Gluten Free Cutout Sugar Cookies

Gluten Free Cutout Sugar Cookies

These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They’ll hold any shape you like!

These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They'll hold any shape you like!

Remember Lofthouse cookies?

Whenever I go into the grocery store, those bakery cookies catch my eye, the little vixens. They’re in a plastic clamshell case, stacked in that half-overlap manner, thick (usually pink) frosting above a pillow-soft, light, and sweet cookie.

Topped with a sprinkling of something that most decidedly does not exist in nature. Be still my heart. ❤️

I might just be there for some bananas, lettuce and maybe an avocado, some spices and, say, some rice and beans. You know, exciting stuff. But those cookies are right there, right as you walk in.

I know what sort of foods are good for me and my family. I know those sugar cookies do not qualify as healthy. But there’s just something about biting into that impossibly soft sugar cookie with the thick icing that says celebrate!

These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They'll hold any shape you like!

Why we need a cutout cookie with clean edges

Every holiday and every season needs its own cookie: St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Spring celebrations, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day… Need I go on? We all need a cookie that can hold its shape, so we can use whatever cookie cutter we please.

These gluten free cutout sugar cookies are seriously so easy to make from scratch. The dough has very few ingredients so it comes together very quickly.

It’s super simple to roll out, and stable enough that it’s even simple to cut out shapes and transfer them to the baking sheet. There is nothing fragile about this recipe. But once you bake the cookies, they’re tender and light as could be.

These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They'll hold any shape you like!

The frosting is thicker than most

This frosting recipe is super thick. It’s not what I would generally use to frost cupcakes.

And it’s very stable because we add a touch of meringue powder to the mixture. Like Lofthouse cookies, if you wanted to travel with these cookies in tow, they could handle it.

If you don’t have meringue powder, just skip it. The frosting will just be a bit softer.

These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They'll hold any shape you like!

If you ever want to celebrate just a little bit, you can always cut this cookie dough into miniature shapes, like the miniature X cookie you see in the photo above. This dough will really, truly hold any shape you like.

These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They'll hold any shape you like!

Can you make frosting in a different color?

You can, of course, add some food coloring to the frosting (I encourage it!), but use gel coloring or it will really alter the moisture balance and make the frosting soft and weepy. AmeriColor brand gel food colorings are reliably gluten free, and the colors are super vibrant.

I left out the coloring here because, to be honest, the anti-food-coloring people are loud and proud. And yes, haters gonna hate, but I’d rather steer clear of the extra angry emails if I can…

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy-free: There is butter in both the cookie recipe and in the frosting recipe. I have successfully replaced the butter in the cookie dough with Melt brand vegan butter. The edges of the cookies aren’t quite as blunt and clean as they are when you make the recipe exactly as written, but the recipe still turns out and tastes great.

The butter in the frosting recipe can be replaced most effectively with Spectrum brand butter-flavored nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. It has quite a lot less moisture than butter, though, so you might not need as much confectioners’ sugar to reach the proper consistency.

For the milk in the frosting, you can use any unsweetened nondairy milk. My favorite is unsweetened almond milk, but nearly any will do here. 

Egg-free: There is only one egg in the cookie recipe, so you should be able to replace it 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. Cover them with frosting and no one will even know!

Meringue powder: Meringue powder is usually made of egg white powder, sugar, a starch, and some stabilizers. You can try using egg white powder in its place, but it won’t work exactly the same way.

If you can’t have eggs, I’d just eliminate meringue powder as an ingredient altogether. The frosting will just be a bit softer. 


These soft gluten free cutout sugar cookies with a meringue-type frosting are in a class by themselves. They'll hold any shape you like!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 24 cookies


For the cookies
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like (mock) Better Batter with this recipe)

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

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting
10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons meringue powder (LorAnn brand is gluten free)

4 cups (460 g) confectioners’ sugar

Sprinkles (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.

