gluten free vanilla wafers

Gluten Free Cookie Baking Help

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gluten free oatmeal raisin cookie tray


Of all the categories of gluten-free baking, it might come as a surprise to you that the one that seems to cause the most problems is not bread, but cookies! (Bread is a very close second, though!)

Particularly if the cookies must be both gluten-free and dairy-free … and (gasp) … what if they must be egg-free, too? Would it surprise you to learn that using Ener-G® Egg Replacer instead of eggs actually helps keep most gluten-free cookie recipes from spreading?!)

While most people tend to get a bit frustrated with their “free from” cookie baking results, if you keep these 13 tips (A Baker’s Dozen!) handy next time you’re baking cookies, you’ll be baking your way to moist, chewy success!

13 Top Gluten Free Cookie Baking Tips from gluten-free expert Jules Shepard | gfJules

13 Gluten Free Cookie Baking Tips

1- Cream the butter or shortening with the sugar with an electric mixer before doing anything else. This step will help whip up the butter or shortening and make it fluffier, while also breaking down the sugar a bit, so that it doesn’t melt as much (e.g. spread) when baking.

2- Bake with a combination of butter (or non-dairy butter alternative – i.e. Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks — NOT spreads because they … spread!) and shortening, rather than just butter alone. The combination works to give more body to the dough to prevent spreading. To see more on the benefits of this combination, see my video!

3- Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper for every cookie recipe.  It prevents the cookies from sticking to the sheet (and then breaking apart when removed), doesn’t leave a greasy aftertaste on the bottoms of the cookies, and helps you spend less time in the kitchen doing clean-up duty when you’re done!

4- Chill your dough well before baking! (Particularly when dealing with rolled cookie doughs, although I happen to think it’s a good rule of thumb no matter what!)

5- Don’t put too many additions into any cookie recipe. For example, with chocolate chip cookies, adding too many chocolate chips will cause the cookies to spread, as there is not enough dough to bake up for support. This is one reason why I like using Enjoy Life® MINI chips (and they’re dairy, soy & nut-free, too!).

6- If your cookies still insist on spreading, add 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour to the remaining dough to help hold them together (also helps at high altitude!).

7- If your cookie dough is too dry and crumbly, just add back to the mixing bowl and stir in a couple tablespoons of your favorite milk. Add more if needed – the dough needs to hold together, but most cookie doughs shouldn’t be sticky. Sometimes I’ll keep cookie dough in my fridge or freezer and when I go to bake some, the dough has dried out from the cold. Same solution: bring to room temperature then mix in a few tablespoons of milk. Voila – cookie dough like new!

8- Baking by weight, as opposed to volume, is always more accurate. One measured cup of my gfJules™ All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour should weigh approximately 135 grams. Measuring your ingredients inaccurately can throw any recipe off, especially finicky cookie recipes!

cookie9– If your oven has the option, bake using convection settings, rather than static temperature. If you have a convection setting on your oven and a convection temperature is not given, simply reduce the static temperature by 25 degrees when using your convection setting.

10- In fact, go ahead and reduce the temperature on your oven by 25 degrees anyway. If your oven is baking too hot (shockingly, most ovens don’t cook at the accurate temperature!), your cookies will definitely spread! The sugar in the dough may even sneak out the sides of the cookie and form a lacy texture. If this is happening, try baking the next batch at a lower temperature and see what works best with your oven.

11- Take your cookies out BEFORE they look done. With chocolate chip cookies, for example, I remove them when the centers still look a bit doughy. As they cool, they are still cooking. Taking them out of the oven at this point will ensure that they stay chewy!

12- Let your cookies cool before removing them from the parchment. I slide the parchment onto wire cooling racks after 5 minutes or so, and let them fully cool before I remove them. Once they’re cooled, they are no longer fragile … but still chewy and delicious!

13- Make sure your baking soda and/or baking powder are fresh. These are the leavening agents in your cookie recipe and if they are no longer active, your cookies won’t puff up and may spread more. Try a fresh container if they’ve been open longer than 3 months.

Also try my delectable and uber-versatile award-winning gfJules™ Cookie Mix and my easy gfJules™ Sugar Cut Out Cookie Mix! And don’t forget homemade graham crackers! I have a mix for that, too!

♦Want the gluten free recipes for my Vanilla Wafers, Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Snickerdoodles, all pictured here? Search my RECIPES tab and you’ll find all kinds of cookie recipes for the taking!♦

And don’t forget to sign up for all things Gluten-Free Cookie by joining the Gluten-Free Cookie Swap – your community cookie recipe share site!

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81 thoughts on “Gluten Free Cookie Baking Help

  1. Thanks for suggesting that one should use fresh baking soda since its what makes the cookies puffy. My wife and I are spending our first Christmas alone, and I want to bake some treats. I will be sure to get the ingredients and some trays to make plenty for work s well.

    • Hi Deanna – great question! I never recommend the refrigerator for storing gluten free baked goods (or any baked goods, for that matter), as it just dries them out. I either store in a tupperware on the counter or in a plastic zip-top bag. Especially when using my gfJules Flour (it has a natural preservative in it), they last for many days on the counter stored this way. For baking far in advance of serving, you can also freeze them which works well. Enjoy!

