You’ll love these AMAZING gluten free lemon crinkle cookies. They’re moist, buttery and delicate, with an incredible, fragrant lemon flavour and they simply melt in your mouth. They’re packed with lemon – both in the form of lemon zest and lemon juice. They’re also incredibly easy to make. Here, I’ve included all my top tips for making them, including how to get the best lemon flavour and how to get the prettiest crinkle.
These gluten free lemon crinkle cookies are my new favourite thing. They’re tender, moist and delicate, with an intense, fragrant lemon flavour and every bite simply melts in your mouth. They’re just so wonderfully bright and cheerful, like sunshine in crackly, powdered-sugar-coated cookie form.
I’ve previously made gluten free chocolate crinkle cookies (you can find that recipe in my gluten free cookbook, Baked to Perfection) and this lemony recipe is loosely based on that one. And while I adore the chocolate version… I have to say that this lemon variation is just as (if not more) delicious.
The lemon flavour comes from an abundance of lemon zest and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, which adds a tangy zing to the cookies. Unlike many other cookies, these aren’t fudgy or crispy. Instead, they are somewhat cakey in texture. And while I’m usually not a fan of cakey cookies – these are HEAVENLY.
And what’s even better: they’re also super easy to make!!
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these amazing cookies – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
How to make gluten free lemon crinkle cookies
Making these gluten free lemon crinkle cookies is incredibly simple. You don’t need any special equipment (no stand or hand mixers), just a bowl, a whisk and a spatula, and you’re good to go.
To make the cookies, all you really need to do is mix the melted butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, eggs and lemon juice until well combined, and then mix in the dry ingredients until you get a smooth, batter-like cookie dough.
An important thing to keep in mind: the cookie dough will really be more like a batter – very soft and sticky, bordering on runny. Don’t panic when you see just how soft it is – and definitely don’t go adding more flour! The next step is to chill the cookie dough for at least 2 hours before rolling it into balls.
Chilling serves two purposes:
- It cools down and firms up the butter in the dough, which makes it easier to handle.
- It gives the gluten free flour in the cookie dough time to properly hydrate (absorb some of the moisture), which also makes the dough more manageable.
A note about butter
There are two amounts of butter you can use in this recipe:
- The current version of the recipe below uses a smaller amount of butter (70g or 1/2 stick + 1 tablespoon) which gives nicely rounded, prettily cracked cookies that are moist and tender and incredibly delicious.
- You can also increase the amount of butter slightly (to 85g or 3/4 stick) – this will give cookies that are more buttery and rich, but they will also spread more in the oven. The cracks will be wider and the cookies a bit flatter.
Both versions are amazing – it’s just a question of what kind of cookie you’re going for. If you want a more buttery cookie, feel free to increase the amount of butter. Just note that they won’t look quite as picture perfect (though they’re still super pretty in my opinion).
Top tips for perfect, melt-in-the-mouth gluten free lemon crinkle cookies
Use melted butter (not just softened at room temperature)
I’ve tested this recipe with both melted and softened butter – and the melted butter gives cookies that are superior in both texture and flavour. Cookies made with softened butter can be a bit dry and crumbly, and the lemon flavour isn’t as intense.
Add plenty of lemon zest, ideally from organic unwaxed lemons
As these cookies require the zest of two whole lemons, it’s best to use organic unwaxed ones. Most lemons are treated with pesticides – which have been linked to health problems and also tend to give a rather unpleasant aftertaste to the zest. Using organic lemons that haven’t been waxed will give you the best, most intense, pure lemon flavour.
Rub the lemon zest into sugar
I like to rub the lemon zest into the sugar with my fingertips beforehand, as that helps to release the essential oils from the zest and makes the cookies even more fragrant and aromatic.
The initial cookie dough will be very soft and almost runny, more like batter
Don’t panic when the texture of your initial cookie “dough” is more like cake batter. That’s how it should be! It will be very soft and sticky and runny, and it will flow off the spatula.
And even though you’ll be very tempted to add more flour: resist that temptation! Trust the recipe – it will give the most stunningly delicious results. Promise.
Chilling is crucial, otherwise the cookies will melt into puddles
In addition to cooling down and firming up the cookie dough into something you can actually handle and shape into balls, chilling also ensures that the cookies won’t melt into puddles during baking.
You’ll need to chill the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours (though you can also keep it in the fridge overnight if you want to bake them the next day).
Even after chilling, the dough will still be a bit soft and sticky – dip the measuring spoon into powdered sugar before scooping
After at least 2 hours in the fridge, the cookie dough will still be slightly sticky. If you use a measuring spoon to portion it out into about 1 tablespoon (about 17g) portions, I recommend that you dip the spoon in a bit of powdered sugar first. This will prevent the cookie dough from sticking to the spoon and will make the whole process much easier.
