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Gluten Free Drop Sugar Cookies

Gluten Free Drop Sugar Cookies

The best place to begin baking gluten free is with a simple drop cookie. These gluten free drop sugar cookies are the cookie you’ve been looking for. Simple, sweet and buttery, plus they’re stable enough for mailing clear across the country if that’s your holiday thing!

Gluten Free Drop Sugar CookiesThere’s no denying it: It’s officially Christmas Cookie Season, and I’m giddy with excitement! We’re going to take all the best tastes, textures and flavors of the season, and express ourselves in cookie form. We’ll start with these easy gluten free drop sugar cookies. They’re soft, but not fragile, and they couldn’t be easier if they tried.

Gluten Free Drop Sugar Cookies

When someone is new to baking, or new to gluten free baking, or just plain new, they often ask me where they should start. There are so many ways to bake gluten free, and sometimes it can be hard to decide where to begin. My answer is always the same: drop cookies. Nothing to roll out, nothing to chance.

If your ingredients are at the right temperature (that would be room temperature for drop cookies, please…), and your oven is too (got those oven thermometers ready?), with the right simple gluten free ingredients you’ll have fresh gluten free cookies in no time flat. You’ll feel like a rock star, and you’ll be willing to try something else. That’s the name of the game.

Gluten Free Drop Sugar Cookies

These soft drop sugar cookies are similar to the Soft Frosted Gluten Free Sugar Cookies that we made quite a while ago, but not the same at all. Those are wonderful cookies, but they take more than a few minutes to throw together.

These are your basic soft sugar cookies, the kind that you would love to send to your friends and family for the holidays, because they’re simple enough to survive a trip by mail and special enough to show how much you care. Not to mention impressing those same friends and family with your baking skillz.

Gluten Free Drop Sugar CookiesAnd since I know you, silly, I’ll go ahead and say up front that yes, you need a mix of butter and shortening (Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening is not the unhealthy mess that Crisco is) to get the texture and shape of these cookies just right. If you use all butter, the cookies will spread way too much.

If you want to make them dairy-free, I’d try all shortening (by weight – butter is heavier than shortening by a bit) and see what happens. Then report back and let us know how it went!

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 18 cookies, depending upon size


1 3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used my Better Than Cup4Cup Blend)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

5 tablespoons (60 g) vegetable shortening, melted and cooled (I used Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening)

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

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Coarse sugar, for coating (I used Sugar in the Raw)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, confectioners’ sugar and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, shortening, egg and vanilla, mixing well to combine after each addition. The dough should come together and will be soft. Roll the dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter, and press into disks about 1/4 inch thick. Press each disk carefully but firmly into coarse sugar until the sugar adheres to the dough all around. Place the disks of dough on the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart from one another.

  • Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on the edges and set in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.



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  • Lee Ann Kaplan

    Will these work for cutout cookies if you chill the dough and roll it out?

  • Jennica

    Hi Nicole! I am so excited for this recipe. I don’t have the patience to roll out dough…for anything! Question though, are they solid enough to be frosted?

    • Hi, Jennica! Nice to hear from you!
      Honestly, they’re definitely solid enough, but they’re really not big enough to be frosted. You might try making them twice the size, and still flattening them to 1/4 inch thick and increasing the baking time a bit. Just be sure they’re baked until set in the center or they’ll be fragile. Hope that helps!

  • Anneke

    I don’t enjoy cookie season, is that bad? I find it very stressful, so thanks for all the easy recipes, that should help! I have been training up my daughters to do the work (Tim eats the cookies, he doesn’t bake them, although he would want you to know that he could if he had to!), and this recipe should be no problem for them. Now, if only I can avoid EATING the cookies!

    • Really, Anneke? Believe it or not, cookie recipes are honestly among the hardest to develop. The simpler the recipe, the more important the balance of ingredients. But once I nail the recipe, the rest is usually smooth sailing! But if your girls are willing to bake them, then that’s best of all! I know my best friend Tim would make cookies if he had to. No worries there. ;)

      • Donia Robinson

        I’m fairly anti-cookie as well, Anneke. I prefer something that can all bake at once, not in and out of the oven several times for multiple batches. And I don’t think my kids need extra cookies at this time of year, even if it is Christmas! :P

        • Jennifer S.

          Ba-humbug to you both. I guess I’ll have to represent the group – I LOVE HOLIDAY COOKIES!! I used to host a cookie exchange for years before going GF, now we just make and bake tons for ourselves and to give away! Keep ’em coming because no matter what these ladies say, this is awesome!! I’m just making my holiday baking plan now, so I’ll squeeze these cuties in!!!

          • Donia Robinson

            Jennifer, please send some of your energy down here!! ;)

          • John Lachett

            I’m with you Jennifer S.!! I. HEART. COOKIES. Thanks to Nicole I’ll be making the “holy trinity” of cookies (in our house anyway). That would be Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodles and Oatmeal Raisin! However, since tonight is my “night off” from the gym, I’m TOTALLY making these. I’ve been dying to make cookies!!

