These easy gluten free iced oatmeal cookies are soft and chewy in the center, and crisp around the edges. A light coating of icing on top makes them extra beautiful!
Iced oatmeal cookies are an old favorite
One of my favorite packaged cookies, reaching back, were always Archway iced oatmeal cookies. Soft and chewy, with a thin layer of white icing on top.
Since the Archway kind were so chewy, though, they had a tendency to fall apart and that always bothered me. These gluten free iced oatmeal cookies are even better than Archway, since they're smaller, crispy on the edges and bottom and just as chewy inside.
Just a bit of icing
The icing couldn't be simpler – it's little more than confectioners' sugar and water, with a bit of lemon juice to cut the sweetness a bit. It's not a true royal icing, since it is made without egg whites or meringue powder, but it is that much easier, and with the right icing consistency, it hardens reliably into a nice, matte layer. Cheers to no special ingredients!
The best method for a smooth icing is to create a thick paste with a minimum of moisture before thinning the paste into a pourable icing with more water. Add the water slowly, though, since it's much easier to thin it with a drop or two (really!) of water than the thicken it if you've thinned it too much.
The cookies are prettiest when the icing is spotty on top. Those lovely craggy bits of the oatmeal cookies should shine through the top!
How to make these classic iced oatmeal cookies
As much as I love a one-bowl recipe, these cookies are all about the texture. For that reason alone, it's really best if you can beat the butter, sugars, and egg together first in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer until they're very well combined.
I've used a stand mixer in the recipe video that goes along with this recipe, but you can certainly use a hand mixer. We aren't trying to incorporate a lot of air into the wet ingredients, though, so we're not beating them until they're light and fluffy. Rather, we only want them very well-combined.
The all purpose gluten free flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon (just a touch), and quick-cooking oats are whisked together, then combined with the wet ingredients. The dough will be quite soft and sticky, and won't be easily handled…yet.
Baking the cookie dough from frozen
I've tried simplifying this recipe and baking it without chilling the dough thoroughly, and the cookies nearly melted into puddles in the oven. The dough works best when it's portioned with a spring-loaded ice cream scoop (or two spoons), then chilled just enough that you can handle it to roll the dough into balls. Then, it needs to be nearly frozen before it goes into the oven.
I've learned to think of this bake-from-frozen requirement as a happy inconvenience (hear me out). I rarely recommend freezing cookie dough in portions to bake whenever the mood strikes. You generally do not want cookie dough to frozen when it goes into the oven, since the cookies will be way too thin around the edges and likely burn. I always recommend baking and then freezing cookies.
This recipe for iced oatmeal cookies can be baked and then frozen without the icing (or with it, honestly, if you don't mind the thicker spots getting a bit banged up). But this is the rare recipe that needs to be baked from frozen, so I tend to bake the shaped dough raw.
That way, a fresh batch is really at your fingertips. You'll only need the 10 minutes to preheat the oven, and the 10 minutes for baking. You could probably even bake them in a really lovely full-sized toaster oven.
Baking gluten free with oats
Since this is an oatmeal cookie recipe, I'm baaaasically assuming that you are okay with certified gluten free oats in your diet. But it's still worth discussing a bit of baking gluten free with oats. I do recommend reading this complete discussion of oats' suitability on a gluten free diet.
I do love baking with oats, since they're an incredibly versatile whole grain. They add a soft, chewy texture and can even serve as the only flour in a recipe for breakfast cookies or breakfast muffins.
I never (ever) buy any form of oats other than certified gluten free old fashioned rolled oats. If I need quick oats, like in this recipe, I pulse them a few times in a food processor or blender in small batches (so the oats closest to the blade don't become flour).
If I need oat flour, I pulse for longer. Even oat flour in baking need not be finely ground since oats are much softer than rice and will never add grittiness to any recipe.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy: The only dairy in these cookies is in the form of 4 tablespoons (56 g) of unsalted butter. In its place, I recommend my favorite butter substitute, Melt brand vegan butter (Miyoko's Kitchen brand is also great). Otherwise, try using butter flavored shortening. Speaking of shortening…
Shortening: The mix of half butter and half shortening in these cookies is truly essential to their texture. I only use non hydrogenated vegetable shortening from Spectrum brand.
I've had a terrible experience with Nutiva brand. I don't care for the taste at all, and it simply doesn't perform like shortening should in baking. If you can't find Spectrum brand shortening, I'd recommend trying Crisco brand. I promise just 4 tablespoons of the stuff won't kill you!
Egg: There's only one egg in this recipe, so you should be able to replace it with a “chia egg.” Just combine 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds with 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, and allow it to sit until it gels.
Oats: If you can't have oats, you can try replacing the quick-cooking gluten free oats in this recipe with a combination of flattened (or beaten) rice and quinoa or buckwheat flakes. I do have a full discussion about replacing oats in gluten free baking, and I recommend having a look.
If you plan to use only quinoa or buckwheat flakes, the cookies will spread quite a lot, so try reducing their amount and increasing the rice-based all purpose gluten free flour. I can't promise results, though!
Gluten Free Iced Oatmeal Cookies | Thin & Chewy
For the cookies
3/4 cup (105 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons (36 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (110 g) certified gluten free quick oats (I just pulse old fashioned oats in a food processor)
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (48 g) non hydrogenated vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the icing
1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons tepid water (plus more by the teaspoon if necessary)
Line a rimmed jelly roll pan with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a small bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, shortening, egg, and vanilla, and beat to combine well. Add the dry ingredients, and mix to combine. The cookie dough will be thick but quite soft and sticky.
Scoop the dough into portions about 1 1/2-tablespoons each, using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or two spoons, and place the mounds close together on a prepared baking sheet. Place the pieces of raw dough on the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until the dough is firm enough that it is barely sticky to the touch. Remove the dough from the freezer, and roll each piece of dough into a round between the palms of your hands. You can either freeze the shaped dough solid right now, to be baked from frozen at a later date, or place the shaped dough and freeze it completely to be baked the same day. It will take about 30 minutes more to freeze the dough.
When you’re nearly ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 375°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper, and place frozen balls of cookie dough on the baking sheet about 2-inches apart from one another. Place the baking sheets, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges and an even thickness. The cookies may still seem wet in the very center. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool until firm on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze. In a medium-sized bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar. Add the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water, and mix until smooth. It will form a very thick paste. Add a bit more water, and mix until smooth and well-combined. The icing should be bright white and opaque but thickly pourable. If you’ve added too much water, balance it by mixing in more sugar. It’s much easier to thin with a few drops of water than to thicken with more sugar, though, so proceed carefully. Working with one completely cooled cookie at a time, turn over the cookie, and hold it around the edges with the tips of your fingers. Dip the top of the cookie into the icing, without immersing the cookie. Allow the extra icing to drip off. Place, icing side up, on a flat surface. Continue with the rest of the cookies. The icing will become firm at room temperature, but thicker spots of icing may still be soft underneath the very top layer.
Originally posted on the blog in 2012. Photos and video all new; recipe adjusted to make a smaller batch.