Perfect Paleo chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour and tapioca flour or coconut flour, are thick, soft and chewy, but not too sweet. Such a satisfying treat!
The case for Paleo baking flours
Since everything Paleo is gluten free, if you’re baking gluten free, you should try some Paleo recipes. It could open up a whole new world of baking for you. The most common Paleo baking flour is almond flour, which is what forms the base of these soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Maybe you’re not convinced yet that it’s worth shelling out the money for more gluten free flours. More flours! Don’t we already have enough? Well, yes … and no.
Blanched almond flour and coconut flour are really healthy, don’t trigger carb cravings, and a little coconut flour goes a long, long way. Tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) is a really great alternative, at times, to baking with coconut flour and can help achieve the right crisp in Paleo baking recipes like crunchy Paleo crackers.
Just so you know there’s no judgment here if you’d rather stick with an all purpose gluten free flour blend, I recommend trying my soft batch gluten free chocolate chip cookies. They taste like they just came out of the oven—even when they didn’t.
Baking with almond flour
You must use almond flour (or a very convincing substitute, which I discuss below in the “Ingredients and substitutions section”) to make these thick and chewy cookies.
You do have a choice, though, in whether you pair your finely ground blanched almond flour with a bit of coconut flour or a bit of tapioca starch. Coconut flour is a healthier alternative, but tapioca starch makes a cookie with the better crisp-outside, chewy-inside texture. The choice is yours.
The photo above is for cookies made with tapioca starch. Look carefully and you can see the crisp edges and chewy center. They’re perfect, truly.
If you’re new to baking with almond flour, there are few tips to success. Almond meal is not the same as almond flour as it’s much more coarsely ground, and the almonds still have their skins on (so you’ll see flecks of dark brown).
I never bake with almond meal. It not only has a different mouthfeel, but it doesn’t behave the same in baking as almond flour. I always use finely ground blanched almond flour when I bake with Paleo flours.
I recommend using Honeyville blanched almond flour and the blanched almond flour from nuts.com. They’re both very finely ground, and can be purchased for the best price online.
Almond flour has a tendency to burn during baking, so I usually bake it in a 325°F oven, no higher. If you bake these cookies at a higher temperature, the bottoms will likely turn a bit black but it shouldn’t affect the taste too much.
Adding coconut flour to almond flour
The photos just above and below this section are made using almond flour and coconut flour. The other ingredients in these cookies remain the same for both varieties. When using coconut flour, though, you’ll see that the recipe calls for a bit more almond flour.
When you add even a small amount of coconut flour to these cookies, it creates quite a lot of structure and helps to give them that familiar “chew.” Coconut flour is commonly used in Paleo baking as it’s packed with fiber, low in calorie and creates structure very well.
Coconut flour tends to behave in a very strange, unique way in baking. It absorbs a significant amount of moisture, so it will make crumbly baked goods if its moisture needs aren’t satisfied by the other ingredients in the recipe.
The most common moisture source in most coconut flour recipes is eggs—often by the half dozen. Although the addition of so many eggs does prevent baked goods from being crumbly, it also tends to make them taste, well, like an omelet.
When making these cookies with coconut flour, you’ll also find that they don’t spread as much as the tapioca flour variety. It helps to press the balls of dough into flat disks before baking, so the cookies don’t end up too thick.
Adding tapioca starch to almond flour
Tapioca starch is “Paleo-legal,” but it’s still a starch. It can’t compare to the nutritional value of coconut flour, but it is significantly easier to bake with than coconut flour.
In fact, it’s so easy to bake with that I’ve used it as the only flour in certain recipes like our soft tapioca flour wraps. Like coconut flour, it rarely has a one for one substitute in baking, as it’s unique in its power to provide stretch and crispness to baked goods.
Other than its unique stretching capabilities, tapioca flour (also interchangeably called tapioca starch) can help provide crispness to baked goods. This recipe only calls for one-half cup (60 grams) of tapioca starch, but if you were to use a greater amount of tapioca starch you could even make truly crispy and crunchy Paleo chocolate chip cookies.
More and more, I have been hearing from readers who either need to replace tapioca starch in their diets, or are allergic to coconut in all its forms. As long as you’re not unable to have both tapioca starch and coconut flour, you can make one variety or another of these favorite chocolate chip cookies.
Ingredients and substitutions
Making this recipe is as easy as combining the dry ingredients in a bowl, whisking them, then adding the wet ingredients and mixing. If you have other food intolerances and allergies or are just hungry for more information about the ingredients in this recipe, here is everything I can tell you about the recipe components:
Almond flour: Almond flour can often usually be replaced successfully with raw cashew flour. If you need to make these almond flour chocolate chip cookies nut-free, you can try replacing the almond flour with sunflower seed flour. They may take on a greenish tint, though, as the baking soda will activate the chlorophyll in the sunflower seeds, but it’s harmless.
Egg-free: You can try using a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) for each of the eggs you’re replacing, but I’m honestly not sure how that would work in this recipe!
Coconut flour: See the discussion above about baking with coconut flour, and how you can avoid it in this recipe by using the almond flour/tapioca starch variety.
Coconut oil: In place of coconut oil, you can try using Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, or Melt brand VeganButter. Both should work great.
Sugar-free: You may be able to replace the coconut palm sugar in this recipe with Swerve brand granulated sugar replacement, but pay careful attention to the texture of the dough as Swerve tends to be drying. You cannot replace the granulated sugar with a liquid one, like maple syrup or honey. Instead, try this recipe for almond flour cookies.
Chocolate chips: Feel free to use whatever chips you like, or whatever other mix-ins in their place, like chopped nuts. Don’t eliminate the mix-in entirely, though, as it helps provide the cookies with some structure during baking.