Gluten is becoming an ever-increasing concern in the Western diet. The volume of people with wheat allergies or sensitivities across the spectrum is on the rise; it’s estimated that the general risk of developing celiac disease in the U.S. is 1:100. (1)
Given the gastronomic climate, cooks are always on the lookout for gluten-free alternatives.
A cookie is arguably the perfect sweet treat. Taste and texture make or break the success of this little hand-held dessert and wheat flour’s texture in baking is hard to beat. We’ve done some research for you to find recipes for gluten free cookies that will deliver all the satisfaction of a regular cookie using without using wheat.
Gluten and Celiac’s Disease
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the breakdown of gluten in the small intestine. The body perceives gluten as an invader and the immune system attacks to prevent its absorption into the body. This is a serious chronic condition.
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Undiagnosed, repeated exposure to gluten and the subsequent immune response can lead to other autoimmune conditions, neurological disorders, osteoporosis, infertility, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer. (2) Celiac’s disease has over three hundred known that manifest themselves differently on an individual basis. Because of this, celiac disease is often difficult to diagnose. (3, 4)
The most common symptoms include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Bloating or gas
- Delayed growth in children
- Discolored teeth
- Oral, gastric, or intestinal ulcers
- Headaches or migraines
- Itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Joint pain
- Irregular menses
- Stomach pain
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stools that float
- Weakened bones
- Red, smooth, shiny tongue
Celiac’s Disease vs. Wheat Allergy
Allergy to wheat is more common than celiac disease. It’s in the top eight food allergens in the U.S.
Food allergies, in general, are increasing worldwide.
In the U.S. alone, the number of food allergies increased by fifty percent between 1997 and 2011. In Europe, the number of anaphylactic food allergy episodes has increased sevenfold in the last decade. (5)
Allergy may be to any of many proteins found in wheat, including gluten. People who are allergic to wheat may, therefore, be able to tolerate other grains that contain gluten like rye and barley. (6) Symptoms of wheat allergy can appear immediately or up to two hours after eating wheat.
Typical allergic responses include:
- eye irritation
- difficulty breathing
- hives and rash
- irritation of the mouth and throat
- nasal congestion
- nausea and vomiting
Like any allergy, symptoms can be mild to life-threatening. And, like any other allergy, repeated exposure to the allergen (wheat) can lead to much more serious autoimmune conditions.
Understanding Gluten Sensitivity
The most common reaction to gluten comes in the form of what is termed “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (NCGS).
It has been defined in the international medical community as a “’non-allergic and non-autoimmune condition in which the consumption of gluten can lead to symptoms similar to those seen in CD [celiac disease]’…symptoms in NCGS are triggered by gluten ingestion in the absence of celiac-specific antibodies…and absence of enteropathy[disease of the intestine]…NCGS is further characterized by resolution of symptoms with withdrawal of gluten and relapse of symptoms with gluten exposure.” (7)
Statistics on people with NCGS are very hard to determine because many people may not realize that gluten is the source of their symptoms. In addition, symptoms are similar to irritable bowel syndrome, another increasingly common autoimmune illness. Links between NCGS and neuropsychiatric disorders have been established, especially autism and schizophrenia. (8)
In addition to symptoms similar to celiac disease and wheat allergy, NCGS can result in:
- mental fatigue (“brain fog”)
- chronic fatigue
- gas, bloating, and abdominal pain
Causes of NCGS
The cause of NCGS has not been officially determined, however, there is evidence that it may have something to do with how wheat is grown, especially in North America. Non-organic wheat is treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, just like any other food crop. And while there are currently no genetically-modified (GM) varieties of wheat commercially sold, we eat plenty of other GM plants. GM crops like corn, soy, fruits, and vegetables are weakening our bodies and taxing our immune systems, heightening sensitivities to everything that enters it.
It is very interesting to note that in the food allergy statistic above, the period cited is 1997-2011…GM crops began to be sold commercially in the U.S. in the mid-1990’s. Read more on how GM crops affect our bodies’ digestion and immune systems here.
Not everyone should necessarily avoid eating organic wheat. As a whole grain, it does have significant nutritional value (plus scrumptious texture and flavor!). If, however, you are a part of the growing number of people who is sensitive or intolerant of wheat, there are alternatives for both flavor and texture.
