Gluten Free Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

Gluten Free Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

Basic sugar cookie dough is dyed and twisted easily into these soft and tender gluten free candy cane sugar cookies. Add a touch of peppermint extract for some extra holiday cheer!

Gluten Free Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

I did it! Last night, we put together 18 sweet boxes of gifty Christmas cookies: all of them gluten free, all but 1 for recipients who can (and do!) eat all the gluten they like. Ask me if they’ll know (or even care) that any of the cookies are gluten free.

The whole purpose of baking cookies for the holidays (to give as gifts, or to share at your holiday parties alike) is to show them that they’re worth some trouble. You cared enough to take time out of your day (or days!) to bake cookies that you weren’t going to eat yourself. You had to make sure you had all the ingredients on hand, at the proper temperature, and sometimes you even used some food coloring (like in these gluten free candy cane sugar cookies) so your hands got all messy.

Gluten Free Candy Cane Sugar Cookies—Step by Step

If you google “candy cane sugar cookies,” you’ll find a whole bunch of recipes and methods. Some may even be gluten free, too. But I present to you that this is the gluten free candy cane sugar cookies recipe to beat: the dough is simple to work with, and it won’t crack or split during shaping—or during baking. The method is easy enough, but a visual never hurt anyone.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to go overboard on your twisting. A few (3?) turns on opposite ends of the bi-colored dough is all it takes. Then bend one end over, and you’re all set (remember that you’re shaping candy canes, not question marks, so the other end should be straight up and down!).

Gluten Free Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

And, as always, if you just.won’t.abide.food.coloring, don’t use it! Make candy cane shapes colored au naturale. And if your cookie recipients are deserving of their bounty, they won’t mind one bit. Happy happy merry merry!!

Basic sugar cookie dough is dyed and twisted easily into these soft and tender gluten free candy cane sugar cookies. Add a touch of peppermint extract for some extra holiday cheer!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 40 cookies


3 cups (420 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

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

1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (36 g) confectioners’ sugar

13 tablespoons (182 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 eggs (180 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (or more vanilla extract)

Red gel food coloring (AmeriColor brand is gluten free)


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

  • Make the cookie dough. 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, eggs, vanilla, and optional peppermint, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and smooth. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Wrap one piece in plastic wrap and set it aside. Place the other half of the dough on a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, and add about 1/8-teaspoon of the red gel food coloring. Knead in the food coloring until the color is uniform throughout the dough. Divide each half of cookie dough into teaspoon-sized pieces of dough, about 10 grams each. Roll each piece of dough tightly into a ball, and cover the balls of dough with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out as you shape the cookies.

  • Shape the cookies. Working with two pieces of each color of cookie at a time, roll each ball of cookie dough into a rope about 4-inches long. Pair together one plain rope and one red rope along the length of each, and press together carefully but firmly so they adhere lightly to one another. Holding the now-doubled rope at each end, twist the rope in opposite directions to twirl the ropes. About 3 turns should do it—don’t go overboard or the dough may crack or tear. Bend one end of the twisted rope into a hook so it resembles a candy cane. Repeat with the other pieces of dough, and place about 1-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough of each color.

  • Bake the cookies. Place the baking sheets in the center of the preheated oven, one at a time, and bake until the cookies are puffed and just beginning to brown around the edges (about 9 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.

  • Cookies adapted by adding a tablespoon of butter and another egg to my Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies recipe.



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! And (if I may be so bold) preorder Gluten Free Classic Snacks, for copycat recipes of allllllll the packaged snacks you’ve been missing. Your support of the books keeps the blog going!

Comments are closed.

  • December 16, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    It’s really up to you, youngbaker. I only store nut flours in the refrigerator or freezer.

    • youngbaker2002
      December 17, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      OK. I just mixed up the mixes the other night and I already have ‘soft white sandwich bread’ and ‘cinnamon swirl bread’ dough rising in the fridge. So excited to start making my way through the bread book. And the new book for that matter! Ps. I’m keeping the flours in our breeze way. It’s about 10 degrees cooler in there than in the rest of the house.

  • Victoria
    December 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Nicole, I just love your blog and your cookbooks! You have saved my life since having to go gluten free 4 years ago! (My husband thanks you also, since I keep a GF kitchen!) I’m so excited about these cookies, my mom made these every year growing up!

    I am having a Christmas cookie emergency though!! For the last few years I’ve made your chocolate thumbprint cookies with the peppermint kisses for the guys in my husbands office. But now I can’t seem to find the recipe on your site?! There is a turtle version which looks divine, but I’m looking for the original one, which I believe had peppermint extract and used confectioners sugar. Where or where did it go??

    • December 16, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      I’ll be honest, Victoria, I have no idea where that recipe went! There have been a few elderly recipes here on the blog that have up and disappeared recently. It’s very unsettling! I’d use the chocolate thumbprint recipe for the turtle cookies you mention, and just add peppermint extract (a little goes a long way, though!). So sorry for the inconvenience. :/

      • Michelle
        December 16, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        I have that recipe printed out! It is 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract. I made them last year, but used mint (not peppermint) extract and melted an Andes mint (the perfect food) in the center. They were delicious that way, too!

