decorating!
Once you add the royal icing, these gluten-free sugar cookies taste even better. I’m not kidding! Let the icing sit atop the cookies for a few hours (or day) before serving them because the taste of the cookies intensifies.
I think it’s because moisture from the icing seeps into the cookies, making them a little sweeter and softer. My mouth is watering thinking about eating these delicious, iced beauties!
I had a lot of fun making these cookies and it was so easy to do with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend. I know I crush on this flour all the time, but I do it with good reason. Bob’s has yet to let me down.
Tips to Avoid Cookies from Spreading
I have tested this recipe dozens of times and the cookies work just fine each time. However, some people have noted that the cookies spread. It always bothers me to hear this, especially since this recipe has been so well tested and loved by my family.
When the cookies spread, it means you took a shortcut or did something different than instructed. If such issues persist, consider if you followed these strategies to a T.
Chilling the Dough is Your Friend. Do NOT skip chilling the dough both after making it and again after cutting the cookies into their shapes. Chilled dough will be much less likely to spread. Your best chance of getting a cookie that doesn’t spread is to chill the cut-out cookies for a few hours or overnight.
Do Not Use Cooking Spray. Make sure you put the cookies on parchment paper or a silicone mat. The cookies need to “stick” to the parchment paper or silicone mat whereas cooking spray is greasy and may cause them to slip and spread out.
Do NOT Melt Butter. The butter should be soft but at room temperature. If you use melted butter or hot butter, your cookies will spread, guaranteed! If you need to quickly bring your butter to room temperature, cut it into cubes and let it sit on your counter for 30 minutes. You can also grate the butter with a cheese grater and it will come to room temperature faster. Avoid using your microwave.
Add More Flour (if needed). If your cookies are spreading, it’s possible you have too much fat to flour ratio. Add 2 tablespoons more flour to your batter. To get the best chance at a no-spread cookie, weigh your flour. This recipe has only been tested (by me) with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend. If you use another brand of 1:1 gluten-free flour, it’s possible your flour to fat ratio needs a little tweaking.
Do Not Overmix Dough. Mix the dough only enough until all the ingredients are incorporated. When you cream the butter and sugar together, only do it until the ingredients are well combined, about 30 seconds, no more. Whipping the cookies too long will add more air into the dough and cause it to collapse when baking. Remember, there is no gluten to develop here either, so no need to overmix.
Use a Large Egg. Make sure you use a large egg. It makes a difference.
Bake One Cookie Sheet at a Time. Bake the cookies in batches, keeping the raw cookies in the fridge to continue to cool until you’re ready to bake them.
Make Sure Your Oven is Preheated. Cookies will be less likely to spread if you bake them in a hot oven. Make sure your oven is fully preheated before baking.
If you love baking, try these holiday cookies on for size.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Cookies: These cookie are fudgy and delicious, perfect for a delicious cookie made with little fuss. These can also be rolled into balls.
Gluten-Free Maple White Chocolate Chip Cookies: These beautiful cookies work well for all white chocolate lovers. Yum!
Gluten-Free Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies: These chunky cookies are full of chocolate-y goodness and turn out great every time!
Simple Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies: Looking for an easy drop cookie? These are your soft and sweet sugar cookie treats, made with a delicious buttercream frosting.
More Recipes! Also, be sure to visit my post, 15+ Classic Recipes Made with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour. Yes, I’m obsessed!
Easy Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe
- 12.5 ounces Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend (~1.5 cups)
- 1 cup salted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar (8 oz)
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Powdered sugar (for flouring surface)
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 Tbsp. butter melted
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-2 tsp. milk (only if needed)
- Food coloring India Tree makes artificial dye-free food dye
- To make the dough, cream together butter and sugar for 30 seconds (just enough until the butter and sugar are incorporated). Add egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add the flour and mix until all flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Do NOT overmix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and lightly "flour" a clean surface with a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Roll dough until about 1/2 inch thick, then use your cookie cutters to cut desired shapes. Place cookies on cookie sheet. Once all cookies are cut out, place cookie sheet in the fridge for at least 1 hour to cool. This is an essential step to prevent the cookies from spreading when baking. (See Notes for additional tips to avoid spreading.)
- Preheat oven to 350º F and bake cookies for 13-15 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are slightly brown. Remove cookies from oven and cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Allow cookies to fully cool before icing.
- Mix egg whites in a standing mixer over medium speed for 1 min. Add butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until all ingredients are well incorporated. If frosting is too stiff, add a little bit of milk; if mixture is too runny, add more powdered sugar.
- Add dye (as desired) to frosting and decorate cookies. Enjoy!