Gluten free shortbread is an easy to make cookie that is traditionally made with gluten free flours for a light, buttery texture that melts in your mouth. While traditionally rice flour was added to the dough, my version uses almond flour and homemade candied orange peel for a twist that is especially Christmassy.
Shortbread is my go-to gluten free Christmas cookie. Usually it’s served along with pizzelles and candied orange peels on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Joybilee Farm. Since Christmas is very simple this year, with few festivities, and not the usual Christmas visitors, I only made one batch of cookies this year and this was my nod to Christmas Past. Buttery, melt-in-your mouth shortbread is a tradition that brings back memories.
Shortbread is a traditional Scottish cookie, called “shortbread” to avoid paying a tax on biscuits (aka. cookies). It traditionally consists of 3 ingredients plus a flavoring like peel or fennel seeds. While butter, sugar, and flour make up the traditional cookie, to make it gluten free, I substitute almond flour and all purpose gluten free flour plus 1 egg to make it stick together for rolling. No leavening agent is used in shortbread.Print
A gluten free version of the traditional, rich Christmas and Hogmanay cookie. While you can get shortbread biscuits year round now, we only make these cookies at Christmas and New Year’s as a nod to Mr. Joybilee’s Scottish Heritage. Orange peel is a traditional addition to Shortbread Biscuits that dates back to the 1800s.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup of sugar, organic
- 1 egg, free range
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup candied orange peel, chopped
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 cup of gluten free flour blend
In a large mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. Beat together until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and candied orange peel. Beat to fully mix. Add almond flour and gluten free flour blend. Blend in with a spoon to make a stiff dough. Knead to make a smooth dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Prepare a baking sheet by greasing with butter and then sprinkling with additional gluten free flour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the dough from fridge. Divide dough into 3 portions. Flour a board with almond flour. Roll out each dough portion to 1/4 inch thick and cut with biscuit cutters. Place each biscuit on the prepared baking sheet. Dough may be combined and re-rolled as often as needed. It will not get tough like wheaten dough.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. Repeat till all the dough has been baked.
Place cookies in an air tight cookie tin, once they are fully cool. Let rest a day or two before serving. The flavor and texture of this traditional cookie improves after a day of rest. Store for up to a week at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.
7 Tips for the best gluten free shortbread
Buttery, melt-in-your mouth shortbread lends itself to many flavor additions. In this recipe I’ve used candied orange peel. Use DIY candied orange peel rather than store bought, as the homemade stuff has a nicer texture and much better flavor. Here’s my recipe for candied orange peel. Any orange will do but for best results choose a thicker skinned orange like cara cara, valencia, navel orange or blood orange. Tangerines and clementines are thin-skinned and the results, while flavorful, are not as firm.
Use real butter for this cookie. Margarine, lard, and other butter substitutes do not give the same melt-in-your-mouth texture as butter in this recipe. So use real butter and don’t make substitutions on this one.
Gluten free flour has no gluten, so the usual warnings of handling the dough lightly do not apply to gluten free baking. Mixing the dough well will make it easier to handle and roll out for cutting. Its also fine to rework the dough scraps as often as necessary during the rolling and cutting of the biscuits.
The only liquid in this dough is 1 egg, used to help the flours bind together. It gives the dough a slight chewy texture, while maintaining that melt-in-your-mouth shortbread mouth feel. Do not substitute water based egg substitutes for this. The extra water will change the texture of the cookie and you will lose the lightness and crumb of the original.
Mary Queen of Scots, a long lost cousin on my mother’s side, favored shortbread with caraway seed mixed in the dough. You could also use such flavorful additions as fir needles, lemon peel, dried cranberries, almond slivers, vanilla paste, roasted garlic, pistachio, anise seed, ginger, nutmeg or even lavender flowers. The possibilities are endless.
While this shortbread biscuit is rolled and cut into cookie shapes, you could also make it in a petticoat pan, a traditional shortbread mold. Divide the dough in half and put one half in each pan. Petticoat shortbread is cut after baking into triangles that resemble the gores in a full petticoat.
There are many traditional shortbread molds and presses to make your cookies fancier for the holidays. If you have a traditional mold this is a great gluten free shortbread recipe to use it with. Flour your mold well before use and ensure that the dough is well chilled, for best results.
More shortbread cookies for your cookie jar