Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How to make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - A Step by Step Guide

Okay. I will admit it. When it comes to baking, I am a perfectionist. Especially when it comes to baking something that I think I am especially good at. In today's case: Michael's favorite chocolate chip cookies. This is one of my favorite recipes and one that I am very proud of. I used to make these cookies with wheat flour. When I started the gluten free diet this is one of the first recipes I converted. We love these cookies and it's one recipe I can always count on to turn out well.

I've had many, many compliments on these cookies. I think Gluten Free Steve declared me a friend for life when he made these cookies, and he never fails to make me blush by reminding me how much he enjoys them! I've had many readers of the blog to let me know how much they enjoy them... but for all the people who love them, there are many who said they didn't work.

The biggest complaint is that the cookies spread too much when baking. Another complaint was that they were too salty. Up until this experiment I've never had a problem with these cookies.

Today I will share a tutorial with you on how I make perfect gluten free chocolate chip cookies.

I ended up making 2 batches of cookies because I thought I overcooked the first batch -- they spread! Make sure to keep your eyes open at the end of the post for what happened between the first batch and the second batch of cookies, to see WHY they spread!

A revised gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe will be included at the end of this post!

One thing to remember is that: all baking is a scientific experiment! Baking is a science and the ingredients have to be measured properly and used properly for the recipe to work. It is also important to follow recipe directions exactly the FIRST time you are making something. That way you have a standard to compare too when you want to experiment!

How to Make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. USE an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is baking at the correct temperature. This is VERY important! My personal oven underheats by 30 degrees, so I have to adjust for this!

  • Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Then gather together all your ingredients. I completely forgot to take a picture of this, but here's what you will need for the dry ingredients: sorghum flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, xanthan gum, and baking powder. Now we are going to measure out the dry ingredients into our bowl.

  • Add 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder. Make sure to level your measuring spoon. This is very important in baking!

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Again, try to make sure it's close to level. The salt is important in chocolate chip cookies because it makes a perfect balance to the sweet chocolate. If you leave out the salt, you'll know!

  • Now add a level 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

  • Now it's time to measure the flours. With each flour, first OVERFILL your measuring cup.

  • Then, using the straight side of your knife, level off the cup. I pack down the flour as I level off the cup. When you are measuring tapioca flour or any starch, you may have to overfill the cup several times and level off with the knife to make sure you have the correct amount.

  • This is what a correctly measured cup should look like. Very even on the top, level with the lip of the cup. Add your measured flours to the baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Some gluten free bakers like Gluten Free Mommy, actually weigh their measuring cups for accuracy. I've never done this, but if you have trouble with your baking, you may want to look into it!

Before whisking

After whisking

  • Next, we will whisk together all the dry ingredients. This is a very important step because whisking will thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together. I definitely recommend DOING this step, if you don't: you may get a clump of baking powder or xanthan gum in one area of your dough, and you'll definitely notice! Your cookies will also bake more evenly if the dry ingredients have been thoroughly whisked together. Now at this point, you could stop and bag your dry mix. You would have a pre-made mix for a batch of chocolate chip cookies! All you would have to do is add the sugar and wet ingredients later! But, I'm hungry... so let's continue with these cookies! Set aside your whisked dry ingredients.

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer add 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco.

  • Use your paddle attachment for mixing and lock the stand mixer into place.

  • Cream your sugars and butter flavored Crisco on medium speed in the mixer bowl. You will mix these together for about 3-5 minutes. You want the mixture truly creamed. Here is what you DO NOT want:

  • Here, the sugar and cream are just barely mixed together. There are still large clumps of sugar and Crisco. This is what you DO NOT want. Often when I made cookies by hand, I thought this was "creamed." Stand-mixers are a baker's best friend!

  • THIS is what your creamed butter and sugar should look like. Light, fluffy, and really creamy. YOU should not be able to tell where the sugar and Crisco separate.

  • Next, add your egg, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.

  • Again, we want to then mix them in on medium speed, until you no longer can see wet streaks of egg. The mix should be fully incorporated like this on the paddle attachment:

  • Perfect! That's what you want! The dough should be clinging to the paddle and you should just barely see the sugar granules! Let's continue!

  • Now we are going to add in the dry ingredients to the dough, 1/4 cup at a time.

  • Mix in each addition of dry ingredients completely on medium slow speed. Your finished batter should look similar to this:

  • Use a rubber spatula occasionally to scrape the dough down from the sides to the bottom of the mixing bowl, to make sure it's combined evenly. Once your dough is mixed, it's time for the good part!

  • Ahh... the chocolate chips! These chips are from my assorted chocolate chip bag. The bag that gets all the leftover chocolate chips from random bags. So we have a nice assortment here! Use whatever chips you like best! Enjoy Life sells allergen free chocolate chips.

  • Fold in the chocolate chips by hand, using the rubber spatula. Now it's time to get the lined cookie sheet. Let's make some drop cookies!

