These gluten free “Nilla wafers” are the ultimate crispy vanilla wafer cookie, made with plenty of butter and brown sugar. They taste just like Nabisco’s!
Why make our own gluten free “Nilla wafers”?
I miss Nilla Wafers. When I first shared this recipe, nobody made a gluten free version. That made this copycat recipe for gluten free Nilla wafers very, very important.
Today, a few companies do make crispy-type gluten free vanilla wafers. And they’re honestly not bad at all. But if you want the real taste you remember, or just want to share that taste with someone who is gluten free, make this recipe.
Remember the waxy brown stay-fresh pouch inside the box of Nilla Wafers? It looks like it’s going to be hard to open, and like maybe you’re gonna have to rip it open and risk its tearing down instead of across, resulting in a cascade of cookie crumbs all over.
Instead, it opens so nice and easy. And still keeps the Nilla Wafers fresh inside. How does it do that?
Well, this copycat recipe for gluten free Nilla wafers bakes up so nice and crunchy-soft, you’ll wonder if you cheated and got the ones from Nabisco.
Ingredients and substitutions
The main dairy in these cookies is in the form of butter. There’s quite a lot of butter for just over one cup of all purpose gluten free flour, so the butter is an important ingredient.
To replace the butter, try using vegan butter like Miyoko’s Kitchen or Melt brand. If you can’t find either of those, you can try using Earth Balance buttery sticks but they have a lot of moisture.
If you use Earth Balance pay close attention to the consistency of the cookie dough. You probably won’t need nearly as much milk, if any at all. Any unsweetened nondairy milk will work.
There’s only one egg in this recipe. You should be able to replace it with a “chia egg.” Just place 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mix and allow it to gel.
Gluten Free “Nilla Wafers”
1 1/3 cups (187g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Dash (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Whisk with a separate handheld whisk or pulse to combine. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla, and beat or process until well-combined. Add the milk, and beat or process until the dough clumps.
Either scoop dough by the level tablespoonful, or pipe an equivalent amount through a pastry bag fitted with a plain piping tip (for more consistent cookie sizing) about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. The dough will spread during baking, but not a lot. If you have piped the dough, with wet fingers, gently flatten the top of each raw cookie if anything is sticking up.
Place the baking sheets in the center of your preheated oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the cookies are uniformly golden brown in color. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets. Store any leftover cookies, completely cooled, in a sealed glass container at room temperature to preserve crispness.
Originally published on the blog in 2011. Photos, video, and some text new; recipe tweaked only slightly for clarity.