  • Faith
    December 16, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    Oh-favorite cookie from childhood that I thought to never have again! Yeah! Thank you, thank you, thank you! My old recipe had crushed peppermint candy canes sprinkled on top before baking. I think I’ll try it with this recipe too. Can’t say enough how much I appreciate all your hard work and experiments to improve our baking experiences. Your website and blog make my day every time I open them. Happy, happy, merry, merry!

  • Elena
    December 15, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    These are adorable! They also look delicious.

  • Susan
    December 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    First, thank you for all your wonderful baking recipes. I am trying to omit xanthan gum and was wondering just how important it is in cookies and do you ever substitute it with anything and if so what would the ratio be. I am new to GF, under a year and I have so much to learn when it comes to baking GF. It was so easy when I didn’t have to worry about gluten. ;-) Again, thanks for all your knowledge.

    • December 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      You can try replacing it with guar gum, Susan, but you need some sort of gum or you will have very crumbly cookies that will go stale quickly.

  • kittywitty
    December 15, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    I saw peppermint extract at the store today and thought about getting it, but I didn’t have any particular recipe in mind, so I didn’t buy it. Should have known a recipe calling for it would appear here moments later! LOL I think this would be great with peppermint extract! I will pick some up next time I’m in the store so we can make these! So cute!

    • December 15, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Just make ’em with vanilla, kitty. Just because they’re shaped like candy canes doesn’t mean they have to taste like candy canes, right? ;)

      • kittywitty
        December 15, 2014 at 10:06 PM

        But I think they will be *perfect* with peppermint! And I always have to run back to the store during the week b/c I inevitably forget something! :D

        • Michelle
          December 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM

          My mom always put peppermint in the red part. and sprinkled crushed candy canes on top. Ours were often kind of dry, but these look like they have a really nice texture, and the rolling method looks like they will hold together better. Maybe I’ll share a couple with my mom.

  • youngbaker2002
    December 15, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Our flours arrived the other day. we are excited to start baking.but on the bag of my potato flour, corn starch,and potato starch it says it keeps best in the fridge or freezer. so do i have to keep the mixes in the fridge?

  • Loralee
    December 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    I was just talking to my daughter about trying to make this gluten free. :p) Now I wont have to guess.

  • Luciana Gonzalez
    December 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Thank yooou nicoleee!! :)

  • AprilG
    December 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Do you think a GF baking mix that already has the xanthum gum included would work too? Thank you!

    • Donia Robinson
      December 15, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      Yes, definitely. On all her recipes that require xanthan gum, she just writes to omit if your mix already contains it. She used Better Batter in this recipe, and it already contains xanthan gum. Go forth and make candy canes! :)

      • AprilG
        December 15, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Great! Thanks! I didn’t even see that.

        • Michelle
          December 15, 2014 at 8:32 PM

          Baking mix, though? With the leaveners already added like Pamela’s or Bisquik, or just a gf flour blend? The blend would work, but a mix wouldn’t, I don’t think.

        • Michelle
          December 15, 2014 at 8:33 PM

          Would hate to have them not turn out.

      • December 15, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        Thanks so much for jumping in, Donia! Love it when readers help each other out. :)

  • Colleen
    December 15, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    I love that these remind me of my childhood but I can actually eat them. I’m very new to GF baking and wondering if I can substitute earth balance for butter, to make it dairy free as well, or will I totally throw off the recipe. Any idea?

    • Donia Robinson
      December 15, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      It’s sort of a “try at your own risk” type thing. But I have found a lot of success with half Earth Balance and half palm shortening. Butter contains some water. Earth Balance is VERY water heavy, whereas the palm shortening contains none. So I consider the mixture of the two a good substitution for the water/fat make-up of butter. (If you can’t tell, I’m a nerd.)

      • December 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        I always recommend half Earth Balance/half butter-flavored Spectrum nonhydrogenated shortening when replacing butter in cookies like these, Colleen. But as Donia says, you’ll have to experiment!

  • Jennifer S.
    December 15, 2014 at 11:19 AM


  • December 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    These are so freaking cute. I am noticing a trend with myself, I am attracted to adorable brightly colored foods.

    • December 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Me too, Lauren!

  • Lucy
    December 15, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Nicole these look great!
    I’m baking today spritz cookies, reason is you can make loads in little time. I’ve been sewing up a storm, with 4 power failures here the past 2 weeks has put me behind on all Christmas baking and sewing…
    I’m still baking with the girls this weekend for us and these are definitely on the list :)
    Hubby got us a reliable generator so we can be better prepared for the next power outage :)

    • Jennifer S.
      December 15, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      lucy – we made GF spritz yesterday – so dang yummy! make sure to use 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond extract – that makes them even more super yum-o!

      • Donia Robinson
        December 15, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Almond extract=heaven

        • kittywitty
          December 15, 2014 at 3:18 PM

          Agree! I add it to my sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies–makes them divine!

        • Michelle
          December 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

          That sounds great- I’ll have to try it! I like orange peel in my sugar cookies, and sometimes in my chocolate chip cookies. I love chocolate and orange together.

      • Lucy
        December 16, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        Thanks for the tip! The cookies were sooo good adding the almond extract.

    • December 15, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      Glad you’re prepared for the next time, Lucy! Although of course I hope there isn’t a next time. :)

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