This is the perfect recipe for making gluten-free cut out cookies that can be frosted and enjoyed on any occasion.
The tested tips below will ensure you get the perfect batch for your holidays or bake-sales.
Table of contents
- Best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Sprinkles and Frosting
- How to Make Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- Tips for the Best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Dough
- Troubleshooting Gluten-Free Cookie Dough
- High Altitude Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- Softened or Melted butter?
- Do You Have to Refrigerate the Cookie Dough?
- How to Preven GF Cookies from Falling Apart
- Preventing “Sticky” Dough When Rolling Sugar Cookies
- Inconsistent Doneness of Cookies
- Does the Egg Have to be at Room Temp?
- Preheating the Oven & Oven Rack Position
- How to Cool Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- When to Decorate Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies?
- Will this Recipe Make Gluten-Free Drop Sugar Cookies?
- Can You Freeze Gluten-Free Cookie Dough?
Best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies are perfect for any celebration year-round or a lazy afternoon and enjoyed with a nice mug of homemade hot cocoa.
I’m confident that these are the best gluten-free cookies out there because the dough holds up, doesn’t crumble, can be frozen, and it rolls out perfectly so you can cut it out into any shape your heart desires and frost them!
So in essence, it has everything the classic sugar cookie has without the gluten; and I personally make these regularly to ensure they’re still the best and worthy of keeping on this site.
Using a gluten-free flour mix for baking and classic baking staples is all you need to make epic sugar cookies.
For best results, stick to this ingredients list:
- Sugar: white, granulated, and essential to make these sweet and for texture.
- Butter: softened, not cold, not melted. Leave it out for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Egg: helps bind the ingredients so the dough has structure.
- Water or milk: the liquid this recipe needs. Milk makes these cookies tastier, use your favorite.
- Vanilla: classic and delicious.
- Salt: to enhance all the flavors.
- Ground cinnamon: optional and just a little.
- Xanthan gum: omit from the recipe if your all-purpose gluten-free mix already has it.
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour for baking: the ones made for baking tend to be lower in protein, and higher in starch for a better texture. keep reading for top recommendations.
All the measurements are in the recipe card below.
Best Gluten-Free Flour for Sugar Cookies
The best gluten-free flour for sugar cookies is a mix that has been designed specifically for baking and yields a softer texture. They tend to have the right balance of carbohydrates, starches, and proteins as well as a binding ingredient such as xantham gum.
If making your own gluten-free flour mix, make sure you use one that yields good quick breads and gluten-free pancakes for you. You’ll also need to add the amount of xantham gum listed in the recipe card below.
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Sprinkles and Frosting
Like most sugar cookies, you can frost these with royal icing or a mix of powdered sugar, and a little milk plus food coloring to match the shape, holiday, or occasion. This is the food coloring I recommend without artificial dyes.
Homemade buttercream frosting or use a store-bought one like this organic vanilla buttercream frosting or the classic Pillsbury or Betty Crocker you’ll find at nearly all grocery stores are great for sugar cookies too.
Gluten-free sprinkles are always a great idea to dress up these cookies and when it comes to the best, I favor Watkins Sprinkles and their decorating sugars because they hold up very well.
How to Make Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
If you can measure, follow directions, and wait for the dough to chill, you can make these gluten-free sugar cookies. There’s also a video further down.
Here’s the step-by-step:
- Combine sugar and butter
In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter at medium speed.
Add the egg, water, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon (if using). Blend until mixed well.
- Add the flour
Add the xanthan gum (if using) and flour. Mix at a low speed until well combined.
- Refrigerate the dough
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Prep the oven
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Roll out the dough
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, about ¼-inch thick.
- Cut the cookies
Cut out the dough with selected cookie cutters, and place the cookies on the baking sheet. Make sure the cookies are not touching. Reform and roll out the scrap dough, then continue cutting more cookies.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe Video
Whether this is your first time making gluten-free sugar cookies or want to achieve the best results, this step-by-step video shares all the steps to ensure you get great results.
Tips for the Best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Dough
Great gluten-free sugar cookie dough should feel very similiar to traditional sugar cookie dough: not too sticky, it holds up well, doesn’t crumble, and rolls out easily after chilling.
Make sure to:
Soften the butter
Don’t use the microwave to melt it. Leave it out for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Egg at room temperature
Take out the eggs when you take out the butter to soften.
Chill the dough
Chilling the dough is essential if you want to roll it out and cut it into shapes.
Roll it evenly and not too thin
Use a rolling pin guide or bands to roll the cookie dough at least ¼-inch thick.
Line the baking pan
Sugar cookies are delicate and burn easily when baked directly on the pan. I recommend using parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Troubleshooting Gluten-Free Cookie Dough
Whether you went rogue and made some substitutions or followed the recipe and something isn’t right, here are my tips for fixing some of the most common issues.
This can happen at high altitudes or due to the gluten-free flour mix you’re using. Add 2 tablespoons more flour to the dough, knead, and check again. Chill and then bake.
This can happen from overmeasuring -packing the cup- or sometimes because of the flour mix. Simply add a tablespoon of water to the dough, knead it, and check the texture.
This often happens because the dough is too sticky or when the microwave is used to soften the butter instead of letting it soften at room temperature. If you have unbaked dough, add a bit more flour, chill, and bake again.
