Easy to work with gluten free cut out cookie dough will have soft and sweet sugar cookies ready in no time perfect for decorating!
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What a fun time of the year to get in the kitchen and do something fun with the kids!
I have such fond memories of decorating sugar cookies as a family when I grew up, and years ago when I had my first toddler in the house just learning about the wonder of the season, I just knew I wanted to give her those same memories.
This is the cut out cookie recipe I have been making for the last few holiday seasons. I really love how easy the dough is to work with – remember I am *not* a baker and it is not my favorite kitchen thing to do (well other than the memories!). The hint of vanilla with just a slight warm cinnamon really makes these cookies so special.
1. Take it one step at a time. In fact I highly recommend with really little ones not to do everything all in one day. Since the dough has to chill, and cookies have to cool before decorating, there is a lot of nice time to break up so the kids don’t feel like they are waiting “forever”. This year I made the dough with all 3 girls, and then at my 2 year old’s nap time we rolled out the chilled dough to bake with my 4 and 6 year olds. I then put the cookies into the freezer until the following weekend when we had enough time to frost them. They definitely can be done all in one day – just have some other things planned during the dough chilling and cookie cooling wait times such as decorating Christmas cards for grandparents, watching a holiday movie, or other holiday kitchen recipes!
2. Show them how to do the task first. Whether pouring flour, cracking an egg, using a cookie cutter, or frosting a cookie, show them an example first. This is specifically helpful with the decorating. While I want them to decorate them how they wish, I like to show them how much frosting is appropriate for spreading 😉
3. Use small amounts of dough for the ones that want to try rolling it out. Listen, I am just as much of a perfectionist as anyone else – it can be hard for me to stay back and let them learn how to roll dough out nicely! I have learned that letting the dough warm up so it feels a little more pliable like a play-doh but not so warm that it squishes, and using smaller amounts makes it easier for them to roll it out neatly. This is the first year that I didn’t have to help my oldest at all – and she is 6 and works in the kitchen a lot with me. Be patient but it does come – and they will forever remember you trusting them enough to let them do it.
4. Set out easy to manage decorating ingredients. If the sprinkles, for instance, come in a big bottle with no shaker top, either put them in a old shaker container, or put a small amount on a plate or bowl that they can pinch and sprinkle onto the cookies. If using dried fruit or chopped nuts use little bowls that they can scoop from. My 4 and 6 year olds manage a regular butter knife for spreading just fine, but as toddlers we used these smaller spreading knives.
5. Realize attention span grows with age 🙂 This is the first year my girls did all the decorating themselves. As toddlers the attention lasts about 1 or 2 cookies in before they want to eat one and are done. Embrace that age and just roll with it! Eventually they will turn 6 and you will have no cookies to decorate for yourself! Even at age 2 or 3 those memories are beginning to build and they will cherish that you spent time with them to do something so fun.
Ok! So onto the cookies! Be sure to scroll through the natural decorating ideas at the bottom of the recipe!
Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs
FOR THE COOKIES ::
- 1 cup softened butter if you are dairy free, you can use palm shortening
- 1 cup organic pure cane sugar could use sucanat but the color will come out darker
- 1 egg if you are egg free you can use a gelatin egg or flax egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- ½ cup white rice flour
- ½ cup sorghum flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum Do not leave this out – it helps the cookies rise. You will have a melted mess without it...I have the mess to prove it! It also makes rolling out the dough so much easier.
FOR THE FROSTING ::
- 1 cup organic powdered cane sugar
- 2 TB softened butter
- 1-2 TB milk or coconut milk
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
- Add the egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and blend.
- Add the flours and xanthan gum. Mix until well combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, and let it come to room temp for about 30 minutes.
- Lay out some parchment paper on the counter and flour it with white rice flour. Flour your hands and use the warmth of your hands to gently knead the dough, and then roll out the dough. (Use white rice flour on the rolling pin and parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking)
- Cut out your shapes and bake on a silpat (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool completely before decorating. To make the frosting, just blend the frosting ingredients until smooth. You can add more milk if you wish for a thinner, more royal icing type of frosting.
And then of course there is the decorating! Here are some ideas and tips!
- I’ve been using these naturally dyed sugar sprinkles for the last few years and I just love how easy they are. We make a the simple white frosting and the sprinkles brighten them right up!
- That same brand has not only the naturally dyed sugar sprinkles, but snowflakes, “jimmies” shapes, and I also found this brand of natural colored confetti sprinkles!
- UPDATE DECEMBER 2020 :: there are SO, so many naturally dyed sprinkle options now! I keep this brand in my cupboard for so many things – it is such a great deal! I found THIS brand and I adore the snowflake sprinkles and the holiday color sprinkles!
- When I had really little ones – as in I only had toddlers in the house, we used dried fruit and/or crumbled nuts for decorating. You can even just bake raisins, apricots, or cranberries right into the cookie and skip the frosting all together if you want – which is what I often did for my toddlers. They are just happy to get a cookie – they won’t even miss the frosting 🙂
- I like these naturally colored, organic candy canes – you can crush them up and sprinkle on top!
- Shave some fair trade dark chocolate to sprinkle on top, or use these allergen friendly mini chocolate chips.
- This is a great DIY natural food dye you can make up ahead of time if you have the time – I have tried all the colors and they really work well!
- UPDATE DECEMBER 2020 :: there are SO many more great natural dyes that are much more affordable than back when this was written! This brand and this brand work so well!
If you tolerate gluten, you must check out these great sugar cookies from my friend Kristin at Live Simply using Einkorn wheat flour!
To find more real food treat ideas, you can follow my Treat Ideas Board on Pintrest!
More real food recipes you might like:
GF Gingerbread Cookies