These soft gluten free cut out sugar cookies with a meringue-style frosting are in a class by themselves. They’ll hold any shape you like, and they’re absolutely scrumptious with that thick layer of buttercream frosting.

You know those soft frosted sugar cookies at the store? I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve basically got a Lofthouse copycat recipe here — except better! No one will know these gluten free sugar cookies aren’t the “real thing”!

These gluten free sugar cookies are so good, they make me want to wax lyrical about their fabulousness. Here’s why they’re so good:

  • Classic taste and texture — they’ve got the crispy edges and soft centers that you expect from the perfect sugar cookie
  • Sweet but not overpowering — on their own, they’re great cookies, but they’re even better with frosting
  • Perfect for all occasions — whether you’re making cut-out cookies or drop cookies, whether you’re making gluten free sugar cookies for Christmas or a birthday, this recipe delivers
  • Fast and easy preparation — Forgot a special occasion? In a rush? Just want a cookie, like, now? These soft gluten free sugar cookies are prepped, in the oven, and out, in just 30 minutes.
  • Dairy free and vegan substitutions — These cookies are naturally nut free when prepared as instructed, but you can eliminate further allergens by checking out my substitutions below.

Cut-out cookies with clean edges that hold their shape

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 gluten free cookies that can hold their shape so we can use whatever cookie cutters we please.

These gluten free sugar cut out 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, although we use gluten free flour, it’s stable enough that it’s even simple to cut out shapes and transfer them to the baking sheet. There is nothing fragile about the dough, but once you bake the gluten free sugar cookies, they’re tender and light as could be.

Prefer gluten free drop sugar cookies? I’ve got you

Don’t feel like pulling out the rolling pin and cookie cutters? We’ve all been there, and we all understand. For best results, you should try my gluten free drop sugar cookies recipe instead. But if you change your mind mid-recipe, here’s what you can do:

After kneading your dough, skip the rolling process and instead use a spoon to measure out consistently-sized clumps of dough.

Roll a piece of dough in your hands until it forms a ball, place it on the baking sheet, and flatten it using the palm of your hand. Voilà — you’ve got drop cookies!

Best of all, you can still decorate these drop cookies with colored frosting and sprinkles, or just plain powdered sugar, and I promise, no one will bat an eye at your gluten free sugar Christmas cookies that aren’t shaped like trees.

Gluten free soft frosted sugar cookies raw cutouts being separated from rest of the cookie dough.

When baking gluten free foods, whether it’s Christmas cookies or a delicious Chinese fake-out, there’s quite a bit to think about when it comes to selecting the best alternative ingredients for a gluten free diet. Gluten free flour is a key factor, of course, as are your choice of sugar and whether to use use dairy or plant-based alternatives.

Probably the most important decision you’ll make when gluten free baking is your choice of flour. There are so many out there, from single ingredient options like almond flour and rice flour to gf flour blends comprised of several different flours.

While each has its place in various gluten free cookie recipes, here’s what worked best for me.

I’ve perfected this gluten free sugar cookies recipe using Better Batter all purpose flour. It’s the gluten free flour blend I use most often for baking because it’s always produced amazing results.

If you’re looking for an alternative, you can also try Cup4Cup, or one of my “mock” all purpose gluten free flour blends that are just as good as the brand-name blends.

Both of these gluten free flour blends already contain xanthan gum, so you can leave that ingredient out of the gluten free cookie recipe below.

I haven’t tried any other gluten free flours for these sugar cookies, so I can’t vouch for any other methods. I highly recommend that you use Better Batter, but if you don’t have access to it, you’ll need to experiment with others on your own.

Whatever you do, be sure you’re using a gluten free flour blend — single flours like almond flour or coconut flour don’t have binders and will require totally different moisture ratios.

