Gluten Free Lemon Sugar Cookies Recipe
Cookies have long been a part of my family’s holiday traditions. I have always made cookies to give to people and to have on hand for guests who stop by. But most importantly, I have always made sugar cookies for our family to decorate. Decorating them is as much fun as the eating. Everyone gets to display their artistic talents. We give a few to Santa (no matter how good we have been throughout the year, it never hurts to hedge our bets) and on Christmas Day we proudly display our works of art on the dessert table and then proceed to gobble them up!
Sugar cookies have been such a part of the warp and weave of Christmas for us that I will admit, for a few years after going gluten free, I still made them with wheat flour. GASP! I know. Bad. Really bad. Coal in my stocking bad!
Now I only make gluten free sugar cookies and I give them to everybody, gluten free or not. I don’t even tell people they are gluten free.
I make extra dough and freeze it to have the convenience of those gluten filled, pre-packaged sugar cookie doughs you can buy in the grocery store. Just thaw in the fridge for a few hours prior to using.
The trick to really good gluten free sugar cookies is to have a good flour blend; there is not much in the way to cover up any cardboard taste or gritty texture. You can use a good all-purpose gluten free flour or make your own. Use superfine rice or Asian rice flours for the best texture.
To make your own flour blend, follow this recipe:
4 ½ cups white rice flour
1½ cups sweet (or glutinous) rice flour
2 cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch
4 teaspoons xanthan or guar gum (for corn free)
Whisk well – makes about 9 cups of flour. Store in an airtight container.
I like to make an icing that dries hard and shiny and where the colors stay bright. It is a simple icing made with powdered sugar and if you are avoiding corn as well as gluten, here’s some good news! Wholesome Sweeteners makes organic powdered sugar that is corn free!
To make these dairy free, use a good dairy free butter substitute in stick form (such as Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.)
This Gluten Free Lemon Sugar Cookies recipe is perfect for cutout cookies. The subtle lemon flavor cuts the sweetness slightly, making them desirable to adults and children alike.
Don’t be intimidated by the directions; it looks complicated but it’s not. There is a little bit of effort involved in making gluten free sugar cookies from scratch but it is a fun effort with big rewards!
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 lemon zested - finely grated (should be about 1 tablespoon, loosely packed)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend plus more for dusting
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 teaspoons light corn syrup or light agave for corn free
- Food coloring
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to low and add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix well.
In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour blend, baking powder and salt.
Turn the mixer to low and add the sweet rice flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Shape the dough into 2 flattened disks, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough can be frozen at this point for future use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Lay a piece of waxed or parchment paper on a work surface. Sprinkle with some flour blend, place one dough disk on top, sprinkle that with some flour blend and top with another piece of waxed or parchment paper. Roll dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Just before you get the dough rolled to the desired thickness, remove the top layer of waxed paper, spread a little more flour blend over the top of the dough and then flip the dough (waxed paper and all) over, remove the top layer of waxed paper, sprinkle with more flour and do your final roll or two. This will make it easier to remove the cookies once cut. Cut out cookies into desired shapes and place on prepared pans, spacing about 1 inch apart. Brush off any excess flour. To keep the edges of the cookies sharp, refrigerate for 15 minutes before putting in the oven. If you do not plan to ice the cookies, sprinkle them with sugar before baking. Repeat with remaining dough disk. Left over dough can be re-rolled once; gather up scraps, form into a disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes at least before rolling.
Bake for about 10 minutes. Do not let the cookies brown.
Let cool on pan for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack with a spatula to cool completely before icing.
In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar with lemon juice. Beat in the corn syrup or agave, starting with 6 teaspoons and adding more if it is too thick. Use it thick for outlining and adding detail to the cookies.
Separate icing into small bowls and color with food coloring to desired shades. Spread or pipe on cookies and allow icing to set.
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