Favorite Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

In 2008 I spent a good portion of time perfecting my favorite sour cream sugar cookies to be gluten free.  They are soft and melt in your mouth delicious.  For the past 4 years this has been my go to recipe for sugar cookies.  The last month there have been a lot of different sugar cookie recipes floating around pinterest including this one from Annie's Eats for "drop" sugar cookies.  Sugar cookies are one of my favorite, but they take so much time that I don't make them very often.  How great would it be to not have to roll them out!

I tried adapting Annie's recipe to be gluten free, and they really were fabulous.  The problem?  They were so soft and delicate that even when I made them small (think 3 bites to eat) and increased the bake time they would fold in half when picked up.

Not to be discouraged, I started researching recipes and experimenting to find a sugar cookie recipe that was quick, easy, and pantry friendly (no sour cream or fancy ingredients).  This recipe fits the bill and is our new family favorite.  My husband, who isn't the biggest fan of sugar cookies kept sneaking into the kitchen for more - now that's saying something!!!

Fresh from the oven

While these are not "technically" drop cookies, I had success with the following:  Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough on your cookie sheet and then flatten them to 1/4 inch thick with the bottom of a glass dipped in gluten free flour. (This is so the glass doesn't stick to the cookie dough.) I used cornstarch.  You don't even have to let the dough chill in the refrigerator. Bake as directed for the rolled sugar cookies and frost when cooled.

This only makes about 10-12 cookies which is perfect for me because I can't stop eating them unless they're gone! You'll probably want to double the recipe if you're serving more than 2-3 people.

Favorite Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
makes about 12 (I made six 4 inch hearts and six 2 3/4 inch circles)

6 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Corn starch for work surface
frosting (see below) or use your favorite
sprinkles or candies for decorating (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Add in the gluten free flour mix, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Stir until well combined.  At this point you can cover the dough and let it chill in the refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight before rolling or dig in and get to work.  I've done it both ways and they both turn out great.  The chilled dough is a little easier to work with.

Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with gluten free flour and spread it around with your hand.  I used cornstarch.  Divide your dough in half, putting one part on the floured surface and the rest back into the refrigerator.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick.  If the dough is sticking to the rolling pin or work surface don't be afraid to sprinkle on more cornstarch/gf flour.  I usually need 2-4 Tablespoons for the amount of dough in this recipe.

Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes and use a thin spatula/turner to pick up unbaked cookies and place them onto a baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart.  You can turn a drinking glass upside down to make circle cookies if you don't have cookie cutters - or even if you do!  Form the dough scraps into a ball and re-roll to 1/4 inch thick to cut out more cookies.  Continue with remaining dough; rolling and cutting as many times as needed. (this all depends on how big or small your cookies are and the shape they are in).

Bake cookies at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 7-8 minutes.  You don't want the cookies to brown so watch them carefully.  Allow the cookies to cool for 1-2 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.  Cool the cookies completely before frosting.

Sugar Cookie Frosting
adapted from Annie's Eats

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 teaspoons milk
food coloring (optional)

Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and half of the milk. Whisk until smooth.  If using food coloring stir it in until you get the color you desire.  Add more milk as need to reach the consistency of cake batter or the thickness you prefer.  It's basically a thinner version of buttercream, but not as thin as icing.  This frosting will harden as it dries.  Frost cookies.  If using sprinkles add them immediately after frosting each cookie so they will stick.
Decorating fun