Today's post is all about cookies. Easy Vegan Sugar Cookies. I am honored to be a part of a blogging Holiday Cookie Party idea with some blogging friends where we all share Christmas cookie recipes. I chose to do classic sugar cookies, but instead, vegan sugar cookies. It couldn't have come at a more perfect time, because my reader Paula wrote me back in September asking me to create a classic sugar cookie for Christmas, which are her favorite cookies. When she specifically asked it to be a much healthier version than the traditional, I knew it would be a challenge. She wanted to still be able to enjoy the classic cookie, but be healthier and plant-based, so she and her husband could enjoy them. It was really important to her that they be oil-free. I, personally, have seen or had a butter/oil-free sugar cookie, have you? I knew this would take some major testing.
I confess, this recipe was not easy. I trialed so many different flour ratios and liquids and found it to be super challenging, but I ultimately had success in creating these Vegan Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies that are also oil-free and butter-free. I've never in my life eaten a sugar cookie without oil or butter, until now. I promise they are just as delicious!! I accomplished (after many fails) something I never thought I'd make, a classic sugar cookie, with completely different ingredients than the original and with no butter or oil, but still taste amazing. When you work so hard at a recipe, end success is a wonderful feeling. It doesn't matter that these are vegan gluten-free sugar cookies, they are just as amazing as the traditional ones I used to eat.
So, after learning from Paula that she had no allergies, I was relieved that I could use nuts. Since I don't use any added oils to my baking, nuts are my go-to. Nuts provide the richness and moisture needed for these cookies to still taste good.
So, for these cookies, as with a lot of my recipes, I used a nut butter and a mix of gluten-free flours. My nut butter of choice this time is cashew butter. Cashew butter is the only choice here because it is really light in color, which is necessary to keep these vegan sugar cookies looking classic, and it is naturally sweet with vanilla notes to it. After so many trials, this is the flour combo that ultimately gave me the results I was after and I will share why.
Blanched Almond Flour: This is where the cookies get the majority of moisture from and a nice chew to the cookie. Remember, no oil used, so the almond flour helps keep them moist and buttery.
White Rice Flour: This is needed to add a slight crispness to the exterior of the cookies and also helps to bind the cookies. It also helps keep the cookies light in color. There is just enough of it to do it's job, but not too much to where it leaves a gritty texture, which can happen with rice flour if too much is used. Brown rice flour left too strong of a taste.
Potato Starch: This is the precise starch needed to give the cookies lightness and softness and help balance out the moisture content from the almond flour. I almost always use potato starch when using almond flour, I love how they balance each other out, like in my Dreamy Vanilla Cake.
Now, obviously these don't taste exactly like a traditional sugar cookie, because hello, there is no butter, white sugar or white flour or eggs in these, but they are very close and unbelievably delicious in their own right. Hubby, neighbor and kid-approved! These sugar cookies are wonderfully soft with a nice chew, a perfect sugar cookie texture. These are perfectly sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar, giving them much more depth of sweetness and flavor. However, since coconut sugar granules are pretty gritty and larger than white sugar, we need to blend those down into a coconut sugar powder. This gives better distribution of sweetness, and visual, to the cookies.
Notice the difference in color and texture once the coconut sugar is ground up. Trust me, it makes a difference. I made a batch without grinding them first and of course, they were less sweet and you could see all the granules throughout...not very attractive.
These gluten-free sugar cookies are vegan and oil-free, not to mention, incredibly easy to make. They only require 8 ingredients (+ salt) and ready in 30 minutes. No beater or mixer needed, just a whisk and bowl. And unlike traditional sugar cookie recipes, no need to chill the dough before baking, woohoo! Just roll them into balls and press them flat.
I cannot wait to hear what you all think of these Vegan Gluten-Free Oil-Free Sugar Cookies!! Please, please come leave feedback below after you make them. I love having the feedback tied to the recipe on my blog. If you take a pic, I'd love to see it as well. You can tag me on Instagram @thevegan8 using my tag #thevegan8, so it saves to my page and I don't miss it!
