Vegan & Paleo Iced Sugar Cookies

Iced sugar cookies are a MUST at our house each Christmas.

paleo-sugar-cookies

But they can’t be just any sugar cookie. I like mine to be pillowy-soft with a melt-in-your-mouth icing on top, and if they have a hint of almond extract, that makes them even better. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Now that my son is old enough to be aware of cookies (last year he could care less), I wanted to make a cookie that wouldn’t leave him bouncing off the walls. As a two-year-old, he does enough of that without any added sugar! These cookies are my solution– they’re naturally sweetened with maple syrup and are made with almond meal for a protein-rich cookie that actually leaves you feeling full after you’ve had one or two. (Because if I’m being honest, I usually eat two at a time…)

I love how soft they stay in the middle, but if you want a firmer cookie you can always bake them longer than suggested below. I also tried rolling the dough up in parchment paper for a slice-and-bake cookie that you’d find in your grocer’s refrigerated section, and these work great that way, too! I love having some cookie dough on hand around this time of the year, so I hope it’s a convenient option for you, too.

Vegan & Paleo Iced Sugar Cookies
Makes a dozen cookies

Ingredients:
Cookies:
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of sea salt

Honey Buttercream*
1 tablespoon Nutiva red palm oil shortening
1 tablespoon coconut oil (not melted)
2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
2 tablespoons (thick) raw honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

*Since honey isn’t vegan, try my Coconut Sugar Icing as a vegan alternative!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl stir together the almond meal and tapioca starch, then add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir well until a sticky, uniform dough is formed.

At this point, you can drop the dough by tablespoons onto the pan and flatten them with your fingers. (The dough is very sticky, so you might want to wet your hands with water to easily press the dough.) These cookies spread just a little bit, not a lot, so try to shape them into the size you want them to turn out.

vegan-paleo-sugar-cookies

Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for 30 minutes and then roll it out on parchment paper to create cookie-cutter shapes. Sprinkle the dough with extra arrowroot to help prevent sticking to your rolling pin, and dip the cookie cutters in arrowroot, too. Roll the dough into 1/4-inch thickness for cookies that are firm on the outside and soft in the middle. The thicker your dough, the softer the cookie will be in the center.

Bake the cookies at 350F for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are dry to the touch. The browner the edges get, the crispier the cookies will be, so I pull mine out before the edges brown at all. (But, I like mine pretty soft in the center.) You can play around with your baking time to get your desired texture, but keep in mind that these cookies will firm up even more as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan completely before frosting, at least 30 minutes.

honey-buttercream

To make the Honey Buttercream, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and squish them together with a spatula. This frosting will not harden like traditional sugar cookie icing, but it should spread easily and not melt at room temperature, thanks to the use of shortening and arrowroot. Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies, or use an icing bag with a decorating tip to pipe it around the edges. I also used a few naturally-dyed red sprinkles (this company uses beet juice for coloring!) to bring these festive cookies to a holiday party last night. They were a total hit!

cut-and-slice-paleo-cookies

NOTE: If you want to make this dough ahead of time and store it in your fridge for a slice-and-bake cookie, I’d recommend making a double batch of this recipe. That amount makes a thicker roll, so the slices you cut off will already be the size of a normal cookie. (One big roll like that makes about 24 cookies.) Prepare the dough as directed above, but instead of baking it right away you’ll plop the dough in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper and use your hands to shape it into a log about 12-inches long. Roll it up in the parchment paper and twist the edges to seal them. (If you’re going to store this in the freezer, you could place the roll in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.)

Chill for at least 8 hours before slicing, but this dough can keep for a week in the fridge like that, or at least 6 months in the freezer. To bake, slice the dough into 1/4-inch slices, and arrange them an inch apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 14 minutes. You’ll notice that the sliced cookies don’t spread much at all, so be sure to shape them with your hands if you want a different result. (You can also still do cookie cutter shapes with this dough if you prefer, too!)

