These gluten-free sparkle sugar cookies are light and crisp on the edges and soft in the center. They’re sweet and buttery (and a perfect recipe for beginners).
Gluten-Free Sparkle Sugar Cookies
These gluten-free sugar cookies are
- Light and crisp on the edges
- Soft in the center
- Sweet and buttery
- Perfect for beginners
Gluten-Free Sparkle Sugar Cookies Ingredients
This recipe uses all the standard ingredients for simple drop sugar cookies. (Think butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla).
Here’s what you’ll need (along with some subs):
Gluten-Free Flour: A good gluten-free flour blend is the backbone of these cookies. They were tested with Bob’s Red Mill’s 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour blend. If you use a blend that does not contain xanthan or guar gum, the cookies might spread more than those made with a blend that contains xanthan or guar.
Baking Powder: Gives these cookies lift (rise). The texture of these sugar cookies is light, thanks to the baking powder.
Salt: Salt acts as a flavor enhancer and, as odd as this sounds, makes the sugar cookies taste less sweet–which is a good thing! For this recipe, use table salt, not flaky (kosher) salt.
Butter: Butter gives the cookies a lovely flavor and delicate texture. If you can’t use butter, replace it with a solid fat, like margarine or coconut oil. Be sure to use softened butter. If the butter is too cold, it won’t beat up light and fluffy with the sugar. If it’s too warm, the cookies will spread and/ bake up greasy.
Sugar: The recipe calls for granulated sugar but you could easily swap it for turbinado sugar or natural cane sugar.
Egg: The one egg in this recipe does a lot! It adds flavor, moisture, and helps give the cookies a bit of lift. I have not tested this recipe with an egg replacer.
Vanilla Extract: I prefer to use natural vanilla extract but artificial works just fine. You can also swap the vanilla for almond extract or use a combo of the two. That adds a lovely flavor.
Sanding Sugar: To give these cookies some sparkle, roll them in colored sugar before baking. There are two types of colored sugars commonly found: sanding and coarse. Sanding sugar is similar in texture to granulated sugar, perhaps a bit finer. Where coarse sugar is larger and adds a nice crunch to the cookies.
How to Make Gluten-Free Sparkle Sugar Cookies
These are simple drop sugar cookies. No rolling pin or cutters required! Woot! Like gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, you (usually) don’t need to chill the dough before baking. Since no chilling is required, this means you can make a batch of these cookies, from start to finish, in under an hour.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. This step helps the cookies to rise and bake evenly. Whisking the gluten-free flour with the baking powder and salt evenly distributes the baking powder and salt throughout the gluten-free flour mixture.
- Beat the butter and sugar. Use an electric mixer and beat the butter and sugar together until it looks thick and almost light. Don’t overbeat the sugar and butter; this can cause the cookies to spread.
- Add the egg and vanilla. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture. I like to add the vanilla along with the egg because it mixes evenly throughout the batter. Making each gluten-free butter cookie taste nice and vanilla-y. (Vanilla-y is a word, right?)
- Mix the dough. Stop the mixer and add the whisked dry ingredients. The dough will be thick and soft.
- Chill the cookie dough. (optional) If the dough seems too soft to roll into balls, pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Most of the time, you don’t need to chill this dough. But sometimes, depending on the temperature of the room, butter, and how long you mix, the dough gets soft. If it feels squishy/sticky chill it. If not, go to the next step.
- Roll dough into balls. Use about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough for each or use a cookie scoop. If after chilling the dough is still a little sticky, wet your hands with cool water before rolling.
- Roll the dough into sanding sugar. To give the cookies a pretty sparkle, roll the dough balls into sanding sugar. If you want cookies with a bit more crunch, roll them in coarse sugar.
- Flatten the dough. These cookies spread during baking. But if you don’t press them down before baking, they tend to be rather thick in the middle. For uniform cookies, use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup and press the cookies down when they’re on the baking sheet.
- Bake. Bake until the cookies are set and lightly golden brown on the edges. For one tablespoon of dough, that takes about 12 minutes. As always, it’s better to go by how they look than the clock.
- Cool on a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes. If you try to move them before that, they might break because they’re so hot and delicate from the oven. Once they’ve cooled for a few minutes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Store Gluten-Free Sparkle Sugar Cookies
Store cookies in a lidded container on the counter for up to five days. The cookies tend to get a bit crunchier as the days go by but the flavor remains just as buttery and delicious.
Gluten-Free Sparkle Sugar Cookies
- 1 ⅓ cups gluten-free flour, see note (7 ounces; 198 grams)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (5 ¾ ounces; 165 grams)
- ½ cup softened butter (1 stick; 4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1 large egg (out of shell: 2 ounces; 56 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup colored sanding sugar (about 4 ounces; 113 grams)
Heat oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine Dry Ingredients. Whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat Butter and Sugar. Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until a thick paste forms, about 1 minute. Add egg and mix until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix until a thick dough forms.
Chill Dough. (optional: dough is sticky and hard to roll into balls, chill for 10-15 minutes.
Roll Dough in Balls. Roll dough, about 1 tablespoon each, into a ball or use a cookie scoop.
Roll the dough into sanding sugar. Place dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Space cookies about 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies to 3/4-inch thickness with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup.
Bake. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until set and lightly golden brown on the edges, about 12 minutes.
Cool on a rack. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in an airtight container.
Gluten-Free Flour: Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour recommended. If you use a flour blend that doesn’t contain xanthan or guar gum, the cookies might spread.
To Make Ahead: The cookie dough can be made ahead. Prepare through step four. Wrap bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. Let dough soften at room temperature and then roll and bake as directed.
The dough can also be shaped into balls, rolled in sugar, and flattened before baking. Freeze on the baking sheet. Once the dough is frozen, transfer to a freezer container or a large zipper-top bag.
To bake from frozen. Place frozen dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake as directed. Increase baking time to about 15 minutes.