There’s just something special about shortbread. I’ve always had a soft spot for its buttery goodness, mild sweetness, and subtle crunch.
Similarly, my dad always loved the store-bought Pecan Sandies, and I did, too. They weren’t overly sweet and certainly didn’t hold the chocolatey appeal of a Fudge Stripe or an Oreo, but their plainness was (is!) oddly satisfying.
This version of the traditional shortbread cookie tastes great with minimal sugar and far less butter than the classic version. Almond flour replaces the customary all-purpose flour to create an option that not only tastes great but packs a protein punch. What’s more, these little gems are gluten-free and super quick to mix up. The sheer ease of this recipe makes it perfect for those who are new to gluten/grain-free baking or those who simply want a quick dessert that won’t break the nutritional bank.
Yields 16 cookies.
- 1 cup (112 grams) blanched almond flour (not the heartier meal with dark pieces of skin in it)
- 3 tablespoons softened butter (very soft but not melted)
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium-size bowl, mix all of the ingredients until a cohesive dough forms. I find this easiest to do with a dinner fork.
Separate the dough into fourths and then into fourths again. You will have 16 pieces. My son usually eats one at this point. : ) Roll into balls (they will be about 1” in diameter) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Leave a little space between the cookies for the next step, although they will not spread too much during baking.
Use a fork to flatten each cookie to about 1/4″ thick, making a crosshatch design.
Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until they have a hint of golden brown color on top. (Check a minute early and watch carefully until you know how long they take in your oven. Like whole nuts, nut flours tend to brown quickly at the end.)
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving or, once completely cool, place in an airtight container for storing.
- *Variations and tips from bakers of the original recipe:*
- You can bake these cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet instead of the parchment-lined sheet. Just be sure to transfer the cookies to a rack about 2 to 3 minutes after they come out of the oven; they’ll still be warm and fairly fragile, but if left to cool on the ungreased pan too long, they’ll stick.
- *For thumbprint cookies:* Instead of creating a crosshatch design with a fork, use your thumb to press an indentation into the center of each ball of dough. Fill the hole with about 1/4 teaspoon jam. Note: too much jam will boil out during baking.
- *For Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies:* Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, and 1/3 cup diced pecans to the dough. Shape the dough into a log, chill, slice, and bake; or bake as directed above.
- *For Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread Cookies:* Substitute 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder for 2 tablespoons of the almond flour; and add 1/8 teaspoon of espresso powder. Stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios. Shape the dough into a log, chill, slice, and bake for 12 minutes, give or take a minute or two; or bake as directed above.
- *For Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies:* Add 1/2 teaspoon orange zest and 1/4 cup dried cranberries to the dough. Shape the dough into a log, chill, slice, and bake for 12 minutes, give or take a minute or two; or bake as directed at right.
These easy almond flour cookies are absolutely superb! a gourmet 5 star recipe right down to the icing sugar and kosher salt. bravo! great taste, great recipe, I love it and it is my go to cookie. exceptionally easy to make, and one or two tiny cookies satisfy even my most ravenous cravings for sweet. The almond flour is so buttery. wonderful work! thank you so much
Hi Sheila, I’m delighted these cookies are a hit and truly appreciate your thoughtful comment. And don’t you love it when one or two of something small actually satisfies a craving? I have a serious sweet tooth, so I can relate!
Love all the variations! Will have to try. Looks like what I am looking for!
How do you make the indentions on the cookie? Doesn’t look like fork marks. Much prettier.
Hi Misty, Thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoy them…and I did use a fork for the marks!
I baked a batch of these yesterday and enjoyed them very much with a cup of tea. They are delicious and I like that the added sugar is low. Will be my new afternoon snack. Thank you.
I like a little something sweet as an afternoon snack, too. Thank you for the lovely feedback and so happy the recipe is a keeper!
Hi Ann, I made a lot of these last year when my hubby was told to give up wheat. I think I liked them more than anyone else in the family. I have not made any cookies this year but I think I may make a couple of batches tonight! They are so good and so easy!
Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas !
Thanks so much for checking in, Mary Lou! Enjoy the cookies and Merry Christmas to you, too!
Thank you for the pie crust and shortbread recipes – I am just going to try them. and it is also really helpful to have the flour in Grams as our daughter lives in BC and I can never quite sort out the ‘Cup ‘ regime when we are there, so sometimes have baking disasters. Haha
So happy you this will be helpful, Heather. I like to use weight measurements for the ease and accuracy. Hopefully, the recipes will be a hit wherever you end up baking them!
