Best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Recently, I got to spend a full day in the test kitchen with Elsa Goldman, our senior content producer and recipe developer extraordinaire, baking (and eating, yay!) batch after batch of gluten-free sugar cookies in pursuit of one we could call The Best.
Nine bakes and innumerable tweaks later, Elsa nailed it! What makes this recipe the best? It rolls out like a dream, bakes up with nice straight edges and tight corners, and — most importantly — it tastes amazing! It’s crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and super rich and buttery with a wonderfully salty finish.
I took a few cookies home to my favorite taster, the S.O., and he said, “These are so good. When do I get to try the gluten-free ones?”
That’s a win! And just in time for the holiday cookie bonanza: Our gluten-free cookies taste even better with a little royal icing piped on top — that salty-sweet balance is really something.
Tip: In step one, we pulse the gluten-free flour in the food processor a few times. This is optional, but we recommend it. Gluten-free flour can bake up a little grainy, and this gives you a more tender cookie and much better mouthfeel.
Yield: 36 cookies
For the sugar cookies:
2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp baking powder (gluten-free)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
For the royal icing:
3 egg whites
1 lb confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Food coloring (optional
Special equipment: Food processor, stand mixer, paddle attachment, and whisk attachment
- To make the cookie dough: In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, and xanthan gum together until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
- Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using), and beat on medium-low speed until well combined, 15 seconds.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour in 2 batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium, and beat for 1 minute.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a ¾”-thick disc. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until firm, 2 hours and preferably overnight.
- To bake the cookies: Preheat the oven 375º. Let the dough soften at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it to ¼”-thick. Cut the cookies into your favorite shapes. Dough scraps can be gently kneaded together and rerolled.
- Place the cookies 2” apart on parchment paper-lined sheet pans and freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the centers are set and the bottom edges are just golden. Let cool on wire racks completely before frosting.
- To make the royal icing: In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and a pinch of kosher salt on medium speed until foamy, 30 seconds.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners sugar 1 spoonful at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until smooth, 30 seconds.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until medium, shiny peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Immediately divide the icing between bowls, add food coloring if desired, and place plastic wrap flush against the icing to prevent it from solidifying.
- Decorate the cookies as desired. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Recipe source: Elsa Goldman