Welcome to our allergy friendly cookie recipe collection we put together in time for this year's holiday season. We have asked some of our favourite blogs with allergen friendly cookie recipes to help us make a list of their best recipes that are suitable for top 8 free baking. We have collected a bunch of different kinds of recipes that are perfect for all the holiday baking that you still want to enjoy safely with the family.
It can be so tough around the holidays as everything seems to revolve around food. This list is meant to help you find new recipes for cookies that you can still have. We often like to tell our kids that you can have most of your favourite foods. However we just need to make them with different ingredients.
We have broken the collection in two parts.The first part of our post is dedicated to our favourite holiday cookie recipes. The second part is where we are sharing what we have found in our years of baking for our allergen friendly family.
The Allergen Friendly Cookie Collection
In the following recipes you will hopefully find some recipes that will become your family's holiday favourites. Cookies and the holidays are something that go hand in hand.
Coming in from a Saturday sledding to the smell of freshly baked cookies is a memory that is with us to this day. It makes us think of time spent together and warms our hearts. There is a reason that cookies are often freshly baked at open houses. They hold a special place in us and our memories. We hope you can make some of your own with this collection of recipes.
For another collection of specifically Christmas Cookies check out the list that was put together at Strength and Sunshine for more ideas and recipes.
After the recipes keep reading to find our tips and trick to making cookies and working with common allergen friendly baking ingredient substitutions.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
There is nothing quite as classic as a gooey chocolate chip cookie. The Allergy Friendly Cookie Collect has a few different kinds of recipes that are all top 8 free.
Fun and Festive Cookies
Gingerbread and Spiced Cookies
The Ingredients Journey
Some of the ingredients you will see in holiday baking that are not the same as what you were used to if you baked before allergies are going to seem a little different. Some examples of those are the types of flour used, xanthan gum, aquafaba, dairy free butter and chocolate, to name a few. We would like to explore a few of those lesser known ingredients and give our tips on how to work with them to get the best results.
Gluten Free Flours
Not all gluten free flours are created equally. If you have done any baking with it we are sure you have noticed this. Not only are there a million different kinds and blends on the market, there are just as many opinions as to which is the best.
Our advice is to start small. Those who have been baking a long time will have their own blends that they have made over time but take the easy route. There are amazing flour brands that have blends out there that are already done up. If you can use those ones, when you start out baking for allergies or aren’t a confident baker use a commercial blend. It is tested on numerous bakes to be more universal, like an all purpose flour is.
1 to 1 Blends
All the big companies do a 1 to 1 blend. This is an all purpose flour you can use without having to buy a ton of bags and trial which works best. It is sometimes referred to as an all purpose gluten free flour in recipes. A 1 to 1 is designed to be able to replace regular flour in most recipes. This means if you have your great grandma’s cookie recipe this is the best kind of flour to start using to recreate that cookie with. Other factors will play in for us, like the egg and dairy substitutes but a 1 to 1 flour is what we highly recommend.
With time baking you will have a favourite you prefer as it always works out for your bakes. You will also love the texture and taste. Some rice based general flours will give grittier almost sandy cookies. This will become a matter of personal preference from what we have noticed.
The most common brands are:
- King Arthur Measure for Measure
- Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 ( has a may contain warning in some areas)
- Robin Hood Gluten Free Flour
- Cloud 9 1 to 1
Pamper your bakes
One of our favourite sayings when we are baking is that gluten free bakes need pampering. They need a bit of extra attention to get them to the best they can be. How we pamper our bakes is to let them rest.
Before they go into the oven for most bakes we let them rest for 10 minutes. Why? What we have found is this lets the moisture infuse into the rice flour found in more 1 to 1 flours and helps them to avoid some of that crumbly texture and gritty taste. When we started doing this we noticed non allergen folks didn’t realise they were baking that wasn’t made with traditional ingredients.
Let them rest again. See lots of pampering! They really need to relax for at least 10 minutes in or on whatever they were baked in. So cakes need to stay in the tin on a cooling rack out of the oven. Cookies leave them on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes and place that sheet on the cooling rack. This allows the baked goods to cool a bit before removing them. They are really fragile when hot. The structure is precarious and moving them while hot almost guarantees they will fall apart or the centres will fall.
Why use a custom flour blend?