- 4½ tablespoons coconut sugar, powdered (54 g, finely ground, see directions)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons blanched almond flour (128 g, see Note below on brands)
- 7 tablespoons potato starch, not potato flour (70 g, I use this Bob's Red Mill)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons white rice flour (60 g, make sure it is not the sticky white rice flour, just regular. I use this Hodgson Mill)
- ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder (I use double-acting)
- scant ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (120 mL)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons raw cashew butter (make sure to use raw and no other added ingredients for it to work correctly in the recipe, I make my own, see here)
- 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Optional: organic sprinkling sugar for topping if desired.
- Note: To have the results turn out as I have here, make sure to use a kitchen scale, it is so important with gluten-free baking to get the right amounts, as even a couple of tablespoons off can alter results. Also, I did multiple trials of these cookies, so if you sub, it's at your own risk, I cannot guarantee results, these were very challenging to create. The almond flour absolutely cannot be subbed, as it gives the main source of moisture to the cookies since these have no added oil. It's very important to use a finely ground blanched almond flour for the cookie texture to turn out right. They will not be soft likely if you use an almond meal or grind your own. If you use Bob's Red Mill, make sure to grind it down more first, then measure, because I never like the results of his almond flour b/c it is gritty, therefore don't use it in my baking usually. I recommend King Arthur or Kroger brand called Simple Truth or the HEB brand if in Texas.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 2 dark metal cookie sheets with parchment paper. Lighter color pans or aluminum left these with too soft of bottoms.
- First, you will need to blend up your coconut sugar down to a fine powder. I did this in my Vitamix in about 15 seconds. This gives better distribution of sweetness, and visual, to the cookies since coconut sugar granules are very gritty. It did not work in my food processor, so use a high-powered blender or coffee grinder. Beware, it will get very powdery! So, leave the lid on a few seconds to let it settle first. Add the sugar to a large bowl, making sure to scrape it all out.
- Measure all your flours with a kitchen scale for accurate results. When measuring almond flour or starches, fluff them first to rid lumps and then scoop up with your cup and gently pat down to make sure there are no gaps, then level off. Add the almond flour, potato starch, rice flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl of sugar. Whisk very well until everything is well incorporated and no lumps remain. I jab my whisk around to break up lumps.
- In a separate medium bowl, add the syrup, cashew butter and vanilla. (make sure if your cashew butter has firmed up, that warm it to a really smooth consistency before measuring. It should be smooth like a really soft buttercream frosting. Make sure to level off the measuring cup for accurate results). Whisk until it's a completely smooth liquid. Pour over the dry ingredients slowly while stirring together the batter with a spoon. Stir the batter for several minutes, making sure all the flour is incorporated and it becomes really thick and stiff. Try not to eat all the batter, it is that good.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll into 18 balls and place on the 2 pans. It is a sticky dough, but can be rolled into balls with your hands. Use a small piece of parchment paper to place over each cookie and press down each ball down to ¼ inch thickness, no less or they will be too thin. Make sure to press down around the whole cookie evenly into a round shape. Sprinkle with sprinkling sugar, if desired, for a festive touch.
- Note: I noticed these cook more done/faster with crispier bottoms when cooked on a dark metal pan, versus a light thick aluminum pan, so keep that in mind. Use a dark metal pan if possible, I preferred the results on a dark metal sheet pan (with parchment paper). Bake for about 8 minutes in cold weather and 10 mins for warmer/humid weather. If using a thick aluminum pan, it will likely take closer to 10 minutes for the bottoms to cook enough. The tops should have poofed up and the edges have a slight crackled effect. Keep in mind, ovens vary. So, remove them once they have poofed up nicely with slight crackled edges. They will seem slightly undecooked at first, but still cook as they cool, that is the nature of potato starch. Let them cool on the pan for 10 minutes as they will be too delicate to remove right away, then using a thin spatula, remove them to cool completely on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, store in a sealed container, so they don't dry out. These are best when consumed within the first day, as they start to dry out by the next day because of the starch and no oil factors. They are still good the next day, just not as moist. Another reason why it's important not to overbake.
Now, make sure to check out all the other talented bloggers in the Holiday Cookie Party, there are 12 of us total and I'm so wowed by all of the amazing cookies these bloggers came up with....