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Five of My Favorite Holiday Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes

When I made the decision to go gluten-free 5 years ago to help with my Rheumatoid Arthritis and digestive issues, it was extremely difficult. There are things I was really going to miss…and homemade holiday cookies were definitely on that list! Growing up, my mom and I had a tradition of spending an entire weekend every December baking all our favorite family cookie recipes.

After my mom passed away, I created a tradition with my girlfriends to get together on a Saturday each December and bake cookies together. We merged all of our own family tradition recipes together, baked all day long, ordered pizza for lunch, and split up the bounty at the end of the day for each of us to take home to our own families.

In recent years, I’ve taken my girls to my mother-in-law’s house (she has 2 ovens!) and we do the same things. Even though my girls are young, they still love helping (and eating, of course).

That first year that I was gluten-free, it was difficult to find recipes for gluten-free cookies. I tried to adapt some of my family tradition recipes by just subbing gluten-free flour or almond flour. Some of those recipes worked and some of them flopped…big time! So, I made some of the recipes full of gluten because that’s the only way I could get them to work and I wanted my family to be able to enjoy the cookies even if I couldn’t eat them. That sucked!

But, over the years, I’ve figured out how to adapt my favorite recipes to make fabulous gluten-free cookies so we can all enjoy them through the holidays together. Below are a few of my favorites and some tips for making everyday recipes gluten-free easily.

A Couple of Notes

  1. Make sure all of your ingredients are gluten-free (GF). Many ingredients listed below are naturally gluten-free, but be sure to check all of your labels (especially on things like chocolates and sprinkles.)
  2. These recipes assume the use of a gluten-free flour blend that already includes things like xanthan gum. There are many gluten-free flour blends on the market that are cup for cup substitutes for regular flour. If you are using gluten-free flour that is not a blend, these recipes won’t work.

Oreo Balls

This recipe came to me from one of my girlfriends back when we used to do our cookie bakes together and it’s one of my all-time favorites. And it’s so simple to make it gluten free by simply subbing gluten free oreo cookies (there are several brands available at chain and specialty grocery stores).

1 package of Oreo cookies (GF)
8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 package Almond Bark white chocolate

First, put Oreos in a food processor and pulse until very fine. Pour the crumbs into a bowl and mix crumbs with softened cream cheese. Roll into marble-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Then, put them in the refrigerator until cold. Melt the Almond Bark according to directions on the package. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper. Remove the balls from the fridge and roll each ball in the melted white chocolate until fully covered. Put the finished balls on wax paper and put back in the fridge to allow the chocolate to solidify and dry. Once dry, you can transfer these to a storage container and keep them the fridge.

Peanut Butter Gluten-Free Cookies

peanut butter cookie recipe
My mom’s peanut butter cookie recipe hand written on a post it note.

This recipe that came from my mom years ago and just so happens to be naturally GF and the easiest recipe on the planet! Also, you can add GF Hershey’s Kisses to the center if you want (but be careful here, there are some kisses that are not GF).

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup Sugar
1 egg

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Roll 1 tablespoon at a time into balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet (don’t need to grease). Flatten each ball using the tongs of a fork in a cross-hatch pattern. Bake at 350F for 12 min. After the cookies have cooled a little, but not completely, you can place a Hershey’s kiss (unwrapped) in the center of each cookie if you’d like. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookies

Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies are my dad’s absolute favorite. When I made cookies with my friends, we always made a whole extra batch just for him. Last year I made them for him and even though I’d made a bunch of other GF cookies I could eat, I was craving the chocolate chip ones that I couldn’t have. I tried to use the traditional recipe and just sub GF flour and it didn’t work out very well, so I found another recipe. The cream cheese is the key to this recipe’s success!

1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips (make sure these are GF, I like the milk chocolate ones personally)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups Flour (GF)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, unsalted (or Crisco)
1/4 cup cream cheese (room temperature)

In a bowl, or a stand mixer, beat together room-temperature butter (or Crisco), room-temperature cream cheese, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, and vanilla extract for 4-5 minutes. Next, add in the GF flour, cornstarch, and baking soda and beat again, just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and use a cookie scoop or spoon to scoop dough into 1T balls onto a greased cookie sheet. Loosely cover with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Once ready, preheat oven to 350F and bake for 8-9 minutes (be sure to take the cling wrap off before baking). Then, let them cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Almond Spritz Gluten Free Cookies

I have a love/hate relationship with these cookies. I love to eat them, but I hate to make them. So much so that my mom and I called them Evil Cookies. They are delicious, but they have to be put through a cookie press and that takes just the right finesse to get them to come out right. They can be a total pain, but they are worth all of the effort! It took some effort to transform these to be gluten-free too, but I found this recipe works well.

1 1/4 cups Crisco
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour (GF)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sprinkles (make sure you use GF ones)

Cream Crisco and sugar together. Beat in egg and almond extract. In a separate bowl, blend flour, salt and baking powder. Next, slowly pour dry ingredients into the batter and mix until fully combined. Dough will be like soft playdough. Then, cover and place in refrigerator until dough is firm. Fill cookie press with cold dough and press onto greased cookie sheet (have patience here, this is the hard part). Decorate with GF sprinkles (optional) and bake for 8-10 minutes at 375F. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Mint Cream Cheese Buttons

chocolate mint cream cheese buttons

I found this recipe from a cookie exchange I attended last year. It’s unusual for me to find cookies I can eat at these types of events, but I find them fun to attend anyway and it’s an extra special treat when I find a new gluten-free cookie recipe. This one is so delicious. I’ve been thinking about them all year and can’t wait to make them this Christmas season!

4oz cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
Several drops green food color
1 cup heavy whipping cream
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine cream cheese and one cup of powdered sugar in a large bowl and mix. Add the extract and food coloring in and mix. Next, gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out a teaspoon of dough at a time and form into a ball and place them on the baking sheet. Make an indent in the center of each ball with your finger. Chill the mints in the fridge until firm, about 1 hour.

Next, bring the heaving whipping cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate chips. Stir once or twice and then let sit for 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is fully melted and combined. Transfer the chocolate mix to a Ziploc bag and let sit for 30 minutes or so until it’s thick (like yogurt consistency.) Cut the corner of the bag and pipe it into the center of each mint. Chill for about an hour on the cookie sheet. Once cookies have set, you can transfer them to a storage container and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy The Holidays Without Missing Out

I hope these recipes help you participate in the joy and tradition of baking (and eating) holiday cookies with your family this year. It can be hard to be on a gluten-free diet, but you don’t have to miss out on homemade cookies!

Trista Gangestad

Originally from Florida, Trista Gangestad and her family moved to CO seven years ago and live on a small hobby farm with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband have 2 daughters, the oldest of which was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder. Trista has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and worked in Communications and Event Planning for more than 10 years before becoming a mom. Now looking forward to getting back into her career, she recently formed Hello Pumpkin, a freelance business providing promotion and design services for small businesses. Trista is also currently writing a memoir of her experience raising a special needs daughter. When this busy mom has time for herself, she enjoys sewing, crafting, shopping, drinking “candy coffee” and watching guilty pleasure TV shows.

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