  • 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, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and relatively stiff, and you may need to squeeze it together with your hands to bring all of it together.

  • Roll the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper into a round a bit less than 1/3-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set, about 6 to 8 minutes, depending upon size. The edges of some of the cookies may brown slightly. Take them out before there is any significant browning. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool until set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter, milk and vanilla, and mix on medium speed until combined. Turn the speed up to high and mix until creamy. Add the salt, meringue powder and about 3 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Mix slowly until the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until it becomes uniformly thick. Add the rest of the confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting.

  • Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe or spoon a generous amount of frosting onto the top of each, and spread into an even layer with a wide knife or offset spatula. Scatter sprinkles, if desired. Allow to set at room temperature until the frosting hardens a bit. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

  • Originally posted on the blog in 2012. Recipe unchanged, photos mostly original, video new.


Comments are closed.

  • […] Nicole (the goddess of gluten free baking) on her gluten free blog has the perfect recipe for this classic sugar cookie.  I’ve made it a bunch of times, it always turns out, and it’s […]

  • Susan
    March 6, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    Does making the dough & freezing it until ready to bake cookies affect the texture, etc?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 6, 2017 at 12:10 PM

      As long as you wrap the dough very tightly and prevent any air at all from getting into the container, you should be able to freeze the cookie dough raw, Susan. But honestly I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s so easy to make, I would recommend making it fresh. If the dough dries out at all, you won’t be able to roll it.

  • Sumayah
    March 5, 2017 at 3:17 PM

    It was very helpful Thank you

  • […] Cutout sugar cookies. […]

  • Anna
    March 2, 2017 at 7:58 PM

    Long time follower. Thank you for all your recipes. I have done several and you are amazing! I have two questions for you. Can you use egg whites instead of meringue powder? And you use a butter substitute?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 3, 2017 at 8:19 AM

      Hi, Anna!
      I’m afraid that you can’t use egg whites in the frosting, no. You can leave out the meringue powder, and the frosting just won’t set up like it would with the powder. The meringue powder really just makes the cookies, well, stackable once they’re set. Does that make sense>
      And for a butter substitute, I would try Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening in butter flavor (by weight). Earth Balance has way too much moisture and the cookies would likely not hold their shape. Hope that helps!

  • youngbaker2002
    March 1, 2017 at 8:40 PM

    One of our favorite cookies!

    • Marcia
      March 2, 2017 at 8:08 PM

      One of the easiest GF cookies I have made. Will use this recipe over and over. Dipped mine in melted chocolate.

      • Nicole Hunn
        March 3, 2017 at 8:19 AM

        Woohoo! Dipping them in chocolate sounds decadent, Marcia. I like the way you think. 😊

  • Anneke
    October 14, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Made the cookies today, Tim ate FOUR in one sitting!  Made my teeth hurt just watching him.  He was quite happy, and I am sure he will have more for breakfast.  They are so delicious, just like I remember, you are a genius!

    • gfshoestring
      October 15, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      Four of these cookies, frosting and all, is like an extreme sport, Anneke! If anyone can do it, a teenage boy can, though. So glad you liked them. See – you can make cookies!
      xoxo Nicole

  • kclark
    October 14, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    I made these today and my friend who is Celiac had them. She said that they were BETTER than what she remembers those store bought cookies to be. Really, it was a Meg Ryan moment. I thought I should leave the room because she was so excited.  Not Kidding!

  • Betty-Gayle Dove
    October 12, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Thank you Nicole for working so hard and then sharing your fantastic results with us.  I want you to know that I love your reading your blog.  There is rarely a day that your posts do not bring a smile to my face.  Today…..I am quite literally laughing out loud! Thanks again and these cookies look amazing.  My sister & I have always called the bakery version of these cookies “chemical” cookies, because they stay soft no matter what. LOL

  • Stacy
    October 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    These look awesome! Thanks for sharing the recipe….these will make perfect pumpkins! Just out of curiosity, how do these compare to the sugar cookies in your first cookbook? That recipe is a favorite and has earned lots of praise and many doubts that they were really gluten free cookies!