Gluten free flour may be the most important ingredient, but it’s nothing without its supporting cast:

  • Baking powder – helps the cookies puff out and spread a bit so they’re not dense
  • Sugar – you can’t have sugar cookies without the sugar, but we don’t go overboard in this recipe — you only need 1/2 cup, plus 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • Butter – keeps the cookies soft and tender, while contributing to their amazing flavor
  • Egg – the egg acts as a binder to keep your cookies together, while also adding richness and moisture
  • Vanilla extract – vanilla extract is a flavor enhancer that really takes these gf sugar cookies to another level
  • Salt – also a flavor enhancer, it helps balance the sweetness, so it’s not overwhelming

Tips for making the best gluten free cut out sugar cookies

No matter for what occasion you’re making these gluten free roll out cookies, they’re sure to be a hit. To ensure you achieve the perfect soft, frosted sugar cookies, follow my tips below.

This cookie dough can be made, rolled out, cut out, and baked without any change in temperature (no chilling the cookie dough!) because the moisture balance is just right.

You’ll find that the dough resembles moist crumbs and clumps, and you might be tempted to add more moisture.

Please don’t add anything extra — but do make sure you’re measuring your ingredients (especially the gluten free flour) by weight, not volume, since the right balance of ingredients is essential to this simple recipe.

Knead your dough by hand or machine

Once you reach a uniform mixture that resembles moist crumbs and clusters, knead the dough with clean hands to bring it together before rolling it out.

If you’re planning to make a double recipe, you may want to use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment instead of a bowl and spoon.

A stand mixer will make quick work of bringing the dough together into a cohesive whole, ready to be rolled out.

I fully support wiggling in anticipation of these delicious gluten free sugar cookies, but when it comes to the cookie cutter, you’re doing it to ensure that the cut dough fully separates from the surrounding sheet. This will prevent the dreaded tearing and stretching that will make your cookies look weird.

Don’t frost your gluten free sugar cookies until they cool completely

To keep your frosting from becoming a melty, runny mess, let your gluten free sugar cookies cool completely before you start decorating.

I recommend you use the buttercream frosting that I share below, but if you have something else you’d like to try, experiment and let me know in the comments how it went.

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!

Buttercream frosting for easy gluten free sugar cookies

This frosting recipe is super thick, and unlike what I would generally use to frost cupcakes. It’s very stable because we add a touch of meringue powder to the mixture.

Like Lofthouse cookies, these gluten free cut out sugar cookies can travel. If you don’t have meringue powder, you can leave it out, and the frosting will just be softer.

How to decorate sugar cookies

To pipe frosting, you can do it in a classic cupcake-style swirl, which is easy enough using a medium-sized open piping tip.

You can also begin with a simple mound of dough piped onto the cookie with the same medium-sized open piping tip.

I also use the swoop, which is one of my favorites. It’s made with a moistened teaspoon that is inserted into the center of the frosting at an angle and then swirled lightly in a circle.

The classic Lofthouse-style shape is the flattened top, made using a small moistened offset spatula or a simple wide butter knife. Simply use the spatula or knife to flatten the mound of frosting into a disk and smooth the top as evenly as possible.

For all these shapes, allow the frosting to set at room temperature until it becomes semi-hard. That will allow you to transport the cookies if needed. You can even layer them if you place a sheet of waxed or parchment paper gently between layers.

For a truly hard surface, use royal icing in place of frosting. Simply click the link in the previous sentence for a royal icing recipe with complete instructions.

I used a #4 piping tip to outline and then “flood” the center, sprinkling decorations immediately before the icing has dried.

Gluten free cutout sugar cookies on display, each with royal icing and sprinkle decorations.

Coloring the frosting for gluten free sugar cookies

You can, of course, add some food coloring to the frosting or to the royal icing. I recommend gel coloring because liquid food coloring will 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 the anti-food-coloring people seem to expect more from a gluten free recipe than I think they would of a conventional recipe. If you want to speak out against food coloring, feel free to do so elsewhere on the Internet!

Easy gluten free sugar cookies for every holiday

Seriously, there is no time of year when these gluten free cookies wouldn’t be a good idea.