It is often cheaper, cuts out other allergens for those who bake with it and allows for easier tweaking of recipes. If you are developing recipes you will probably want to know which flour is best for which baking type. Some are starchier, others add structure and hold the shape of the bake better. They will let the small rise in gluten free baking stay. These kinds of blends take a lot of practice, research, and patience. If you are new or not a big baker take the easier route and buy a blend. It is like regular baking, if you are a bread baker you have a strong gluten flour like 00 you use but you would never use that for cakes. They will be tough, chewy and won’t rise well with eggs and baking powder or soda.
Follow the Recipe
We cannot stress this one enough. Recipes with many substitutions have often taken many many tries to get them perfected. The recipe developer has made all sorts of tiny tweaks to their recipe to make sure it turns out every time and is perfectly ooey gooey. This may mean if you can use the flour specified in the recipe it will give the best results for this recipe. Yes, some sites do have affiliated ties with certain companies they are compensated for but those recipes were specifically made for that ingredient so it should work with it.
This isn’t to say that you cannot make changes to a recipe. Altitude differs and will greatly affect bakes and rises in baking. You may need to make tweeks if you live at high altitude. Use only ingredients and brands that are safe for you. If you find a recipe that insists their recipe must be made using a particular type of flour but that flour is made on shared lines with allergens that are not safe for you, then do not use that ingredient. We would strongly recommend even choosing a different recipe as you may not be happy with the end result.
You can change other ingredients like switching vanilla extract for peppermint extract but know that the recipe may not be as amazing as claimed. The recipes are often designed with a certain flavour profile in mind. Until you know the recipe works as written try to follow it as best as possible.
Spoon into the Measuring Cup
When baking with gluten free flours there are two best practice methods to get the correct amount of flour for your recipe.
Method 1- Weighing Flour
The best method when baking with gluten free flour to make sure your bake turns out is to measure the flour by weighing. This is a really easy method and is becoming more common in North America and is generally the standard in European recipes. It makes sure that the same amount of flour is being used every time, which is important when baking with various ingredient substitutions. This is my preferred method when baking as I grew up learning to bake from Mary Berry recipes from the UK. The easiest way to use this method is to use a digital kitchen scale. They can range in price but mine was around $20 and is over a decade old while still accurate.
To measure flour, place a bowl on the scale and zero the scale so it isn’t counting the weight of the bowl in the measurement. Pour or spoon the flour into the bowl keeping an eye on the weight. When the correct weight is reached, remove the bowl from the scale. The flour is ready to be used in the recipe. Never measure right into the mixing bowl with other ingredients. If the flour needs to be removed to get the correct amount the flour may have already mixed with sugar. Alternatively, it could be coated in butter which you don’t want in your flour container. It also makes it tough to remove just the flour, so always measure it in a bowl by itself.
Method 2- Spooning Flour
The second method is to spoon the flour into the measuring cup, if measuring by cups. When you use the measuring cup to both scoop out the flour and to measure it the flour amount will not be consistent. This is because the flour is compacted as it is scooped out of the flour container. The amount it is pressed and the pressure will change with each time it is grabbed so the amount of flour in the measuring cup will vary.
The best way to make sure you get the correct amount of flour everytime if you use measuring cups for flour is to spoon or pour the flour into the cup. The spoon used to grab the flour is not the same one as the measuring spoon or cup. This will help to keep the flour amount more consistent. It is closer to always the same amount, still not as accurate as the weighing method. The spooning is way better than using the measuring cup to scoop the flour.
Baking to Colour
The colour will not be the same as what you may be used to if you baked with regular flour, milk, and eggs. The flours and lack of eggs will lead to a lighter bake. If you are used to baking shortbread until golden brown on the bottom checking for the colour you may end up with over baked cookies. It is best to go by recipe times and cookie texture than colour when baking with gluten free flour. This will help avoid over baked, tough, or too crispy cookies.
Tiger Nut Flour
The website My Kids Food Allergies has a great resource that talks about that tiger nut flour is. It covers where it comes from and we highly recommend reading it. Tiger nut is not a nut at all it is actually a tuber. Other tubers you may better know are potatoes, yams, jamaica, these are stem tubers. Carrots and Parsnips are root tubers.
A tuber is a high starch vegetable that grows on the root or stem of the root of a plant. They are not nuts at all. That isn’t to say that some people don’t have allergies to them. You can have an allergy to any food, as many of you will have unfortunately discovered.
Is tiger nut flour safe for those with nut allergies. The short answer, yes usually. The long answer, is if it is a new ingredient to you, always check with your medical team first. They are the best resource for deciding if it is safe for you.
