cookies dessert gluten-free

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

December 18, 2013

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies that the whole family can enjoy including those with gluten allergies and intolerances. The ultimate Christmas cookie without the gluten.

Remember when I promised to diversify my recipes? Well you’ll have to forgive me. The next few weeks will be all about cookies and breakfast. We’re going to disregard any prior statements until after the New Year. Why? Because tis the season for all things baked and sweet…and because I said so.

gluten-free shortbread cookiesHere’s the deal with this recipe. I tried to lower the sugar and made them gluten-free, but by no stretch of the imagination are these healthy. There exists no comparable substitute for butter so don’t even bother trying! In my opinion Christmas is not complete without shortbread and for people who can’t eat or are avoiding gluten, there is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be able to enjoy some too.

gluten-free shortbread cookies 1I think it’s important for us to not get too worked up about our eating habits during the holidays. Try to get in your fruits and veggies and watch your portions, but don’t beat yourself up over eating a few too many cookies. Christmas only happens once a year so eat real shortbread. You won’t be throwing all of your health goals out the window in one night! Wake up the next day and go for a walk, enjoy the company of friends and family or just laugh a lot. Laughing is the best workout after all 🙂


Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 12 mins
  • Total Time: 52 mins
  • Yield: 2 dozen 1x


  • 1 1/4 cup icing/powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 3 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any milk)
  • 2 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch (or any starch will work)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 T sprinkles (optional)


  1. Using an electric mixer combine butter and icing sugar until soft.
  2. Add in vanilla and beat for another minute.
  3. On medium speed add in each egg individually. Make sure first egg has been mixed in before adding second. Then add in milk.
  4. In a separate bowl combine brown rice flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch and salt.
  5. Slowly incorporate flour mix into butter-egg mixture.
  6. Beat until just combined. Stir in sprinkles if desired.
  7. Roll dough into a log that is about 2 inches thick. I find it easier to roll it into two separate logs.
  8. Wrap log in saran wrap and place in freezer for 30 mins.
  9. Dough can be kept frozen for months.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Remove dough from freezer and with a sharp knife slice into 24 cookies.
  12. Place 12 on a cookie sheet and bake in the middle rack for 12-14 mins.
  13. Keep remaining dough in fridge while cookies are baking.
  14. Let cool on tray for 5 mins before removing and letting cool completely on a wire rack.
  15. Will keep for 1 week in an airtight container.

What’s your favourite Christmas cookie? Do you indulge during the holidays?


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  • Reply
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee
    December 18, 2013 at 5:21 am

    These are beautifullllll!

  • Reply
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
    December 18, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Thank you for reminding me about my shortbread cookies that I make with m&ms – they are so good lol. I don’t indulge in Christmas cookies because I don’t celebrate and honestly live in such a Jewish area that my Christmas friends are few and far between. That being said, I do like any excuse to bake and eat cookies!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Same here! I’m usually at a Chinese resto with the rest of the Jewish pop but thanks to the bf Christmas is now a real thing!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey
    December 18, 2013 at 6:38 am

    These look so good! I don’t know if I’ve ever had shortbread cookies. P.S. Even the Grinch loves cookies, so keep ’em coming! 😉

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    December 18, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Ok for some reason your posts haven’t been showing up for me in my reader and I only just realized it now! Weird.

    Anyway, I totally agree with your outlook on holiday eating. Enjoy yourself, indulge a little (or a lot haha), and don’t stress out about it. I’ve been baking a lot of cookies lately, and therefore eating a lot of cookies, and I’m loving it. 😀

    These cookies look amazing, by the way. I seriously adore shortbread cookies!

  • Reply
    Elise @
    December 18, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I’m definitely not one to restrict myself during the holidays. I seriously can’t wait to enjoy all these amazing cookies and desserts!

  • Reply
    kathy @ vodka and soda
    December 18, 2013 at 7:31 am

    omg, thanks for baking me cookies! you really shouldn’t have.

  • Reply
    Erin @ The Almond Eater
    December 18, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Yessssssss so true that it’s sometimes impossible to make cookies healthy. Sometimes, you just need butter and sugar. Period, the end. And thanks for adding the part about not stressing while eating sweets. Christmas DOES only come once a year after all.

  • Reply
    Jen @ SavedbytheKale
    December 18, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Oh oh oh! I really want to try making these shortbread cookies. It’s been awhile since I’ve had shortbread and I love that these are gluten free!

    One of my favorite cookies are Chocolate Crackles. They are cookies that taste like brownies, so best of both worlds! I plan on making them again this weekend but I am going to alter the recipe to make them gluten free. Fingers crossed that they taste good!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I love cookies and breakfast–so I say keep on keeping on! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathryn @ Illustrated Nutrition
    December 18, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I’m with you on the holiday sweets! It’s the time of year when I like to indulge in a few of my favorite comfort foods without getting too worked up about it–life is too short! I’ve never made shortbread cookies before but these look delish!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Agreed – everyone should get to experience shortbread on Christmas!! These look fabulous. I love the sprinkles!