And if the cookie dough wants to stick to your hands when you roll it into balls, dust your hands with a tiny bit of powdered sugar as well.
For the best crinkle: first roll in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar
Initially, I rolled my cookies only in powdered sugar – and that gave reasonably good results. But to get the prettiest cookies (with a lovely white coating of powdered sugar that cracks to give a beautiful random pattern): roll them in granulated sugar first.
After shaping a 1 tablespoon (about 17g) portion of cookie dough into a ball, roll it in granulated sugar until fully covered. Roll it between your hands again to remove any excess granulated sugar. And then, roll it in powdered sugar until generously coated.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes
The cookies will be VERY soft and delicate directly out of the oven. So, allow them to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before touching them or moving them to a wire rack (otherwise, you’ll be left with a crumbly mess).
More amazing gluten free cookie recipes
As we’re nearing Christmas and we’re therefore officially in the cookie baking season, here are a few other gluten free cookie favourites:
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
- Gluten Free Caramel Cookies (Homemade Twix)
- Gluten Free Pistachio Biscotti
- Soft & Chewy Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies
- Extra Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies
- Gluten Free Vanillekipferl (Vanilla & Almond Crescent Cookies)
- Gluten Free Cinnamon Shortbread Stars
And there you have it: everything you need to know in order to make THE PERFECT gluten free lemon crinkle cookies. I seriously adore these – they’re tender and delicate, so that every bite simply melts in your mouth. And the lemon flavour will blow you away, it’s so wonderfully intense and fragrant.
These are definitely at their best a few days after baking – keeping them in a closed container for a few days gives time for the moisture to redistribute and for the flavours to meld and mingle and develop into something even more spectacular. Of course, whether they will actually keep for a few days… that’s a whole other story. 😉
I really hope you’ll love these as much as I do.
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Gluten Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- 150 g (¾ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
- zest of 2 lemons (Ideally, use organic unwaxed lemons.)
- 70 g (½ stick + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm (You can also increase the amount of butter to 85g or ¾ stick, which will give cookies that are richer and more buttery. But they will also spread out more in the oven and will have wider cracks, so they might not be quite as pretty.)
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 240 g (2 cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies before baking
- 90 g (¾ cup) powdered/icing sugar, for rolling the cookies before baking
Making the cookie dough:
- Add the sugar and lemon zest to a large bowl, and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. This helps to release more essential oils from the zest.
- Add the melted butter and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
- Add the eggs and whisk well.
- Add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and add them to the wet ingredients.
- Mix with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until you get a smooth, batter-like cookie dough.Tip: At this stage, the cookie dough will really be more like a batter – very soft and sticky, bordering on runny. That's how it should be. Don't add more flour!
- Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours before proceeding to the next step. You can also keep it in the fridge overnight if you want to bake the cookies the next day.Tip: In addition to firming up the cookie dough into something you can actually handle and shape into balls, chilling also ensures that the cookies won’t melt into puddles during baking.
Shaping & coating the cookies:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment/baking paper.Tip: You will bake the cookies in several batches, so you can line 2 baking sheets if you have them on hand. Otherwise, just re-use the same baking sheet, but make sure to cool it completely before you place the next batch of unbaked cookies onto it.
- Shape about 1 tablespoon (about 17g) portions of the chilled cookie dough into balls. You should get 30-32 cookies in total.Tip 1: The cookie dough will be still slightly soft and sticky, even after it's been thoroughly chilled. I like to scoop portions of the cookie dough with a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon that I've dipped in a bit of powdered/icing sugar beforehand. This prevents the cookie dough from sticking to the spoon and makes the whole process easier and faster.Tip 2: If the cookie dough sticks to your hands as you go to roll it into a ball, you can lightly dust your hands with a bit of powdered/icing sugar as well. This will prevent sticking.
- Roll each ball first in granulated sugar and then in powdered/icing sugar until it's fully coated.Tip: Rolling the cookies in granulated sugar first results in the prettiest cookies, with a lovely white coating of powdered sugar that cracks to give a beautiful random pattern.
- Place the cookie dough balls on the lined baking sheets, at least 1 ½-2 inches (4-5cm) apart. The cookies will spread and expand slightly during baking.Place the baking sheet with the cookies that you won't be baking straight away in the fridge until needed.
- Bake one baking sheet at a time at 350ºF (180ºC) for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies have risen and expanded into little rounded mounds with cracks in their sugar coating. The cookies are done when the cracks no longer look wet or shiny.
- The cookies will be very soft and delicate immediately out of the oven. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- The gluten free lemon crinkle cookies keep well in an airtight container in a cool dry place for about 1 week. They're best a few days after baking.