It’s the time of year when we gather our cookie cutters, festive sprinkles, and loved ones to make traditional Christmas sugar cookies. You’ll be happy to know that this easy gluten-free sugar cookie recipe will help you create soft sugar cookies that are every bit as delicious as the gluten-filled version.
My daughter and I were both diagnosed with celiac disease when she was three years old. Ever since our diagnoses, I have been on a mission to recreate all of our important family traditions.
It is my privilege to share this recipe with your family, so you too can enjoy the best gluten-free sugar cookies and all of the Christmas magic!
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Hand Mixer (recommended): You can mix by hand, but a hand mixer makes this recipe a breeze.
Wax Paper (optional): Roll out the dough between two sheets of inexpensive wax paper to prevent sticking when rolling out the dough. Or use a dusting of gluten-free flour.
Christmas Cookie Cutters: If you are new to gluten-free due to celiac disease, I recommend purchasing new cookie cutters this year if your old ones have difficult-to-clean crevices. Gift the old ones to a friend or a young adult who needs to build kitchen inventory!
Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mats
Decorating Bottles (optional) to pipe homemade icing if not using store-bought Cookie Icing
Gluten-Free Flour Blend: I recommend using a one-to-one replacement flour, created to replace regular flour in baked goods. King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour is my personal favorite baking flour for sweet, unyeasted recipes. Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 and Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour are other good options.
The above flours contain xanthan gum. If yours does not, add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum when mixing the dry ingredients.
Room temperature butter & eggs: We’ve all been there. You didn’t set out your butter & eggs. It takes about 30 minutes or so to get them to room temp, and you’re ready to bake now. No worries! Place the egg in a cup of lukewarm water and cut the butter up into tablespoon-size pats. Both will be ready to go in about 10 minutes!
Shortening (Butter-Flavor): Cristco Butter Flavor Shortening Sticks are pre-marked and easy to measure, like a stick of butter. Using shortening for half the fat in this recipe creates cookies that rise more and hold their shape better than when using butter alone. It’s an ideal ingredient for cut-out cookies.
Vanilla Extract: I prefer the flavor of vanilla extract, but if your grandma used almond extract in her cookies, you can add it to create that nostalgic taste. Simply swap almond extract for one of the teaspoons of vanilla extract in the recipe.
Remaining Dough Ingredients:
- Baking Powder
Ready-Made Option: Betty Crocker Cookie Icing and Betty Crocker Christmas Sprinkles: I use the Betty Crocker brand because the company will label the products gluten-free if they are. The cookie icing and most sprinkles are labeled gluten-free. Plus, there is a wide variety of holiday shapes and colors, from pearls to gold gems.
or Easy Homemade Icing: You’ll just need powdered sugar, milk, and (optional) gel food coloring.
In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter, and butter-flavor shortening with a hand mixer on medium speed until well-blended.
Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, so the ingredients are evenly blended. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until smooth. Your batter will be the texture of thick frosting.
Mix in gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt until evenly mixed. To accurately measure your gluten-free flour, scoop the flour into the measuring cup with a spoon, then level off the excess with the back edge of a knife.
After mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, the gluten-free mixture will appear crumbly. Don’t worry, it will hold together perfectly when pressed together.
Press the dough together to form a ball. Then, cut the ball in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. I use a large bowl with a lid.
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. Refrigerating the dough serves two purposes. For any sugar cookie dough recipe (gluten-free or otherwise), chilling the dough prevents the cookies from spreading and allows them to maintain their cutout shape. For gluten-free cookie dough in particular, the chill time allows the gluten-free flour to hydrate, creating a softer cookie.
You can leave the cookie dough in the fridge for up to two days or in the freezer for up to two months. Just a reminder, this cookie dough contains raw egg, so it is unsafe to eat raw.
Preheat oven to 375℉. This hot temp is also key to preventing the cookies from spreading, maintaining the cut-out shapes, and giving you a softer finished cookie. Yum!
Prepare 2 cookie sheets. For easy cleanup, cover the cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
Leave half the dough in the fridge to keep chilled.
Roll out the other half of dough to 1/4 inch thick. To prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface and rolling pin, roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper. You can also lightly flour the work surface with a dusting of gluten-free flour.
Tell Alexa to play Christmas music!
Use your favorite cookie cutters (approximately 2-3 inches in size) to cut out seasonal shapes, from Christmas trees to snowflakes.