12 Recipes for Delicious Gluten Free Cookies
Please keep in mind that wheat gluten lends a stretchy, sticky quality that you won’t find in a gluten-free cookie dough. Gluten free cookies are great in their own way though, and they won’t give you a tummy ache.
Without further ado, here are some yummy gluten free cookies for you to try.
1. Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies
A classic favorite, these are soft and chewy. Please note that if you choose a shortening other than butter, it will affect texture and taste. Vegans can try coconut oil, but you may have to experiment with texture and vary the amount slightly. Commercial margarine, on the other hand, is not a healthy alternative, as it contains hydrogenated oil and trans fat.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 112 g) vegan or dairy butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 g) raw granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- A large egg
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp (180 g) gluten-free baking mix (recipe below – you can make extra and keep on hand)
- 1 cup (180 g) semisweet chocolate chips
Gluten-free Baking Mix
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 3/4 cup white rice flour
- 1 cup Gluten-free oat flour
- 1 cup raw buckwheat flour
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 Tbsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup granulated raw sugar
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl.
- Add egg and vanilla and mix again until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add half the baking mix, combine well, and add the remainder. It should start to appear “doughy”.
- Stir in chocolate chips, cover and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.
- When you’re ready, preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Once chilled, scoop out about a tablespoon of dough, roll each into a ball and place them 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just slightly golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let the cookies rest on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several days or freeze them to enjoy up to a month later.
2. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
These crunchy gluten free cookies completely devoid of flour—kind of a nice change in a cookie. They’re also quite delicate when warm, so take care when handling until cool so they don’t break.
- 1 cup organic peanut butter
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and place the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and egg until well combined.
- Make tablespoon-sizes cookies, spreading them an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Use a fork to flatten the cookies and make a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle a bit of salt to top them off.
- Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes, switching the position of the sheets halfway through baking.
- Transfer to racks to cool.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
3. Gluten-free Oatmeal Cookies
These are not your ordinary oatmeal cookies. They’re soft and chewy on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside with dark cherries and chocolate chips throughout. Oh, man.
You can buy oat flour or make your own by grinding whole oats into a fine powder in a food processor. If you are celiac or have a wheat allergy, make sure the oats you buy are processed in a gluten-free facility to avoid contaminants.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)
- 1 1/2 cup oat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup organic chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Combine the butter and sugars and stir until well combined.
- Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
- Combine the oats, flour, salt, soda, and cinnamon, add to the mix and combine well.
- Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips.
- Place balls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.
- Cool and enjoy!
4. Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies
A modest amount of sugar, soft, moist, and loaded with vitamin A!
- 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp orange extract
- 1½ cup gluten-free flour
- 4-8 Tbsp honey or maple syrup)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup chopped or ground nuts, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Combine pumpkin, oil, honey, and extract in a medium bowl.
- Add flour, baking soda, and trimmings. Mix until just combined.
- Fold in nuts.
- Scoop onto a baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes (about 5 minutes longer if using a nut or seed-based flour), until lightly browned.
5. Gluten-free Gingerbread Cookies
Savory and sweet, these gluten free cookies are great for holidays (or anytime!). These cookies freeze well too.
- ½ cup gluten free oat flour
- ⅓ cup brown rice flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- ⅓ cup white rice flour
- ⅓ cup buckwheat flour
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons organic grass fed butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled (or 6 tablespoons coconut oil instead of butter)
- 4 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon quality pure vanilla extract
- Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil, molasses and sugar until combined.
- Add and beat the egg and vanilla extract until combined.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat until combined.
- Form the whole mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the rack on the middle shelf.
- Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for about 8 minutes.
- Cool for a few minutes and store in an airtight container.
6. Gluten-free, Dairy-free, No Refined Sugar, No-bake Cookie Dough
This is a versatile all-around gluten free cookie dough recipe that can be used as the basis for your creative baking pursuits or eaten as written. With no gluten, dairy, or refined sugar, it’s a boon for many with special dietary needs. A healthy cookie—who woulda thought?