  • Using a small spoon get around 1 tablespoon of dough. This does NOT have to be a perfect measurement. If you want bigger cookies use a larger amount of dough, but be aware they will take longer to cook!

  • Drop the dough about 2 inches apart on the silpat mat. This was a large pan so had 5 rows of 3 cookies each. Place into the oven for baking. DO not overcrowd your oven. If you do, the cookies may not bake evenly.

  • Keep an eye on the cookies. YOU DO NOT want them to overbake!! I baked these for exactly 8 minutes.

  • Remove the cookies from the oven, THEY WILL NOT look completely done. That's okay! These are perfect! Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before moving them to the cooling rack. If you do not let them cool, they may fall apart!! The cookies will look puffy and underdone when they come out of the oven! That's good! As they cool they will slightly deflate and harden into their shapes.

  • See the difference, now that the cookies are cool? If your husband or kids haven't eaten all the cookies yet; let them rest on the wire rack until they are COMPLETELY cool. I normally leave them on the rack for at least an hour before moving them!

  • The underside of the cookie should look like this! There will be lovely little air pockets, evenly spaced. The edges will be very slightly brown and crisp!

  • The inside of the cookies are chewy and the chocolate should still be hot and "melty." Mmmmm... Michael says thank you to everyone who had problems with these cookies... he hopes the home experiments will continue! The cookies are now done and you can move them into an airtight container for storage! I have no idea how long they will last since they don't last 2 days at our house.

NOW.... this is the fun part of what I discovered last night!

In my first batch of cookies, I didn't follow this recipe exactly. I was ONE tablespoon short of butter-flavored Crisco, so I added ONE tablespoon of Spectrum non-hydrogenated organic shortening in place. Here is what happened to the finished cookies:

Look familiar anyone?? These cookies spread and they darkened very quickly! Now, these were STILL very good cookies... but that ONE tablespoon of non-hydrogenated shortening caused this to happen to the whole batch! I imagine if you used a gluten free margarine, butter, or non-hydrogenated shortening for the WHOLE half cup called for, the cookies would spread over the whole pan and you'd have one big cookie! Notice a side-by-side difference here:

These cookies (Darker cookie is Batch #1, Lighter cookie is batch #2) were both cooked for exactly 8 minutes on the same pan at the same time. The difference is remarkable!

The only additional difference in the lighter cookie of batch # 2 is that I just used 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and skipped the baking soda called for in the original recipe. This batch of cookies used a whole half cup of butter flavored Crisco. Michael preferred this lighter, chewier batch.

Here is my slightly revised recipe of Michael's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ginger Lemon Girl's BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Before or After going Gluten-Free!)

1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco (NO SUBSTITUTES!!)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. xanthan gum

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

6 oz. GF chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl: cream crisco with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together flours, salt, xanthan gum (opt.), baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add flour mixture to crisco and sugar mixture. Last, mix in chocolate chips. Drop dough by tablespoons, 2 inches apart on an parchment paper -or-silpat mat lined cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes or JUST UNTIL edges are light brown.

(The cookies WILL NOT look completely cooked when you pull them out of the oven! That's what you want! That's part of the secret to these awesome cookies! DO NOT overbake them!)

Let cookies cool on a wire baking rack or the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. This will allow cookies to retain their shape for eating!

This recipe doubles easily!

For a printer-friendly version, click here.

** I hope this post helps people make these gluten free cookies better!! I learned a lot from this experiment and this is really what I love about gluten free baking! You only learn when you make mistakes! Embrace them and move on!
Happy gluten free chocolate chip cookie making!!**

Pin It!


  1. Wow, super helpful (and the cookie comparison at the end really points out how important it is to follow a recipe closely)! Kudos :D

  2. Shannon - Thank you!! I am still flabbergasted how that ONE tbsp. of non-hydrogenated shortening changed the chemistry of the cookies like that when baking. I should have studied chemistry... I just hated math!!

  3. Alas Carrie buttered flavored Crisco is a no no in our house because of the casein. Have you ever tried Earthbalance buttery Sticks? For us gfcf'ers, that's probably the best we've got.

  4. Hi Thomas!
    I looked on the Crisco website and found the ingredient listing for the butter flavored sticks. I didn't see anything stating that it had casein in it. I'm going to see if I can contact the company and verify it.

  5. Very interesting, Carrie! Who would've thought one T would make such a difference??

  6. Carrie,

    I did call Crisco, and I was wrong...there is no casein in the butter flavored shrotening. So I guess now I can look forward to following your recipe to the letter!

  7. Thomas Dzomba called the Crisco company for us and they verified that the Crisco Butter flavored sticks are indeed GF CF!!! Thanks so much for double checking this Thomas! It never hurts to double check ingredients!!

