Chocolate Cutout Sugar Cookies

Gluten-free Chocolate Sugar Cookies, made for cutting out shapes like Christmas trees and snowmen with mittens! more »

Are the cookie-decorating type? I might be. Except that I no longer think there is a “type.” It’s more of a spectrum. In a good way. Does that mean that I’m not the “type”? That’s too hard. I simply don’t know. But I do know this: I’m not going to spend more than, say, 30 minutes decorating cookies. I think that is approximately how long these Thanksgiving turkey cookies took me, and I think that’s my upper limit. I don’t have long, flowing hair, or an endless supply of patience. Instead, I have a rich fantasy life where I regularly paint my own photography canvases and reupholster furniture. And since I figure I’m never ever going to make that fantasy a reality (reality can be so harsh), I may as well mix up some easy royal icing and squiggle some lines on some chocolate Christmas trees and give a few snowmen some mittens (they were cold).

‘Tis the season. So we’re making cookies, right? Chocolate Cutout Sugar Cookies are a must. Sugar cookies are a lot firmer than, say, Gluten-Free Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. Shortbread is really a treat, but it has waaaaaay too much butter to go cutting out mini cookies and expecting them to hold their shape. Sugar cookies are dying to be made into shapes. And since they spread so little (if at all) during baking, they’re very WYSIWYG (whatyouseeiswhatyouget) from raw to baked.

See? They start out with well-defined points and edges, and they end up that way, too. The dough comes together super easy, and if you use Dutch-processed cocoa (really really worth it here) you’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor in these little itty bitty cookies.

I made trees and snowmen, since it satisfied my urge to craft (what is that?) but didn’t outstrip my limited cookie decorating abilities. Then I got a little cocky and decided that some of the snowmen really did need those mittens after all, since they were close to the trees, and maybe the trees were outside. Too much? Oh gosh I really hope not. I might just have to learn to reupholster furniture after all…

Prep time: 15 minutes       Cook time: 7 minutes       Yield: 6 dozen mini cutout cookies

1 cup (140 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/2 cup (40 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (Rodelle brand is gluten-free)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg (60 g) at room temperature, beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing for decorating, if desired

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • Make & shape the dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough should begin to come together. If necessary, knead the dough until smooth, and press it into a disk. Place the disk in between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough on top of a cutting board or baking sheet, and place in the freezer until firm (about 5 minutes). Once firm, remove the dough from the freezer and cut out shapes, then transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, placing the shapes 1 inch apart (they will not spread much if at all during baking). Place the baking sheets in the freezer until the dough is very firm, about another 5 minutes.

  • Bake the cookies. Once the dough is firm, place the baking sheets, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 7 minutes or until the cookies are just set. You will know they are set once the centers look matte, not shiny. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, if necessary (mini cookies will cool very quickly).

  • Optional Step: Decorate the cookies. Decorate the cooled cookies with royal icing once they are completely cool. Pipe the royal icing through a #1 pastry tip for a thin line, following the directions for piping here. Allow the decorated cookies to sit, undisturbed, until the royal icing is completely set. .



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of both of My Cookbooks! I can’t keep the blog going without your support!

  • Tara0802

    Hi a quick question. This is my first year baking gf for xmas. I cant wait to try some of your cookie recipes! Im wondering though about the difference in how long gf cookies can “keep” successfully vs regular cookies. For example certain cookies i would make early cuz i knew they would hold up stored in plastic bags for a few weeks vs others i knew would only be fresh for a few days. Im trying to plan my gf holiday baking and im clueless as to what i can make early and the beat way to store it. Can you offer any suggestions? Im thinking you probably have a lot if experience at this so i thought i would ask. Please help a gf xmas baking virgin out ;) thanks!!!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Tara,
      Good question! You really can use your previous experience as a guide. Gluten-free cookies do not age much differently than conventional cookies, unless you omit xanthan gum (or guar gum) as an ingredient. Xanthan gum really helps extend the shelf life of your GF baked goods. That being said, I always prefer the freezer to the refrigerator. I almost never refrigerate cookies, as the refrigerator tends to dry everything out. But wrap well in freezer-safe wrap, squeezing out any air, and you should be good to go!
      xoxo Nicole

  • MaryAnn

    Do you think it would work ok to make this dough ahead of time – either refrigerate for a day (or freeze for longer) before baking? These look awesome – can’t wait to try them. I always make sugar cookies for my kids to decorate on Xmas eve – they are delish, but chocolate is my fave, so this will be a great addition!  Just ordered your second book last night!  :)

    • gfshoestring

      You bet, MaryAnn. They sure would work if you make the dough ahead of time. The dough freezes very well, as do they baked (and undecorated) cookies. And thank you for your support of my second book. I really really appreciate it!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Al

    These look GREAT!   They make me think of oreos!    This is my first GF xmas as well and I’d love your thoughts on Tara’s questions as well.    Loving your quick and easy book!

    • gfshoestring

      Thanks so much for picking up a copy of Quick & Easy, Al! These cookies actually do taste very similar to Oreos, actually. Great idea! Oh, & I answered Tara’s question. Hope it helps.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sara Jouadi

    Thank goodness for you!  I was hoping you’d have ones for Christmas.  My kiddos will be so happy to decorate again this year!   Can they just be white ones if we exclude the cocoa?  Or is that a totally seperate recipe?

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Sara,
      I’m afraid not. As you suspected, plain sugar cookies are a totally separate recipe. There’s a recipe in my First Cookbook, if you’re interested.
      xoxo Nicole 

  • Jess

    These look so good!  I’m printing it now- it’s going into my every growing stack of “nicole’s cookies: to try”.  Seriously- when do you have time to make all these yummy treats?!  I love it!  We tried your chocolate shortbread cookies this weekend and I AM IN LOVE!  They were so good! I hid half the batch from my kids so that I could eat them this week in secret!  Don’t judge me.  :)

    love jess

    • gfshoestring

      I judge not, Jess, lest I be judged. I have time to make all of these treats because, well, it’s my job! ;) So glad you enjoyed the chocolate shortbread. For real detail cutout work, though, these are your cookies!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Judy Ameigh Grover

    ty was looking for a good cut out cookie recipe

  • Judy Ameigh Grover

    ty was looking for a good cut out cookie recipe

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  • Allison

    I made these as mini sandwich cookies filled with the frosting from your soft frosted sugar cookie recipe – adorable and delicious! I also ordered a copy of your new cookbook :)

This recipe was brought to you by Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring:
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