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Soft, Chewy Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies (Dairy-Free)

These gluten-free sugar cookies are crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy inside, making them the perfect snack or dessert. These cookies are also great for the holiday cookie exchange and your Christmas cookie platter. Totally dairy-free too, but honestly no one would know! Bake a batch or two today!

Holding up a gluten-free sugar cookie.

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December means non-stop holiday baking. I’m not sure about you, but during this time of the year, we’ve been making all sorts of cookies.

From gingerbread cookies and crunchy almond biscotti, to snickerdoodles and molasses cookies, to chickpea chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and coconut macaroons, there’s been a never-ending flow of cookies coming from our oven.

And of course, let’s not forget these amazing holiday cookie classic in a gluten-free version: gluten-free sugar cookies.

What Are Sugar Cookies?

Hugely popular in the United States, sugar cookies make their appearance during the holiday season (or whenever there’s any reason to celebrate).

Traditionally sugar cookies refer to cookies whose main ingredients include: sugar, flour, butter, eggs and vanilla (often with the addition of either baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent).

The dough may be formed by hand, rolled out with a rolling pin and cut into shapes, or even dropped onto a baking sheet before baking.

You can either use cookie cutters to make a hard cut-out sugar cookie, or a soft sugar cookie.

Oftentimes, sugar cookies are decorated with extra sugar, royal icing, frosting, sprinkles, or a mixture of these.

cornbread in a cast iron skillet
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Perfect Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies:

I wanted to create a gluten-free version of sugar cookie that was also dairy-free, so I used my snickerdoodles recipe as a base for this and worked from there.

After 3 batches of testing, I’m so happy to announce that these delicious Christmas cookies are finally ready in time for the holidays!

Hand reaching for a plate of sugar cookies.

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Simple Ingredients: All that’s required for these gluten-free dairy-free sugar cookies are 8 simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • Easy to Make: The dough for this sugar cookie recipe comes together quickly, and with the help of a bit of chilling in the freezer, can be easily rolled into balls and then coated in sugar before being baked. Plus, an entire batch of these holiday cookies is ready in under 45 minutes!
  • Crispy Exterior, Soft and Chewy Interior: These sugar cookies are crispy outside thanks to the sugar coating, but have a deliciously soft and chewy center! Heaven in a single bite!
  • Totally Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free: Using gluten-free flour instead of regular flour, and coconut oil instead of butter, these sugar cookies are 100% gluten-free and dairy-free, which means that even those who have Celiac disease or gluten and lactose intolerances can enjoy them without issues!
Gluten-free sugar cookies cooling on a wire rack.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

Here’s a visual overview of the ingredients required to make this gluten-free sugar cookies recipe.

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

Ingredients for gluten-free sugar cookies recipe laid out on a white board.

Ingredient Notes/Substitutions:

  • Gluten-Free Flour Blend: I recommend using a good-quality gluten-free flour blend that is made up of lighter flours/starches (such as rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch or potato starch) to ensure a lighter texture. I do NOT recommend using a flour blend that includes heavier flours such as garbanzo bean flour (as that will result in a denser final texture).
  • Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is the replacement for gluten in gluten-free flours and is necessary for helping the ingredients bind better together. Make sure to add it if your gluten-free flour mix doesn’t already include it.
  • Baking Powder: In this gluten-free sugar cookies recipe, baking powder is the only leavening agent and is required to ensure the cookies are not too dense. If you are Celiac or gluten-intolerant, make sure to use certified gluten-free baking powder.
  • Coconut Oil: I prefer to use refined coconut oil as it has a more neutral flavor (as opposed to extra virgin coconut oil which has a more pronounced coconut smell and taste). You may also use dairy-free butter (vegan butter) if you prefer. Alternatively, if you are not lactose-intolerant, you may use normal butter instead.
  • Sugar: I used granulated white sugar, but you may also use cane sugarlight brown sugarmaple sugar, or coconut sugar if you prefer (just bear in mind that the darker the sugar used, the darker the cookies will be). If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant, I strongly recommend using granulated monkfruit sweetener (a 1:1 sugar substitute that has zero glycemic-index and will not cause raise your blood sugar).
  • Egg: The egg helps to better bind the ingredients together. If you are allergic to eggs, or simply want to keep this recipe entirely vegan, you may also use aquafaba or an egg-replacer instead.
  • Vanilla Extract: I like adding vanilla extract for extra flavor. However, if you prefer not to, or simply don’t happen to have it on hand, you may leave it out.