High Altitude Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
If you’re baking at a high altitude, you might notice that the dough is a little sticky when rolling it out after chilling. You can bake one cookie and test it or add 2 tablespoons more flour to the dough, knead it, and chill the dough for another 20 to 30 minutes before rolling.
Softened or Melted butter?
Softened butter works best for this gluten-free sugar cookie recipe. You need it soft, left out at room temperature, to whip it with the sugar and get the desired texture. Do not use the microwave to soften it, or worse, melt it. You’ll never get the right cookie texture from the start, and your cookies will be denser and often spread.
Do You Have to Refrigerate the Cookie Dough?
Yes, chilling is an essential step for making sugar cookies. Refrigerating the dough makes the butter return to its solid stage so it won’t stick to the rolling pin or counter. If it sticks, you may need to add more flour to the surface. This leads to an over-flouring dough and cookies with denser texture. Plus, it’s essential for helping cookies retain their shape and prevent flat cookies.
How to Preven GF Cookies from Falling Apart
Sometimes gluten-free sugar cookie dough falls apart, it crumbles, when you try to roll it out. This is often caused by the differences between gluten-free flour mixes since they don’t all have the same ingredients. Fix this by adding a tablespoon or two of water, knead the dough, and try again.
Preventing “Sticky” Dough When Rolling Sugar Cookies
If your gluten-free cookie dough is sticky after being chilled and it’s difficult to roll it out, add a tablespoon or two of additional flour, re-knead and try again. This can also happen at high altitudes.
Inconsistent Doneness of Cookies
Sometimes, when you get a few crispy cookies and others are soft, it can happen because they were not rolled out the same thickness throughout or some substitutions were made. Don’t fret. If you have more dough, you can always re-roll and improve the next batch. If you’re an avid sugar-cookie baker, owning rolling pin bands is a great idea.
Does the Egg Have to be at Room Temp?
Using cold eggs can make the cookies turn out dense. This is important because these cookies don’t use baking powder so making sure the dough texture is at its best before baking is important. Simply take out the egg when you leave the butter out to soften and you’re good to go.
Preheating the Oven & Oven Rack Position
The oven needs to be fully preheated to 350F before placing the sugar cookies. Otherwise, they will bake slowly, resulting in flat and dense cookies. The middle rack of the oven is the best place to bake the cookies since this allows the heat to cook them evenly.
How to Cool Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
First, let the gluten-free sugar cookies cold down in the baking tray for 5 minutes. Then, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack, especially if you plan to glaze or frost them. You can leave them in the baking tray too, just keep in mind that it will retain the heat longer.
When to Decorate Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies?
You don’t need to decorate these sugar cookies right after baking them. If so, allow the cookies to cool down before adding any frost or glaze. If you store the sugar cookies properly, you can wait up to 3 days to decorate them.
Will this Recipe Make Gluten-Free Drop Sugar Cookies?
While this recipe doesn’t spread, you can easily turn this recipe into drop cookies (round cookies) by rolling about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough between your hands, putting the ball of dough on the lined pan, and using the back of a glass to press them down and mostly flatten them.
The baking time will be about 8 to 10 minutes when the edges are lightly golden, and the middles are still a little soft.
Can You Freeze Gluten-Free Cookie Dough?
This sugar cookie dough can be frozen for future gluten-free baking days! Double the batch and follow these steps:
Prepare the dough
Follow the recipe and instead of chilling, you’ll freeze it.
Freeze the dough
Divide the cookie dough in two balls, or more if you want smaller batches, and form a log-shape. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a labeled zip bag.
Freeze the raw cookies
You can also chill the dough, roll it, and cut out the cookies ahead of time. Place them in a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, transfer them into a zip bag, or in a large container separating the cookies with parchment paper between the layers.
Freeze for up to 2 months
Sugar cookie dough and raw cookies can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Baking frozen sugar cookie dough
When you’re ready to celebrate with gluten-free sugar cookies, remove the dough log from the freezer and thaw overnight in your fridge or for about an hour on your counter, until it’s soft enough to roll it, cut out, and bake as directed in the recipe.
For more gluten-free desserts, check out my latest cookbook, Clean Treats for Everyone. All the recipes are gluten-free and full of amazing flavor.
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water or milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum, omit if your all-purpose flour has it
- 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling/dusting
- In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter at medium speed.
- Add the egg, water, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon (if using). Blend until mixed well.
- Add the xanthan gum (if using) and flour. Mix at a low speed until well combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, about ¼-inch thick.
- Cut out the dough with selected cookie cutters, and place the cookies on the baking sheet. Make sure the cookies are not touching.
- Reform and roll out the scrap dough, then continue cutting more cookies.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Not all gluten-free flours are the same. I’ve listed the all-purpose flours that I’ve used with this recipe and yielded great cookies.
- Refrigeration is a must, otherwise, your dough will be too sticky to roll, and the cookies will spread. If you roll out your dough, and it’s too sticky to pick up, put it back in the fridge before cutting.
- Gluten-free flour absorbs less moisture compared to regular flour. As with any gluten-free recipe, using the same amount of flour provided in the recipe is recommended, and substitutions are highly discouraged.