How to Make the Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Looking for The Perfect Cookie?
For years, I looked for a gluten-free cookie that fit my definition of perfect: chewy, tender, easy to make, and exactly the right ratio of chocolate chips to cookie dough. After many failed experiments, my hard work resulted in the perfect recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, which I can now share with you!
I got lucky when I decided to stop eating gluten and found a spectacular cookbook, “You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free,” that allowed me to sate most of my cravings and inspired my love of baking. This book has loads of single-flour recipes, making it perfect for someone new to gluten-free baking to get their start.
The very first recipe I tried was the rice-flour recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Despite the fact that my group of friends gobbled them down in a matter of hours, I was slightly disappointed. They were fluffy and flavorful and they didn’t crumble like your stereotypical gluten-free cookie does, but I was craving a tender chewy cookie.
I spent years searching for a recipe or a store-bought version that matched my expectations, but all gluten-free cookies I could find were crispy, crumbly, or fluffy. I never found the perfect one.
Writing My Own Cookie Recipe
I decided to invent a cookie that catered perfectly to my own tastes. In addition to a tender texture, I was looking for just the right amount of chocolate chips, a dough that was easy to handle, and ingredients that weren’t prohibitively expensive: A tall order, to be sure!
I made many attempts with different liquid and flour ratios, different baking times, flattening to the cookies to different thicknesses. But I continued to turn out dome shaped cake-like cookies.
One day I stumbled on an NPR article about the science of baking cookies. I taught myself how to bake and never baked much using gluten, so many of the ideas were new to me. In it, I discovered that melting the butter ahead of time causes the cookie to spread out more upon baking, giving you a more tender cookie.
Then a stroke of brilliance hit me! I had a brownie recipe that used melted butter, and it resulted in the most lovely chewy brownies-- exactly the texture I wanted to replicate in my cookies!
I started with melted butter, added the proportions of sugar, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum (the binding ingredient that substitutes for gluten) that were standard in cookies, and then I slowly added a mix of my three favorite gluten-free flours until the dough came together cohesively. It was firm enough to roll in my hand but light enough that it wouldn’t turn into cardboard.
After attempting a few baking times, I did it! I made the perfect cookie! I’ve since baked this recipe dozens of times and I never get tired of these lovely treats.
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, dark or golden
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch
- 2/3 cup white rice flour
- 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut your butter into small squares before melting it, then set aside.
- Place all your dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and egg and mix thoroughly. Make sure to start mixing quickly, or if you have a stand mixture, begin mixing as soon as you start to pour the wet ingredients in. If you let the mixture sit with the liquid in it, the cornstarch and egg will turn into cement and lumps will be impossible to break up!
- Mix until an even dough forms. If dough is a little crumbly, like the picture below, add a teaspoon or two of milk or water until the dough comes together easily and the sides of the bowl are clean.
- Add chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed. You may need to mix the dough by hand a bit.
- Take spoonfuls of the dough and roll them into 1.5 inch balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and press them to be about 1 centimeter thick. Leave an inch in between each cookie so they have room to spread.
- Bake cookies on the middle oven wrack for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look slightly underdone, because they won’t be turning golden brown on the top yet, and that’s how you want them to look! If you poke the edge of a cookie with the side of your oven mitt, they should hold their shape.
- Cool for 15-20 minutes before eating. These cookies are tasty piping hot, but their texture is best when the cookie is completely cooled.
If you roll the dough into 1 inch balls, but press them out to the same thickness, you’ll get a higher number of small cookies with the same baking time.
Variations on the Perfect Cookie Recipe
Possibly one of my favorite things about this recipe is that you can easily change it to be any flavor of cookie you want and it works just as well! Here are the best variations I’ve worked out so far:
Snickerdoodles: Leave out the chocolate chips, replace ½ C brown sugar with white sugar, decrease baking soda to ½ tsp, add 1 tsp cream of tartar (for that biting taste), and add 1 tsp cinnamon. Roll the balls of dough in a mixture of 2 tbsp white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon before pressing flat, and sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar over the tops.
Peanut butter: Add ½ C peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, both are great), and increase salt to ½ tsp. Chocolate chips are optional. Flatten balls of dough with a fork in a criss-cross pattern for classic peanut butter cookie look. Make sure these cookies are nice and thick when flattened for a tender cookie, or flatten them more for a more crunchy version.
Double chocolate chip: Reduce the white rice flour to ½ C+ 2 tbsp, reduce corn starch from to ¼ C, and add ¼ C special dark cocoa powder (or normal cocoa powder, but special dark is just so much richer!). Keep the chocolate chips and/or add ¼ C of white chocolate chips.
Use good quality white chocolate chips for a lovely ooey-gooey cookie. Cheap ones by Nestle or store-brand won’t melt properly. Ghiradelli has lovely quality chips but their bags of white chocolate are manufactured in a facility with wheat, making them unsuitable for those with Celiac’s disease. I settled on white chocolate chips by Sunspire as the best ones safe for me to eat.
Mint double chocolate chip: As with the double chocolate, reduce the white rice flour to ½ C+ 2 tbsp, reduce corn starch ¼ C, add ¼ C special dark cocoa powder, add a ½ tsp of peppermint extract and add ⅓ C mint chocolate chips. Ghiradelli makes some really creamy tasty ones. This dough may need an extra teaspoon of milk to hold it together.
Ginger molasses: Add ¼ C molasses, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 2 tsp orange zest, and 1 tbsp white rice flour. When grating the orange zest, make sure you use a real zester or microplane, otherwise, the zest will be very bitter. Roll the balls of dough in white sugar before flattening and sprinkle remaining sugar over the tops of the cookies.
Egg-free: Replace egg with ¼ C of applesauce. You may need to adjust the texture by adding a bit of extra white rice flour or milk to get the dough right. The dough will seem very greasy, because the applesauce and butter will try to separate, and the cookies come out of the oven a little wrinkled, but they are still delicious.
Which Cookie Is the Best Cookie?
What's your favorite kind of cookie?
More Kinds of Cookies?
I still haven’t nailed the recipe for oatmeal walnut or plain sugar cookies that you can cut into shapes. What kind of cookie should I work on next? Let me know in the comments below!
© 2017 Kella Hanna-Wayne