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

1. Preheat and Line

Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and line a large baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper or a silpat (silicone mat).

A baking sheet lined with a silpat.

2. Whisk Flour Mixture

In a medium bowl, combine the gluten-free all-purpose flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder and salt. Whisk well to combine.

Whisking flour in a grey bowl.

3. Cream Sugar and Coconut Oil

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and coconut oil together until you get a light and creamy mixture.

Creaming sugar and coconut oil in a glass bowl.

4. Add Egg and Vanilla

Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and whisk well to get a smooth light brown liquid mixture.

Whisking light-brown liquid in a bowl.

5. Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients

Add the flour mixture to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and stir well until a soft dough is formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Chill the gluten-free sugar cookie dough for 5 minutes in the freezer (make sure you chill the dough to make less sticky so it is easier to handle).

Mixing dairy-free sugar cookie dough in a large glass bowl.

6. Form Small Balls

Once the dough is chilled, scoop out 1 heaping tablespoon of chilled dough, and use your palms to roll the dough into a small ball. Place the ball on a plate.

Repeat until all the dough is used up. Chill the dough balls for 5 minutes in the freezer.

Rolled balls of cookie dough on a white plate.

7. Roll Balls in Sugar

Place the sugar in a small bowl and roll each dough ball in the sugar until evenly coated on all sides.

Rolling a cookie dough ball in sugar.

8. Place on Plate and Chill

Place the sugar-coated dough balls on a plate and let them chill for 5 minutes in the freezer.

Sugar coated cookie dough balls on a white plate.

9. Transfer Dough Balls to Baking Sheet

Once chilled, place the sugar-coated dough balls in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet (at least 3 inches apart).

Sugar cookie dough balls on a silpat-lined baking sheet.

10. Bake Until Golden

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are very lightly golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.

Freshly baked sugar cookies on a silpat.

11. Cool Completely Before Eating

Let the gluten-free sugar cookies cool for at least 2 minutes on the baking sheet, before transferring them to a cooling rack to finish cooling before serving/eating.

Holding up a sugar cookie from a wire rack.

Dish by Dish Tips/Tricks:

  • Make Smaller Cookies: This recipe makes 12 medium-sized cookies. If you prefer, you can make 24 smaller cookies by using halving the amount of dough for each cookie, and baking them for 8-10 minutes instead.
  • Make Sure to Line Baking Sheet: I highly recommend that you line the cookie sheet with either a silpat or parchment paper to prevent the cookie dough from sticking to the sheet. This also makes it easier to remove the cookies once baked.
  • Chill the Dough: Chilling the dough is essential in this recipe, as it makes rolling the dough into balls so much easier, as well as prevents the dough from spreading out too much while it bakes. It doesn’t take much time, so don’t leave out this step!
  • Cut off the Edges: If you find that the edges of the cookies are a little burnt/dark, simple use a knife or a spatula to cut off the brown edges to get a more uniform cookie color.
  • Decorate As You Like: I prefer my sugar cookies plain (as shown in the pictures in this post), but feel free to decorate these gluten-free Christmas cookies with royal icing or buttercream frosting (simply place frosting or icing in a piping bag and pipe in the pattern you like).

Recipe FAQs:

How Do You Store These Sugar Cookies?

To store, place the cooled gluten-free sugar cookies in an airtight container and store for up to a week.

Can You Freeze These Cookies?

Yes, you can. To freeze, place the cooled sugar cookies in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Warm frozen cookies in the oven at 350F for 2 minutes before eating.

Can You Freeze Sugar Cookie Dough?

Definitely, you may prepare the dough before hand and freeze to use it another day. Simply prepare the cookie dough and then wrap the dough in a few layers of plastic wrap. Freeze the wrapped dough for up to 3 months. Let dough thaw for 10 minutes at room temperature before rolling into balls, coating in sugar, and baking.

