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Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Gluten free sugar cookies are great. These soft gluten free sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They’re the perfect cutout cookie. They’ll hold any shape you like!

Soft Frosted Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Whenever I go into the grocery store, those bakery cookies catch my eye, the little vixens. You know the ones: plastic clamshell case, stacked in that half-overlap manner, thick (usually pink) frosting above a pillow-soft, light and sweet cookie. Topped with a sprinkling of something that most decidedly does not exist in nature.

Be still my heart.

Soft Frosted Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Many of you have asked me for a recipe for these cookies. Many, many of you. I was even considering sending myself an email through the contact form, just to be sure I didn’t overlook the need. You know how stingy I can be.

Soft Frosted Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Oh, as you can see, these soft sugar cookies are perfect for cutting out any shapes you like—as large or as small as you like. Like, say, for Easter. They make fabulous Easter Bunnies. And carrots, and flowers.

A quick word about the frosting: this frosting recipe is super super thick. It’s not what I would generally use to frost cupcakes. And it’s very stable, thanks to the meringue powder. That means that if you wanted to travel with these, they could handle it. If you don’t have meringue powder, just skip it. The frosting will just be a bit softer.

You can of course add some food coloring to the frosting (I encourage it!), but use gel coloring or it will really alter the moisture balance and make the frosting weepy. Exactly what we don’t want. But I left out the coloring here because, to be honest, the anti-food-coloring people scare the devil out of me. According to some of the unsolicited emails I get, contrary to popular belief, it is not, in fact, a free country. :/

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 24 cookies


2 cups (280 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like mock Better Batter with this recipe)

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

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

3 tablespoons (22 g) confectioners’ sugar

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg (60 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons milk, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons meringue powder

4 cups (460 g) confectioners’ sugar

Sprinkles, for sprinkling (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and relatively stiff, and you may need to squeeze it together with your hands to bring all of it together.

  • Roll the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper into a round a bit less than 1/3-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set, about 6 minutes. The edges of some of the cookies may brown slightly. Take them out before there is any significant browning. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool until set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter, milk and vanilla, and mix on medium speed until combined. Turn the speed up to high and mix until creamy. Add the salt, meringue powder and about 3 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Mix slowly until the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until it becomes uniformly thick. Add the rest of the confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting.

  • Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe or spoon a generous amount of frosting onto the top of each, and spread into an even layer with a wide knife or offset spatula. Scatter sprinkles, if desired. Allow to set at room temperature until the frosting hardens a bit. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.



P.S. If you don’t have one yet, don’t forget to pick up your copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread!

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  • Bonnie8398

    These look delicious!  If anyone tries to make these using sugar and dairy substitutions please post your results.  Thanks for posting this with plenty of time before Christmas!

    • Kelly Elardo

       Bonnie I will do just that and post back to this post.  I haven’t had too much differences in the past with dairy free options

  • Anneke

    Okay, so you can’t hear him (possibly because he has been at school for a couple of hours already, and doesn’t know this recipe is on the blog), but my son is screaming, cheering, and leaping around the house in complete and utter joy about this post.  Seriously.  These are his most favoritest cookies EVER.  He looks at those packages in the store with the pitiful puppydog face that so makes me want to buy them, but I won’t, even though I really, really want to do it for him.  I once paid GF bakery prices for these babies, because the puppy face got to me, but this is sooooo much better!

    I know that you are supposed to be my best friend, but my son (Tim, by the way) has just stolen you away from me so that you can be his best friend and make cookies for him everyday.  Although, if I can pull off making these for him (let’s remember my past cookie baking issues), maybe he will be my best friend, too.  Are we supposed to be best friends with our teenagers?  I don’t think so, but these cookies  will change the whole scope of my parenting future!

    Love, love, love you!

    • gfshoestring

      Oh, I can hear him, Anneke. And you. The both of you. And I’ll see you that chorus, and then join you. I’m not positive if you’re meant to be your kid’s BFF, so maybe you should just let ME be his BFF. And, by the way, why oh why would you be so in need of a good recipe for something baked and GF, and keep that info jealously to yourself? Some best friend you are… ;)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Anneke

        Well, ’cause they are cookies?  And I am not good with cookies?  You are so right, I must have complete faith in my son’s best friend, Nicole, who can do anything!  Usually, I don’t know that I need the recipe until you post it, then I need it RIGHT NOW!  Like these cookies.  Yum.


  • Dfal182

    My dd has wanted this recipe since day one of g-free! Please don’t stop your “free” recipes. I have NO income since hubs stroke 4yrs ago. I would love to buy a cook book or just anything. Thank you for all your amazing recipes! Dee

    • gfshoestring

      Dee, I’m not talking about stopping the blog. I’m just talking about potentially having some recipes be up on the blog for a limited period of time. I’m very sensitive to others’ limited means (after all, this is a blog about doing GF on a shoestring!), but publishing free recipes is a very, very expensive proposition for me. I may have to create limits, that’s all.

