Crisp and buttery gluten-free shortbread cookies that melt in your mouth. This recipe is so versatile, you can make it plain as cut-out cookies or slice and bake, or add in your favorite mix-ins like cocoa powder, peppermint, or orange zest and chocolate chunks! Top with chocolate and/or flaky salt or leave them simple.
This post is brought to you by Bob’s Red Mill, a long-term partner of Snixy Kitchen
What if you could make your entire festive holiday cookie platter out of just one cookie dough? This gluten-free shortbread cookie recipe is a classic solid base recipe that is delicious in its simplest buttery form and you can also easily divide and dress it up with flavor add-ins, chocolate dip/drizzle, or even different shapes. Commit to your favorite kind or make all of them! Your neighbors will be so impressed by how many different cookies you've made all in one day, but your secret's safe with me.
I've developed this versatile gluten-free shortbread cookie recipe as part of my year-long partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Here’s a list of all the recipes I’ve made in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill over the years.
What defines a shortbread cookie?
Shortbread cookies are crisp with a tender buttery crumb that melts in your mouth. Unlike most cookies, they're made without eggs. Instead, the simple dough is made with butter, sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla. The high fat content gives it that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
How to make gluten-free shortbread?
While the steps in the recipe may seem daunting, that's only because there are so many variation options. These cookies are so simple to make you can easily make multiple variations at the same time:
- Sift together the dry ingredients.
- Cream the butter and sugar and add vanilla. Depending on the variation, mix in peppermint extract or orange zest.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together. For the chocolate chunk orange variation, fold in the chocolate chunks.
- You can either roll the dough out on parchment paper to ⅛ to ¼-inch thick for cut-out shortbread cookies or roll the dough into a log wrapped in plastic wrap for slice-and-bake shortbread cookies.
- Chill dough until completely firm.
- Cut your cookies: Cut out shortbread cookie rectangles with a knife or shortbread cutter or slice the cookie dough log into ⅛-1/4-inch slices.
- Bake until the top outside edges are just golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Optional: dip or drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies! Top with any chopped topping, if desired. Let cool until the chocolate firms up.
What Flour for Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies?
Especially when baking cookies that heavily rely on flour (ie. one without eggs!), using high-quality flours is important to ensure the best outcome. I have tested this recipe exclusively with Bob's Red Mill flours, which are the most consistent in flavor and grind. Different brands of flour are ground more or less finely, which can greatly affect how crumbly and tender the cookies are, or even how much they spread in the oven. Be sure to measure the flours by weight so you don't end up with too much or too little.
For these shortbread cookies, I chose a high-fat flour, super-fine blanched almond flour, as the base. It adds the crumbly texture and subtle nuttiness that's reminiscent of traditional shortbread.
Sweet rice flour is the "binder" that works with the almond flour to hold the dough together so you don't end up with a cookie that crumbles before you can eat it.
Cornstarch is used to make cake flour, which creates a lighter crumb. In this gluten-free version, cornstarch helps create the crumbly tender texture.
Substituting the Cornstarch
Traditional shortbread cookies are made with white rice flour rather than corn starch to give them that light snappy texture. I've tested the recipe both ways and they were nearly identical, so I kept cornstarch as it's more readily available. Feel free to substitute the corn starch with white rice flour by weight.
Is powdered sugar or granulated sugar better for shortbread?
There are folks who swear one is better than the other for making shortbread. I tested the recipe with either type of sugar and found that I moderately preferred the texture of the granulated sugar shortbread over the powdered sugar version.
The granulated sugar version was less sandy and had a snappier bite. This is not a hill I'll die on though - they're pretty difficult to tell apart.
Gluten-free shortbread variations
With a solid shortbread cookie base, you can customize add-ins and flavors to your heart's content. The first decision you'll need to make is whether you want cut-out or slice-and-bake cookies.
Cut-out v. Slice-and-Bake
Roll out the dough to ⅛-1/4 inch thick, chill it until firm, then cut it into shapes. You can simply cut it into equal squares or rectangles or use cookie cutters. Keep in mind that bigger shapes will require longer baking time. One bonus of cut-out cookies is that you can roll out the dough on parchment paper before chilling it, shortening the chill time significantly. This method tends to create slightly thinner cookies that bake up quicker.
Roll the dough into a log, with about 1.5-inch diameter, using plastic wrap to guide the dough into an even log. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until completely firm. When you're ready to bake, slice the cookies into ⅛-1/4 inch even slices. Slice-and-bake cookies are perfect for when you want flavor add-ins like chocolate or nuts. Plus, slicing a cookie dough log is a lot less fussy than rolling out and cutting dough. This method tends to create slightly thicker cookies that require extra baking time.
The base recipe here produces buttery shortbread cookies that can be rolled and cut out or sliced and baked. Dip or drizzle the final cookie in chocolate or leave it be.