5.0 from 7 reviews
Vegan & Paleo Iced Sugar Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 12
 
An easy cookie that is gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Plus, they taste amazing!
Ingredients
Cookies:
  • 1½ cups almond meal
  • ¼ cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of sea salt
Honey Buttercream:
  • 1 tablespoon Nutiva red palm oil shortening
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (not melted)
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoons (thick) raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl stir together the almond meal and tapioca starch, then add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir well until a sticky, uniform dough is formed.
  2. At this point, you can drop the dough by tablespoons onto the pan and flatten them with your fingers. (The dough is very sticky, so you might want to wet your hands with water to easily press the dough.) These cookies spread just a little bit, not a lot, so try to shape them into the size you want them to turn out.
  3. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for 30 minutes and then roll it out on parchment paper to create cookie-cutter shapes. Sprinkle the dough with extra arrowroot to help prevent sticking to your rolling pin, and dip the cookie cutters in arrowroot, too. Roll the dough into ¼-inch thickness for cookies that are firm on the outside and soft in the middle. The thicker your dough, the softer the cookie will be in the center.
  4. Bake the cookies at 350F for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are dry to the touch. The browner the edges get, the crispier the cookies will be, so I pull mine out before the edges brown at all. (But, I like mine pretty soft in the center.) You can play around with your baking time to get your desired texture, but keep in mind that these cookies will firm up even more as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan completely before frosting, at least 30 minutes.
  5. To make the Honey Buttercream, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and squish them together with a spatula. This frosting will not harden like traditional sugar cookie icing, but it should spread easily and not melt at room temperature, thanks to the use of shortening and arrowroot. Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies, or use an icing bag with a decorating tip to pipe it around the edges. I also used a few naturally-dyed red sprinkles (this company uses beet juice for coloring!) to bring these festive cookies to a holiday party last night. They were a total hit!
Notes
If you want to make this dough ahead of time and store it in your fridge for a slice-and-bake cookie, I'd recommend making a double batch of this recipe. That amount makes a thicker roll, so the slices you cut off will already be the size of a normal cookie. (One big roll like that makes about 24 cookies.) Prepare the dough as directed above, but instead of baking it right away you'll plop the dough in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper and use your hands to shape it into a log about 12-inches long. Roll it up in the parchment paper and twist the edges to seal them. (If you're going to store this in the freezer, you could place the roll in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.) Chill for at least 8 hours before slicing, but this dough can keep for a week in the fridge like that, or at least 6 months in the freezer. To bake, slice the dough into ¼-inch slices, and arrange them an inch apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 14 minutes. You'll notice that the sliced cookies don't spread much at all, so be sure to shape them with your hands if you want a different result. (You can also still do cookie cutter shapes with this dough if you prefer, too!)

As always, if you experiment with any substitutions please leave a comment below letting us know how it worked for you.

Enjoy!

Reader Feedback: How do you like your cookies– soft or crispy? 

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

37 thoughts on “Vegan & Paleo Iced Sugar Cookies

    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      No, I used almond meal from ground whole almonds. Blanched almond flour might result in an oilier, shortbread-like cookie.

      Reply
  1. Jennie

    These look and sound amazing! I can’t wait to try making these with my kids. Is there anything I can sub the arrowroot or tapioca starch for? I have all the other ingredients on hand and am hoping to bypass a trip to the store 😉

    Reply
    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      No, that will not give you the same result at all. Almond pulp leftover from almond milk has most of the fat removed and so it bakes very, very differently. I have a recipe for using almond pulp in my cookbook, as well as two on my blog– be sure to search for “almond pulp” in my recipe search bar to find them!

      Reply
  2. Karen

    This recipe and the gingerbread recipe have me thinking of actually making cookies! Paleo and all! I won’t get them done for Christmas but I will put them on the list for Valentine’s Day.

    Reply
  3. Lauren

    These look great! We can’t do many nuts in our house, but I’m thinking that frosting would be a nice (healthier) addition than the typical powdered sugar spread. Have a merry Christmas Megan!

    Reply
  4. Kezia @ Super Naturally Healthy

    All about soft cookies! And good job with icing – I also find making a refined sugar free icing so insanely hard! With my gingerbread house this year I am just using sugar syrup and just not going to eat those bits. Any heath strong alternatives that would keep my house up anyone?

    Reply
    1. Diane Slater

      I have a strong sensitivity to almonds. Is there anything I can use in the place of almond flour in cookie recipies?

      Reply
  5. Kathy

    I just mixed the cookie dough and it’s extremely dry! Is an ingredients missing from the recipe? It’s not sticky at all. I don’t know how to proceed and I surely don’t want to through out 1.5 cups of almond flour. Please advise ASAP!

    Reply
    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      Did you use 5 tablespoons of maple syrup? (not teaspoons?) And melted coconut oil? I just double-checked and don’t see any ingredients missing from this recipe, so the dough shouldn’t be dry– though it does need to be stirred well. I’m not sure why it would be dry, but you can always add more melted oil or maple syrup to help it stick together; I’d do it a tablespoon at a time.