          • John you are just the best. The best!

          • Anneke

            I was going to ask which one of us actually likes baking cookies. Not surprised to find it is our Jennifer! :) Notice, Donia, it is Dec 3, and she is making a “holiday baking plan.” Maybe, on the off chance that none of wins a day of baking with Nicole, we should get a day of baking with Jennifer instead!

          • Jennifer S.

            Absolutely you all can come bake with me – I do have to say that even though I excel at planning, cleaning is not a high priority so be warned! :)

          • Hear hear, Jennifer! I’m not as good a planner as you are (clearly), but I’m always willing to get my hands dirty and always one to squeeze in just one more thing! Then again, you have a day job and I don’t … so hats off!

  • Linda

    Those look delicious! Would they be Snickerdoodle-like if I rolled them in cinnamon sugar?

  • Kim Thomas

    These look amazing and I will be making them soon!

    I have a question about your latest cookbook. I’m so excited to get it, but noticed it’s not on digital yet. I will get the paper copy if need be, but just wondered if it was going to be on digital in the future. I have your other two cookbooks on my Nook and I bring it in the kitchen with me almost daily! Thank you so much for all you do to help those of us that can’t have gluten find normalcy (and beyond) in everyday cooking and eating :)

    • Hi, Kim,

      Yes, Bakes Bread will definitely be available for the Nook. I’m honestly not sure why, but it’s taking some time to get it up for preorder on Barnes & Noble’s site (but should be any day now). As of yesterday, it is available for the kindle (although the paperback edition and the kindle edition are not yet partnered on amazon.com for some reason). In case you’re interested, here is the kindle link. So sorry for the Nook delay, but it should be any time now!

      • Kim Thomas

        Thanks so much! I’m sure it is well worth the wait!!

      • Jennifer

        Thanks for pointing this out. I’d just checked the regular book page on Amazon this morning and it wasn’t showing up there.

        Mare, I’m not Kim obviously but I’ve converted all of my recipes to digital and would never want to have to go back to books. I scanned a lot of them and just took pics of some of the smaller ones. I have a dedicated kitchen tablet and it’s so nice to have everything in one place and to just be able to pull out one thing. I can make the print as large as I want / need it. And it’s really not as messy as you’d think it would be.

        • That’s great information about electronic recipe info, Jennifer. Thanks for chiming in! I am actually having the blog spruced up a bit in the early part of next year and part of the updating includes making it a ‘responsive’ site. So when you view it on a mobile device or another smaller screen, it will be exceptionally easy to view and navigate as responsive web design is very fluid and flexible. It will also help keep your screen from going dark in the middle of a recipe, among other innovations. I’m very excited about it!

          • Jennifer

            I love the idea of the screen not going dark. :)

            The screen going dark in the middle of a sentence is really my only minor complaint about digital.

      • Kim Thomas

        Thank you, Nicole! I can’t wait to start baking bread :)

    • Mare Masterson

      Kim I make such a mess baking. How do you not get your Nook all yucky in the kitchen?

      • Kim Thomas

        I have one of those screen protectors, so it just wipes clean :)

  • Mare Masterson

    We have a resident sugar cookie baker here at work, so I will not bring these for our cookie exchange. I am thinking of the Cheesecake Cookies for that. I do not do holiday cookies. Truth be told, I am not much of a baker because I hate the mess. That is why I only do pies at Thanksgiving. It has to be a special occasion to get me to bake. However, since the GF stuff sold in the grocery stores is not that good and I do like to eat baked goods on occasion, I am finding that I am wanting to incorporate baking into my routine. So I guess will have to make that happen. I envision that Sundays will be bread baking days once I get up the nerve to do so and get all the supplies that are needed.

    • Cookies are pretty contained mess, Mare. My whole life is cookies so I have to overlook the mess during (and then always clean up well!) because I like things clean too. But as far as mess goes, cookies are pretty mild. And so is bread. :)

  • Karlie

    Think these would survive being baked after being completely wrapped around a (drained) maraschino cherry? My favourite family cookie is called a “Cherry Peak” and uses an almost shortbread-like dough. You take a ball, flatten it with your thumb, then wrap it completely around the cherry and seal it. Bake and ice! I was planning on trying to use the Soft Frosted Sugar Cookie recipe but wondered if this one might be even more sturdy?

    • They’re pret-ty sturdy, Karlie. I’d give it a shot. I think it might just work. I’d say to work with the dough at room temperature, and then freeze it after you stuff it and before baking. Good luck!

    • Donia Robinson

      Those sound awesome. Please report back if they work!!!

  • JoanneB

    Just took some out of the oven 15 minutes ago. These are really good.

