Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

Tale of the Shortbread Cookie…
Since being gluten free previously by choice, and now by necessity after finding out I have a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, the one thing I’ve always have about and still pout about now even more, every year, is not being able to have shortbread cookies.  You know, the Danish ones that come in the blue tin.  Every year at this time.  Never fails.  They always show up!  You know, they’re mildly sweet, deliciously buttery taste, and oh that perfect texture.  OMG.

My previous choice to be gluten free was due to the fact that gluten (the protein found in whole wheat, rye and barley), is one of the most inflammatory foods on the planet.  When I mentioned current necessity to be gluten free, I found out at the end of last year through functional lab testing, that I do in fact have a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.  In a quick nutshell, this basically means that ingesting a thumbnail sized amount of gluten can cause problems in my digestion and immune system for 6-12 months.  Previously, I would have gluten once in a while or I wasn’t so careful in a restaurant.  Unfortunately now, no more dabbling; not even with a treat here or there.

Truth be told, gluten free or not, I love Shortbread Cookies as well as Butter Cookies. This doesn’t mean I eat them all the time, but if I see them, I definitely have to utilize all of those tools that I have in my back pocket that I teach to my clients at Nutrition the Natural Way who practice everything from paleo nutrition, paleo diet, Keto Life, Ketogenic Diet, Keto Nutrition, Carnivore Diet, eating right for their Metabolic Type and more.

So, the other day, there was that “blue tin” again.  I don’t remember where I was but of course, ‘Tis the season.

Then, on a whim I Googled “Shortbread Recipes.”  I didn’t even bother putting “gluten free” in my search.  Those of us who have tried so many gluten free recipes out there know there are thousands not that great gluten free recipes out there.  And, I especially didn’t bother with adding “low sugar” or “sugar substitute” to my search because who knows what would have come up!

I did find a random recipe for a regular, white flour and white sugar based “shortbread recipe.”  Can’t complain I guess.  It is what I asked Google for…
I looked at the ingredients and really started to think about it.  How can I adapt this not so healthy shortbread cookie recipe to one that would be enjoyed by not only me, but nutrition clients and keto friends as well?  This means it has to be super delicious in order for me to publish it.  Lol

So the thinking cap came on… first I needed to find a substitute for powdered sugar that not only tasted sweet, but would also give the same texture as regular powdered sugar that the recipe needed.  So, I decided to blend up Arrowroot which is often used as a thickener, with Xylitol – a sugar substitute that is great for anyone concerned with low sugar diets or even diabetics who cannot have regular sugar.  (Update: 12/20/16… I now prefer using Swerve as Xylitol is poisonous for dogs, even if a small amount is dropped on the floor, and Swerve is not processed by the body and just excreted through urine.)

Next I chose a “Gluten Free Baking Flour” substitute.  There are a handful of good ones out there.  These flours are great because you literally trade them 1:1 for the amount of wheat flour or white flour that the recipe calls for.  They are usually made up of a combination of gluten free flours, such as rice flour, nut flours, coconut flour, etc. in the correct ratio needed.  This right here is what makes gluten free baking so tricky.  Most of the time you just can’t use one flour to get the same result because the consistency is so much different than wheat flour.  Anyways, we could spend hours on this point but we won’t… let’s get to the good stuff!

I continued with this gluten free shortbread cookie “experiment.”   I do a lot of experimental baking and I’ve learned not to get too excited about recipes until tasting the final product.

**Please note that Xylitol is poisonous to dogs so be extremely careful with this product as well as any crumbs from the “end result.”  We have dogs and I choose to be extremely cautious when using because I think Xylitol is a great product.  Should you be uncomfortable with using it, you could just use powdered sugar if that aligns with your dietary needs.  If not, another option would be blending Swerve or Coconut Sugar with Arrowroot or even Brown Sugar. I’ll include specific substitution options after the recipe.  **Swerve actually does come in a “Confectioner’s version so that would be one less step.
… I usually don’t taste the dough, though I did in fact taste this one.  I was impressed, but again, not getting excited.  It actually reminded me of a cookie dough I used to make YEARS ago with my mom that we’d roll out and use holiday cookie cutters with.  The dough did turn out thicker than I’d expected which was fine.  It can be rolled out with a rolling pin and cookie cutters or make into a quick ball and flatten out on cookie sheet.

