These gluten-free cut-out sugar cookies are the BEST Christmas cookie recipe in our house. A few simple tricks so they’re easy to make and decorate with your favorite icing. And bonus, these don’t spread while baking in the oven.
Gluten-Free Cut-Out Sugar Cookies Recipe
I am absolutely OBSESSED with these gluten-free sugar cookies!!!
They are hands down the BEST cut out cookie recipe I have ever tasted.
After a failed attempt to make our family’s traditional recipe gluten-free, I decided to try something new.
I stumbled across Allie’s Sugar Cookie Post over at Baking a Moment.
After a little bit of tweaking, I was able to transform her recipe into this delightful gluten-free recipe. It turned out great!
And trust me when I say, NO ONE will be able to tell these cookies have ZERO gluten in them!
The ingredients you will need for this gluten-free cookie recipe are relatively easy to find.
However, a few of the gluten free flours may be found at your specialty grocery store or purchased online.
- Sweet White Rice Flour – Bob’s Red Mill white rice flour was used and tested in this recipe.
- Tapioca Starch – Once again, I used a Bob’s Red Mill starch. Other brands tend to have a more starchy flavor and I would not recommend using them in this recipe.
- Xanthan Gum – This acts as the gluten replacement in this cooke recipe. It is necessary to make sure they hold together and do not fall apart and crumble.
- Sugar – Regular, white sugar is used. Do not replace with a sugar alternative such as coconut or even turbinado sugar.
- Egg – Make sure you get LARGE eggs.
- If you are vegan, you can try substituting a flax egg. However, I cannot personally say how it will turn out.
- Salted Butter – This fat gives a large majority of the flavor. You can try substituting with vegan “buttery sticks” or margarine if you are vegan or dairy-free.
- Extracts – Both clear vanilla extract and almond extract are used to give this recipe a unique flavor.
A gluten-free 1-to-1 baking blend can be substituted for the rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum. However, you may need to adjust the amount used slightly.
Tips So They Don’t Spread
- Forget the leaveners!! (i.e.- baking soda and baking powder!)
- Baking soda and baking powder have a tendency to make cookies spread.
- To make with clean, no-spread edges you should leave both baking soda and baking powder out.
- Leave it up to the egg to give them a bit of a lift.
- Take your butter STRAIGHT from the refrigerator!!
- This has got to be my favorite part. There is no forethought about these cookies… Take your cold butter straight from the fridge, cube it (for easier mixing) and start rolling out your dough immediately after it is made.
- Do you know what that means?! NO NEED TO CHILL THE DOUGH!! <–This makes for a super happy London since my patience is normally quite low when it comes to eating this sweet treat.
- Use POWDERED SUGAR instead of flour on your rolling surface.
- This tip doesn’t have much bearing on the spread, however, it does affect the taste of your cookies!
- Forget the extra “floured-surface.” Toss a bit of powdered sugar and go to town rolling out your dough.
- Starch is your best friend!!
- Tapioca starch works great in almost ALL gluten-free baked goods.
- Starch (whether cornstarch or tapioca starch) gives baked goods a softer texture versus the grainy texture most people associate with gluten-free desserts.
- In this one particular recipe, I DO NOT encourage substituting a GF all purpose blend. (However a 1-to-1 baking blend may work!)
- Follow the ingredients and directions closely and you will get the same result!
- Bake on parchment paper – always.
- Parchment paper makes clean-up a breeze, they don’t get stuck on the baking sheet, and they bake more evenly.
How to Make
This gluten-free cut out sugar cookie recipe is easy to follow and consist of the following steps:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place cold, cubed butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add egg and extracts. Continue mixing for 1-2 more minutes.
- Mix together white rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum in a medium-sized bowl.
- Incrementally add in the gluten-free flour blend to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing well after each addition.
- The dough should begin to stick together and form a ball of dough when it is ready.
You can either refrigerate the dough at this stage for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2-3 months until ready to use.
Rolling Out and Cutting
Now that your dough is mixed, it’s time to roll it out and cut it with cookies cutters.
Personally, I prefer the metal cutters since they cut more cleanly. However, you can always use the plastic ones if that is what you have on hand.
How to Roll Out
- Sprinkle ~1/4 cup of powdered sugar over a cutting board.
