Gluten Free Meltaway Cookies

Gluten Free Meltaway Cookies

These delicate gluten free meltaway cookies are a cross between a butter cookie and shortbread, and really do melt in your mouth. Make them as drop cookies or roll them out and cut out shapes. Your favorite new blonde cookie!

These delicate gluten free meltaway cookies are a cross between a butter cookie and shortbread, and really do melt in your mouth. Make them as drop cookies or roll them out and cut out shapes.

First things first: these are not shortbread cookies (and clearly not brown sugar shortbread cookies). Shortbread cookies have no chemical leavener (baking powder, baking soda) at all. These cookies have baking powder.

Similar in many ways to butter cookies, meltaway cookies are made with flour, baking powder, butter, and sugar. But instead of the egg yolks in butter cookies, which make for a richer cookie, these meltaway cookies are made with an egg white.

They’re also made with a mixture of all purpose gluten free flour and cornstarch. They’re pretty light on sugar, with only 2/3 cup in the whole batch. And the sugar is confectioners’ sugar, which is feather light.

Meltaway cutout cookies in a stack with one on its side

Cutout cookies that always hold their shape

The raw dough for these meltaway cookies is so easy to handle that I found myself wondering if it could be rolled out and cut into shapes, much like some of my favorite cutout cookies. Even though there is plenty of rich butter in them, I found that they hold their shape even when the dough isn’t chilled at all.

Gluten Free Meltaway Cookies made into Easter Bunnies

I have some instructions for how to make cutout shapes into gluten free bunny cookies for Easter. But of course they’re perfect for any holiday and will hold any shape—even shapes with delicate and complicated elements like a witch’s hat for Halloween.

Meltaway cutout cookies raw on tray

It is easier to cut out shapes and move them to the baking sheet if the dough is a bit chilled. Simply roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper as described in the recipe. Then slide the dough onto a cutting board and place it in the freezer for a few minutes or the refrigerator for a few more.

Once the dough is chilled, a cookie cutter will easily cut clean edges. Plus, the shapes will be easier to transfer to the baking sheet.

Drop cookies or cutout cookies

Drop cookies are always the easiest thing to make. If you’re new to baking or you’re just tight on time, I recommend starting with the drop cookie instructions in the recipe card below.

Pressing the top of each disk of cookie dough with the moistened tines of a fork adds some visual interest to the cookies and helps keep them from cracking when they rise. I’ve never tried using a cookie press with this dough, but I think it would work so well.

I love adding just a few miniature chocolate chips to this dough because they’re so lightly in every way. The chips add the perfect richness and create a really nice balance. I also have a lemony version of these cookies that taste amazingly different, too.

Meltaway cutout cookies baked on tray

But making these into cutout cookies isn’t at all difficult. In fact, the dough doesn’t need to be chilled at all for baking, so you can roll out the dough, cut out shapes, and pop them right in the oven.

If you’re struggling at all with dough that’s too soft, that probably means that your butter was too soft at the start. No worries, just roll out the dough and place it in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes before cutting out rounds.

Tall stack of meltaway cutout cookies with icing

Ingredients and substitutions


The dairy in this recipe comes only from the butter. I haven’t tried replacing it, but I would recommend trying half Melt Vegan butter (or Earth Balance buttery sticks) and half nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening.

If you use a butter replacement that has too much moisture, like all Earth Balance buttery sticks would have, the cookies will spread and not keep their shape and edges. If you use all shortening, which has nearly no moisture, the cookie dough will be dry and the cookies fragile.

Be sure to use dairy-free chocolate chips if you’re adding them. My favorite brand for taste alone is Enjoy Life, and they’re top 8 allergen-free.


In place of the egg white, you can try using aquafaba. Aquafaba is simply the liquid from a can of chickpeas.


The cornstarch in this recipe can be replaced with arrowroot quite easily. Confectioners’ sugar is typically made with cornstarch, though. So be sure you’re using corn-free confectioners’ sugar.


You might be able to replace the confectioners’ sugar in this recipe with Swerve brand powdered sugar replacement. Alternative sugars do tend to be drying, though, so you’ll have to add more water. Add it slowly, though, since you can’t remove it once it’s added.


Meltaway cutout cookies on a plate closeup image

Meltaway cutout cookies baked on tray, in a stack, and in a pile on a plateThese delicate gluten free meltaway cookies are a cross between a butter cookie and shortbread, and really do melt in your mouth. Make them as drop cookies or roll them out and cut out shapes. #glutenfree #gf #cookies #Christmas #meltaway

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 3 dozen cookies


1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

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

1/3 cup (48 g) cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup (77 g) confectioners’ sugar

12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg white (25 g), at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lukewarm water by the half-teaspoonful, as necessary

4 ounces miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)


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

  • Make the dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and confectioners’ sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, egg white, and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and smooth. Add water by the half-teaspoonful and mix it in as necessary to bring the dough together. If you’d like to make any cut-out cookies, set some of the plain dough aside. Add the (optional) chocolate chips and mix the dough until the chips are evenly spaced throughout.

  • For drop cookies, scoop the dough by the heaping tablespoon (an overfull #70 ice cream scoop is ideal here, but two spoons work well, too) onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2-inches between pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a round between the palms of your hands, and press down slightly into a thick disk. With the moistened tines of a fork, press down on the top of each piece of dough until the tines leave an impression about 1/4-inch deep.

  • For cutout cookies, place the plain dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper and roll out the dough about 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut out shapes using a floured cookie cutter. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 1/2 inches apart.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden brown on the edges and firm to the touch (about 12 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before serving. These cookies freeze very well.