    • gfshoestring
      October 11, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Hi, Stacy, That’s a great question. That recipe is a more traditional sugar cookie, lightly browned and chewier. These are pillow-soft, thicker and melt in your mouth in a way that is a bit reminiscent of butter cookies (in texture). Personally, I think you need both recipes! And the one in the book is much better for decorating cookies with royal icing. This one is too soft for detail work.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Stacy
        October 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        Ok, thanks! I agree, the cookbook cookies are great for decorating and made a perfect welcome home treat last week for my sis and new nephew:).

  • Rpcolwell
    October 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    I made these yesterday and they are soooo good! My son loved them. I loved the idea of rolling the dough between the parchment paper. It worked great.

  • Patti
    October 11, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Be still my heart!  Thank you Nicole. Cookie on my most wanted list.

    And yes, I read the part about a cookie book…………..hot dang!  And, and………..a bread cookbook 12/13.  You Go Girl!!

    • gfshoestring
      October 11, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Thanks, Patti! The clone book is still just a thought, not pitched yet to the publisher. But it’s deep in my heart. :) The bread book is underway already!
      xoxo Nicole

      • kclark
        October 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        Love the idea of the clone book and of course the bread book!

  • Lauren Olson
    October 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I made these last night for my kiddos (and for my husband to have for breakfast, just don’t tell the kids) they are fantastic! I love the at the dough does not need to be refrigerated, and the cookies hold their shape with minimal to no spreading, perfect for all of the upcoming sugary holidays!

    • gfshoestring
      October 11, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      I won’t tell. I don’t dime, Lauren. I live in a glass house. ;) These are very good for the upcoming sugary holidays!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Beth Welsh
    October 10, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    We’re dye-free too because my son has varying degrees of almost psycho reactions to them. India tree makes vegetable based dyes and most recently a sugar dyed the same way. You can buy them on Amazon. There will be sticker shock, but keep them in the fridge and they last much longer. You can’t make ever color, but at least everything doesn’t have to be white. Caramel color doesn’t bother my son, so we can use things with that.  Also, I’ve noticed that you’ll get a pretty intense blue from dehydrated blueberries (powdered with smashing). Any fruit that has intense color is probably pretty similar. Pay attention to which fruit dye your fingers. Those are the ones you want. 

  • October 10, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    Oh, Nicole, I know those cookies of which you speak – I run my daughter by them quickly when we are in the grocery store so she doesn’t get sad that she can’t eat them. They are so alluring with their puffy white domes covered in unnaturally bright icing, often color coded by season or holiday. So THANK YOU for this awesome looking recipe. Yet – your conundrum, is totally valid! I have been wondering how you handle the whole recipe-a-day thingie versus publishing cookbooks. It’s kind of insanely amazing and generous of you to give us so many recipes for FREE when it’s your job to um, not really do that, at least not all the time. Maybe because I used to work in book publishing, or maybe because I’d like to write my own (fiction) book some day, that I really do understand what you’re saying, and my two cents is, do what you need to do and I’ll still be here, reading whatever you feel like writing, clone recipes or not. 

  • Mary
    October 10, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    THANK YOU!!!

  • cynthia
    October 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Once again you have come to save the day! I was thinking of making a 45 min drive to gluten free bakery to get soft frosted sugar cookies for Camden today….low and behold you post this! (insert claps and cheers). I can’t make them today (missing one ingredient) but I will be whipping some up tomorrow! Thanks!!!

