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assorted gluten free shortbread cookies, close up
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5 from 2 votes

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

My grandma’s classic shortbread recipe, turned gluten-free. These gluten-free shortbread cookies are sweet, buttery, and just the right amount of crumbly. You won’t be able to stop at just one. Dairy-free option included.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 50 cookies

Equipment

  • Stand or hand mixer
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Large baking sheets
  • Wire rack

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (2 cups) softened butter, salted If using unsalted butter, add a generous pinch of salt to the dough when adding the flour. See note below about using dairy-free butter.
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour with xanthan gum I use Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour (blue bag)
  • sprinkles optional

Instructions

Make the dough

  • Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl). Use the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the beaters to beat together for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  • Slowly add in the flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix briefly after each addition, starting on low. Mix until thoroughly combined at the end, switching to a rubber spatula if needed. The dough will be fairly thick.
  • Divide the dough in half, form each half into a disc, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. *see note for dairy-free butter timing

Roll the cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F and prepare the counter for rolling out the cookies. Dust with gluten-free flour, have a rolling pin nearby, bring out the cookie cutters, and prepare 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Remove half of the dough from the fridge. Let it sit for a few minutes if it is too firm. Dust with gluten-free flour on both sides and roll as large as you can with ¼" thickness. Yes, they're thick. It helps them keep their shape while baking and also gives a delicious bite. Cut out shapes with your favourite cookie cutters and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2" apart. If the dough is a bit stuck to the counter, I like to run an offset spatula underneath to loosen it up and transfer to the baking sheet. Dust with gluten-free flour as needed.
  • Once you've filled a baking sheet with cookies, add some sprinkles if you wish and place the baking sheet in the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the cookies to chill in shape. Continue rolling and cutting the dough. Bring dough scraps together into a ball and re-roll. Continue with the second disc of dough when needed, and keep rotating cookie sheets from the fridge to the oven.

Bake the cookies

  • After shaped cookies have chilled, place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. That's it. The cookies will have no colour when you remove them, and that means they're perfect. If they have a golden edge, they're likely overdone, but still delicious. If your cookies are cut very small, you will need to remove them a few minutes early. Similarly if you have very large cookie cutters, they may need a few minutes more. Keep an eye on them.
  • Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet until you are able to handle them (at least 10 minutes). They are delicate. Carefully transfer to a wire rack for the cookies to cool completely.
  • Continue rolling, cutting, baking, and cooling with all of the cookie dough. Once cooled, enjoy! See below for a dairy-free option, storage, and freezing instructions.

Notes

*Dairy-free option
To make these shortbread cookies dairy-free and vegan, use your favourite dairy-free butter. Note that a lot of flavour in these cookies comes from the butter, so choose the most flavourful dairy-free butter you know of.
In my tests, dairy-free butter also made the cookie dough a lot softer, as it is often made from plant-based oils. You may need up to ¼ cup of extra flour in the dough to make it workable. I also recommend chilling the dough in plastic wrap for about 1 hour, as opposed to the real butter only needs 20-30 minutes. This is again because dairy-free butter is made from oils, most often. 
If things are getting sticky, try 1) chilling the dough, then 2) adding some more flour. 
Storage Instructions
Cookie dough can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days before rolling and baking.
Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freezing Instructions
Shortbread cookie dough can be frozen, wrapped in plastic and in an airtight container, for several months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight, then allow to sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes until you are able to roll it. Continue with cutting and baking cookies as normal.
Baked cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature for a few hours and enjoy.