Hand holding up a half-eaten sugar cookie.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

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!

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Soft, Chewy Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies (Dairy-Free)


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  • Author: Felicia Lim
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cookies 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

These gluten-free sugar cookies are crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy inside, making them the perfect snack or dessert. These cookies are also great for the holiday cookie exchange and your Christmas cookie platter. Totally dairy-free too, but honestly no one would know! Bake a batch or two today!


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Sugar Cookie Dough:

For the Sugar Coating:

  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat and Line: Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and line a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Whisk Flour Mixture: In a medium bowl, combine the gluten-free all-purpose flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder and salt. Whisk well to combine.
  3. Cream Sugar and Coconut Oil: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and coconut oil together until you get a light and creamy mixture.
  4. Add Egg and Vanilla: Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and whisk well to get a smooth light brown liquid mixture.
  5. Prepare Cookie Dough: Add the flour mixture to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix well until a soft dough is formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Chill the dough for 5 minutes in the freezer.
  6. Form Small Balls: Once the dough is chilled, scoop out 1 heaping tablespoon of chilled dough, and use your palms to roll the dough into a small ball. Place the ball on a plate. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Chill the dough balls for 5 minutes in the freezer.
  7. Roll Balls in Sugar: Place the sugar in a small bowl and roll each dough ball in the sugar until evenly coated on all sides. Let the coated dough balls chill for 5 minutes in the freezer.
  8. Transfer Dough Balls to Baking Sheet: Once chilled, place the sugar-coated dough balls in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet (at least 3 inches apart).
  9. Bake: Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are very lightly golden, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
  10. Cool Completely: Let the gluten-free sugar cookies cool for at least 2 minutes on the baking sheet, before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

Gluten-Free Flour Blend: I recommend using a good-quality gluten-free flour blend that is made up of lighter flours/starches (such as rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch or potato starch) to ensure a lighter texture. I do NOT recommend using a flour blend that includes heavier flours such as garbanzo bean flour (as that will result in a denser final texture).

Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is the replacement for gluten in gluten-free flours and is necessary for helping the ingredients bind better together. Make sure to add it if your gluten-free flour blend doesn’t already include it.

Baking Powder: In this gluten-free sugar cookies recipe, baking powder is the only leavening agent and is required to ensure the cookies are not too dense. If you are Celiac or gluten-intolerant, make sure to use certified gluten-free baking powder.

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

Sugar: I used granulated white sugar, but you may also use cane sugar, light brown sugar, maple sugar, or coconut sugar if you prefer (just bear in mind that the darker the sugar used, the darker the cookies will be). If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant, I strongly recommend using granulated monkfruit sweetener (a 1:1 sugar substitute that has zero glycemic-index and will not cause raise your blood sugar).

Egg: The egg helps to better bind the ingredients together. If you are allergic to eggs, or simply want to keep this recipe entirely vegan, you may also use aquafaba or an egg-replacer instead.

Vanilla Extract: I like adding vanilla extract for extra flavor. However, if you prefer not to, or simply don’t happen to have it on hand, you may leave it out.

Storing/Freezing: To store, place the cooled gluten-free sugar cookies in an airtight container and store for up to a week. To freeze, place the cooled cookies in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Warm frozen cookies in the oven at 350F for 2 to 3 minutes before eating.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Chilling Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

4 Comments

  1. What are the chances I can make this with a sugar substitute? My diabetes is worse than my need to be gluten free, but I would love to try to make these, since they ARE gluten free! I know it might seem dumb to some, wanting to make a sugar free sugar cookie, but what can I say? Grasping at possibilities.

    1. Hi Deb, given that you are diabetic, I highly recommend that you use Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener (see my recipe notes in the recipe card for the link) as it’s a 1:1 sugar substitute that is zero glycemic index and does not raise your blood sugar.
      Hope this helps and that you can still enjoy a “sugar-less” sugar cookie!

      1. Hi Laura, this dough is more for drop cookies and because it’s sticky as a dough, I do not recommend cutting it into shapes. It’s more of a soft sugar cookie as opposed to a cut-out sugar cookie.

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