How do you make gluten-free cookies moist?

What is gluten and why is it removed from some recipes?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it keep its shape and have a chewy texture. Some people need to avoid gluten due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. When baking gluten-free, it can be tricky to get the right texture – gluten-free baked goods often turn out dry and crumbly. That’s why learning how to make moist, chewy gluten-free cookies is so important for anyone following a gluten-free diet.

How does removing gluten affect cookie texture?

Gluten helps form the protein structures that give baked goods chewiness and structure. Without gluten, gluten-free cookie dough won’t hold together as well and will spread more on the baking sheet. Gluten-free cookies are also more likely to crumble apart easily.

Gluten helps trap air bubbles produced by leaveners like baking powder or baking soda. This airiness gives regular cookies a soft, moist texture. Gluten-free cookies won’t hold onto these air pockets as well, resulting in a denser, drier cookie.

Finally, gluten encourages moisture retention in baked goods. Without it, moisture easily escapes from gluten-free cookie dough, resulting in a dry, brittle cookie.

How can you add moisture to gluten-free cookies?

When baking gluten-free cookies, there are several tricks you can use to add moisture:

Use liquid fats like oil or melted butter

Replacing some or all of the solid fats (like cold butter) with liquid fats prevents gluten-free dough from drying out. Oil adds moisture directly into the batter. Melted butter retains more moisture compared to creaming cold butter into the dough. For chewier cookies, use melted butter. For a more cake-like texture, use oil.

Increase the eggs

Eggs act as a binding and leavening agent in gluten-free cookie recipes. They help hold the dough together and add airiness. Adding an extra egg adds moisture and richness to gluten-free cookie dough.

Add liquid mix-ins

Mix-ins like pureed fruits, jams, chocolate liqueur, or nut butters introduce extra moisture into gluten-free cookies. Opt for smooth, liquid mix-ins rather than chunky add-ins. Pureed berries or applesauce are great options.

Use moist gluten-free flours

Some gluten-free flours naturally hold onto moisture better than others. Flours made from oats, quinoa, buckwheat, coconut, and almond tend to create moist baked goods. Using a blend of flours creates a cookie with a better texture than a single flour alone.

Add a few tablespoons of milk

A small amount of dairy or non-dairy milk (like almond or coconut milk) blends into the dough, adding moisture without altering the flavor. For dairy-free cookies, stick to unsweetened milk to prevent changing the sugar ratios.

Reduce baking soda or baking powder

Too much leavener can leave gluten-free cookies with a dry, bitter taste. Use about 1/2 teaspoon less baking soda or baking powder than the recipe calls for. This prevents the cookies from spreading too much or drying out.

Let the cookie dough rest

After mixing up gluten-free cookie dough, cover it and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. This allows the ingredients to fully hydrate, preventing dryness. It also discourages the dough from spreading too much.

Bake at a lower temperature

Baking gluten-free cookies at a slightly lower oven temperature (like 300°F instead of 350°F) slows down the baking process. This allows more moisture to remain in the cookies instead of baking out. Just be sure to increase the bake time as needed.

Take cookies out of the oven when slightly underbaked

It’s better to slightly underbake gluten-free cookies instead of overbaking them. The centers should still look a bit wet when you take them out of the oven. They continue cooking on the hot baking sheet out of the oven.

Avoid overmixing the dough

It’s important not to overmix gluten-free cookie dough. Too much mixing develops the gluten-free flours, causing cookies to toughen and dry out. Mix just until the dough comes together, then stop.

Store cookies in an airtight container

Keeping baked gluten-free cookies in an airtight container helps retain moisture instead of letting it escape into the air. Avoid storing them in paper bags or loosely covered containers.

What ingredients help add moisture to gluten-free cookies?

Certain ingredients can boost the moisture level in gluten-free cookies:


Using all or mostly liquid fats like oil, melted butter, or coconut oil instead of creaming butter provides moisture. The more liquid fat in the recipe, the more moist the cookies will be.


Eggs provide moisture and structure to gluten-free dough. For chewy cookies, use one extra egg than the recipe calls for.

Fruit Purees

Pureed bananas, applesauce, pumpkin, or other fruits add lots of moisture. Replace up to half the fat in a recipe with puree.


Plain yogurt or dairy-free alternatives add tang and moisture. Substitute yogurt for up to half the fat. Greek yogurt is particularly moist and rich.

Non-dairy Milks

Nondairy milks like almond, coconut, or oat milk boost moisture levels. Use unsweetened varieties.


Melted chocolate or chocolate chips provide richness and moisture. Just don’t overbake chocolate chip cookies.

Flax or Chia Eggs

To replace one egg, mix 1 tablespoon ground chia or flax seeds with 3 tablespoons water. The gel provides moisture.


For chewy, soft cookies, molasses introduces moisture and binding power. Replace 25% of the sugar with molasses.


Honey is an easy way to add moisture and flavor to cookies. Replace up to half the sugar.

