I love a good sugar cookie.
They are a part of my childhood in a deep way because my mother and my grandmother used to make them for the holidays.
However, when we had to go dairy-free for my son’s milk allergy, I struggled to figure out how to share this family tradition without excluding him.
This dairy-free sugar cookie recipe is the answer.
Dairy-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe
The key to this dairy-free sugar cookie is in the shortening.
There are all kinds of vegan butter substitutes and vegan shortenings. I even experimented with coconut oil. But by far the best butter substitute I found for dairy-free baking was palm shortening.
You can find all kinds online and in grocery stores with health food sections (I’ve found mine at Whole Foods and Kroger before). You can even order it from Amazon.
Besides shortening, I use almond milk in both the cookies and the frosting. It works great and tastes delicious.
No one will know these sugar cookies are dairy-free.
Allergy-Friendly Sugar Cookies
You can make sugar cookies with all kinds of substitutes. Keep in mind that each substitute will change the end result in some way.
For a “gluten-light” sugar cookie, I use spelt flour. It works just like regular flour, but it has less gluten, which is perfect for some people who are gluten-sensitive, but not allergic. Because it is a whole grain, it will taste like whole wheat cookies.
For egg-free cookies (making these vegan cookies!), you can use an egg replacer or the flax egg described in this recipe.
Cut-Out Sugar Cookie
Cut-out sugar cookies are my favorites for the holidays. It is probably because I am nostalgic.
However, my kids love making them, I am grateful that this recipe lets us all enjoy this family tradition, and they aren’t just for Christmas! We have seasonal cookie cutters we use in the fall and the spring.
Healthy Sugar Cookies Recipe
The recipe I share in this post is just a regular sugar cookie made dairy-free. It calls for unbleached flour and sugar.
However, because this is a frosted cookie, this recipe uses less sugar than most cookies. It is lightly sweetened and crisp, with a soft middle and delicious texture.
The frosting brings most of the sweetness, and – frosting being what it is – no more sugar is necessary.
If you want a more healthy sugar cookie recipe, you can do all kinds of things.
For the flour, you can use sifted spelt flour to make the recipe more gluten-light. Sifting the whole grain flour through a fine mesh strainer removes some of the bran from the flour, making it less like whole wheat and more like regular flour.
You can also do what I did for these cookies in the photos. I simply used half spelt flour and half unbleached, non-GMO flour. They’re a little more nutritious without changing the texture so much that they no longer taste like a dessert.
You can also substitute ¼ of the flour with almond flour for a nutty texture and taste. I have even used ¼ oat flour in a pinch when we ran out of flour partway through baking.
For the sugar, you can use evaporated cane juice or turbinado or substitute it with honey or maple syrup. To be honest, I have never tried that in this recipe – it is, after all, a sugar cookie. But here is how to substitute sugar with honey or maple syrup if you want to try it!
For the frosting, you can make your own powdered sugar using your favorite granulated sweetener by blending it until it’s powdered in a high-power blender.
You can even make this vegan dairy-free cashew cream and make the sweet vanilla fruit dip variation. It makes great real food icing.
We prefer natural food dyes for our frosting. Keep in mind that not all natural food dyes are created equal. Some of the colors are not as strong. Often, they are a different shade instead of the classic colors we have come to expect from conventional food dyes. Be patient and flexible with your expectations.
Holiday Sugar Cookies
These dairy-free sugar cookies make the perfect holiday treat – especially if you have kids!
They are simple and unfussy to make, dairy-free without tasting like they are missing something, and fun to make for all kinds of holidays!
We have classic Christmas cookie cutters, pumpkin cookie cutters for Halloween and the fall, and Easter-themed cookie cutters for the spring.
Handmade Halloween Treat
The pumpkin cookie cutters make these sugar cookies a fun fall allergy-friendly treat.
If you are looking for a slightly pumpkin-flavored sugar cookie, try substituting a little bit of the shortening (no more than ⅓) with pumpkin puree and add a pinch of pumpkin pie spice.
More Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes from Steph:Print
These dairy-free sugar cookies are a great treat that doesn’t taste like it’s missing anything!
For the Cookies:
- 3/4 c. palm shortening
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 1/2 c. flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp
- 1/3 c. dairy-free milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Dairy-Free Icing:
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- 2–3 Tbs dairy-free milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
- food coloring (optional)
Make the Cookie Dough:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat until mixed.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and stir.
- Add the milk next, and stir until mixed.
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir well, then mix in the vanilla.
- If the dough is very wet, you can refrigerate it for an hour or overnight. Alternatively, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, just until it’s dry enough to work with. You will add more flour during the rolling out process, so you want it to be kind of wet.
Roll Out & Bake the Cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Generously flour the counter or table, and a rolling pin. Take half of the dough and roll it out gently (starting in the center and rolling out to the edges) using more flour if necessary, until it is 1/8 inch thick. Dip the cookie cutters into flour (so the dough doesn’t stick to them) and cut out the dough with the cookie cutters. Removed the cookies to a greased baking pan.
- When you can’t cut more cookies out of the dough, gather the shreds together into a ball and roll it out again. Do not overwork the dough. Repeat with all the cookie dough. Smash the final shred of cookie dough into an ugly circle cookie.
- Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges are just barely turning gold. Do not overbake.
- Cool for one hour before icing them.
Make the Icing & Decorate the Cookies:
- Combine all icing ingredients in a large bowl, only using 2 tbsp of milk at first. Stir until mixture is smooth and creamy, adding the extra tablespoon of milk if necessary.
- If coloring, divide the frosting into bowls and stir in the colors.
- To ice the cookies, use knives or cake decorating bags. If you don’t have decorating bags, you can scoop the icing into quart-size freezer bags and snip off a very small corner of the bag. Use that for icing.
- Store cookies, covered, at room temperature, for up to one week
- Serving Size: 2 cookies
- Calories: 250
- Sugar: 22g
- Sodium: 68mg
- Fat: 9g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 39g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 3g
- Cholesterol: 16mg
Keywords: dairy-free, dessert, holiday
What are your favorite dairy-free desserts?