Valentine’s Day? Check.

Fourth of July? Yes, please!

Gluten free Christmas cut out cookies in the shapes of Santa, snowmen, stockings, stars, and more? Of course!

This recipe yields the perfect gluten free holiday sugar cookies, but if you’re looking for more meals and desserts to round out the menu on your special occasion, check out my archive of gluten free holiday recipes for more ideas.

Gluten free cutout sugar cookies with royal icing and sprinkle decorations, in a tall stack.

Gluten free sugar cookies: substitutions

If you or a loved one suffers from food allergies, check out my suggestions below to eliminate dairy and eggs from my gluten sugar cookies recipe.

Gluten free, dairy free sugar cookies

There is butter in both the gluten free sugar 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 gf sugar 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.

Gluten free, egg free sugar cookies

There is only one egg in the cookie recipe, so you should be able to replace it with a “chia egg” or a “flax egg” egg substitute (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 is 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. I don’t know of any egg free alternative to meringue powder for making royal icing.

Gluten free, nut free sugar cookies

There are no nut products in my gluten free sugar cookie recipe, so if you have an allergy, these treats are safe to enjoy.

If you deviate from my recipe by using a different flour blend or other ingredients, be sure to check product packaging and ingredients lists to be sure the substitutions are also nut free.

Gluten free, sugar free sugar cookies

As these are sugar cookies, I wouldn’t really recommend replacing the sugar.

However, if you’d like to try a sugar substitute, I’d suggest Lankato brand monkfruit granulated sugar substitute. It has a similar texture to granulated sugar, so it might just work. Note that this sweetener is drying, so your dough may be more difficult to work with.

If you’re looking for an alternative to heavily refined cane sugar, you can try coconut sugar or fructose.

Storing your gluten free sugar cookies

The secret to maintaining fresh-tasting cookies is to keep them away from air and moisture. That means waiting until your cookies are completely cooled before storing them and then keeping them in an airtight container.

You can use an airtight cookie jar or other food storage container if you have it. But in a pinch, throwing cookies in a zip-top bag also works.

If you’re giving away the cookies, put them in a zip-top bag and then place that bag inside of a decorative plastic airtight container for a more finished presentation.

If you need to store your cookies for longer than a few days, you can pop them into the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, just snack straight from the container or let your cookies sit on the counter for a few minutes to defrost.

Gluten free soft cutout sugar cookies with royal icing, stored in a large glass jar.

FAQs

Are sugar cookies gluten free?

Unless otherwise labeled, sugar cookies you buy at the store or make from a recipe book are not gluten free.

They use wheat flour, semolina, malt, and other ingredients that may contain gluten. And yes, that includes those pretty Lofthouse cookies!

If you’re avoiding gluten, you need a traditional flour-less sugar cookie recipe. The recipe below fits the bill, using a gluten free flour that’s perfect for celiacs and anyone else who doesn’t want to or can’t consume gluten.

Can I use baking powder instead of xanthan gum in this recipe for gluten free cookies?

No, you cannot substitute baking powder for xanthan gum in this gluten free sugar cookie recipe or any recipe, for that matter.

You use baking powder in cookie recipes to help with rise and spreading. Xanthan gum, on the other hand, is a binder — it’s what holds your cookies together in the absence of gluten.

Of course! When you mix all the dry ingredients for these cookies and store it in an airtight container, it’s really not that different than buying a bagged mix from the store.

When you’re ready to bake, just dump your gluten free sugar cookie mix into a bowl and add your wet ingredients.

If you’ve got the right ratio of ingredients, you’ll find that your dough resembles moist crumbs and clumps.

However, if you’re off in your measurements or have you used a different kind of gluten free flour, your dough may come out excessively crumbly.

I don’t like recommending that you mess with the ratios in any recipe, but you can try adding one to two half-teaspoons of water and kneading again to achieve the right consistency. Go slowly, though, since you don’t want a drop more water than absolutely essential, or your cookies won’t keep their shape in the oven!