    • Oh yay, Joanne! I love it when someone makes the recipe right and then reports back! Thank you so much for doing that. :)

  • Charlotte Moore

    I looked to see what your ratio for this flour was. How do I get the 31 and the 14 percent. That is not on the chart. These percentages are so hard for me to grasp. I can do grams on my scales.

    • I explain everything on the gluten free flours page, Charlotte, including the way to calculate percentages. If you don’t want to do that, though, please download the document from reader Ryan Hunt on that same page. It is a spreadsheet that will do the calculations for you.

  • Jen Chambers

    Nicole, do you have to use parchment paper? Can you use Silpat inserts instead? Dumb question, but I know some recipes that call for parchment are not suitable for Silpat, though many are fine- thanks!

    • Hi, Jen! Good question. I no longer own silpats (they just didn’t age well, worse than me, in fact!) but I’m sure they’d be perfectly fine. ;)

      • Jen Chambers

        It worked very well! I had green sanding sugar, so I made them green… now I have to come up with a clever name for a green, round cookie… they taste amazing! I used a brown rice/white rice flour/teff blend and crisco shortening (not organic, not great for you, but it’s what I had on hand!) Thank you for the great recipe!

        • Donia Robinson

          Leprechaun coins? Wrong holiday.

  • John Lachett

    Yeah….so these are awesome. They remind me a little of Pepperidge Farms sugar cookies which i used to love. I baked them a touch longer because i like a crisp cookie, but jeeze Louise are they good. Must. Not. Have. Another. Many thanks!!

    Your GFF,
    John L

    PS- What type of wine goes with sugar cookies? White!

    • Oh my gosh JOHN! With all due respect to everyone else and you know I love you all, but honestly this is the BEST comment in the history of comments. I have a crush on you, clearly.

      • Donia Robinson

        Oh, way to go, John. Now comments are a competition? Well, then it’s on.

  • AllieBoBallie

    Just in time for this weekend’s Festivus party! Sweet! These will perfectly accommodate my gluten intolerance, my friend’s chocolate allergy, and my other friend’s coconut allergy. We’re a hot a mess of fun, we are. Between these, my salted almond “lazy macaroons,” and maybe one other cookie, we should have just the right amount of sugar high + tipsy to = a delightful Airing of Grievances.

    • That sounds completely awesome Allie. I could use a good Airing of Grievances. ;)

  • Barb

    Question….will the world end if I do use Crisco in these? Can’t wait to try them!

    • I am, without a doubt, absolutely positively 100% certain that the world will NOT end if you use Crisco in these, Barb! The only reason I make clear that I use nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening is to make readers aware that shortening can mean more than Crisco. Otherwise, I get a lot of upset comments and emails. :)

      • Barb

        Thank you! Crisco it is because that is currently what is in the cupboard. I did get your new cookbook this week, and I can’t wait to start using it. When my husband was diagnosed with Celiac a few years ago it felt like I had to relearn how to cook all over again, and spend crazy amounts of money to do it. Your cookbooks and blog made all the difference to me (and to him!). Thnks so much for all you share with us!

  • glutenfreegigi

    Call me simple, but this is one of the best recipes you’ve ever shared. Love the sugar in the raw, with that golden hue – perfect on those pale cookies. Lovely! xo Gigi

    • Hi, Gigi! Thanks so much for that. Hope you’re well!

  • Mildred

    what about sugar? any suggestions for alternatives?

    • I’m afraid I don’t know how to make sugar cookies without sugar, Mildred! Sorry!

  • disqus_NkuKYF1fp4

    Any suggestions to make this vegan?

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  • Wendy

    Could you use coconut oil (melted and then cooled ) in place of the shortening?

  • Donia Robinson

    Reporting on the dairy-free-ifying of these cookies, sir! I used 8T shortening (Spectrum) and 2T margarine (Earth Balance), hoping to give it that moisture the butter would have provided. The dough was a dream to handle. I loved how easy it was to form in balls, flatten, and roll in sugar. I don’t think the margarine made it extra wet, and they did not spread outrageously in the oven. They look just like yours!

    (Bad picture, good cookie!)

    • Candice

      Thanks for the experiment and sharing your experience! My daughter can have cooked dairy, but I still try to only use that when something else won’t work. Like mac and cheese.

      • Donia Robinson

        You’re very welcome!

    • Looks perfect, Donia!! Thanks so much for reporting back. They do look … perfecto!

  • Lynn A. Decker

    These were FABULOUS! I have never been disappointed with your recipes, and this one certainly lives up to expectations!

  • Amy

    My daughter and I are excited to make these, but we don’t have vegetable shortening…do you think butter or vegetable oil could replace it? Thanks for sharing your amazing gf recipes! :)

    • Amy

      Lol, Guess I should have read the directions first as you already answered my question. We will get the shortening ;)

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