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Gluten-free Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Crispy gluten-free lemon shortbread cookies that are filled with citrus lemon flavor. These delicious cookies are easy to make and ready in just 40 minutes, but they are also dairy-free and vegan! Perfect for holiday baking this Christmas season!

Hand reaching for a half-eaten gluten-free shortbread cookie.

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I love the year-end holiday season because of all the beautiful things during this time of year – Christmas music, gatherings with family and friends, and of course, the holiday baking that fills my house with the glorious aromas of fresh cookies baking in the oven!

Our Favorite Gluten-Free Cookies

And of course, we can’t forget about these gluten-free shortbread cookies that are filled with citrus lemon flavor. You’ll want to make a batch this season for your holiday cookie tray!

Gluten-free lemon shortbread cookies in a wooden bowl.

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Simple Ingredients: The ingredients required for this gluten-free lemon shortbread cookies recipe are easily accessible at the local grocery store.
  • Easy to Make: Preparing the gluten-free shortbread cookies is simply a matter of combining the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients to get the dough. Once the dough is formed, it’s all a matter of rolling the dough out and then cutting it into pieces before baking.
  • Totally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Vegan: Traditional shortbread cookies are usually made with wheat flour and butter. However, this gluten-free shortbread recipe is 100% gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan (we’re using gluten-free flours instead of wheat flour, and coconut oil in place of butter), which means that even those with Celiac disease, or gluten and lactose intolerances, or those simply on a gluten-free diet can enjoy it without worries.
Hand reaching for a fresh lemon on marble board.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

Here’s a visual overview of the ingredients required for this gluten-free lemon shortbread recipe.

(For exact measurements and quantities, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.)

cornbread in a cast iron skillet
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Ingredients required for gluten-free lemon shortbread cookies.

Recipe Notes + Substitutions:

  • Coconut Oil: I prefer using refined coconut oil for baking as it has a neutral taste (as opposed to extra virgin coconut oil, which has a more pronounced coconut flavor and smell). You may also use vegan butter if you prefer. Alternatively, if you are not lactose-intolerant, feel free to use softened unsalted butter instead.
  • Maple Syrup: I used maple syrup to keep the recipe vegan. You may also use agave nectar instead. Alternatively, if you are not vegan, you can use honey instead. If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant, I strongly recommend using Lakanto sugar-free maple syrup (a 1:1 maple syrup substitute that is zero glycemic index and will not raise your blood sugar).
  • Sugar: I used white sugar, but feel free to use light brown sugar if you prefer. If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant, I highly recommend using Lakanto monkfruit sweetener (a 1:1 sugar substitute that is zero glycemic index and will not raise your blood sugar).
  • Vanilla Extract: I like adding vanilla extract for extra flavor, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it or would rather not add it in.
  • Lemon Zest/Juice: I recommend using fresh lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest for the best results and flavor.
  • Rice Flour: I used white rice flour, but you may also use brown rice flour if you prefer.
  • Tapioca Starch: If you don’t have tapioca starch, you may also use equal quantities of arrowroot starch instead.
  • Corn Starch: If you don’t have corn starch, you may use potato starch instead.
  • Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is the replacement for gluten in gluten-free flours, and is required to bind the ingredients together. Make sure you include xanthan gum for the best results.

How to Make Gluten-Free Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Step by Step):

1. Preheat and Line

Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, wax paper or a silpat.

2. Prepare Rolling Area

Prepare a rolling area with a two additional sheets of parchment paper or silpat.

3. Beat Sugar and Wet Ingredients

Place softened coconut oil in a large mixing bowl and whip it until it becomes creamy. Add in maple syrup, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt, and then mix to combine.

4. Whisk Dry Ingredients

In another bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, xanthan gum and lemon zest. Mix well.

5. Combine Ingredients to Form Dough

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until you get a homogeneous dough.

(Tip: The dough should not be too sticky, but should press together when pinched. If dough is too dry, add a little bit more of liquid sweetener; if dough is too wet, add a bit more of rice flour, until you get the right texture.)

Gluten-free shortbread cookie dough in a large wooden bowl.

6. Roll Out Dough

Transfer the dough onto the working area and knead it very well. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2-inch (1cm) thickness between the two sheets of parchment paper.

Rolling out shortbread cookie dough on a silicon mat.

7. Cut Dough into Rectangles

Cut the dough into small rectangles.

Place rectangles of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and use a fork to poke three lines of holes in each rectangle.

Using a fork to poke holes in cookie dough rectangles.

8. Bake Until Golden

Bake cookies for 12 t0 14 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden. Cookies will harden as they cool. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack at room temperature before eating.

Freshly baked gluten-free shortbread cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Dish by Dish Tips/Tricks:

  • Swap Out Lemon for Other Citrus Fruits: If you wish to make this with other flavors, you can substitute the lemon with orange, lime, or grapefruit.
  • Cut Dough into Shape of Choice: In this recipe, I cut the dough into rectangles, but you may also use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into different shapes (circles, hearts, stars etc).
  • Use a Gluten-Free Flour Blend: If you prefer to use a gluten free flour blend instead, swap out the rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch with an equal amount of gluten-free all-purpose flour. I recommend using a good quality gluten-free flour blend that is made with lighter flours and starches (such as rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch or potato starch) for best results. I do NOT recommend using a GF blend that is made of heavier flours (such as garbanzo bean flour).
  • Decorate These Shortbread Cookies: Feel free to use icing sugar to decorate the cookies, or you can also dip the shortbread in melted chocolate!