What tricks help retain moisture in gluten-free cookies?

Beyond just adding moist ingredients, there are several tricks to keep gluten-free cookies from drying out:

Let dough rest before baking

After mixing up the dough, refrigerate it for 30-60 minutes. This allows the flour to fully hydrate and minimizes spreading.

Scoop dough instead of rolling it

Scooping mounds of dough prevents overworking it, which dries out gluten-free flour. Avoid excessive rolling or flattening of the dough.

Grease baking sheets

Greased sheets help prevent sticking and cookie spread, minimizing moisture loss. Parchment paper also prevents sticking.

Bake at a lower temperature

Baking at 300°F instead of 325°F or 350°F slows moisture loss during baking. Just increase bake times by a few minutes.

Don’t overbake cookies

It’s better to slightly underbake gluten-free cookies instead of bake them until fully set. Their centers should still look a little underdone when you remove them from the oven.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheet

Leave cookies on the hot baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a rack. The residual heat finishes baking without drying them out.

Store in an airtight container

Keeping gluten-free cookies in an airtight container prevents moisture from escaping and the cookies drying out.

What are the best gluten-free flours for moist cookies?

Some gluten-free flours retain moisture far better than others. The best flours for moist gluten-free cookies include:

Oat Flour

Ground from whole oats, oat flour has a gentle flavor and tender texture. It creates moist, hearty cookies. Just check the flour is certified gluten-free.

Almond Flour

Almond flour gives great moisture and richness to gluten-free cookies. Combine with tapioca or brown rice flour for structure.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is very moist and absorbent. A little goes a long way. Use about 1/4 the amount of regular flour. It works well blended with almond meal.

Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour lends lots of moisture and a malted, earthy taste. Pair with flours like brown rice or millet flour.

Quinoa Flour

Quinoa flour contains over 8% moisture, giving baked goods a light, tender crumb. Use in combination with sorghum or teff flour.

Brown Rice Flour

Nutty, mild brown rice flour absorbs moisture well when combined with higher protein flours like sorghum or teff flour.

Teff Flour

Teff flour has small gluten-free proteins that create moist baked goods. Combine with moist flours like sorghum or quinoa.

Sorghum Flour

Slightly sweet sorghum flour helps bind moisture when combined with rice, quinoa, teff or oat flours.

What are good gluten-free cookie recipes for beginners?

When you’re just getting started with gluten-free baking, opt for easier cookie recipes that are naturally moist. Some good options include:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Melted butter or oil, brown sugar, eggs, and chocolate chips create chewy, moist cookies. Swap all-purpose flour for a blend of almond and tapioca flour.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Old-fashioned or quick oats lend lots of moisture and fiber. Coconut oil or butter keep these chewy. Use oat flour for extra moisture.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Dense, fudgy peanut butter cookie dough needs minimal gluten-free flour. Load up on peanut butter and eggs for moisture.

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin puree adds incredible moisture, especially paired with almond flour. Add warming spices for flavor.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

Dates, nut butter, coconut, and cocoa create fudgy, decadent cookies without the need for flour.

Meringue Cookies

Whipped egg whites give you light, crisp meringue cookies that are naturally gluten-free. Fold in chocolate chips or coconut.

Energy Bites

Sweetened nut butter, oats, seeds, and dried fruit get rolled into bite-size balls for an easy gluten-free cookie.

What tools help make great gluten-free cookies?

Having the right kitchen tools can make gluten-free cookies a lot easier to pull off. Useful equipment includes:

Stand mixer

A stand mixer with paddle attachment quickly creams together wet and dry ingredients without over-mixing.

Parchment paper

Lining baking sheets with parchment prevents sticking and cookie spread to retain moisture.

Ice cream scoop

Scooping dough instead of rolling it minimizes handling to prevent dryness. Get equal-sized cookies too.

Cooling racks

Letting cookies cool completely on racks prevents soggy bottoms and helps retain moisture in each cookie.

Airtight containers

Storing finished gluten-free cookies in airtight containers or zip-close bags keeps them from drying out.

Oven thermometer

Using an independent thermometer prevents overbaking if your oven runs hot. It helps bake gluten-free cookies properly.

Digital kitchen scale

Weighing flour ensures accurate measurements, especially since gluten-free flour compacts differently than all-purpose flour.

Measuring cups & spoons

Accurately measuring ingredients like sugar, milk, and baking powder prevents dry cookies from improper ratios.

Rolling pin (optional)

If you do want to roll out dough, choose a wooden rolling pin. It sticks less than metal or silicone pins.


Gluten-free cookies don’t have to be dry and crumbly when you bake them right. Add lots of moisture through ingredients like oil, fruit purees, honey, and eggs. Choose naturally moist gluten-free flours like oat, almond, or coconut flour. Allow dough to rest before baking, and underbake cookies slightly. Finally, be sure to let cookies cool completely before storage so they retain all their moisture. Follow these tips, and your gluten-free cookies will stay perfectly soft and chewy.

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