Well this is it. THE. MOTHER. OF. ALL. MOTHER. The official: Gluten Free Sugar Cookie recipe. I’ve been speaking about my Mother-in-law’s sugar cookies for months now. She makes, no joke, the softest and by far the most delicious, sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever tasted. The recipe is very easy to make as well; however, I am not giving you her recipe.
I am giving you my modified, and gluten-free specific recipe. This recipe can be made dairy free by substituting the buttermilk with an “acidic milk substitute.” See the conversion graphic below from buzzle.com. (Thank you Pinterest!) I have made these cookies using regular milk and adding vinegar to it, whenever I get home and realize I forgot to purchase buttermilk. It doesn’t really affect the end product.
This is the one hot ticket item that every Bargerstock grandchild looks for at every holiday, from Christmas, to Easter, birthdays and even one time my mother-in-law and I decorated 4th of July cookies together (lord help me that she doesn’t still have pictures of those cookies…!) They were a centerpiece at each one of our weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, and I have carried on her tradition of sugar cookies for each of my children’s birthday parties. She even attempted gluten free cookies once for me. Not being used to gluten free baking, I’m pretty sure she hated it. Having begun to fine tune the craft of gluten free baking I am beginning to find the “fixes” for the original recipe to create the updated Gluten Free version of her cookies.
The one specific detail that my mother-in-law always includes in her cookies is the very era-specific “Star-tipped” decorating that takes you right back to 90’s childhood when it was customary to buy old school style sheet cakes covered in star-tipped icing. More recently this has been replaced with a slightly more intricate, and less carpal-tunnel-causing method of cake and cookie decorating that look more like works of art than food.
I have created this cookies in a variety of ways, from the original star tipped style, to the flooded royal icing, and even to a combination of both, layering icing on top of hardened icing.
Here you can see the classic start tipped icing from my post, Winter Birthday Blues Brightened, where we held a “Snow Bunny” themed birthday party for our oldest when she turned two.
These cookies were my first attempt at “flooding” and layering of icing, (pardon the incredibly crooked lines… it was my first attempt!) which didn’t turn out too bad, the pearlescent dust really helped to cover up some of my unsteady hand errors. I made these for my youngest daughter’s Bohemian 1st Birthday. I also really enjoyed the “toothpick” effect of pulling the icing in the feathers. I will post a follow up with suggested decorating do’s and don’ts that I have learned through trial and error.
These were from my second attempt at “flooding” icing. My niece was turning two last fall, and I had recently finish making the teepee and feather cookies, and really started to get obsessed with decorating. Plus, I found the jackpot royal icing recipe, which I will also share with you. This round I was able to get a better handle on lining and flooding.
These are from the same round of cookie baking. The chef and her family were Disney bound in the near future, so in my cookie-obsessed mind, I decided I should make some Disney themed cookies to send in a care package along with each of their birthday gifts. I also sent Cinderella’s Castle; however, they were incredibly ugly so I didn’t even bother to photograph them.
How can you not love a flamingo tucked into a 3? Best accidental design ever! (I secretly forgot to purchase a flamingo cookie cutter… whoopsies!)
This last series of cookies is from my oldest daughter’s most recent birthday. We had a Flock on Over and Let’s Flamingle theme.
I had WAY too much fun with this theme and returned back to the classic star tipped icing style. It just seemed to fit so well with the pineapples scattered throughout the theme.
And of course, the subject of today’s post: Spring themed sugar cookies.
So you can see, my Mother-in-law’s cookies will forever hold a precious place in our home, whether it’s the original recipe she follows or one modified to meet my family’s needs, these cookies are a tradition that WILL be passed on to my daughters.
To begin the recipe you will need to crazy kids with jammies having a bad hair day:
Just kidding, in a separate bowl combine your Pamela’s Artisan Blend flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set your oven to 350 degrees.
In your stand mixer, cream your Crisco (the magic ingredient to this entire recipe) eggs and sugar. I beat this on high speed until it’s nice and fluffy.
Next, add your vanilla, almond extract, and then add in your buttermilk, (or dairy-free substitute following the conversion table).
It’s very important not to panic when your mixture starts to look like it’s curdled on you. It tends to get a little gross looking at this point, but I promise you, it will turn out amazing in the end.
The only way I can guarantee that your recipe will turn out with the quality consistency of a soft sturdy sugar cookie is if you follow this recipe exactly and use Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour. It is a perfect CUP FOR CUP replacement whenever following a recipe you may have had prior to going gluten free. For this recipe you will need 4 1/4 cups of flour (previously mixed with your baking soda, baking powder, and salt)
Begin by adding the flour in 1/2 cup increments at a time, stirring on medium-low speed. Continue to stir and add flour until just combined.
Once your flour is mixed, turn off your stand mixer and give it one last good mix with a wide spatula, being sure to scrape the sides well and incorporate all the flour. The batter will be fairly soft. Place the entire mixing bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flour to stiffen up just slightly.
