These Vegan Shortbread Cookies are crisp and crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth buttery and perfectly salty-sweet! They’re undetectably dairy-free and the simple recipe is easy to make: they come together in one bowl and require just 6 ingredients! They’re also gluten-free and refined sugar free.
How do you make shortbread cookies from scratch?
Although they may look fancy and complicated to make, shortbread cookies are actually one of the simplest cookies to make. They require just a few ingredients and the process is simple: just combine the dough, roll it out, cut out shapes and bake.
I experimented with so many different ways to make gluten-free vegan shortbread cookies, using different types of flours, and it was so hard to get the texture right.
I eventually discovered that the best combination was ground almonds (almond meal or almond flour) and brown rice flour. The ground almonds create that essential crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture, whilst the brown rice flour creates a crispy, crunchy texture. You honestly won’t be able to believe that this shortbread contains no butter!
You need to use brown rice flour, not white rice flour, which creates a soft cookie (like my Sugar Cookies) rather than a crunchy one.
Where can you buy brown rice flour?
If you can’t find brown rice flour in your local supermarket, you’ll be able to find it in local health stores or online.
Does shortbread contain milk?
Traditionally, shortbread is usually made with just flour, butter and sugar, so it doesn’t contain milk. However, this vegan shortbread does contain a small amount of plant-based milk (1 tablespoon) to help the dough bind together.
Can you use vegan butter in these cookies?
Yes, you can use vegan butter in place of the coconut oil in these cookies.
How to make these Vegan Shortbread Cookies
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Mix together the ingredients for the cookie dough in a glass mixing bowl.
- Lay out a sheet of greaseproof baking paper on a counter.
- Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until about 1 cm/1/2 inch thick.
- Use a circular cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the dough – you will probably have to roll the dough a few times until you use it all up.
Tip: You can use any other shape if you don’t want to use a circular one.
- Transfer the cookies onto a rectangular baking tray.
Tip: Line the baking tray with greased baking paper to make sure the cookies don’t stick.
- If you wish, use a skewer to poke decorative holes in the surface of the cookies.
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch (bearing in mind that they will firm up more once cooled and out of the oven).
- Leave to cool completely before putting away to store.
Tips for serving these cookies
These cookies will be slightly soft straight out the oven and they firm up as they cool down. So they’re best left to cool completely before serving so you get the crunchy texture. They can be left to cool on the baking tray, there’s no need to transfer these to a wire rack.
How long do these Vegan Shortbread Cookies keep for?
These Cookies taste best eaten within the day but keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few days – they do become softer the longer you leave them, though. So I wouldn’t recommend making these ahead.
This Vegan Millionaire Shortbread can be made ahead though, as it keeps well for a couple of days.
Can you freeze vegan shortbread cookies?
You can freeze this cookie dough to use another time, but the cookies themselves can’t be frozen.
Substitutions you can make to this recipe:
- You can replace the coconut oil with coconut butter or vegetable oil.
- You can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc.
- You can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc.
- The ground almonds (almond meal) can be replaced with ground walnuts.
- For a nut-free version, use ground sunflower seeds instead of ground almonds and use a nut-free milk. Or use my Coconut Flour Cookies recipe instead.
Tip: The brown rice flour CANNOT be replaced with white rice flour or any other gluten-free flour – it is essential for creating a crunchy shortbread texture.
Ingredients you can add to the dough to change the flavour
- Grated orange zest.
- Grated lemon zest.
- Matcha powder.
- Chopped pecan nuts.
- Chopped macadamia nuts.
- Chocolate chips.
- Dried cranberries.
- Desiccated coconut.
More gluten-free vegan cookie recipes:
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Blueberry Breakfast Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Oatmeal Cookies
- Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Cookies
- Carrot Cake Cookies
- Millionaire Shortbread
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Vegan Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free)
- 30 g (1/8 cup) coconut oil (or sub coconut butter or vegetable oil)
- 10 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other similar sweetener)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- 150 g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds (almond meal) *
- 150 g (1 cup) brown rice flour **
- Generous pinch salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (340 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave
- Add the maple syrup, milk, ground almonds, brown rice flour and salt and mix well – add an extra splash of milk if it’s looking too dry to combine
- Lay out a sheet of greaseproof baking paper on a counter and roll out the dough until about 1cm or 1/2 inch thick
- Use a circular cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the dough – you will probably have to roll the dough a few times until you use it all up (you can use any other shape if you don’t want to use a circular one)
- Transfer the cookies onto a baking tray lined with greased baking paper
- If you wish, use a skewer to poke decorative holes in the surface of the cookies
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch (bearing in mind that they will firm up more once cooled and out of the oven)
- Best left to cool completely before eating as they crisp up as they cool
- Leave to cool completely before putting away to store
- Tastes best eaten within the day but keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few days (they do become softer the longer you leave them)
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