On the other side of the spectrum, a gluten free sugar cookie dough that’s too sticky to roll out is the result of too much moisture.

To fix this issue, you can try one of two things. First, place your dough in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to help it firm up.

If that doesn’t help enough, add a tablespoon of your gluten free flour blend and knead again.

Why are some of my gluten free sugar cookies hard and others soft?

Most likely, you rolled out your sugar cookie dough a bit unevenly. That means some cookies came out thinner, baking faster and becoming crispier, while others didn’t bake long enough, resulting in a softer gf sugar cookie.

To achieve a more consistent result, just be more careful with your rolling. Your goal is to roll the gluten free cookie dough to about 1/3-inch thick.

How do I know when gluten free cut out sugar cookies are done baking?

For this gf cookie recipe, you’ll want to bake for just 6 to 8 minutes. This is long enough for the cookies to set on top and maybe start to brown at the edges.

Resist the urge to wait until your cookies are golden brown (or even barely golden brown) all over. If you over-bake them, you won’t get that soft, chewy texture you’re expecting.

You can definitely freeze this gluten free cookie dough so that you always have some on hand.

Prepare the sugar cookie recipe as instructed, making sure that you can roll it out. Once you’ve achieved the perfect consistency, shape the dough into a ball or a log.

Wrap your sugar cookie dough in three layers of plastic wrap to create an airtight seal. The dough will last two to three months in the freezer.

When you’re ready to make cookies, defrost the dough by leaving it on the counter for about an hour or keeping it in the refrigerator overnight. Once it’s pliable, roll it out and get to baking!

Gluten free soft frosted sugar cookies decorated with sprinkles, sitting on rack

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Best Gluten Free Sugar Cookie | Roll-Out Recipe for Cut-Out Cookies

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Pull out the cookie cutters, because this is the perfect gluten free sugar cookie recipe for holidays and special occasions. We got the frosting covered too!
Course Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free cutout sugar cookies, gluten free sugar cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Resting time 12 hours
Servings 24 cookies
Author Nicole Hunn

Equipment

  • Stand mixer or handheld mixer

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 2 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter), plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum omit if your blend already contains it
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting (see recipe notes for alternative)

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons meringue powder LorAnn and AmeriColor brands are gluten free
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Seeds from one vanilla bean optional
  • Sprinkles optional

Instructions

Make the cookies

  • 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, and mix to moisten the dry ingredients with the butter, until the mixture looks sandy, pressing down on the butter with the back of the mixing spoon.
  • Add the egg and vanilla, and mix to combine, until the dry ingredients are all moistened with the wet.
  • With clean, dry hands, knead the mixture together to form a cohesive dough. It will be thick and relatively stiff.
  • Place the dough on a clean, flat surface, and roll it into a round a bit less than 1/3-inch thick, sprinkling very lightly with flour to prevent the rolling pin from sticking.
  • Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter (or whatever shape you like), cut out shapes from the dough and place them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  • It can be helpful to remove the surrounding dough from the cutouts, and then peel the shapes off. Gather and reroll the scraps and repeat the process until you’ve used all the dough.
  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cookies are just set on top, 6 to 8 minutes, depending upon size and shape. The edges of some cookies may brown slightly.
  • Remove them from the oven before there is any significant browning, and allow them to cool on the baking sheet until set before transferring them 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. Increase the mixer speed 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 optional vanilla seeds and as much of the rest of the confectioners’ sugar as necessary to thicken the frosting, and beat to combine well.
  • 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 the cookies to set at room temperature until the frosting hardens a bit. Store any leftovers in an airtight glass container at room temperature. Freeze any plain cookies for longer storage.

Video

Notes

Alternative to frosting: royal icing.

Originally posted on the blog in 2012. In 2020, photos mostly original, video new, text added; in 2022, more text resources and facts added.

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 post Best Gluten Free Cut Out Sugar Cookies | Easy Roll-Out Recipe appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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