Does gluten free flour make cookies taste different?

Gluten free baking has become increasingly popular in recent years, both for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and for those simply looking to cut back on gluten in their diets. When it comes to baking cookies, one of the most commonly asked questions is: does using gluten free flour make cookies taste different?

The Role of Gluten in Baking

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It provides structure and elasticity to baked goods, allowing dough to stretch and hold its shape. Gluten helps baked goods like cookies chewier with a satisfying texture.

Regular all-purpose flour contains gluten, while gluten free flours are made from ingredients like rice, tapioca, potato starch, almond flour, and coconut flour. These flours lack the gluten protein, so gluten free dough tends to be crumbly and fall apart more easily.

How Gluten Free Flour Changes Cookie Texture

When you swap regular all-purpose flour for gluten free flour in a cookie recipe, the lack of gluten definitely impacts the texture:

  • Gluten free cookies tend to spread more while baking, resulting in a flatter shape vs taller, puffier cookies.
  • They often have a finer, crumbly, sandier texture compared to the chewy texture of gluten cookies.
  • Without gluten’s binding abilities, gluten free cookies are more delicate and prone to breaking apart easily.

That said, there are ways to adapt recipes and techniques to produce gluten free cookies with a pleasant, workable texture:

  • Use ingredient binds like xanthan gum or flax eggs
  • Chill gluten free cookie dough before baking
  • Scoop mounds for a defined shape
  • Bake at a lower temperature for minimal spreading

How Gluten Free Flour Impacts Cookie Flavor

In addition to texture, switching to gluten free flour can also alter the flavor of cookies:

  • Gluten free flours have distinctive natural flavors from their source ingredients that come through in baking. For example, rice flour adds a hint of rice flavor, while coconut flour has a touch of coconut sweetness.
  • Without the wheaty, malty taste of regular flour, gluten free cookies may taste slightly less rich.
  • Any bean, nut, or vegetable flours used can add nuttiness, graininess, or earthiness.
  • The chemicals and starch composition in gluten free flours impact browning, so cookies may bake up paler in color.

Flavor changes from gluten free flours can be mitigated by:

  • Masking gluten free flour flavors with mix-ins like chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit.
  • Boosting richness with higher fat content like brown butter or cream cheese.
  • Adding extracts like vanilla or almond for enhanced flavor.
  • Using dairy powders like dry milk for a caramelized, cookie-like taste.

Best Practices for Gluten Free Cookie Success

Here are some top tips for making great tasting gluten free cookies with an appealing texture:

  • Use a blend of flours – A mix of 2-3 gluten free flours helps mimic the complexity of wheat flour. Try blending rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and almond flour.
  • Don’t swap one-to-one – Cookie recipes need to be adjusted to account for differences in moisture absorption, density, and protein content of gluten free flours.
  • Add binding agents – Ground flaxseed, xanthan gum, guar gum, and psyllium husk act as binders to improve the structure.
  • Increase fats for moisture – The lack of gluten leads to dry cookies, so use an extra egg or higher proportion of butter.
  • Scoop dough balls rather than rolling out – Scooping helps keep the shape intact.
  • Chill the dough before baking – This helps minimize spreading from lack of structure.

Recipe For Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe for gluten free chocolate chip cookies uses a blend of almond flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and psyllium husk powder to create a cookie with the classic taste and chewy texture.


  • 1 1/4 cups (150g) almond flour
  • 1/2 cup (64g) tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp (16g) potato starch
  • 2 tsp (8g) psyllium husk powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup (67g) coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (130g) chocolate chips


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, psyllium husk powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Cover the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 days in the fridge).
  7. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Scoop the dough into balls, about 1.5 tbsp of dough each, and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through bake time. The cookies will still look very soft in the centers.
  10. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
Nutrition per Cookie
Calories: 121kcal
Carbohydrates: 11g
Protein: 3g
Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Sodium: 73mg
Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 6g

Takeaways on Gluten Free Flour in Cookies

So in summary, here’s what using gluten free flour does to cookies:

  • Alters texture to be more flat, crumbly, delicate, and sandy vs chewy
  • Impacts flavor with natural tastes of source flours and less richness
  • Requires recipe adjustments like flour blends, added binders and fats, chilling, scooping shapes, and longer bake times

With proper tweaks and ingredient substitutions, it’s definitely possible to make tasty gluten free cookies with a pleasing texture. The key is using a blend of flours, adding binders, increasing moisture, and following gluten free cookie making techniques.

While the taste and texture will likely differ somewhat from traditional gluten containing cookies, gluten free cookies can still be soft and delicious in their own right. You just need the right recipe formulated specifically for gluten free baking success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best gluten free flours for baking cookies?

Some of the most commonly used gluten free flours for cookies include almond flour, coconut flour, cassava flour, rice flour, and tapioca flour. Using a blend of 2-3 gluten free flours helps mimic the properties of wheat flour best.

Do I need xanthan gum for gluten free cookies?

Xanthan gum acts as a binder and adds structure in gluten free baking, making it a very useful ingredient for cookies. 1/2 teaspoon per one cup of gluten free flour blend is a good starting ratio. Guar gum or psyllium husk can also provide binding effects.

Why are my gluten free cookies flat and spreading?

Gluten free cookie dough tends to spread more during baking without the structure from gluten. Chilling the scooped dough balls before baking helps minimize this, as does using less liquid, adding binders, and baking at a lower oven temperature.

How can I make gluten free cookies less crumbly?

To help hold gluten free cookies together, use extra egg for moisture, allow a rest time after scooping to let flours hydrate, and incorporate binding agents like xanthan gum or flaxseeds. Letting cookies cool completely before handling also prevents crumbling.

Do gluten free cookies taste as good?

Well-made gluten free cookies using cookie-specific flour blends, adequate moisture, and flavors like chocolate or fruit can taste just as delicious. However, the texture is more delicate and the flavor may differ somewhat from wheat flour cookies due to the alternative flours used.


Gluten free cookies made with alternative flours like almond, coconut, cassava, and rice flours can certainly taste delicious, though they will have a different texture and flavor profile compared to regular gluten containing cookies. The lack of gluten protein impacts the structure, resulting in a more crumbly, delicate, and flatter shaped cookie. Gluten free flour also contributes natural flavors from the source ingredients that affect taste.

However, by using a strategic blend of flours, adding binding agents, increasing moisture, chilling dough, and following other gluten free baking tips, it’s possible to produce tasty gluten free chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies, and more. While they may not mimic the exact bite of conventional wheat flour cookies, they can still satisfy any cookie lover.

The most important things are using recipes specifically formulated for gluten free baking, avoiding an all-purpose flour one-to-one swap, and adjusting techniques as needed. With the right adjustments and the proper proportions of ingredients, gluten free cookies can be just as enjoyable, even if they offer their own unique take on the classic treat.

Leave a Comment