Wheat Free Versus Gluten Free
Check that your flour is wheat if you have a wheat allergy. Don’t assume that all gluten free products are also wheat free. There is a process used by some gluten free products where they use deglutenized/deglutened wheat in their flour mixes. It can also be called gluten free wheat starch. These are usually safe for coeliacs but not those with a wheat allergy.
This is because the gluten has been separated from the starch. Schar Foods has a great explanation on their website regarding the issue. One flour specifically to watch out for is Caputo flour. Some of their products may contain deglutened wheat starch. These may be suitable for coeliacs but not those with a wheat allergy.
For someone with a wheat allergy the wheat protein is still present. The wheat protein this is generally what people are allergic to. We highly recommend always reading ingredients in gluten free products. Contact the manufacturers to ensure the products are safe for you.
This is a binder often used in gluten and wheat free baking. It replaces the gluten and allows the flour to stretch slightly like gluten would. It is also a sometimes controversial ingredient. There are many who do not use it or cannot use it due to its source. Guar gum is sometimes a replacement for it but can be equally problematic for some.
Xanthan gum is a stabiliser and thickener in many foods. It is a by product made by fermenting sugar with a specific bacteria and solidified with an alcohol. The issue can come in when the fermentation is derived from corn, soy, or wheat. It can also be done with cabbage. It is commonly used in allergen friendly baking and gluten free foods and personal care products. Where it becomes controversial is if it can cause allergic reactions in those with allergies to the top 8 allergens. There is no requirement for the source of it to be declared so it is always best to contact the manufacturer to find out if it is safe for you. Always discuss using it with your medical team, allergist, doctor and registered dietitian.
Non Dairy Butter
Baking dairy free means using substitutions and not all are created equally. Bakers can use a number of different products to replace butter. Shortening is one common replacement, see our section on shortening for more information on what to consider for these.
Coconut oil is another option. When using this one it is the solid coconut oil that has a low melting point that is usually used, not a liquid or modified coconut oil. This can be used in place of butter with great success in pastries and lead to a wonderfully flaky crust. The issue though is the heat from the hands when working the pastry can melt the coconut oil quicker than butter would normally melt. It may require extra resting and firming in the fridge in between pastry turns. It is also usually recommended to chill the cookie dough made with coconut oil before baking as it risks spreading more than butter does.
Coconut is classified as a nut in some countries like the US but not in others like Canada. Always make sure coconuts are safe for you with your doctor before buying or using.
Commercial Butter Replacements
Another option is commercial butter replacements. There are two main kinds of butter substitutes - blocks or spreads. These are often specifically compounded to be as close to butter and its properties as can be replicated without milk ingredients. Some are not allergen friendly as they are made with soy or nuts.There are many on the market which are suitable. For a good block style dairy replacement Melt Organics makes one that bakes well as does Earth Balance’s Soy Free Sticks. Earth Balance Soy Free is a great spreadable option in baking.
Sticks versus spreads
If a recipe calls for butter sticks do not use a spread in place of the commercial buttery sick options. The spreads contain more water than the sticks do and will cause bakes to steam or spread more than the sticks will. It can cause a cookie or cake recipe to fail due to their composition. If a recipe calls for margarine then spread should be able to be used without issues. If wanting to use spread in place of buttery blocks try melting it over low heat and letting it cook off a bit of the water. After removing from heat, pour into a container or mould, let it cool and then leave to harden in the fridge. This can be a difficult process and is sometimes needed when making buttercream frosting. In the frosting the extra water can cause it to appear curdled and grainy.
When replacing eggs in different bakes different kinds of methods may work but not all will. This may sound a bit confusing but it is because eggs do more than one job in baking. Figuring out how the eggs act in the bake will help sort out what can be used in place of them. Sometimes the eggs are there as binders, or to help the rise, they can provide flavour, richness, texture, structure and are extremely versatile. It would figure that finding a substitute that covers all of the bases is really difficult so bakers usually use a number of ingredients to replace eggs. You may also be able to successfully use some replacements in one kind recipe but not another because of this. We find as a general rule replacing 2 eggs is easy but replacing more gets really tough and requires more substitutions and recipe tweaks.