  • Margaret

    I am so excited to see this recipe!  Thank you for taking the time to create it.  And while I love all the recipes you post here (and I look forward to seeing photos of your wonderful creations every day) I understand that there is only one of you.  If limiting the posts here allows you to create more recipes for books, I understand.  

    • gfshoestring

      Thank you for your understanding, Margaret! And it would just be a time limit, if anything, for the free recipe remaining on the blog. Not limiting new posts, and not all recipes would be time-limited.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Margaret

         I couldn’t help it.  I already made them.  But I did make one tiny change.  It’s a secret (not so secret now) ingredient that I have always added to sugar cookies.  I added 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring.  And let me tell you this.  If I had kids around today (which I don’t) they would already be gone.  Gone as in zip, nada, zero. As it is, my husband and I will have to endure and find a way to eat them or share them or somehow get rid of them.  Hmmm….I don’t think it will take very long to find takers.  So simple!  So good!  Thank you, thank you!

  • Pamela G

    Perfect timing! I am making cut outs for the hayride this weekend…I’ll make them in leaf shapes, though. Thank you THANK YOU!!!!

    • gfshoestring

      Sounds festive, Pam. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kristy B.

    How do you think the c4c clone would work here? I only ask because I mixed a bunch of it to make pasty crust and I have a lot left. I’m guessing fluffier cookie?

    • kclark

      Kristy, I am going to jump in here because I use the C4C mock for almost everything (not quite everything). That is just my personal preference.  However, usually something like this recipe that is very specific (clone), I usually follow the recipe as written. Then if I think it will hold up with the mock, I go from there based on my own personal preferences.  I hope that helps.

      • gfshoestring

        I had considered using my mock C4C, but like Kristi said, I would try to start with Better Batter, if you have it. But if you don’t, and you don’t need the cookies for a beauty contest or anything, give it a whirl. I think it might just be too starchy, and too low in xanthan gum which would make the cookies really fragile, but it’s worth a shot!
        Thanks for jumping in, kclark!
        xoxo Nicole

  • Sarah

    I am a dye free person but not one one of the crazies I promise! I really appreciate you posting the pics without the dye because my daughter can’t have it. She has an equally and sometimes worse response to dye then she does gluten. It will be nice to make these with her and not have her “wanting” the ones on the blog instead of mine because they aren’t colored.

  • kclark

    Dewd, really? Jordan asks me about those crazy pink frosted cookies A LOT.  Now they have orange frosted ones with black sprinkles for Halloween.  I could reach across all the States that separate us and kiss you.  I need to figure out where to buy meringue powder cuz I want them to be like yours.  You mentioned your hair flying behind you and I laughed.  Isn’t that a picture of all of us working moms in general?  And isn’t your hair pretty short?  I think I may need to see a re-enactment, lol.  

    • Candaceiw

      meringue powder is usually in the wilton section at hobby lobby…small can.

      a dewd…did you know a dude is a pimple on an elephant’s butt?? We are so trying to get that word out my my four kids’ vocab……not even the truth behind what it is prompts them into changing it…lol… :)

      • kclark

        @ Candaceiw hahaha. My son would laugh so hard if I told him what a dude is and then he would use the word more. I am coastal in California so dude is a righteous surfer looking for some tasty waves.  Annoying as all get out actually. 

        • Candaceiw

          @kclark, although we are midwest, we are water people too and windsurf and paddleboard and growing up in the 80’s Valley Girl was my favorite movie, along with loving Spicoli ;)  So, the word has always been in my vocabulary too. It just comes out of there mouth so often…I guess worse could come from their mouths…right?! lol

    • gfshoestring

      Wilton meringue powder is generally pretty easy to come by, like Candace mentioned. Hobby shops almost always have it. It’s actually quite useful. I used it because I wanted a very stable frosting and didn’t want to use gelatin or make 7 minute frosting, which looks pretty but is glossy and then tends to melt. I recommend picking some up. And I’ll take that kiss now. Make ’em for Halloween! Oh, and funny you asked about my hair. I’ve been growing it out forever and ever and ever, and at my most recent haircut, my hairdresser said that it is below my shoulders! One more way for me to look like a lunatic, running through the grocery store. :)
      xoxo Nikki

      • kclark

        Wow, I need to see that!

  • Candaceiw

    need….to….get….gf…flour….my kids are going to love you! Yes, I will give you the credit! I made ranger cookies, your zucchini bread in the form of muffins (kinda like wonder twins, they transform easily to muffins from bread)…and I  made beef, veggie and lentil soup…okay, now I am just bragging at all the work I did last night. lol

    Need to get more gf flour so I can be a hero and make these cookies! YUM!