Chocolate shortbread cookies
For chocolate shortbread, replace 27g sweet rice flour with 27g dutch-processed cocoa flour and add ½ teaspoon additional salt. Roll and cut them as rectangles or squares or roll the dough into a log, slice, and bake.
Double chocolate drizzle shortbread cookies (with peppermint or flaky salt)
These slice-and-bake chocolate shortbread cookies are the same recipe as the square ones above, but rolled into a log and sliced. For peppermint, add ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract to the dough. Or leave it as a simple chocolate shortbread cookie dough. Drizzle the baked and cooled cookie with chocolate and sprinkle with crushed-up candy canes or flaky salt.
Orange chocolate shortbread cookies
Start with the base recipe and mix in zest of an orange and 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and use instructions for the slice-and-bake option, rolling the dough into a log.
Dipping or drizzling in chocolate
Dipping the corner or the shortbread in chocolate or drizzling it with chocolate is an easy way to dress up your shortbread cookies. While the chocolate is still soft, you can even top it with flaky salt, crushed candy canes, or chopped toasted nuts.
How to store gluten-free shortbread?
Store gluten-free shortbread cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. These cookies keep really well, without tasting stale or dry as time goes on.
Store baked cookies in an airtight bag or container in the freezer for up to several months, bringing them to room temperature on the counter before serving.
More Gluten-Free Holiday Cookies
Cookies are one of my very favorite things to bake during the holidays. Here are a few favorites to fill out your cookie platter!
Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies Base
- 1¼ cups (140g) Bob's Red Mill Superfine Blanched Almond Flour
- ½ cup (80g) Bob's Red Mill Sweet Rice Flour (different from white rice flour or brown rice flour)
- 3 tablespoons (24g) Bob's Red Mill Cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoon (78g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate or Chocolate Peppermint Variations
- Use above base shortbread recipe
- Replace 27g of the sweet rice flour above with 27g dutch-processed cocoa powder
- Add an additional ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Orange Chocolate Variation
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Optional Chocolate Dipped or Drizzled
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: almond flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch, and salt. if making the chocolate variation, mix in the cocoa powder as well.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until completely combined, 1-2 minutes.
- Mix in the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides as needed. For the chocolate peppermint variation, mix in the peppermint extract. For the chocolate chunk orange variation, mix in the orange zest.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides, mixing until the dough comes together and is pliable. For the chocolate chunk orange variation, fold in the chocolate chunks.
- You can either roll the dough out for cut-out shortbread cookies (squares or rectangles look nice!) or roll the dough into a log for slice-and-bake shortbread cookies. Decide how you want to make them and see the instructions below.
- For cut-out shortbread cookies, roll the dough out on a sheet of parchment paper until ⅛ to ¼-inch thick rectangle. Place on a baking sheet and chill for at least an hour. Once chilled, use a ruler to help cut out rectangles or squares that are exactly the same size (I cut 2.5 x 1 -inch rectangles). and place on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, 1-inch apart. Chill the baking sheet with cookies while you preheat the oven to 325°F.
- When the oven is hot, bake for 13-15 minutes, taking care not to overbake. The top outside edges should be just golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For slice-and-bake shortbread cookies. roll the dough into a log about 1.5 inches in diameter using a piece of plastic wrap to guide the soft dough into shape. Wrap up with the plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until completely firm. Once chilled, unwrap the log and cut the dough into rounds, ⅛ - ¼ inch thick. and place on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, 1-inch apart. Chill the baking sheet with cookies while you preheat the oven to 325°F.
- When the oven is hot, bake for 18-22 minutes, taking care not to overbake (Note: the slice-and-bake cookies take a bit longer as they tend to be cut thicker than the rolled shapes). The top outside edges should be just golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- If dipping or drizzling chocolate over the cookies, place ¾ of the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between, until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the reserved chopped chocolate and stir to melt. If there are stubborn pieces that don't melt, microwave for 15 more seconds and stir again. Alternatively, you can temper the chocolate on the stovetop, as described below.
- To temper the chocolate on the stovetop: Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and set a heat-proof bowl over the top so a large portion of the bowl is touching the water. Being careful not to get any water in your bowl, add 3 ounces of the chopped chocolate. Cook, undisturbed until a little more than half is melted, then stir until the rest melts. Cook for a few minutes longer until the chocolate stings a little when touched on your wrist or just below your lower lip. Remove the bowl from the heat (again being careful not to get any water in it) and add the reserved 1 ounce of chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate feels just a bit cooler than your body temperature when touched to your wrist.
- Transfer the melted chocolate to a small bowl or cup and dip the baked cooled cookies in the chocolate and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Alternatively, use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the baked cooled cookies. Let cool until the chocolate is firm (speed this up in the fridge, if needed!). Serve within a week.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 28 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 38mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g
This nutritional information has been automatically calculated, and as such, may be incomplete or inaccurate. Please reference the specific ingredients you use for the most accurate nutritional information.