      Reply
  6. Gia

    On a dinner note, just made your wild rice and mushroom stuffing to accompany a roasted whole chicken this evening- it was absolutely to-die-for! I will be making this over & over again. ‘Stove Top’- eat your heart out!

    Reply
  7. Laura

    Thanks for sharing. My cookies taste yummy! The icing is an ugly Coe because of the palm oil but I’m ok with that:) taste so good!

    Reply
  8. Susan V.

    The cookies turned out delicious and amazing. So glad I made a double batch! The buttercream frosting on the other hand, not so good of an attempt! Make sure you get the red palm oil SHORTENING, not just red palm oil. I made the mistake of assuming what I bought was what I needed… big mistake. I saved the recipe by adding more coconut oil and tapioca starch and honey to the frosting (though it is very orange, would be great for Halloween!). I’m sure if I had gotten the shortening my cookies would be WAY better. Good thing they’re delicious with or without the frosting!

    Reply
  9. Cindy

    I HAVE NO WORDS!! I’ve tried so many vegan sugar cookie recipes for the past 2 years and all of them have been meh or disgusting.
    This is the absolute FIRST recipe that came out to be a success. I’m literally still in shock right now (just got them out of the oven!!). They smell AMAZING, and they have the perfect chewy-crisp balance of texture.
    Thank you so much for this recipe. It’s been a Christmas miracle 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
  10. Gia

    Merry Christmas…❤️
    Just read a previous comment questioning if you use almond meal from blanched almonds or ground whole almonds…I have been using the former and have had difficulty- many recipes resulted in an oily dough. Do you use ground whole almond meal for all recipes? Just wondering if you could make note of what kind to use…or if you use the same kind all across the board…?:)

    Reply
    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      Some of my older recipes use blanched almond flour, but I usually call that “almond flour” and link to the brand I used in the ingredient list. When my recipes call for “almond meal” it means I used ground whole almonds, with the skins. I prefer the texture almond meal gives baked goods, so that is what I use most often now. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  11. Bridget

    Is it 1/4 of each arrowroot powder and tapioca. Or did you mean 1/4 of one or the other. Please check the recipe and clarify as it does say and.

    Reply
  12. Hope

    Man, not going to lie…I was getting a little frustrated with the super-stickiness of the dough when cutting into shapes (even came right out of the fridge), but I added a tad more tapioca starch (so probably more like 1/3 C total) and they were fine after that. Maybe my liquid measurements were off. But OH, YOU ARE RIGHT–the outcome is so worth it! Perfect texture and delicious. Reminded me of mild french toast flavor…mmmmm. Thanks–this is a keeper!!

    Reply
  13. Jessica

    These are amazing and so quick to prepare! I’ve made them twice now, and they’ll be our go-to cookie recipe for sure! (I’ve only made the cookie part, not the frosting)

    The first time, I made these as written and used almond meal. My husband and I loved them, but my 3 year old didn’t like them. So the second time I used blanched almond flour and half the amount of almond extract. They’re a huge hit!

    Reply
  14. Katie

    It’s really hard to find a simple and delicious egg-free AND paleo-friendly cookie recipe so I was ecstatic when these turned out so well. I swapped the almond meal for cashew meal (I threw raw cashews from Trader Joes in my food processor and blended til fine) and I used vanilla ghee instead of coconut oil. I didn’t try any fancy shapes- I just plopped the dough onto my baking sheet and flattened them with two fingers swiped in tapioca starch to keep them from sticking. They did spread pretty significantly, so that could be due to the cashew meal. I’ll definitely keep coming back to this recipe– thank you for sharing it with us! 🙂 *Note: I didn’t try the frosting recipe.

    Reply
  15. Alyssa

    These cookies are insanely delicious! I made them at Christmas, where they were loved by all and I plan on making them today for Valentine’s Day! I might try a bit of raspberry powder in the icing to make it pink. Thanks for this delicious recipe!

    Reply
  16. Adrianne

    Oops – I thought palm shortening was just that – I used red palm oil. Bright orange frosting (and the oil tasted slightly bitter in my opinion). Mighty try this again with regular shortening, but going to cut the starch – I can really taste it. Might just go for whipped honey and a touch of oil and see where that goes.

    Reply

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