    • It’s true in many recipes, but in lots of others, it’s pretty easy! My gfJules Flour also helps a lot. Especially if you know what the batter is supposed to look like because you’ve made it before with wheat flour, you can add liquid to get it to that point and it generally turns out well. There are definitely some tricks along the way though. Hope this article was helpful!

  2. Hi Jules,

    Not sure this is the right place to ask this, but I want to make a Muscadine Cobbler for this weekend and the recipe calls for Self Rising flour. What do you recommend I add to make your flour self-rising?

    • I was hoping that your flour would act like regular flour, so I added the 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder and 1/2 tsp. salt and the recipe turned out great. When I take (and label) GF items to the potluck, many avoid the offering, but I guess if you label anything with “Muscadine Grapes” here in the south the folks gobble it up, with or without gluten! It was a hit.

      • LOL! Mary Ellen, I think that sounds like a win, in the South or otherwise! So glad you loved my flour and it worked to fool everyone at the potluck!

    • Hi Mary Ellen – I’m sorry I didn’t see your question until after you worked it out for yourself, but it sounds like all went swimmingly! If you ever have a pressing baking question, feel free to email [email protected]. Happy baking!

    • Hi Hannah, many gluten free recipes call for extra butter/shortening and sugar and other gums to hold their recipes together and cover up for bad tasting flours or gritty textures. My flour is much more akin to regular wheat flour and doesn’t need all that extra stuff thrown in, so that might be the problem. Here’s an article on converting recipes that might help for future recipes. I would recommend using my flour in non-gf recipes, but if you want to use that recipe again, just add some milk or egg to the dough before you finish mixing to loosen the dough up and make it softer so that it can spread in baking and become soft.
      Hope that helps!

  3. I’d like to add a cookie baking hint. Use a cookie scoop. Uniform sized cookies look so much better. Taking this a step further, when doing multiple varieties of cookies, such as for holiday platters, cookies of the same size make assembling platters easier and more attractive.

  4. I am baking GF cookies for my daughter’s wedding reception (Italian cookie table). We will need 100 dozen cookies of different kinds. Can I successfully freeze GF cookies for several weeks? Or should I only freeze the dough? How best to thaw that many cookies? Or should I just plan to bake them all during the last few days before the reception and store in well-sealed plastic containers??
    Thanks for your help…

    • Hi Bev, how fantastic that you’re making GF cookies for your daughter’s wedding reception! I did the same thing last year for my wedding. My favorite, of course, were the Mexican Wedding Cookies! As for early prep for the cookies, you can certainly make up any and all the doughs and freeze them without problems. Most, though, will be find to freeze and just set out at room temperature before the reception to thaw (if they’re frozen well-sealed, as you note). The only ones I’ve tried and don’t love after they’ve been frozen are sugar cut-out cookies, but maybe I left them too long. At any rate, some combination of making dough and making cookies then freezeing before the wedding should keep you sane and make all the guests happy too! Be sure to come back and tell me how it all went! Congratulations!

  5. The biggest problems I have had is trying to do cookies dairy free so not using butter. Any help or advice would be appreciated. In particular two things. Using cocounut oil in baking cookies? I have also had a major problem in converting my mother’s Christmas cookie recipes to gluten free. Even if I do use butter. They NEVER stick together. This last Christmas I did use your flour mix for the first time ever and yet again they crumbled completely. I am at a loss. Help??

    • Hi Mary, without seeing the recipe for myself, it’s hard to speculate, but if the cookies don’t stick together, it sounds like they are too dry. Have you tried adding a splash of non-dairy milk to the dough to get it to really hold together well? Have a look at my Christmas Cookie Doughs (search on the recipes search bar – I have two recipes) and see how different they are from your mother’s – that might help you compare successful proportions.
      I haven’t experimented a lot with coconut oil in my cookies, but I can tell you that the Earth Balance Buttery Sticks and Shortening Sticks (non-dairy) work great in cookies. Have you tried those yet?

  6. I’m not a big baker so what does
    8- Convection settings tend to work best for cookies. If you have a convection setting on your oven and a convection temperature is not given, simply reduce the static temperature by 25 degrees when using your convection setting.

    mean haha

    And then also do you have to use shortening in the cinnamon sticky buns? Is there an alternative? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Ashely, if your oven doesn’t have a convection setting (it will say that on the oven as a choice), then don’t worry about this tip at all! :) If there is a convection setting though, you would simply read the oven temperature given for a particular recipe, and then reduce it by 25 degrees. As for the cinnamon sticky buns, would you feel comfortable using coconut oil (it is a solid at room temperature) in place of the vegetable shortening? That should work fine as a substitute. Happy baking!

  7. I have a novice baker question–when I cream the butter, shortening, and mix together, the mix ends up floating all over my kitchen! Using an electric beater…any hints to keep the powder contained would be much appreciated!!

    • Hi Kate, no worries! Cream the butter and/or shortening and sugar together alone first, then add any eggs called for. Then, once creamed, slowly add dry ingredients so that they don’t explode all over the place! If a recipe calls for any additional liquids, add them in on top of the creamed mixture to help keep the powder problem down!