Once your batter has chilled, it will still have a light, almost velvety feel to it. Time for the fun! By this point in baking, my youngest daughter has typically headed to bed for a morning nap, leaving my oldest and I to get down to business rolling and cutting out cookies.
I have to pause for a minute, because when we baked these cookies a month or so ago, it almost took my breath away looking through the photographs afterwards at how grown up she is becoming. She is such a kind child and loves to help, particularly in the kitchen that I can’t help almost tearing up writing about our afternoon of baking cookies together.
Before baking, she and I have a routine. First, we wipe down the entire kitchen table, because lets face it, crust kids will be crusty kids… Next, we set up our Stackable Cooling Racks (enter Pampered Chef sales pitch), get out our pre-cut baking sheets, (GENIOUS invention), set out the container of flour, and cookie sheets.
Finally, choose our cookie cutters. My daughter loves picking out the cookie cutters, although I need to find a better organizational system for storing baking supplies in the near future.
Our set up looks something like this:
When preparing to roll your cookies, it’s important to remember some specific gluten free practices:
- Only bake gluten free
- If you are baking with regular flour wait until AFTER you have finished AND stored the gluten free product
- Keep separate rolling pins for use with Gluten Free flours ONLY.
Flour your surface with a nice even layer, and flour your assistance surface to match.
I like to work in small portions and I only re-roll my dough one time. If you work this dough too much, it becomes stiff and hard, losing the soft, fresh-baked feel these cookies should have. Trust me, I have made this mistake before. (Thanksgiving 2016 – ask any of my in-laws)
Pat the top of your dough down with a little additional flour and begin to work it gently with the rolling pin.
Melissa and Doug have a darling baking set that actually works for your little assistants. We need to get a second rolling pin soon for my littlest assistant.
I like to leave my dough about 1/4 of an inch thick when I’ve finished rolling. When you begin to use cookie cutters, I strongly recommend keeping a metal spatula nearby to transfer cookies smoothly to the prepared baking sheets.
Keeping in mind that you only want to re-roll your dough one time, be efficient in placing your cookie cutters in order to get as many cookies as possible from the dough.
One re-roll of the dough will look something like this. Do not go beyond this or your cookies will be hard and crumbly.
Yes, even at 3 years old she pretty much has mastered the craft of baking. I could spend every day doing things like this with her.
Once your cookie sheets are prepare, place in the oven for 10 – 13 minutes. I specifically chose this arrangement to demonstrate the variation in time. For the smaller cookies start with 10 minutes, and check them. Larger cookies like the butterfly, larger shapes and my daughter’s ridiculously thick “B” would all require a minimum of 12 minutes to bake.
Once your cookies have finished they should look something like this. Set, but not browned, and puffed, but not sinking anywhere.
Transfer ALL cookies to a cooling rack about a minute after being removed from the oven.
In the bottom right corner of the cookie picture above, notice how cracked and split those cookies are. These are ones that my daughter rolled, cut, re-rolled, cut again, about 3 times total before deciding they were ready. I included them to emphasize why you only want to re-roll your dough one time with this gluten free product.
If you are only baking on one cookie sheet at a time, consider placing your cookie dough back into the fridge between sheets. We typically have 4 baking sheets going at once, so I do not worry about keeping the dough chilled.
When I do re-use a cookie sheet, I don’t like to be wasteful of my baking sheets, so I place a second round of cookies onto the same pre-cute parchment paper I used on the first round.
Once your cookies have completely cooled, your cooling racks make excellent “out of reach” resting zones for your cookies as you complete decorations on them.
My Mother-in-law’s cookies use canned classic white icing. And it’s amazing. Don’t judge the use of canned icing until you try it. Trust me, you can make very similar tasting icing from scratch, and I will provide you with some of my favorite homemade recipes for cookie decorating, but why waste the time? Unless you love the Royal Icing, then hold tight as I will be giving you the BEST ROYAL ICING recipe in the very near future.
A little canned icing, food coloring and some star tipping, and you too can celebrate in our family’s tradition of sugar cookie baking! I hope this recipe allows you the family project time my girls and I enjoy while baking together.
Cheers! and Happy Spring!
The BEST Gluten Free (And Dairy Free) Sugar Cookies
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 Cup Crisco
- 1 Cup Buttermilk (or Acidic Dairy Substitute)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/4 Cups Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour (plus additional for rolling)
- Set oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and crisco until creamy and slightly fluffy.
- Add in vanilla, almond extract, and buttermilk stirring until just combined.
- Begin to add flour in 1/2 cup increments until all dry mixture is just combined. Remove bowl from mixer, scarping sides with a large spatula to ensure all ingredients combined well.
- Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes until firm.
- Flour surface and roll 1/4 of the dough at a time until 1/4 of an inch thick. Using cookie cutters, place cookies on prepared baking sheets.
- Only re-roll dough one time. Repeat with remaining 3/4 of dough mixture.
- Bake cookie sheets in oven at 350 degrees for 10 – 13 minutes.