  • Mrsthe97
    October 10, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Thank you sooo much for this recipe!! I want to make this for Hallowe’en. Do you think I would need to bake them longer if I made bats instead of circles? I bought the black gel food coloring recently for my zombie costume, so I’m all set for the frosting. I’m happy and excited to make these!! <3

  • Candaceiw
    October 10, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    need….to….get….gf…flour….my kids are going to love you! Yes, I will give you the credit! I made ranger cookies, your zucchini bread in the form of muffins (kinda like wonder twins, they transform easily to muffins from bread)…and I  made beef, veggie and lentil soup…okay, now I am just bragging at all the work I did last night. lol

    Need to get more gf flour so I can be a hero and make these cookies! YUM!

  • kclark
    October 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Dewd, really? Jordan asks me about those crazy pink frosted cookies A LOT.  Now they have orange frosted ones with black sprinkles for Halloween.  I could reach across all the States that separate us and kiss you.  I need to figure out where to buy meringue powder cuz I want them to be like yours.  You mentioned your hair flying behind you and I laughed.  Isn’t that a picture of all of us working moms in general?  And isn’t your hair pretty short?  I think I may need to see a re-enactment, lol.  

    • Candaceiw
      October 10, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      meringue powder is usually in the wilton section at hobby lobby…small can.

      a dewd…did you know a dude is a pimple on an elephant’s butt?? We are so trying to get that word out my my four kids’ vocab……not even the truth behind what it is prompts them into changing it…lol… :)

      • kclark
        October 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        @ Candaceiw hahaha. My son would laugh so hard if I told him what a dude is and then he would use the word more. I am coastal in California so dude is a righteous surfer looking for some tasty waves.  Annoying as all get out actually. 

      • Candaceiw
        October 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        @kclark, although we are midwest, we are water people too and windsurf and paddleboard and growing up in the 80’s Valley Girl was my favorite movie, along with loving Spicoli ;)  So, the word has always been in my vocabulary too. It just comes out of there mouth so often…I guess worse could come from their mouths…right?! lol

    • gfshoestring
      October 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Wilton meringue powder is generally pretty easy to come by, like Candace mentioned. Hobby shops almost always have it. It’s actually quite useful. I used it because I wanted a very stable frosting and didn’t want to use gelatin or make 7 minute frosting, which looks pretty but is glossy and then tends to melt. I recommend picking some up. And I’ll take that kiss now. Make ’em for Halloween! Oh, and funny you asked about my hair. I’ve been growing it out forever and ever and ever, and at my most recent haircut, my hairdresser said that it is below my shoulders! One more way for me to look like a lunatic, running through the grocery store. :)
      xoxo Nikki

      • kclark
        October 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        Wow, I need to see that!

  • Sarah
    October 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    I am a dye free person but not one one of the crazies I promise! I really appreciate you posting the pics without the dye because my daughter can’t have it. She has an equally and sometimes worse response to dye then she does gluten. It will be nice to make these with her and not have her “wanting” the ones on the blog instead of mine because they aren’t colored.

    • Candaceiw
      October 10, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Sarah, my son gets abdominal migranes from artificial colors, flavors and dyes….and I have been trying to find a source of natural colors so not everything I make is so “not colorful” and vanilla….this is not the website where I originally found them, but are something similar…natural, plant-based dyes…I so want to try them…


    • gfshoestring
      October 10, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      Gotcha. Thank you for not going postal on me! I actually once got a finger-wagging email from the Feingold people once in response to a recipe I posted using food dye. Too bad it’s not a free country any more. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kristy B.
    October 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    How do you think the c4c clone would work here? I only ask because I mixed a bunch of it to make pasty crust and I have a lot left. I’m guessing fluffier cookie?

    • kclark
      October 10, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Kristy, I am going to jump in here because I use the C4C mock for almost everything (not quite everything). That is just my personal preference.  However, usually something like this recipe that is very specific (clone), I usually follow the recipe as written. Then if I think it will hold up with the mock, I go from there based on my own personal preferences.  I hope that helps.