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    December 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Sprinkles make everything better 😀 And I couldn’t agree with you more about the holidays. I’ve definitely been eating more than my normal amount of sweets and cookies this past month, but I think I’d rather not imagine a Christmas without cookies… I’ve gone that route before, and it definitely made the holidays less enjoyable.

  • Reply
    Parita @ myinnershakti
    December 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

    My friend made these cheesecake bars with a spiced crumble the other day…SO good! But really, I wouldn’t turn down any cookie! Ha – call me the cookie monster!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body
    December 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

    These look great! I love that they use brown rice flour!

  • Reply
    Becky @ Olives n Wine
    December 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Do I indulge during the holidays??! What kinda question is that? 😉 Hehe… I love that you threw some sprinkles into the mix – so seasonal!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food
    December 18, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Love the sprinkles! I don’t go too crazy during the holidays, but I definitely don’t hold back if a good opportunity presents itself!

  • Reply
    Lexi @ Lexi's Clean Kitchen
    December 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

    MMMMM I love the look of these! Plus, it’s National Bake Cookies Day 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Reply
    Shashi @
    December 18, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Oh wow – these look awesome! And gluten free too!
    So with you on the role butter plays in a good non-nutbutter cookie! There doesnt seem to be a good substitute for it!

  • Reply
    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots
    December 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

    ooh def need to add this to my list of cookies to make! I need to make cookies for a party on Friday. I might make these!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Elephant Eats
    December 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

    A healthy cookie is not a cookie…in my humble opinion. So I’m glad you didn’t try to get rid of the butter. These are so cute and festive and I bet they taste delicious!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Occasionally a healthy cookie does exist but butter substitutes just ain’t the same! Go big or go home amIright?

  • Reply
    December 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I love the way those look (when you make them!).
    I don’t even bake around the holidays – do you want to come bake for my family?!

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    December 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without some cookies made from real butter 😉 these look fantastic love! I’m not the biggest fan of shortbread, but it does seem so holiday-appropriate.

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    December 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    laughing is the best workout, esp for my abs 🙂

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    December 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Holy moly! These are TOO gorgeous. I can’t even handle it. Gimme gimme!!

  • Reply
    GiGi Eats Celebrities
    December 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm


  • Reply
    Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl
    December 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Your cookies are so fun and festive! I definitely indulge a little more during the holidays…. hey, it’s part of the spirit. And I’m totally okay with only cookie and breakfast recipes, now till Christmas!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      I’m having a hard time getting over your almond butter gingerbread cookies!!! They looked incredible!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I LOVE that you posted a real, not healthy, dessert recipe for Christmas. Like you, I totally believe you should enjoy the holiday season without overdoing it. Like you said, it only comes once a year, so enjoy those treats you don’t normally have! No reason to stress about it!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Those cookies look delicious, Davida! I love how you mixed in the sprinkles… so festive 🙂

  • Reply
    Consuelo @ Honey & Figs
    December 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I agree with you! Christmas’ definitely not the time to avoid cookies, but to celebrate and be happy (aka eat lots of them!).
    I love that you made a gluten free version which came out this great. Mine always turn out super crumbly ouuuh! :–(
    I like the sprinkles too!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      You should have seen the first round of these…total disaster! But I still ate them and then round 2 came out well. Win win!

  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    December 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Can I just say you are amazing for using REAL butter? Seriously, the most underrated spread.

    I love shortbread and any recipe omitting this is a fallacy.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Bread and butter boo. Thinking about your pancakes from today. Have to be at the airport in an hour…kind of want to make them now.

  • Reply
    Kierston @candyfit
    December 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    These look beautiful and delicious…and so in season 😉

  • Reply
    Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries
    December 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    I just saw these on IG and headed right over to the blog! These look so, so, sooo good!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    December 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    These are so pretty and festive! You’re going to hate me but I don’t eat butter. I feel like everyone is riding a butter train and I was the one left behind…

  • Reply
    Jan @ Sprouts n Squats
    December 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    These look great! So pretty and of course I am loving that there is no mint choc flavour in sight 😉

  • Reply
    cait @pieceofcait
    December 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    oh lala! so pretty and love the holiday colors! I always like a GF option! indulged during the season cause… can’t get around it ! haha 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      The coconut dream bars…still having a hard time getting over those and would literally do anything to have a plate of them in front of me!

  • Reply
    Lisa @ The Skinny on Health
    December 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    THESE LOOK SO GOOD!!!! I can’t WAIT to make them!!!!

    I love love love shortbread cookies (seriously, can you tell how excited I am for this gluten free recipe?!) for the holidays, and the classic chocolate chip. 🙂

    Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks girl! Shortbread and CCC are my fav too..oh wait, and snickerdoodles, and oatmeal. Okay I just like cookies. Bring it on Christmas (we both know I don’t celebrate Christmas but I’ll take any excuse to eat ALL THE COOKIES)!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate
    December 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I am loving all of these Christmas cookie recipes!!