I tried this recipe today, exactly as it’s written, and the cookies are wonderful! My husband says this is the best shortbread he’s had. I used super-fine natural almond flour from Bob’s Red Mill because that’s what I had in the house. It’s got tiny dark specks because it’s ground from whole almonds, but I don’t think it affected the outcome other than visually. I’ll be back to check out other recipes. These cookies fit what I was looking for perfectly – gluten-free and low on sugar. Thanks!
You are very welcome, Anne, and thank YOU for the thoughtful comment. I’m delighted these were a success!
Hello! I stumbled upon this recipe and can’t wait to try it. I don’t eat white sugar so I was wondering if I could sub the powdered sugar for coconut sugar or pure maple syrup? Thank you!
I haven’t tried, Hima, so I don’t want to say for sure. If you do try I’d love to know how you make out!
Good morning Ann! I remembered this recipe and had to look it up. I bought some vegan butter to use in baking and have not tried it yet. Do you think coconut oil would work as well as butter substitute? I might make a couple of batches of this to take for family on Christmas day.
Hi Mary Lou! I haven’t tried this recipe with coconut oil, but I think the hint of coconut combined with the almond flour could be divine. Let me know if you try!
Will do Ann! Might have to make some this weekend and try some of the variations listed at the end.
I made these with coconut oil (same amount as butter in this recipe) and it turned out really fragile. After a bit of research I learned that a touch of liquid is needed. I reduced the sugar to 2T and added 1T maple syrup…still using the 3T coconut oil in place of butter. Success!
Thanks for mentioning your adaption using coconut oil, Steph. It makes a great dairy-free option!
I tried it and they came out real well I didn’t have any butter. I have to try it with butter. It must be awesome.
Great news, Tanu!
I doubled this recipe, using 1 cup almond flour and 1 cup tapioca flour. I ended up using 2 more tblsp butter, too. The cookies expanded more than expected and I had to nearly double the baking time. They were delicious!
Thanks for mentioning your variation using tapioca flour. I’m so glad they were a success!
They turned out good. I think I rolled them too big because I made a double recipe & got only 20 cookies! Took twice as long to bake too!
These are smaller cookies, so it’s easy to roll them bigger, especially if that’s what you normally do. Whatever the size, I’m glad you enjoyed them and appreciate your comment!
These cookies are the best! I made them for a friend who found out she is diabetic, and allergic to dairy and eggs. I substituted butter flavored crisco but still used the powdered sugar and the almond flavoring. I think she will be delighted with them! I also tried substituting stevia for the powdered sugar and added 1/4 c cream of tartar and it worked great for the lemon and peppermint flavored ones for her for Christmas! Thank you for these!!
I’m thrilled you love them, Tere, and I’m sure your friend will be so happy with the thoughtful gift. Thanks for taking a moment to share the feedback!
Hi! I just made these cookies last night and my husband and I love them!! He had one last night and this morning he asked if he could have another. You see, we are trying to eat healthier these days and try to stay away from sugar and other things we deem unhealthy. I told my husband he can have one a day. He said, “Oh, I get it! Just like a vitamin! Hahaha! Thank you for this delicious recipe.
I love your method of doling them out and your husband’s comparison to a vitamin. So happy they’re a hit, Kathy!
Good morning Ann! I made these last night and I added a half teaspoon of culinary lavendar. They are so good and smell absolutely heavenly! I love how easy this recipe is too.
I had to hide them from myself and my husband. 🙂
Hope you have a wonderful day!
What a lovely addition, Mary Lou! I just returned from teaching a cooking seminar and your message was the first to greet me. It’s always nice to “see” you!
Hello Ann.. I just made a batch of these. Oh my…. I could eat the whole batch! ! I will have to hide them from myself. 🙂 super easy. Next time I will use Kerry Gold grass fed butter, even more nutritious. 😉
You’re too funny…love it when you have to hide from yourself! xo
Thanks Ann! Making this weekend! only time I have the time.. Christmas is next week.. YIKES!!
I know! Where is the time going? I just made a double batch of one of your favorites yesterday–salted hot fudge sauce. Still have a couple more batches to go. : )
I actually have fine ground almond meal (there are no brown pieces of skin in it). Will that work?
It should work just fine!
Oh Ann, these look so yummy!! I love this idea and I know I have almond flour (or I think I do). I am going to try these for sure.
Can’t wait to hear what you think, Mary Lou. They’re simple but tasty little bites!