A stack of three gluten free Croatian bear paw cookies, standing on a fluted cookie mould. Bunches of holly add to the festive holiday atmosphere.

Gluten Free Croatian Bear Paw Cookies

These wonderful Croatian bear paw cookies are a Christmas favourite in our house – buttery, sweet, rich and so incredibly aromatic! A gluten free variation on a traditional Croatian cookie recipe, their taste will knock your socks off and leave you craving more.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 20 cookies


  • 1 1/2 stick (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups (220 g) ground walnuts
  • 3 cups (360 g) plain gluten free flour blend (I've used a simple store-bought blend of rice, potato and maize flour with no added xanthan gum)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (110 g) powdered sugar, sifted (for rolling the baked cookies)
  • fluted cookie moulds (if you don't have the moulds, you can shape the cookie dough into balls and bake them in that manner)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 355 ºF (180 ºC).

  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest.

  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition.

  4. Add the ground walnuts and mix well.

  5. Sift together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum and salt. Add them to the bowl and mix well until you get a smooth, if slightly sticky cookie dough with no clumps of flour.

  6. Transfer the cookie dough into the fluted cookie moulds so that the cookie dough fills them completely. Smooth out the surface of the cookie dough. The top of the cookie dough should be level with the top edge of the fluted cookie moulds. 

  7. Transfer the filled cookie moulds onto a baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven at 355 ºF (180 ºC) for about 20 minutes or until the cookies are slightly risen and golden on top.

  8. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 - 5 minutes, then remove them from the moulds, and roll them in the powdered sugar.

  9. Allow to cool, and enjoy!

  10. The gluten free Croatian bear paw cookies keep well in a closed container in a cool dry place for about 1 month.

    Note that the longer you keep these cookies in a closed container, the better they get.

Recipe Notes

Note: If you don't have the fluted cookie moulds, place the cookie dough into the fridge for 1/2 - 1 hour so that it gets a bit firmer. Then roll it out into evenly siezed balls and bake.