  • Mrsthe97

    Thank you sooo much for this recipe!! I want to make this for Hallowe’en. Do you think I would need to bake them longer if I made bats instead of circles? I bought the black gel food coloring recently for my zombie costume, so I’m all set for the frosting. I’m happy and excited to make these!! <3

  • cynthia

    Once again you have come to save the day! I was thinking of making a 45 min drive to gluten free bakery to get soft frosted sugar cookies for Camden today….low and behold you post this! (insert claps and cheers). I can’t make them today (missing one ingredient) but I will be whipping some up tomorrow! Thanks!!!

  • Mary

    THANK YOU!!!

  • Oh, Nicole, I know those cookies of which you speak – I run my daughter by them quickly when we are in the grocery store so she doesn’t get sad that she can’t eat them. They are so alluring with their puffy white domes covered in unnaturally bright icing, often color coded by season or holiday. So THANK YOU for this awesome looking recipe. Yet – your conundrum, is totally valid! I have been wondering how you handle the whole recipe-a-day thingie versus publishing cookbooks. It’s kind of insanely amazing and generous of you to give us so many recipes for FREE when it’s your job to um, not really do that, at least not all the time. Maybe because I used to work in book publishing, or maybe because I’d like to write my own (fiction) book some day, that I really do understand what you’re saying, and my two cents is, do what you need to do and I’ll still be here, reading whatever you feel like writing, clone recipes or not. 

  • Beth Welsh

    We’re dye-free too because my son has varying degrees of almost psycho reactions to them. India tree makes vegetable based dyes and most recently a sugar dyed the same way. You can buy them on Amazon. There will be sticker shock, but keep them in the fridge and they last much longer. You can’t make ever color, but at least everything doesn’t have to be white. Caramel color doesn’t bother my son, so we can use things with that.  Also, I’ve noticed that you’ll get a pretty intense blue from dehydrated blueberries (powdered with smashing). Any fruit that has intense color is probably pretty similar. Pay attention to which fruit dye your fingers. Those are the ones you want. 

  • Lauren Olson

    I made these last night for my kiddos (and for my husband to have for breakfast, just don’t tell the kids) they are fantastic! I love the at the dough does not need to be refrigerated, and the cookies hold their shape with minimal to no spreading, perfect for all of the upcoming sugary holidays!

    • gfshoestring

      I won’t tell. I don’t dime, Lauren. I live in a glass house. ;) These are very good for the upcoming sugary holidays!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Patti

    Be still my heart!  Thank you Nicole. Cookie on my most wanted list.

    And yes, I read the part about a cookie book…………..hot dang!  And, and………..a bread cookbook 12/13.  You Go Girl!!

    • gfshoestring

      Thanks, Patti! The clone book is still just a thought, not pitched yet to the publisher. But it’s deep in my heart. :) The bread book is underway already!
      xoxo Nicole

      • kclark

        Love the idea of the clone book and of course the bread book!

  • Rpcolwell

    I made these yesterday and they are soooo good! My son loved them. I loved the idea of rolling the dough between the parchment paper. It worked great.

  • Stacy

    These look awesome! Thanks for sharing the recipe….these will make perfect pumpkins! Just out of curiosity, how do these compare to the sugar cookies in your first cookbook? That recipe is a favorite and has earned lots of praise and many doubts that they were really gluten free cookies!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Stacy, That’s a great question. That recipe is a more traditional sugar cookie, lightly browned and chewier. These are pillow-soft, thicker and melt in your mouth in a way that is a bit reminiscent of butter cookies (in texture). Personally, I think you need both recipes! And the one in the book is much better for decorating cookies with royal icing. This one is too soft for detail work.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Stacy

        Ok, thanks! I agree, the cookbook cookies are great for decorating and made a perfect welcome home treat last week for my sis and new nephew:).

  • Betty-Gayle Dove

    Thank you Nicole for working so hard and then sharing your fantastic results with us.  I want you to know that I love your reading your blog.  There is rarely a day that your posts do not bring a smile to my face.  Today…..I am quite literally laughing out loud! Thanks again and these cookies look amazing.  My sister & I have always called the bakery version of these cookies “chemical” cookies, because they stay soft no matter what. LOL

  • kclark

    I made these today and my friend who is Celiac had them. She said that they were BETTER than what she remembers those store bought cookies to be. Really, it was a Meg Ryan moment. I thought I should leave the room because she was so excited.  Not Kidding!

  • Anneke

    Made the cookies today, Tim ate FOUR in one sitting!  Made my teeth hurt just watching him.  He was quite happy, and I am sure he will have more for breakfast.  They are so delicious, just like I remember, you are a genius!

    • gfshoestring

      Four of these cookies, frosting and all, is like an extreme sport, Anneke! If anyone can do it, a teenage boy can, though. So glad you liked them. See – you can make cookies!
      xoxo Nicole

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