I think it’s safe to say that sugar cookies are a timeless classic for the vast majority of people, with their unique texture that melts in your mouth as soon as you pop one in.
Traditionally, flour has always been a staple ingredient in the majority of flour recipes, as it’s a main element in the cookie’s structure. But can you make sugar cookies without flour?
This question posed a challenge to a lot of people, especially weight watchers trying to avoid eating too much gluten. If you’re interested in finding out whether a flourless sugar cookie would work, keep on reading this guide!
The short and simple answer to this question is yes. Technically speaking, you can make sugar cookies without using flour.
However, flour is a critical ingredient in sugar cookies and many other baking recipes. This is because flour is responsible for many essential roles while baking. These include:
- Providing the dough with structural integrity
- Controlling the overall texture of the cookie dough and the final product
- Creating a base for the dry and wet ingredients to combine
- Essential for maintaining the cookie’s tenderness on the inside and firmness on the outside
In other words, baking sugar cookies without flour will disrupt the balance of your ingredients, and the end result will be too crumbly and fall apart very easily.
For that reason, while you can make sugar cookies without using a standard type of flour, you still need to find an alternative that can do flour’s main properties.
Luckily, there are many ways to bake sugar cookies without flour. This means that the choice of the ideal ingredient will depend on your personal preference and the availability of the alternatives in your pantry.
As previously established, there are several options to consider while substituting all-purpose flour in sugar cookie recipes. Here’s a brief overview of each one of them:
Xanthan gum is one of the most common food additives with tons of commercial uses. Xanthan is originally used as a thickening agent and emulsifier to blend other ingredients.
This makes it a perfect substitute for flour in many recipes because, like flour, it can create a structurally stable dough. This results in a firm cookie that won’t crumble as soon as you hold it.
Xanthan gum is sold as a powder that forms a thick gel when soaked in water. Alternatively, you can use gluten-free flour blends that contain xanthan gum as a main ingredient.
Despite the name, almond flour isn’t actually a form of milled flour. Instead, it’s simply finely ground blanched almonds.
However, as the name suggests, this one is extremely good at mimicking the properties of all-purpose flour in baking.
Not only that, but it also adds to the flavor and texture of the cookies, especially if you add a dash of almond extract to the mix!
Peanut butter isn’t always a reliable substitute for flour in baking, but in this case, it works almost flawlessly!
The creamy structure of soft peanut butter combines well with other ingredients while adding a unique flavor.
If you’re mainly looking for a gluten-free alternative that can still get the job done, you can go for ground oats.
Besides being naturally gluten-free, they’re easy to blend and have a higher nutritional value than regular flour.
Now that you know more about flour alternatives in sugar cookies, here’s how to prepare one.
In this recipe, I’ll be using almond Xanthan gum blend as a substitute for all-purpose flour, but you can also use other alternatives in its place.
- 1 tablespoon xanthan gum powder
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 medium-sized room-temperature eggs (or one large egg)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Glaze icing mix for decoration (optional)
To make the cookies, you’ll need to start by preheating your oven to 350 °F or 177°C. Preheating needs at least 5 to 10 minutes headstart, which is why it should be your first step.
Add the xanthan gum powder to the 1 1/2 cups cold water, then blend the mixture for 5 minutes until it forms a cold gel.
You can then use the gelatinized mix as a substitute for flour in the recipe. Alternatively, you can replace this step with any other flour substitute you’re using.
Bring a large bowl, and start adding your sugar and butter. Mix them until they’re well combined and smooth, then start adding your eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking powder.
Once they combine, add 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of xanthan gel and gradually blend the mixture until it’s fully combined, adding an extra 1/2 tablespoon if necessary.
You can also use flour substitute varieties that contain xanthan gum in the ingredients. In that case, you typically replace the flour with a 1:1 ratio unless the label recommends otherwise.
For this method, you’ll add the dry ingredients to a separate small bowl and combine it with the wet ingredients in the large bowl after they combine.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough, and roll them by hand into balls.
Put the balls on the parchment paper and press them gently so they’re desk-shaped. Repeat the same process for other cookies and space them out evenly on the baking sheet. (you can also use cookie cutters to make cutouts.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and let it cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Note that, unlike many pastries, you shouldn’t wait until the cookies are golden brown. Instead, your cue here would be the cookies setting at the center.
Take the baking sheet out of the oven, and allow the cookies to cool down for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
For frosting, you can use commercial options (follow the instructions on the label to prepare them), ready-made options, or prepare them yourself beforehand.
Baking sugar cookies without flour will require several clever adjustments to work, so here are some tips to keep in mind while preparing them:
Almond flour comes in a variety of grind sizes. However, for cookies, you should typically stick to the finest ground possible.
Finer grinds will help the cookies turn out soft and prevent them from breaking apart easily. This also applies to other types of substitutes, such as ground oats and xanthan blends.
If you’re using a dry flour substitute, you should start by mixing the dry ingredients in a small bowl before adding them to the wet mix. This allows the ingredients to combine evenly throughout the dough and prevent lumps.
Lastly, while many of these flour substitutes are highly effective, they don’t always provide the same structural integrity as all-purpose flour (mostly due to lack of gluten).
For that reason, you should avoid spreading or pressing the cookie dough into relatively thin discs, as this will make them quite brittle.
This marks the end of today’s guide that shows you how to prepare sugar cookies without flour. As you can see, flourless sugar cookies are still remarkably delicious as their classic counterparts, especially if you use healthier ingredients to substitute for flour.
Remember to follow all the tips and tricks that I’ve provided throughout this guide to make sure your cookies come out delicious and maintain the right texture.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.