These amazing Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies are a wonderful, healthier treat not only for the holiday season. These paleo shortbread cookies are also clean eating, refined sugar free, grain and gluten free.
If you love baking and especially holiday baking as much as me, you'll understand what an exciting time of year the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are. Even a dreary November day is made all cheery and bright for me, if I get to bake cookies!
Well, to be honest I started with my holiday baking a while ago already. And especially this coconut shortbread cookies recipe has been in the testing and developing phase for some time.
Trust me when I say I've had my share of the good, bad and ugly in terms of coconut flour shortbread recipe taste-testing. Making the classic shortbread healthy and still incredibly delicious was process, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
How to make shortbread cookies soft?
I have been experimenting with coconut flour shortbread for at least 3 weeks with some miserable failures along the way. I tried some recipes from the internet and my own spin-offs that were pretty close to the classic 3 ingredient shortbread cookies (flour, sugar, butter).
However, when that flour component is made up of coconut flour the coconut shortbread comes out fairly dry and somewhat crumbly, even if using a liquid sweetener instead of a granulated sugar.
After one particularly bad batch I went back to read the comments on that recipe, where someone mentioned the coconut shortbread cookies had a texture that resembled sawdust. They weren't wrong!
Only at that point did I remember what I always preach in my other coconut flour recipes: coconut flour needs eggs!
Because it is so hygroscopic (liquid absorbent) you need a fair amount of liquid in every coconut flour recipe. And nothing provides liquid while also working as stabilizing binder quite like eggs.
But these are still healthy shortbread cookies (not muffins or cake where you want lots of moisture). So I tried using just an egg white in the recipe and I couldn't believe the amazing texture difference that created.
Thanks to the egg white this gluten free shortbread cookie recipe produces a soft - but not cakey, melt-in-your-mouth cookie texture that everyone will love. No one will miss the wheat in these!
How to make shortbread cookies without butter?
I used butter in this healthy shortbread recipe, but it is definitely not the only fat that can be used here. You can use cold, solid ghee or clarified butter and some of my test batches were actually for coconut oil shortbread.
While I loved the slightly crispier texture, I found the shortbread with coconut oil had a too pronounced coconut taste. However, I only had extra virgin coconut oil available which has a very strong coconutty flavor.
If you want to make paleo shortbread, you could totally use refined coconut oil, which is odor and flavorless, with great results. Make sure the oil is in its solid state (cold from winter room temperature or chilled in the fridge).
Cut the solid coconut oil into the coconut flour/sugar mixture just the same as I am demonstrating with butter in the video below.
Also be sure to use a parchment lined cookie sheet to keep the coconut oil shortbread cookies from browning faster than they are baking through. This is something I learnt while testing my Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies.
How to decorate shortbread cookies?
Since I made this healthy shortbread an easy slice-and-bake recipe they come out as perfect circles without the need for any cookie cutters.
To keep decorations just as quick and simple I only used melted dark chocolate. When I want things to be really quick, I place all cooled coconut shortbread biscuits (as they would be called in some parts of the world) close together on a baking sheet. Then I simply drizzle the chocolate all over the tops.
Other times (this needs longer to dry) I dip half of each cookie into the melted chocolate and tap off the excess - as seen in the video.
By the way, if you think that even a healthy shortbread cookies recipe absolutely needs to have the 'holes on top', use a fork to dock the tops of the grain free shortbread cookies right after slicing and placing them on the cookie sheet.
How long will shortbread cookies keep?
To be honest, like almost any treat or dessert and even while still testing this coconut shortbread recipe, none of the cookies lasted longer than a couple of days at our house. What can I say, we love our treats!
Make sure that after making this coconut flour shortbread cookie recipe you store them in an airtight container. And I guesstimate they will be just fine for 5-7 days at room temperature.
If you enjoyed these coconut flour cookies, you may also like this recipe for waffles made with coconut flour.
More gluten free recipes:
- Tigernut Flour Cookies
- Soft Baked Coconut Flour Cookies
- Almond Molasses Cookies
- Coconut Flour Sugar Cookies
- Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
Looking for the classic counterpart?
Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies
- ⅔ cup (75 g) coconut flour
- ⅓ cup (65 g) coconut palm sugar (or muscovado or demerara) *
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted cold butter, preferably grass-fed/pastured**
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) egg white (approx. from 1 large egg)
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips
- In a large bowl whisk together coconut flour (sifted if it's clumpy), coconut palm sugar and sea salt to combine.
- Cut the cold butter into small pieces, then cut into the coconut flour mixture using a pastry cutter, fork or whisk.
- Once the shortbread dough mixture resembles the texture of wet sand, add in the egg white and vanilla extract. Stir in with a spatula and wooden spoon. The dough should start to come together in a ball.
- Cut a large piece of plastic wrap and lay it out on your counter. Turn out the coconut flour shortbread cookie dough onto the plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough and start to roll it into a log of about 2-inch diameter.
- Cover the log with the plastic wrap and fold over the ends. Freeze the dough log for about 30 minutes to harden. Alternatively refrigerate it overnight (up to 3 days).
- When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 350° F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the chilled dough log on a cutting board and remove the plastic wrap. Slice the log into 16 cookies (about ¼-inch thick) and place them on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake the shortbread cookies for 8-11 minutes. They should be set but still soft (don't let them darken too much).
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes to set and cool. (They will be a little fragile straight from the oven, so don't rush this step.) After that transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool fully.
- In the meantime melt the chocolate chips (in the microwave or in a double boiler). Decorate the cooled cookies with the melted chocolate by either drizzling it over top. Alternatively, dip half the cookies in the melted chocolate and tap to shake off excess.
- Store in a covered container for 3-5 days.
** Butter can be replaced with ghee or solid refined coconut oil in this recipe.
Pin for later
Coconut flour requires a good binder to counter its high absorbency, and egg whites work well for this purpose, creating a soft yet not cakey texture in recipes.
Coconut flour is highly absorbent and requires more liquid than other flours. It can result in dry and crumbly textures if not used with enough moisture, which is why it's important to use appropriate binders like eggs.
You can replace all-purpose flour with coconut flour, but you'll need to make significant adjustments to the recipe due to coconut flour's unique characteristics. It absorbs more liquid, so you typically need more eggs or other moisture sources.
The secret to making good shortbread cookies is using the right fat and binder. In this paleo shortbread cookie recipe, butter or other solid fats, along with egg whites, are essential for achieving a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
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