A really common egg replacement in baking is banana. Usually ½ a cup of mashed banana is used to replace one egg. It can flavour your bake to taste like bananas. This is a really effective way to go egg free in cookies while still having a moist and chewy cookie. It works really well with chocolate to mask the flavour or gluten free oats. It is commonly used in cookies, brownies, and cakes, like our Allergen Friendly Chocolate Cake recipe. Many of the oatmeal cookie recipes in this allergy friendly cookie collection are made with banana.
Similar to the mashed banana, applesauce is often used in cookies and moist bakes like brownies and cakes. It doesn’t work in savoury bakes like scones though. Usually ½ a cup of applesauce is used to replace each egg. Applesauce works best in spiced cookies and oatmeal ones.
Made from the water chickpeas or white beans are canned in and either used whipped or liquid in baking. This is not the water used to soak dried chickpeas or beans in but the canning water. If you want to make your own from dried garbanzos or beans do not use the soaking water but instead use the water you are cooking the beans in. Reduce this water by at least half tp get homemade aquafaba. Usually 3 tablespoons of aquafaba is used to replace one egg. Aquafaba helps to make a soft cookie like our vegan chocolate cookies.
It has the consistency and some properties of egg whites. Often used as an egg white replacement in egg free meringues and macarons. To make these kinds of cookies the aquafaba is whipped in a stand mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Sugar is usually added to the fluffy aquafaba as it can be bitter otherwise. For those allergic to pea protein this substitute is not suitable.
Commercial Egg Replacers
The easiest way to replace eggs is to use a commercial egg replacer. They are typically made of psyllium husk and work similarly to a flax egg. Usually 1 tablespoon of an egg replacement like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer is mixed with 3 tablespoons of water, left to set slightly and then added to the liquid ingredients or creamed with a dairy free butter as a normal egg would be.
One reason we tend to prefer this method is they are readily available and easy to use. They provide consistent results for the recipe that can be easily duplicated by most bakers. Always ensure the egg replacer is safe for you, allergen and gluten free, as well as made on a dedicated line free from allergens.
Ground Flax or Chia Seeds
This is one of the most common ways to replace eggs in baking and cooking. It involves grinding either chia seeds or flax seeds into a powder using a clean spice or coffee grinder. The ground seeds are mixed with water to make what is commonly referred to as a chia egg or flax egg. It has a really good feel similar to egg yolk and provides good binding and structure to the baked goods. Usually 1 tablespoon of ground flax or chia is mixed with 3 tablespoons of water mixed well so there are no lumps, let rest for 2-5 minutes and add to the ingredients as you would an egg.
The one issue with cookies is this can sometimes make cookies hard as they may need extra moisture in the batter. We often combine ⅓ of a traditional flax egg and ⅔ of aquafaba to give it a closer feel to a real egg. Ground chia works best in chocolate cookie recipes as it can be bitter. Ground flax works best in most cookies or biscuit recipes that are not as soft.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
This is really good in a cakey cookie, doughnut, or cake. It is a really common leavening to make cake-like bakes rise. Depression era wacky cakes made great use of this egg free baking hack. The vinegar and baking soda are sometimes substituted with club soda. It is not good for a bake that requires a lot of structure as it can collapse. Baking soda requires an acid to activate. It tends to activate quickly and if not baked at the right heat can lead to cakes that sink in the middle.
Watch shortening ingredients for soy. There are soy free options on the market but they are often harder to find and need to be ordered online. Spectrum Shortening is a palm oil based shortening that may be appropriate. Always check ingredients and with the company to see if it is suitable for you. Palm oil can be a troublesome ingredient with some vegans, this brand is certified through the Rainforest Alliance. Always check with guests if you are using it for them before buying and using.
Popular options like Crisco are not soy free, the first ingredient is soybean oil. Oils are usually highly processed and proteins may be stripped from the end product. Some with allergies are okay with certain oils, however many are not. It is not worth the risk and if you are baking for someone with allergies or are unsure choose a soy free shortening. Always talk to your medical team about whether soybean or other allergen oils are safe for you before using or buying.
Christmas cookies and sprinkles are synonymous. There are however some things to check when buying sprinkles. Allergens should always be checked for on every ingredient list, obviously. Sprinkles are one that sometimes get forgotten to be checked. Never buy sprinkles from bulk areas as cross contact risks are high. Common allergens we have seen on sprinkle labels are soy, wheat and gluten, and dairy. Many also have “may contain” warnings on them for nuts, dairy, and eggs. There is also a possibility of other allergens so always check them well. For vegans avoid any shellac ingredients and some food dyes. They may be made from animal products or are tested on animals.
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