shortbread cookies on white plate

Who doesn’t love a shortbread cookie?? These easy vegan shortbread cookies have it all: think one bowl, 4 ingredients and just minutes to mix up. Once chilled, you can turn the dough into a rolled cookie with a perfect tendercrisp texture or a soft drop cookie. Plus, they’re gluten free thanks to nutrient dense almond flour and a bit of brown rice flour. Make the dough ahead of time and keep in the fridge so you can bake a fresh batch when people come over!

shortbread cookies on white plate
The dough for these quick + easy vegan shortbread takes just minutes to mix up!

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When it comes to plant-based recipes, I’m all about big flavours…so I’m not typically one for choosing the ‘plain’ version of anything, especially in a cookie. More is more in my book, whether we’re talking about perfectly roasted almonds spiced with Za’atar or rich and fudgy peppermint brownies.

But shortbread is an exception to that rule! Shortbread is kind of perfect just as it is, so I didn’t want to fuss with it. These cookies are crisp but not crumbly, buttery, and most importantly, not too sweet!

I do a lot of gluten free baking because I got my start as a gut health dietitian, and I know that my friends with celiac disease don’t always have a great selection of goodies. And the secret to making a good shortbread cookie that everyone will actually like, in my opinion, is almond flour.

As a dietitian, I love that almond flour is nutrient-dense and adds satisfying plant-based protein and healthy fats to a recipe. And as a recipe developer and cookbook author, I love that almond flour has a mild sweet flavour that doesn’t interfere with other flavours and it produces a tender, moist crumb.

How to make vegan shortbread cookies

These vegan, gluten free shortbread cookies are inspired by the classic recipe, which is typically just a few simple ingredients:

  • butter
  • flour
  • sugar
  • salt

This easy shortbread cookie recipe has just four ingredients (plus salt!) so I could blend the flours for the best texture. I love almond flour for it’s mild and sweet flavour; it gives these cookies a tender and light crumb while just a bit of rice flour provides a bit of extra structure and the sandy crispness you expect from a traditional shortbread.

These vegan shortbread cookies are the perfect low effort holiday cookie: just beat the butter, salt and maple syrup together and mix in the flour. Sit with a cup of tea while they chill and then scoop or cut with your favourite cookie cutters!

Hot Tip: The shortbread dough keeps very well in the fridge for a few days. Just tightly wrap in parchment! So you can make the dough ahead of time and then quickly bake the cookies right before you need them. Perfect for holiday entertaining!

vegan gluten free shortbread ingredients

What you’ll need to make these vegan shortbread cookies

I’m not gonna lie: I am more of a cook than a baker. And gluten free vegan baking is its own challenge! I really went to the mat for this one so you can have a foolproof, zero compromise treat. The only thing you need to worry about is getting the right vegan butter.

  • Vegan Butter: Not all vegan butters are the same…some taste great or have great ingredients but don’t perform well. My two faves for baking are Miyoko’s Creamery, which is cashew-based and quite a treat (it’s a bit pricey). The other good option for baking is Earth Balance Baking Sticks (NOT the tub). It has the best structure of the vegan options I’ve tried, although other bakers I trust say that Becel Vegan Sticks are also good…we just don’t have them at my local store so I haven’t tried!
  • Sugar: As per usual, I’ve chosen pure maple syrup because it offers a sweeter experience than sugar…but you won’t taste it! You cannot substitute sugar for this recipe as it will change the moisture content.
  • Almond flour: almond flour has such a wonderful, soft crumb and a naturally sweet taste. If you love baking with almond flour, you should try my amazing high-protein almond flour scones.
  • Brown rice flour: this is essential for giving the cookie its snappy, crisp texture. You cannot substitute white rice flour as it doesn’t have the same texture as brown rice.

Life is short, eat a damn cookie.

Yes, I’m all about eating more nutrient-dense plants. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cookie every now and then! Treats are treats. Eat your kale, eat your cookies…it all fits in a healthy life.

These cookies are perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon, to serve after a big dinner instead of a heavier dessert, or if you want to make a crowd-pleasing cookie for holiday cookie exchanges.

More Easy Vegan Holiday Cookie Recipes

shortbread cookies on white plate

4 Ingredient Vegan Shortbread Biscuits

Who doesn’t love a shortbread cookie?? These easy vegan shortbread cookies have it all: think one bowl, a rolled cookie with a perfect tendercrisp texture AND a soft drop cookie option. Plus, they're gluten free thanks to nutrient dense almond flour and a bit of brown rice flour.
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Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • cup vegan butter, I like Miyoko's or Earth Balance Baking Sticks
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Equipment

  • Handheld mixer

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius) and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment.
  • In a medium bowl, beat butter, maple syrup and salt with a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes. It's okay if it still looks a bit separated!
  • Next, add the rice flour and almond meal and mix at low speed (or with a fork) until a loose dough forms. Then, get in there with your hands to form into a ball.
  • Wrap the dough ball in parchment and toss the dough in the fridge for at least 60 minutes to chill. You can easily leave it overnight, so this is a great make ahead!
  • Once chilled, you can either scoop or roll the dough. Want soft, puffy cookies? Scoop out 1 tablespoon (15ml) of dough and roll into a ball. Gently press ball into a 1 cm (⅓ inch) thick round.
  • Looking for a classic, crisper shortbread? Roll between two layers of parchment to 1/4-1/3 inch thick. You might need a little rice flour on the parchment to prevent sticking as it's a softer dough. Cut with your favourite cutters and carefully lift onto the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 11-14 minutes, until the bottoms turn golden brown. The rolled cookies will cook faster than the drop cookies. Remove cookie sheet to a cooling rack and let fully cool before handling as they only firm up when cool.
  • Keep cookies in a sealed container at room temperature for up to three days, or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

Notes

In a pinch, these cookies absolutely work with refined coconut oil in place of butter…but they lose that buttery flavour! Still really nice though, like a sugar cookie.
 
Low FODMAP? 2 cookies is a low FODMAP serving.