Crumbly, rich Gluten-Free Vegan Shortbread Cookies are the perfect holiday cookie. Made with gluten-free flours, shortening and maple syrup, these shortbread cut-out cookies are dairy-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free and easily nut-free and AIP-compliant.
As the creator of an online dairy-free and gluten-free baking school, I know how difficult it is to find delicious gluten-free baked goods that are just as delicious as conventionally made treats. And it’s particularly disheartening during the holidays when we want to partake in our favorite, nostalgic treats with friends and family. So I’m very happy to share my shortbread cookies recipe; a gluten-free and dairy-free spin on the traditional rich and buttery Scottish biscuits. Like my AIP/paleo spiced shortbread cookies, paleo crinkle cookies and gluten-free pumpkin cookies, my vegan shortbread is also refined sugar-free, coconut-free, paleo, and easily AIP-friendly.
If you want to learn how to make more delicious allergy-friendly, dairy-free and gluten-free cookies for the holidays, check out The Holiday Cookie Course.
Table of contents
Gluten-Free Vegan Shortbread Cookie Recipe
While classic shortbread is made with all-purpose flour, butter, and sugar, my cookies achieve their rich, sweet flavor and crumbly texture without grains, gluten, dairy, or refined sugar. Almond flour is the primary grain- and gluten-free flour. Its high fat content imparts richness and moisture, creating a tender crumb. Arrowroot starch acts as a binding and thickening agent while balancing the almond flour’s density to provide structure and lightness.
Maple syrup, an unrefined sweetener, lends its sweet maple flavor, perfectly complemented by aromatic vanilla and balanced with some sea salt. Palm shortening mimics the butter traditionally used in shortbread cookies. It provides moisture and richness with a buttery flavor (without the dairy) and contributes to its tender and crumbly texture. Once baked until slightly golden brown, these cookies have the same marbling effect as traditional shortbread cookies and are just as crisp and crumbly. Melted chocolate is optional but adds some additional chocolaty flavor and texture, and flaky sea salt really elevates this cookie as an optional garnish.
Make these quick and easy gluten-free vegan shortbread cookies in just one bowl; they’ll be ready in less than 30 minutes. These sweet, buttery shortbread cookies are a holiday must make that all eaters will love. They’re perfect to bring to any holiday gathering, cookie swap, for gifting, or to enjoy on your own 😉!
- almond flour (or tigernut for a nut-free option)
- arrowroot starch
- sea salt
- maple syrup
- palm shortening
- vanilla extract
- dairy-free chocolate chips – most dairy-free chocolate chips I’ve seen available are vegan, but you should check the ingredients to be sure.
- sea salt flakes – like the Maldon brand of flaky sea salt add a nice contrast to the cookies’ sweetness.
- Almond flour: you can use tigernut flour instead to make these cookies nut-free but please see the recipe card for the amount necessary as it is not a 1:1 swap.
- Palm shortening: you can try using refined coconut oil instead, though I haven’t tested this myself. If you go this route, you’ll want work with soft (rather than fully melted) coconut oil.
- AIP substitution: If you’re following the autoimmune protocol (AIP diet), use tigernut flour instead of almond flour and either omit the dairy-free chocolate chips or use melted carob chips. For more, see the AIP Modification Tips.
- I don’t recommend any other substitutions.
Step 1: Prep the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350F
Step 2: Make the Cookie Dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer, combine almond flour, arrowroot starch, sea salt, maple syrup, palm shortening and vanilla extract. Alternatively, you can make the dough by hand by mixing together the dry ingredients with maple syrup and vanilla. Then, use a pastry cutter to cut in the palm shortening.
Step 3: Roll Out the Dough
Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball of dough. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough out into a rectangle between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate the dough for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Shape the Cookies
Use a cookie cutter of your choice (any size and shape) to cut out the cookies.
Step 5: Bake the Cookies
Transfer the sheet of parchment paper with the cut out cookies to a baking sheet. Bake the cookies in the middle rack of the oven for 12 minutes until the edges become golden brown.
Step 6: Let the Cookies Cool
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before gently transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 7: Decorate the Cookies (optional)
Drizzle the cookies with melted chocolate in a pattern of your choosing and garnish with some flaky sea salt. The melted chocolate will harden once cooled, so you can stack these cookies.
Expert Tips & Tricks
- Ensure wet ingredients are at room temperature rather than very cold straight from the fridge, so they mix easily and evenly. If necessary, slightly warm cold liquid ingredients like the maple syrup first to remove the chill, to prevent the shortening from solidifying and creating a crumbly dough.
- Don’t overmix the dough as it can result in cookies that are too crumbly.
- The cookie dough should be rolled out to between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. The cookies should be no less than 1/4 inch thick to ensure they don’t crack during or post baking.
- Ensure cookies are all the same thickness so they bake evenly.
- Be mindful of your chill-time. The purpose of chilling the dough is so that it is not as soft and breakable, but over-chilling will result in stiff dough that will crack. Chilling the dough helps prevent the cookies from spreading during baking. If your dough over-chills:
- Allow it to warm up a bit before using the cookie cutter.
- Use your fingers to smooth over cracks and bring the dough back together.
- Allow the cookies to cool fully before handling or drizzling with melted chocolate or they will crack/crumble.
- Once removed from the oven, leave the cookies on the baking sheet for several minutes. Then gently transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
AIP Modification Tips
Tips on making these gluten-free vegan shortbread cookies AIP-compliant:
- Sift the tigernut flour before measuring the desired amount. Tigernut flour is notoriously gritty and should always be sifted with a flour sifter or pulsed in a food processor before using.
- Make the carob sauce as described in the first step of making the carob chunks in my sweet potato chocolate chunk bars recipe. Let the sauce cool a little bit before drizzling or spreading over the shortbread cookies while still warm. Add optional flaky sea salt.
- Or, enjoy the cookies as is!
- You can also try my AIP spiced shortbread cookies!
Frequently Asked Questions
Refer to the Ingredients Substitution section
For this recipe, the homemade grain- and gluten-free flour blend consists of almond or tigernut flour with arrowroot starch to achieve the desired taste and texture. It cannot be substituted with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Moreover, this recipe is free of yeast and gums often included in those blends.
Want to learn more about baking with grain-free flours and making your own blends? I teach you how in The Basics.
You can make the dough the day before using. Keep the ball of dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before rolling it out and cutting into cookies (no need to re-chill).
Alternatively, you can freeze the dough in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag for up to 30 days. Allow the dough to thaw in the fridge for 12 hours before using.
Room Temperature: Store these cookies in an airtight container on the countertop. You can layer them between sheets of parchment paper or stack them in a jar. These gluten-free vegan shortbread cookies will last for several weeks on the countertop once well sealed.
Freezer: Store these shortbread cookies in the freezer in a freezer-safe, resealable bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge for 12 hours before serving.
Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Holiday Cookies
- Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Paleo Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Paleo Thumbprint Cookies
- Linzer Cookies
Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Treats
- Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes
- Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pumpkin Roll
- Gluten-Free Vegan Apple Crumble
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Paleo Fruitcake
- Apple Spice Cake
I hope you love these Gluten-Free Vegan Shortbread Cookies. If you do, I would appreciate it if you would give the recipe a rating and review. Be sure to snap a picture of the finished product and share it with me on Instagram by tagging @healmedelicious and using the hashtag #healmedelicious.Print