- 1/2 cup mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
- A teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon oat or coconut flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoon cashew or almond butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon or more dairy-free milk
- dairy-free chocolate chips
- Mix together mashed banana, applesauce, vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, oat/coconut flour, and sugar.
- Melt the nut butter together with the maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Add the resulting mixture to the dry ingredients.
- Incorporate the dairy-free milk until you obtain a thick batter.
- Add the dairy-free chocolate chips, if desired.
- Roll out the mixture and cut with a cookie cutter. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes until firm.
7. Cookie Dough with Almonds and Dates
Instead of refined sugar, this gluten free cookie dough recipe uses dates to make it sweet. Dates are loaded with minerals, B-complex vitamins, and amino acids, the building blocks of protein. This three-ingredient recipe couldn’t be easier—baking is even optional.
- 1 cup almond flour
- 8 dates
- 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Preheat your over to 250°F.
- Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until a dough-like consistency is formed.
- Scoop out the dough, divide it into six even-sized portions, and squeeze and roll each into a ball.
- Flatten into a cookie shape between your palms.
- Place on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Alternatively, eat the chilled dough raw as a late-night treat.
8. Gluten-free Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
Peanut butter can be substituted with the nut or seed butter of your choice but the resulting cookie may vary based on butter density.
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- A large egg
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1¼ cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup raspberry jam
- In a large bowl, pulse peanut butter, oil, coconut sugar, and egg with a hand blender.
- Blend until smooth and stir in almond flour and salt.
- Scoop dough 1 tablespoon at a time onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Flatten the center of each cookie using your thumb.
- Scoop a bit of jam into the center of each cookie.
- Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.
- Cool and serve.
9. Gluten-free Molasses Cookies
Blackstrap molasses is a sweet source of many vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- 2 cups gluten-free flour of your choice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 6 tablespoons) coconut oil OR 6 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 cup raw sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar
- 6 tablespoons molasses
- An egg
- 1-2 tablespoons orange zest, optional
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar, for rolling
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together everything but the 3 tablespoons of raw sugar.
- Add the dry mix to the wet mix and stir just until combined.
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Roll the dough into balls of about 1 1/2″ in diameter, roll them in the sugar, and bake for 6-9 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then cool completely on a wire rack.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
To make your own gluten-free flour, try:
- 188 grams (1 cup) white rice flour
- 68 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
- 26 grams (1/8 cup) tapioca flour/starch
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
10. Gluten-free Nut Biscuits
You’ll go nuts for these gluten free cookies!
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 firmly packed cup (100g) brown sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- A teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons natural yogurt
- 1 cup (150g) rice flour
- 1 cup (150g) unsalted mixed nuts with sultana raisins, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
- Using an electric beater, cream butter and sugar until pale and thick.
- Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
- Fold in yogurt, flour and nut mix.
- Roll into balls, one tablespoon at a time, flatten and place on trays.
- Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until golden.
- Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
- Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
11. Gluten-free Almond Cookies
These almond-flavored gluten free cookies are packed with protein, healthy fats, calcium, and happiness.
- 2 cups almond flour (also known as almond meal)
- ¼ tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, salt, and baking soda.
- In a separate bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Use your hands to form a big ball of dough, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Roll dough into 12 golf-sized balls and flatten between your palms to make discs.
- Place discs onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes.
- Let cool completely before handling.
12. Gluten-free Coconut Cookies
This gluten-free cookie recipe makes sweet, moist, chewy cookies. If you drizzle them with melted dark chocolate, they’ll taste like a popular candy bar.
- 2 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut oil melted (not hot)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional for drizzling)
- In a large bowl, whisk almond flour, coconut, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar until there are no more lumps.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs on high speed for 1 full minute.
- Add coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract and stir into the egg mixture.
- Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Tightly cover and place in the back of your fridge (where it’s really cold) for 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll into balls, 2 tablespoons at a time and place them a couple inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Press down on each ball of dough to flatten and bake for 9 minutes.
- Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Baking without gluten is becoming less of a challenge, with options available at even small grocery stores. With a little ingenuity and experimentation, it’s possible to replace gluten-laden dishes with healthy and delicious alternatives that won’t make you sick. Even perfect little treats like these gluten free cookies.