Place the cut-out cookies approximately 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Try this tip if you are having difficulty lifting the cookie cutouts to place on the cookie sheets. Cut out the Christmas shapes. Then, remove the extra dough from in between the shapes. Gently peel the wax paper or parchment paper from the back of the cut-out dough and place the cookies on the baking sheet.
If you are on a roll and the cookie sheets are filling up faster than you can bake them, store the ready-to-go baking sheets in the fridge. This will keep the dough chilled so you’ll get softer cookies with well-formed shapes.
Bake the cookies at 375℉ for approximately 7-8 minutes until the edges are barely golden. Keep an eye on the cookies, as you don’t want to overcook them. We’re going for soft cookies!
Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for two minutes before moving, to prevent breaking. If a cookie breaks, I highly recommend you give it a taste test! You practically have no other option;)
Use a wide-based turner spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Let them cool completely, approximately 12 minutes, before decorating.
Repeat the above steps with the second half of the dough.
I have to admit, in the last couple of years, I have bought ready-made icing more often than not. My local grocery store has the icing and sprinkles on sale before Christmas, so I pick up several packages at a decent discount. The Betty Crocker Cookie Icing packages (labeled gluten-free) have icing tips, so you (or a gaggle of kids) can pipe directly onto the cookies.
That said, the homemade icing is really easy to make! This is the simple recipe my mom used to stir up when we made Christmas cookies and I have made it countless times over the years. Use a fork or very small whisk to mix powdered sugar and milk until there are no lumps. So easy!
Divide the icing into as many small bowls as you want colors. You can leave one white and make two bowls of red and green icing. Be as colorful or monochromatic as you wish!
You can spoon the homemade icing directly on the cookies, but I prefer to put them in decorating bottles for easy dispensing.
Ideally, let the icing harden for approximately 30 minutes before serving or storing. But we all know waiting is not always possible, especially if you have little hands doing the cookie decorating!
Gluten-free cookies dry out faster than those made with traditional all-purpose flour. To keep your cookies fresh, store them in an air-tight container at room temperature. They will be the softest if eaten within two days.
If making ahead, store unfrosted cookies in the freezer for up to three months. Remove from the freezer at least two hours before serving. Frost and enjoy within two days.
Do not store the cookies in the fridge, as will dry them out faster.
You can also freeze the cookie for up to three months, and defrost in the fridge 24 hours prior to making cookies.
More Gluten-Free Christmas Sweets:
- Soft & Chewy Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies
- Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cookies
- Easy Gluten-Free Christmas Crepes
- Gluten-Free Gingerbread House Bundt Cake
- 20 Gluten-Free Christmas Cookie Recipes
Soft Gluten-Free Christmas Sugar Cookies
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- ½ cup butter-flavor shortening
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg room temperature
- 2 cups Gluten-Free 1-to-1 replacement flour containing xanthan gum (King Arthur Measure for Measure recommended)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- gluten-free Christmas sprinkles
- Gluten-Free Cookie Icing (Betty Crocker Cookie Icing is labeled gluten-free) or make Easy Icing Recipe below
Easy Icing Recipe (optional)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
- gel food coloring
- In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, and shortening with a hand mixer on medium speed until well-blended. Add vanilla and egg and beat until smooth.
- Mix in gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Press dough together to form a ball. Cut in half, wrap each half in plastic, or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 1 hour (up to two days).
- Preheat oven to 375℉. Prepare 2 baking sheets: cover with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Leave half the dough in the fridge and roll out the other half to 1/4 inch thick. To prevent sticking, lightly flour the work surface or roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper.
- Use 2-3″ cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake at 375℉ for approximately 7-8 minutes until the edges are golden. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool, approximately 12 minutes.
- Repeat steps 5-7 with the remaining refrigerated cookie dough. If you have baking sheets ready to go with cookie cut-outs, keep them in the fridge until ready to bake to prevent the cookies from spreading while baking.
- (optional) Easy Homemade Icing: Use a fork or small whisk to mix powdered sugar and milk, creating a thick glaze to drizzle on the cookies. Divide icing between three small bowls. Add 1-4 drops of red food coloring gel to one bowl of icing and green food coloring gel to another bowl. Keep the third bowl of icing white. (or color as you wish)
- Decorate with easy homemade icing or ready-made cookie icing and sprinkles. Let icing harden for approximately 30 minutes before serving.