Now in the oven… 8-10 minutes which felt like watching paint dry.  Staring at the oven – wondering, are they going to spontaneously combust?!  They might.    J/K

…Starting to smell up the kitchen and now finally done!  Waiting for them to cool, they definitely smelled like “the real thing.”  Again, not getting too excited…

THE TASTE TEST!  WOW WOW and WOW.  Rich, dense, mildly sweet AND buttery.  Did I really hit the nail on the head?!  The first time?  Yes, indeed I did!!!

No more pouting for me!  These are going to be my go-to as tons more gluten free baking creations can be done with this recipe to suit all dietary needs.  Lemon or almond cookies and chocolate chip shortbread to name a few other gluten free cookies that come to mind.

This recipe is a great for anyone looking for healthier alternatives… to help with weight loss and fat loss, sugar cravings, avoiding weight gain, diabetic issues, blood sugar problems, food sensitivities and of course gluten sensitivities.  Recipe below!

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies
1 Pasture Raised Egg
1 Package Kerrygold Salted Butter (or equivalent 2 sticks butter of your choice)
¾ – 1 cup Xylitol (see below for other options)
    …for a more buttery cookie, use ¾ c. and for a sweeter cookie, use 1 cup.
1 ¼ tsp. Arrowroot Powder
2 c. Bob’s Red Mill “Gluten Free 1 To 1 Baking Flour”
3 t. Organic Vanilla Extract
Parchment paper
Cookie sheets
Rolling pin
Cookie cutters
Extra flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and take butter out to soften
  2. Blend Xylitol and Arrowroot together in a high speed blender or Cuisinart
  3. Using electric mixer, combine butter, egg and vanilla extract – blend on low until mixed.
  4. Add Xylitol mixture to moist ingredients and blend.
  5. Add flour slowly mixing intermittently while adding – do not over mix.
  6. You can be creative and decorative with rolling pin and cookie cutters. If you choose this, you’ll want to use some extra flour on the parchment paper before rolling out the dough so it doesn’t stick and then on top of the dough so the rolling pin works well.
  7. OR, simply roll the dough into balls, flatten between palms and place on the cookie sheet(s)
  8. I prefer to go with #6 as I like to make a nice, thin, crisp cookie.  If you like a thicker, “cakier” cookie, then you’ll want to keep the cookies a bit thicker whether you choose to use either option.
  9. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees 8-10 minutes. They’re done when the outside edges begin to brown!
  10. Recipe will make 30-40 cookies depending on desired thickness!

ENJOY !!  🙂
**As promised, here are some other sweetening substitutions for baking these Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies that you can use:

  • Updated: 12/20/16 My first choice now is Swerve.  It does come in a “Confectioner’s” version, so you would not need to blend it.  Just add the Arrowroot!
  • One would be to simply use pure powdered sugar. In this case you would not need to do any blending or use the Arrowroot powder.
  • Next – you could blend just under 1 tsp Arrowroot powder with ½ cup brown sugar. This is still a regular “sugar” – you just are using ½ cup instead of one cup.
  • Third option – you could also use Coconut Sugar, following the same amounts as above and blending with Arrowroot to get the same effect as powdered sugar. While this is “sugar” the properties of Coconut Sugar are far more nutrient dense and it is broken down by the body slightly differently than that of regular sugar.

I am confident that these substitutions would work.  Swerve is still my first choice.  I like to keep LOW sugar recipes as much as possible.  I work with so many people following paleo or Ketogenic Lifestyles, or Keto Nutrition that this is really the best option.

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