- Place half of the cookie dough onto the surface and sprinkle with another 2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
- Roll out the cookie dough using a rolling pin until the dough is 1/4 – 1/3 inch thick.
- Cut dough with cookie cutters.
- Place shapes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown slightly.
Cook’s Tip: Powdered sugar gives the cookies a sugary taste whereas flour will not.
While the cookies are baking, it’s time to start preparing the icing to decorate them.
What type of icing?
My favorite icing recipe is the one you will see below. It has been in our family for years!
Not only does it taste amazing and spread easily, but the use of 2 egg whites makes the icing harden up perfectly after decorating. (It’s the blue icing you see pictured.)
Additionally, you can make the royal icing recipe (the white icing) to add additional details. Royal icing is a bit thicker and pipes details beautifully for a more ornate design.
How to color the icing?
Use food coloring gels to get really vibrant icing colors. Just know, a little bit goes a long way!
How to decorate the cookies?
For both icing recipes, using a piping bag fitted with a 3M piping tip works great.
Cook’s Tip: Use a toothpick to spread the icing into a smooth layer. Also, tweezers work great when adding small non-pareils!
Christmas Cookie Cutters
The other night I went on a wild-goose chase.
Little did I know our local craft store would already be sold out of Christmas cookie cutters by December 8th?!?!
Luckily, I was able to find these metal Wilton cookie cutters online. (Pictured above.)
The metal cookie cutters cut more cleanly and are easier to use than plastic ones.
What temperature and how long to bake?
Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Increase the bake time if you cut the dough a little thicker and decrease if they are thinner.
How to store?
Sugar cookies taste best when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
How long do cut out cookies last?
They last for 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Can I freeze sugar cookie dough?
The dough will freeze well for up to 2-3 months if stored in an airtight container.
Want more gluten-free cookie recipes?
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies that Don't Spread!
These gluten-free cut-out sugar cookies are now a go-to Christmas cookie recipe in our house!! A few simple tricks make the dough super easy to work with and the cookies don't spread while baking!
- ½ cup butter cold, but not frozen, cubed*
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- 1 ½ cups sweet white rice flour Bob's Red Mill
- ¾ cup tapioca starch Bob's Red Mill
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- ½ tsp. salt
Family Icing Recipe:
- 2 egg whites
- 2 Tbsp. butter melted*
- 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-2 Tbsp. milk if needed
- food coloring
Royal Icing Recipe:
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp milk optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine cold butter and sugar. Mix on medium for 1-2 minutes, or until butter and sugar are just combined.
Add egg, vanilla and almond extract. Continue mixing for 1-2 more minutes.
In a separate bowl combine white rice flour tapioca starch, xanthan gum and salt. Toss to combine.
Slowly add dry ingredients to the butter sugar mixture. Continue mixing on medium until dough starts to form a ball.
Place dough out on a lightly powdered sugar-coated surface. Roll dough out to ¼ - ⅓ inch thickness.
Using cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes or until edges just begin to brown.
Let cookies cool completely before frosting.
In a medium-sized bowl place, mix egg whites over medium speed for 1 minute. Add butter, vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix until sugar is incorporated.
Add remaining sugar incrementally and mix well between each addition. If frosting is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp milk until desired consistency is reached.
Add food coloring as desired.
Frost cookies using a toothpick to spread the icing where you want it on the cookies.
Royal Icing: *optional*
Place egg white in a medium bowl. Mix egg white for 1-2 minutes or until it becomes frothy. Add vanilla and mix for another minute.
Add powdered sugar and mix over medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes.
If icing is too thick, add milk as needed to reach an easy piping consistency.
Place royal icing in a piping bag fitted with a 3M piping tip. Pipe designs on cookies and enjoy!
- You can also use 2 1/4 cup gluten-free 1-to-1 flour blend instead of the white rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum. However, I strongly recommend using the 3-ingredient combination for the most predictable results.
- Food coloring gel works best when getting really vibrant colors in your icing.
- Use tweezers when placing small nonpareils onto the cookies.
- These sprinkles and these white nonpareils were used to decorate the cookies you see pictured.
- You can also use vegan "buttery" sticks or margarine if dairy-free.