  • Adapted from Once Upon a Chef. Original recipe posted in 2015. Most photos new, video new, recipe unchanged except for some added language about how to make cut-out cookies.


Comments are closed.

  • Amy Hurley Purdie
    October 30, 2018 at 10:00 AM

    Hi Nicole! I just found your site and I’m so excited! I can’t wait to make your flour blends. Thank you so much for all your hard work! Question….. my mom gets very ill from xanthan gum . Is psyllium husk the substitute for that in your recipes or something else? Thanks so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 30, 2018 at 11:29 AM

      Hi, Amy, Welcome to the blog. I’m afraid I don’t recommend the use of psyllium husk in place of xanthan gum. The only viable replacement for xanthan gum is guar gum. If she can’t have that either I’m afraid you won’t be able to use any of my recipes that call for an “all purpose gluten free flour.” I do have recipes made with a simple gum-free flour, like pancakes, and others that are Paleo, and you’ll find those useful.

  • SD
    October 23, 2018 at 9:01 AM

    what about subbing Bob’s Red Mills 1 to 1 flour for the Better Batter flour you used?
    if so, any additions?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 24, 2018 at 11:49 AM

      I’m afraid I really don’t recommend any of Bob’s Red Mill brand gluten free flour blends. They are of very inconsistent quality and aren’t properly balanced. You can read more about GF flour blends on that page on my blog.

  • Christina Jenkins
    October 21, 2018 at 12:25 PM

    I recently used your recepie for pumpkin/carrot (carrot pulp from juicing) chocolate chip muffins, they turned out very delicious. I only use maple syrup for all sweeteners when I bake , each of the foods I’ve baked using your recipes have turned out very well.

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 22, 2018 at 8:09 AM

      Thanks for letting me know, Christina! That’s interesting that you used carrot pulp from juicing. I’ve thought about getting a juicer like a million times, but always end up chickening out.

  • DeAnna Koch
    October 21, 2018 at 9:35 AM

    This is my favorite GF cookie recipe. But I do like them a little sweeter (I admit to having a horrendous sweet tooth) and so after they have cooled, I roll them in powdered sugar. I have not ever rolled them and cut them into shapes but I am definitely going to try that for the holidays. I do have a question related to holiday cookies. Which of your cookie recipes do you recommend for use in a spritz cookie gun? I have not tried any gf spritz cookies yet (oh how I miss my regular gluten filled spritz cookies!) but I would like to this year.

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 22, 2018 at 8:08 AM

      Hi, DeAnna, no shame in a sweet tooth! Yes, these really are only lightly sweet. You can also try decorating some of them in royal icing. So you’re in luck because I have a recipe for spritz cookies right here on the blog. I recommend using that!

  • Karoline
    April 6, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    Hi Nicole, I made these cookies over the weekend and I think they taste good although a little dry. Thanks for the recipes!

    • April 7, 2015 at 7:57 AM

      Karoline, that is the nature of meltaway cookies, which are meant to dissolve, or “meltaway”, in your mouth.

  • youngbaker2002
    April 4, 2015 at 6:36 PM

    hi Nicole, i have a question about the Japanese cheese cake. if i made it tonight could i chill it overnight and eat it tomorrow? would it be ok in the fridge overnight? thank you! -Mena

    • April 7, 2015 at 7:58 AM

      You could definitely, Mena!

  • Courtney
    April 4, 2015 at 8:49 AM

    Thanks,trying putting a rubber band around the plastic wrap. If it has spent12 hours in the fridge, can I go for a warm environment rise? And thanks sooooo much for your quick response!

  • Courtney
    April 4, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    I’m sorry this is off topic. I’m making the hot cross buns from your cookbook and had a question. They’ve been in the fridge almost11 hours and have not risen much . Can I put them in a warm draft free area to speed them up? I’d like to bake them before I leave for church tonight…
    Thx, Courtney

  • NaturallyBlessedMama
    April 3, 2015 at 8:48 PM

    My these look delicious! I must try them soon. Do you think I could use coconut oil or palm shorting in place of the butter? I have a child allergic to dairy. Thanks for posting this.

    • glutenfreemamma
      April 4, 2015 at 2:42 AM

      I plan to try these with coconut oil, we are dairy free also

    • April 4, 2015 at 8:28 AM

      I definitely recommend the shortening. Coconut oil is not a good substitute here.

  • Michelle
    April 3, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    Yay! Meltaways! Thank you for these! My favorite are lime meltways, so I may sub in some zest and True Lime. I hope the orange chiffon cake on the Must Make GF Pinterest board wins out, as I am trying to come with an adaption on my own for Easter, and I trust your skills much more than I trust mine…

    • April 3, 2015 at 6:51 PM

      Great idea, Michelle! The orange chiffon cake is most definitely on the list. Marianne would never forgive me otherwise. :)

  • Lucy
    April 3, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    Melt a ways are my all time favorite too! Planting fruit trees this weekend, but will put aside one afternoon for baking :)

    • April 3, 2015 at 6:51 PM

      At least one afternoon, Lucy!

  • Jennifer S.
    April 3, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    OMG. These are adorable!!! First off, I love melt aways so thank you, thank you and these bunny tushes are to die for!!
    Here’s what I’ve settled on though for my GF dessert tray: iced oatmeal cookies (finally made ’em!), hazelnut crunch brownies, and your lemon bars!!

    • April 3, 2015 at 6:51 PM

      Well that’s a relief, Jennifer! I know how you like a well-planned menu. :)

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.