Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies {gluten, dairy and egg-free}

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Kid-Style Cookie Decorating
Just in time for Christmas - sugar cookies!  Cookie making day is a great tradition in our home.  The kids look forward each year to all that dough rolling, cutting, decorating and, best of all, eating!  Of course, the scene must be set with just the right Christmas music playing - and Daddy has to wear his Santa hat.  To get the best fun vs. effort out of our time, I usually make the dough ahead of time so the kids can just jump in and start creating their edible art.

This cookie dough is extremely easy to work with so its great for kids!  And being the impatient chef that I am, my favorite part is that is does not require any chilling time in the fridge prior to rolling and cutting. 

A few notes on the ingredients: 

  • For the shortening, you have a choice between Spectrum shortening or Earth Balance vegan butter sticks.  I've made it both ways, and didn't notice much difference in taste or texture.  The difference lies in the pre-cooked dough.  If you use the shortening, putting your dough in the fridge will turn it into a rock.  So if you make it the night before and refridgerate it, you'll need to take it out of the fridge at least an hour before working with it.  With the shortening option, you probably won't need to flour your work surface.  When using the vegan butter, you'll need just a light dusting of flour on your counter and roller.  The butter option fairs better in the fridge, but chilling is still not needed.
  • For the flour mixture, if you don't have tapioca starch on hand, you can replace the tapioca with potato starch so that your flour mixture would be 1 ½ cups sorghum flour and 1 ½ cups potato starch.  The end result is very similar, but I like the flavor a little better with the combo.
Now onto the recipe . . .  

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

1 ½ cups sugar

¾ cup shortening (Spectrum Palm Shortening) or Earth Balance vegan butter sticks
1 ½ cups sorghum flour
¾ cup potato starch
¾ cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
¼ cup applesauce
2 TBSP vanilla

Step 1 – Using a hand or stand mixer (my Sunbeam Heritage Series Mixmaster works great for this), cream together sugar and shortening (about 3 minutes).  This is an important step as it creates air bubbles so the cookies will rise as they cook.  To read more about creaming, check out this article.

Step 2 – In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. 

Step 3 – To the creamed shortening/sugar, add applesauce and vanilla and mix in.  Add in dry ingredients and mix together till well combined.

Step 4 – With this recipe, there is no need to chill the dough.  Divide dough into workable sections.  This dough is remarkably easy to work with, but you still may need to lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick (thinner dough will create crispy cookies).  Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on cookie sheet lined with either a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Step 5 – Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.  The cookies will look like they need to stay in the oven a few more minutes, but don't be tempted.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Enjoy as is, or decorate with icing (see recipe below).   These cookies stay fresh and yummy for several days in a sealed plastic bag.

NOTE:  In case you want to make the dough a few days before cooking making, this dough faired just fine wrapped in plastic wrap in my fridge for several days.  Just be sure you leave yourself time to let the dough come to room temp or you'll have a rather hard ball of dough.

For the cookie icing . . .

⅓ cup shortening
pinch of salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 TBSP dairy-free milk

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together until well combined.  I then put a scoop of icing into several seperate plastic sandwich bags and, using food coloring, make several colors of icing. When ready to decorate, cut a very small hole in the corner of each bag so you (or the kids) can squeeze out the colored icing onto your cookies.  Loads of fun!

Crushed candy cane pressed onto the top of these cookies prior to baking is also quite yummy!

This recipe is being shared at Melt in Your Mouth MondayInspire Me MondayBetter Mom MondayGluten Free MondaySlightly Indulgent TuesdayAllergy Free WednesdayHealthy 2day WednesdayGluten Free WednesdayWednesday ExtravaganzaWheat Free WednesdayCast Party WednesdayWhat's Cooking WednesdayFull Plate ThursdayDelightfully Inspiring ThursdayFrugal Food ThursdayUltimate Recipe SwapGluten Free FridaysFoodie FridayFresh Bites FridayFoodtastic FridayFood on Friday


  1. Sorry dear these aren't allergy friendly in our house. I was so excited to see the title on a friends post link only to realize you used food coloring. If you are trying to go allergy free dyes are some of the worst causing many hidden symptoms. Please don't take this wrong I just want to educate that they are very dangerous to everyone not just those who have allergies.

    1. Thank you for bringing up the topic of food dyes. I agree that food coloring is not a healthful ingredient. However, this recipe DOES NOT require the addition of food coloring. I only suggest adding it to the frosting IF DESIRED. For individuals wishing to avoid dyes, simply leave it out and enjoy the cookies and frosting in their natural color.

  2. THANK YOU for this recipe! We are gluten and dairy free here, and my son is allergic to eggs. I usually just make substitutions, but I will try this recipe. Found you at Inspire Me Monday and will follow!

    1. Pam - Glad to share what works for us in hopes that it will benefit others! Just checked your blog - so beautiful!

  3. I was JUST going to look for a sugar cookie recipe to make for my son! I've never attempted them before (allergen-free), but his AWANA class is having a cookie decorating party in a few weeks and I want him to be a part of it. So I will experiment with this recipe, thanks!

    1. Oh good! I hope it turns out well for you! I'd love to hear how you like it. Its good you have a heads-up about the upcoming cookie decorating - I know all about prepping for those food-related classroom/church activities.

  4. I just came from Foodtastic Friday. This recipe looks great. I've been trying to eliminate white flour in my cookie recipes but I have not yet tried sorghum. I'll have to give it a try using your recipe.

    Have a great weekend,
    Winelady Cooks

  5. I needed this recipe with Christmas upon us and my wheat allergy still active I need a gluten free recipe for our annual sugar cookies. Thanks for sharing this on foodie friday.

    1. You're welcome! That's what its all about - not missing a thing!

  6. These are awesome and perfect for a family member with a gluten-allergy!! Can't wait to share! Thanks for coming to Foodtastic Friday!

  7. Sugar Cookies are so much fun and festive, your recipe looks delicious! Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  8. I always love gluten free recipes!
    They look so so YUM!
    Thank you you so much for sharing this at Wednesday Extravaganza! Hope to see you there again this week :)

  9. Thank you for a fantastic recipe. I also have seen some dye free colorings available at WF, though they were very expensive. I have used other fruits and veggies to color my frostings before. Your cookies look great and I know my kids will have fun with this!
    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)
    I hope to see you again this week!

    This week is sponsored by Sugar and Spice Market! They are giving away a package of their gluten free sugar cookie mix and a package of their gluten free pancake/waffle mix! It is just in time for the holidays!

    Link up starts tomorrow (thursday) at 7:05pm eastern time! Cindy from

    1. Yaah! My kids (and me and hubby) always have fun making these cookies! Hope your family will, too!

  10. I found this recipe on the Gluten Free Fridays Link-up! These satisfy all of my allergy requirements and look very fun to make! Thank you for posting!

    1. Thank you! Hope you have fun making them! Its a great tradition!

  11. What changes do I need to make if using regular flour?? I replaced the flours, starch and xanthan gum w/ 3 c of regular white flour and the dough was very dry and didnt really come together so I had to add another 1/4 c applesauce and about 1/2 c of water and then it seemed to work better...was I supposed to use less flour if used regular 'gluten' flour? Thanks!

    1. As I have never tried this recipe with 'regular' flour, I can't say for sure. Because a large part of this recipe is made up of starches which are lighter/airier than flour, I'd guess you'd use a little less if replacing with flour.


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