4 Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo Holiday Cookies

Your gluten-free, vegan, or paleo diet doesn’t mean you need to miss out on holiday treats this year. The four recipes below include holiday cookie favorites, minus wheat flour, animal products, and added sugar.

Gingerbread Cookies

Create classic gingerbread cookies and decorate them with currents, raisins, and dried cranberries. If you’re short on time or don’t have gingerbread cookie cutters, you can make gingersnaps instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons organic coconut oil or ghee
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Currents, raisins, or dried cranberries for decorating

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon.

In a small saucepan, bring molasses to a boil over medium heat. Add coconut oil and maple syrup, and stir until combined.

Remove saucepan from heat and the stir hot liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix dough with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and golden brown.

Place a sheet of parchment paper onto the counter or a cutting board and dust with arrowroot powder.

Dust your hands with arrowroot powder and roll dough into a large ball. Place dough on parchment paper, press lightly to flatten it, and sprinkle with arrowroot powder. Cover the dough with another sheet of parchment paper, and roll with a rolling pin until dough is about 1/4 inch thick.

Dust a small plate with arrowroot powder and place cookie cutters into arrowroot powder. This prevents dough from sticking to the cookie cutters when cutting.

Once you cut the whole sheet of cookie dough, peel away the remaining dough. Use a spatula to transfer the cut cookies to a greased baking sheet. Form the remaining dough into another ball, roll out again and repeat until all the dough is used.

Bake gingerbread cookies at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and decorate by pressing in raisins, currents, and/or dried cranberries while cookies are still warm. Cool on a cookie rack.

Makes 12

Gingersnap Variation:

Follow the above directions to make the dough. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Press each ball flat with the palm of your hand.

Bake gingersnaps at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack.

Thumbprint Jelly Cookies

These holiday favorites can be fun to make. You can make them with raspberry, apricot, blueberry, or your favorite jelly—or mix them up and make several of each flavor. You can use jam instead of jelly.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons your favorite jelly, no added sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a cookie sheet.

Combine the first three dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add in the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and coconut milk. Mix all ingredients together until they form into dough.

Roll dough into a large ball, then separate into 18 equal parts.

Roll each section into a small ball and dip half of each ball into the almond meal. Place the balls on the cookie sheet with the sides dipped in almond meal facing up. Press your thumb into the center of each ball, leaving a small indentation in the center of the cookie.

Fill the indentation with jelly or jam.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Try stacking two cookie sheet to prevent burning the bottoms.

The cookies will still be very soft when they come out of the oven. Carefully transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. As they cool they will become firmer, but will remain soft and chewy.

Sprinkle with almond meal.

Makes 18

Coconut Saffron Shortbread Cookies

Saffron, used for thousands of years for culinary and medicinal purposes, is made of the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, which is grown in Spain and the Middle East. This exotic yellow spice adds a bright, cheery color and flavorful twist to these holiday shortbread cookies. This recipe only uses 2 to 3 saffron threads so it won’t break the bank. Make sure you buy true saffron and not dyed imitation saffron.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
  • 6 tablespoons organic coconut oil or ghee, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup raw organic honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron (2 to 3 threads)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

In a medium-size bowl, mix all ingredients on medium-high speed for 1 minute.

Press the dough into a 9-inch square cake pan.

Poke lightly with a fork to create a design of your choice.

Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. When the shortbread has chilled, transfer the cake pan to the preheated oven.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden.

While the shortbread is still hot, score it into 12 pieces with a knife. After it has cooled, slice the pieces all the way through.

Shortbread can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Warm to room temperature before eating.

Makes 18

Chocolate Peppermint Macaroons

Chocolate and peppermint give this classic macaroon cookie a delicious taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw, organic honey
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Optional: 3.2 ounce, 70 percent (or more) dark chocolate bar (for dipping)
  • Optional: Additional 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (for dipping)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients (minus the optional chocolate and additional peppermint extract) in a bowl and mix well.

Scoop out dough with a tablespoon and form 1-inch balls, tightly packing them with your fingers.

Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet half way through.

Cool macaroons on a wire rack for 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Peppermint Macaroon Option:

Using a double boiler pan with water in the bottom pan, melt the dark chocolate bar on low heat, stirring in the additional peppermint extract until well mixed.

Dip the bottom 1/3 of each cooled macaroon into the melted chocolate.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set dipped macaroons on the paper.

Place the cookie sheet in refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool chocolate.

Makes 24

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About the Author

Heidi Hackler

Holistic Health Coach and Health Writer
Heidi Hackler is a Certified Holistic Health Coach (CHHC) and blogger, who received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She inspires healthy habits on her happiness and wellness blog , and through her holistic health coaching programs. Heidi quenches her thirst for knowledge through continuing education courses at Chopra Center Certifications , Dogwood School of Botanical Medicine, and Andrea Beaman’s New Healers Master Coaching program. Heidi lives with her husband and two kittens aboard their 40-foot sailboat. They have a zest for living the...Read more