These gluten free cinnamon roll sugar cookies somehow manage to be soft and tender, and even light and flaky. Just like a “real” cinnamon roll—but in a neat little cookie. And no rising time. They're cookies, after all!
How many sugar cookie recipes do we really need? (spoiler: lots)
Maybe you thought a sugar cookie was a sugar cookie. How many recipes do we really need for the same basic cookie? Well, like pastry recipes that might as ultra-layered and flaky as puff pastry or as simple as drop biscuits, sugar cookies are some of the most versatile of all cookies.
Lofthouse-style cookies, which are the bakery cookies that you'll find by the grocery store entrance, decorated in whatever holiday is afoot, are a must-have all year long. They'll hold any shape you can dream of, but you do have to roll out the cookie dough to cut out shapes.
If you're just not going to roll out cookie dough and are happy with a simple round cookie, check out our recipe for drop sugar cookies. You can dress them up with sprinkles or coarse sugar crystals on the outside, and they're super festive.
Tied for my favorite type of “basic” sugar cookie are our thin and chewy sugar cookies. They're drop cookies, too, but they spread into a thin and chewy classic, much like the Archway brand cookies of my salad ?days.
How are these cookies different?
These cinnamon roll sugar cookies are modeled after those cutout sugar cookies, but crisp underneath and on the outside from the added brown sugar. The cookie dough itself is super tender, and the cinnamon sugar makes the whole house smell like fall.
These cookies can even be eaten like a real cinnamon roll: unfurl them slowly and tear off sections, then let the slightly crisp edges give way to that melt-in-your-mouth inside. Or, just pop one straight into your mouth in an instant.
How to make these gluten free cinnamon roll sugar cookies
This recipe is pretty similar to the Lofthouse-style cut-out sugar cookies, with another egg and a bit more butter so they're slightly softer and brown a bit more. The dough is a bit softer than the classic cut-outs, which means that the tightly wound rolls of filled cookie dough unfurl a bit as they bake.
To make the cookie dough itself, you can watch the video that pairs with our Lofthouse-style cut-out sugar cookies recipe, since the base recipe is almost identical. Since the dough is a bit softer, it's best to roll it out between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper.
Next, it's best to chill the rolled-out dough a bit until it's relatively firm to the touch (but not stiff). That will help it hold its shape as you add the filling, and then finish shaping the dough.
Once the dough has been chilled, peel back the top layer of parchment paper, and cover the dough completely, from edge to edge, with a thin layer of softened butter. Then, the cinnamon and brown sugar filling is added on top, and the 12-inch square cut into 4 equal 6-inch squares.
Then, roll each 6-inch square tightly from one side to the other, and roll the outside in a bit more brown sugar to coat the outsides. If the brown sugar isn't sticking well, try moistening the outside of each roll slightly first.
Slice each coil from top to bottom, in cross-section, into 6 rolls each for a total of 24 cookies. For the most beautiful cookies that unfurl and separate a bit during baking, don't chill the dough again.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: There is butter in both the cookie recipe and in the filling. I have successfully replaced the butter in the cookie dough with Melt brand vegan butter, but the cookies don't hold their shape quite as well.
You might have a better result with half vegan butter, half Spectrum brand butter-flavored nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. I would recommend using that for the filling as well.
For the milk in the frosting, you can use any unsweetened nondairy milk. My favorite is unsweetened almond milk, but nearly any milk of traditional thickness will do here (or even water).
Egg-free: There are two eggs in the cookie dough, and you should be able to replace each of them with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). In such pale cookies, you may see some flecks of chia in the cookies, but they get decorated with cinnamon and sugar, so they should be able to hide in plain sight.
Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies
For the cookies
2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
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
9 tablespoons (126 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (164 g) packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
For the glaze
3/4 cup (86 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk (any kind), plus more by the 1/4 teaspoonful if necessary
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
First, 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 and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and smooth.
Roll the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper into a 12-inch square, a bit less than 1/3-inch thick. For the cleanest rolls, chill the rolled-out dough in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or until firm to the touch.
When the cookie dough is ready to handle, remove the top sheet of parchment paper, and spread the butter from the filling in an even layer on top of the entire surface of the dough, all the way to the edges. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and the ground cinnamon and mix to combine well. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the melted butter, and spread into an even layer, again all the way to the edges. Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, slice the dough into 4 squares of equal size (6-inch squares). Roll each 6-inch square tightly into a coil. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on the parchment paper, and roll the coils in the sugar to coat the outsides of the coils. With a sharp knife, slice each of the coils by cross-section into 6 pieces of equal size, each about 1-inch thick. Place each piece, one cut side up, about 2 inches apart from one another, on the prepared baking sheet.
Place the baking sheets, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cookies are puffed, pale golden and somewhat firm to the touch (about 11 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature on the baking sheet. They will crisp around the edges as they cool.
When the cookies are nearly cool, make the glaze. In a small bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix well, until a thick paste forms. Add more milk by the 1/4-teaspoon, mixing to combine well, until the glaze falls off the spoon slowly, in a thick but pourable glaze. Add milk very slowly, as it is much easier to thin, than to thicken, the glaze. If you do thin the glaze too much, add more confectioners’ sugar a teaspoon at a time to thicken it. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies, sprinkle with a bit more ground cinnamon, and allow to set at room temperature before serving.
A brilliant concept from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (hi, Mel!). Cookies adapted from my Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies recipe. Originally published on the blog in 2014. Some photos, video, some text new. Recipe instructions clarified slightly but otherwise unchanged.