  • Reply
    Sarah Pie
    December 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Real shortbread for the win! BF and I are making our traditional sugar cookies this weekend… real butter and sugar and all (and I’ll probably eat half the batch by myself). Like you said the holidays are for celebrating and the includes REAL good REAL treats 🙂

  • Reply
    December 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I love shortbread cookies but I’d have to say my favorite is snickerdoodles!! They are soooo super delicious. I do indulge in the holidays…I had a slice of chocolate peppermint loaf as I sat down to do blog stuff just down and started to feel a little guilty but your post came just in time as a nice reminder to loosen the reigns just a little bit. Thanks Davida!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      No guilt! Tis the season and there’s always tomorrow 🙂 What fun would life be if we didn’t let loose every now and then?!?!

  • Reply
    Danielle @ Green is the New Black
    December 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I so agree about letting some things go for the holiday season. It’s all about moderation and balance! Too much good food to pass it all up!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2013 at 2:21 am

    Whether it’s Christmas day or March 17 (just a random date), I’ll have a damn cookie. Why should indulging in goodness only be acceptable over the holidays? =)

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      March 17th is St Pattie’s day and my Mom’s bday so you better bet I’ll eat the damn cookie!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    These look so good… I’m a sucker for anything with sprinkles, especially if they are seasonally colored.

    My fave Christmas cookie is chocolate chip… am I boring?

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Not boring, I prefer classic 😉 One day we will meet at Vesuvio bakery in NYC and I will give you a mouthgasm with the best CCC in the entire world. Begin preparations!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Just made these and I haven’t cooked them yet, but I found the dough extremely wet. Its almost like cake batter. I am currently chilling it in the fridge and hoping it will firm up enough that it can be rolled. fingers crossed!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      That’s very strange. Will definitely firm up in the fridge but it should be crumbly when you roll it into a log. Add more flour if it’s as thin as cake batter. These things can be so temperamental depending on climate, ingredient temperature, size of eggs etc… Let me know if you need any more advice and I hope they turn out!

  • Reply
    Allison @ Clean Wellness
    December 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Wow! These look totally authentic. I love the idea of adding sprinkles to the dough. My favourite cookie is actually a shortbread cookie. I’m definitely going to try this recipe out. Happy holidays!

  • Reply
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
    December 28, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Omg girl, these look GORGEOUS!! Seriously, I am in LOVE with your pictures! I’m usually a soft and chewy cookie kind of gal, but NOTHING beats a good shortbread cookie and a cup of coffee! Almond shortbread is my absolute favorite!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    I am wondering how these would hold up in the mail. Does anyone know? Thanks

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      February 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Mary. I’ve never actually tried mailing these cookies but I haven’t had much luck mailing any cookies in the past! these are delicate so if you can find a way to keep them secure they might make it.

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut
    October 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Holy yum lady! No wonder these went Pinterest viral in October…I want these right now!!!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 28, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      hehe thanks, lady! So weird when that happens, but I’m certainly not complaining!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Can you use coconut flour instead of rice flour

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      November 14, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Unfortunately no. Coconut flour throws off the dry to wet ratio so I don’t think it will work out! One day I’ll master a grain-free shortbread cookie 😉

  • Reply
    November 25, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Davida! I just wanted to let you know that I’m featuring this amazing recipe in my post 102 Gluten Free Cookie Recipies. I’m also pinning it to my Gluten Free Cookie Madness Board. 🙂

    You are more than welcome to share this amazing resource with your readers or link to this post if you’d like! Thanks so much for the inspiration! Here’s the url: 102 Gluten Free Cookie Recipies

  • Reply
    December 8, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Could you make these without the xanthan gum? I don’t have any on hand. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      December 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Unfortunately no 🙁 It’s a necessary ingredient to help bind the cookies since there’s no gluten to do that!

      • Reply
        December 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm

        Any educated guesses on what an appropriate egg sub for these would be?

        • Reply
          Davida Kugelmass
          December 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

          mmmmm you can try a flax egg or chia egg but I’m not so sure they would hold up! If you do give it a try, let me know!

  • Reply
    Devonna Klaassen
    December 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I’m SO trying these!! I’m a bit late doing Christmas baking … but I’m going to do my best to get a little collection together. These are definitely on the list.

    You’re right … g/f but not ‘healthy’ – but I don’t have any issues with the butter. Real butter IS healthy. It’s just the sugar I have a problem with. But most of my baking will have minimal to no processed sugar … so for the holidays I can make an exception for these!! Thanks!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Where do you buy gluten free sprinkles? I can’t find them!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      December 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Most are gluten-free! I know the Betty Crocker sprinkles are for sure.

      • Reply
        December 22, 2014 at 12:40 am

        Thanks! I’ll have to look for the Betty Crocker ones. A lot of them I find are manufactured on the same equipment as wheat which some people can do, but I can’t.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    is there a ‘print’ function for gf shortbread recipe?

  • Reply
    December 14, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I’m guessing Ghee can be used to make these dairy free. I wonder is anyone has tried it?!
    They look delish!

    • Reply
      The Healthy Maven
      December 15, 2015 at 8:45 am

      I wouldn’t recommend ghee as the texture of the cookie may change. You can certainly give it a go but I haven’t tried it myself.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    TOTALLY AWESOME!!! Those look delicious, healthy, and tasty! I’m totally going to make some for Christmas! Thanks for the ingredients!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2016 at 7:49 pm


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