      • gfshoestring
        October 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        I had considered using my mock C4C, but like Kristi said, I would try to start with Better Batter, if you have it. But if you don’t, and you don’t need the cookies for a beauty contest or anything, give it a whirl. I think it might just be too starchy, and too low in xanthan gum which would make the cookies really fragile, but it’s worth a shot!
        Thanks for jumping in, kclark!
        xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    October 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Perfect timing! I am making cut outs for the hayride this weekend…I’ll make them in leaf shapes, though. Thank you THANK YOU!!!!

    • gfshoestring
      October 10, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Sounds festive, Pam. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Margaret
    October 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I am so excited to see this recipe!  Thank you for taking the time to create it.  And while I love all the recipes you post here (and I look forward to seeing photos of your wonderful creations every day) I understand that there is only one of you.  If limiting the posts here allows you to create more recipes for books, I understand.  

    • gfshoestring
      October 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      Thank you for your understanding, Margaret! And it would just be a time limit, if anything, for the free recipe remaining on the blog. Not limiting new posts, and not all recipes would be time-limited.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Margaret
        October 10, 2012 at 5:36 PM

         I couldn’t help it.  I already made them.  But I did make one tiny change.  It’s a secret (not so secret now) ingredient that I have always added to sugar cookies.  I added 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring.  And let me tell you this.  If I had kids around today (which I don’t) they would already be gone.  Gone as in zip, nada, zero. As it is, my husband and I will have to endure and find a way to eat them or share them or somehow get rid of them.  Hmmm….I don’t think it will take very long to find takers.  So simple!  So good!  Thank you, thank you!

  • Dfal182
    October 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    My dd has wanted this recipe since day one of g-free! Please don’t stop your “free” recipes. I have NO income since hubs stroke 4yrs ago. I would love to buy a cook book or just anything. Thank you for all your amazing recipes! Dee

    • gfshoestring
      October 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      Dee, I’m not talking about stopping the blog. I’m just talking about potentially having some recipes be up on the blog for a limited period of time. I’m very sensitive to others’ limited means (after all, this is a blog about doing GF on a shoestring!), but publishing free recipes is a very, very expensive proposition for me. I may have to create limits, that’s all.

  • Anneke
    October 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Okay, so you can’t hear him (possibly because he has been at school for a couple of hours already, and doesn’t know this recipe is on the blog), but my son is screaming, cheering, and leaping around the house in complete and utter joy about this post.  Seriously.  These are his most favoritest cookies EVER.  He looks at those packages in the store with the pitiful puppydog face that so makes me want to buy them, but I won’t, even though I really, really want to do it for him.  I once paid GF bakery prices for these babies, because the puppy face got to me, but this is sooooo much better!

    I know that you are supposed to be my best friend, but my son (Tim, by the way) has just stolen you away from me so that you can be his best friend and make cookies for him everyday.  Although, if I can pull off making these for him (let’s remember my past cookie baking issues), maybe he will be my best friend, too.  Are we supposed to be best friends with our teenagers?  I don’t think so, but these cookies  will change the whole scope of my parenting future!

    Love, love, love you!

    • gfshoestring
      October 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      Oh, I can hear him, Anneke. And you. The both of you. And I’ll see you that chorus, and then join you. I’m not positive if you’re meant to be your kid’s BFF, so maybe you should just let ME be his BFF. And, by the way, why oh why would you be so in need of a good recipe for something baked and GF, and keep that info jealously to yourself? Some best friend you are… ;)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Anneke
        October 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

        Well, ’cause they are cookies?  And I am not good with cookies?  You are so right, I must have complete faith in my son’s best friend, Nicole, who can do anything!  Usually, I don’t know that I need the recipe until you post it, then I need it RIGHT NOW!  Like these cookies.  Yum.


  • Bonnie8398
    October 10, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    These look delicious!  If anyone tries to make these using sugar and dairy substitutions please post your results.  Thanks for posting this with plenty of time before Christmas!

    • Kelly Elardo
      October 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

       Bonnie I will do just that and post back to this post.  I haven’t had too much differences in the past with dairy free options

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