Recipe FAQs:

How to Store These Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies?

To store, place the cooled gluten free shortbread cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Can I Freeze the Cookie Dough?

Yes you may freeze the dough. Simply shape the shortbread cookie dough into a dough ball and then wrap it with various layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to one month before using. Let cookie dough thaw at room temperature before rolling it and then cutting the dough into the shape you prefer.

Shortbread cookies in wooden bowl on marble board.

P.S. If you try this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating below, and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. I always appreciate your feedback. Be sure to check out my entire Recipe Index for all the recipes on the blog. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram! Sign up for my Email List to get fresh recipes in your inbox each week!

Gluten-free Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Vegan)
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Gluten-free Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Vegan)

Gluten-free Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Vegan)


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

Description

Crispy gluten-free lemon shortbread cookies that are filled with citrus lemon flavor. These delicious cookies are easy to make and ready in just 40 minutes, but they are also dairy-free and vegan! Perfect for holiday baking this Christmas season!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Instructions

  1. Preheat and Line: Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Prepare Rolling Area: Prepare a rolling area with a two additional sheets of parchment paper or silpat.
  3. Beat Sugar and Wet Ingredients: Place softened coconut oil in a large bowl and whip it until it becomes creamy. Add in maple syrup, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt, and then mix to combine.
  4. Whisk Dry Ingredients: In another bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, xanthan gum and lemon zest. Mix well.
  5. Combine Ingredients to Form Dough: Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until you get a homogeneous dough. The dough should not be too sticky, but should press together when pinched. If dough is too dry, add a little bit more of liquid sweetener; if dough is too wet, add a bit more of rice flour, until you get the right texture.
  6. Roll Out Dough: Transfer the dough onto the working area and knead it very well. Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch (1cm) thickness between the two sheets of parchment paper, then cut into small rectangles. Place rectangles of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and use a fork to poke three lines of holes in each rectangle.
  7. Bake Until Golden: Bake 12 t0 14 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden. Cookies will harden as they cool. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

Notes

Coconut Oil: I prefer using refined coconut oil for baking as it has a neutral taste (as opposed to extra virgin coconut oil, which has a more pronounced coconut flavor and smell). You may also use vegan butter if you prefer. Alternatively, if you are not lactose-intolerant, feel free to use softened butter instead.

Maple Syrup: I used maple syrup to keep the recipe vegan. You may also use agave nectar instead. Alternatively, if you are not vegan, you can use honey instead. If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant, I strongly recommend using Lakanto sugar-free maple syrup (a 1:1 maple syrup substitute that is zero glycemic index and will not raise your blood sugar).

Sugar: I used white sugar, but feel free to use light brown sugar if you prefer. If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant, I highly recommend using Lakanto monkfruit sweetener (a 1:1 sugar substitute that is zero glycemic index and will not raise your blood sugar).

Vanilla Extract: I like adding vanilla extract for extra flavor, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it or would rather not add it in.

Lemon Zest/Juice: I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest for the best results and flavor.

Rice Flour: I used white rice flour, but you may also use brown rice flour if you prefer.

Tapioca Starch: If you don’t have tapioca starch, you may also use equal quantities of arrowroot starch instead.

Corn Starch: If you don’t have corn starch, you may use potato starch instead.

Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is the replacement for gluten in gluten-free flours, and is required to bind the ingredients together. Make sure you include xanthan gum for the best results.

Storing: To store, place the cooled gluten-free shortbread cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 4 days.

This recipe was originally posted in 2016 but has been republished to include clearer step-by-step instructions as well as ingredient notes and substitutions.

Adapted from: Unconventional Baker

  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Western
Simple Healthy Breads & Treats (E-Cookbook)

6 Comments

  1. Thanks Felicia for reposting !

    Cookies never go out of season and these gluten-free Lemon Shortbread cookies are no exception. I love them as a snack anytime of the year.

    Cheers!
    Mum






  2. I echo your mom’s words, and it sounds like you have a great pattern to follow in your pursuit of growth in writing.

    “Roll the dough out to 1-inch thickness”. Should it be 1cm?

    Thank you for the many wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Rachel! Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 And Yes, it should be 1 cm (1/2-inch) thickness (if not the cookies would be too thick)! I’ll fix that right away!

  3. Hi Felicia,

    Any dish (be it a salad, cake or cookies) with lemon zest in it never fails to bring a refreshing feeling to the one who enjoys it. It is so with these cookies. I love them alot.

    More than just the coolies that I love, I really enjoy reading your articles – simply because your stories are very personal and encouraging. Every once in a while, you allow an inspirational thought or learning point to creep into your writing – and this, in my personal opinion, is truly the gem that sparkles in most of your articles. It is this “gem” that keeps drawing me back to reading and re-reading the articles in this food blog of yours.

    You have done well and I am super proud of you !!!

    Sending you lots of love and blessings from home 🙂
    Mum






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