  8. We can't use the anything Crisco. We are on the Feingold diet. Crisco has chemical preservatives (tbhq), artificial colors and artificial flavors. This is like poison to my kids. We can use real butter or earth Balance spread. The sticks are not on my food list. I will try making these F.G. friendly. Thanks for the great pictorial. My little girls are learning so much from you.

  9. Hi Sarah W. - Thanks for commenting! I realize these cookies will not meet every special diet's needs, and that they are NOT healthy! They are just fun cookies for special occasions! (which is why my hubbie was so happy to come home to them yesterday! He hadn't had any since NOVEMBER!) ;-) As a matter of fact I RARELY make these cookies because they have Crisco in them, which I SELDOM ever use. So I completely understand! I hope you find a good Feingold alternative for your kids!

  10. so- we can't have milk (casein) either.. so maybe we are out of luck because i use the spectrum. i wonder...if i use mostly regular crisco (which has no milk) what might i use to get a butter flavor. I do like the flat cookies though LOL. My DH misses his tollhouse ones that i had perfected- before having to go GF for me and DS

  11. prince andrew and queen mum -- YOU CAN have the butter-flavored Crisco! It is casein free! Thomas called Crisco and they said it was definitely casein free!! Go for it!

  12. Cool!!!! will try it. i'll blog the results;)

  13. Every baker/homecook should have a good chocolate-chip recipe in their kitchen repertoire! Nice to see they cross all diets. They look great!

  14. Thanks for posting this. My husband pretty much banned me from making cookies because they ALWAYS turn out melted all over the pan. (as a side note I usually just scrape them off and put them with ice cream but this is a much better way of making a real cookie)

  15. Carrie,
    Your cookies look great. Thanks for the step-by-step. I'm definitely going to try them. I've never worked with sorghum flour before.

  16. Great job Carrie! I have tried your cookies, but I used butter. They were still fabulous!

  17. Great tutorial, Carrie! Love it! Yes, the flat, dark cookie did look familiar...however, at least yours still looks like a cookie. LOL I will definitely try this again, I can't believe 1 Tbsp made that much difference, wow!
    Thanks for doing this! :)

  18. Great post Carrie! Only problem? Now I am dying for a chocolate chip cookie!

  19. Oh yeah, you are a friend for life. These cookies are the bomb, baby! And raw dough...even better! In all seriousness, thanks for posting this post and your recipe. Have a great holiday weekend.

  20. Oh yeah, you are a friend for life. These cookies are the bomb, baby! And raw dough...even better! In all seriousness, thanks for posting this post and your recipe. Have a great holiday weekend.

  21. GREAT photos! Really terrific job with this post. It almost made me want chocolate chip cookies (gluten free or otherwise) and I'm not a chocolate chip cookie kind of woman.

  22. Is the butter flavoring that comes in a little bottle like vanilla gluten free? I have a bottle, but no ingredients are listed on the tiny label. Must have been on the box.

    I used this in a poppy seed cake recipe (sorry, it's from my gluten eating days.) It added great buttery flavor.

  23. Oh, these look so good right now! I still have not tried to bake any gf stuff since the horrible chocchip cookies I ended up with last time. I see you have a pizza crust with no egg posted too! Wow, I am glad I stopped by today.

  24. These are wonderful cookies. Beautiful job on them too.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  25. Oh I am definitely trying these! Thanks for sharing!!

    PS - Do you mind if I "borrow" your printer-friendly idea? I really like it.

  26. Thanks for the whisking suggestion- I have never thought to do that. :)


  27. I, too, called Crisco. They were extremely helpful. They said that the only product they have that contains ANY of the "big eight" allergens is the baking spray that has flour. This includes the "natural flavors" found in Butter Crisco. Additionally, if you have an additional allergy concern, they will research to make certain, then call you back. In short, the cust svc rep I spoke with said that Butter Crisco ***IS*** GFCF.

  28. Carrie,
    I'm considering giving these a go. If I make and freeze, how does that change the cooking time? We're having 30 guests or so and if I don't premake a lot of the stuff, I will have a meltdown for sure.

  29. My daughter & I made these cookies tonight and we are excited to find a recipe that tastes good and is wheat-free and casein-free... YAY! However, I wanted to point out one thing. Your recipe above calls for 1 1/4 tsp. of baking powder, but in the directions is says to add the "baking powder and baking soda". That confused us a bit. Is there supposed to be soda in this recipe too? or is that a different version?

  30. Nadine! You made them correctly! You can make the cookies with or without the baking soda! IN this particular recipe I left out the baking soda and just added a touch more baking powder! So you were doing it exactly right! I'm sorry the instructions were confusing!! I'll see if I can correct that! I'm so glad you enjoyed the cookies!!

  31. Hi there,
    this recipe looks really yummy but I can't do sorghum flour is there a substitute for it?

  32. Ellie -- you can use millet flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, you name it in place of the sorghum! no problem!! ;-)

  33. Fantastic! I've been cooking/baking gluten free for almost a year and a half, and couldn't quite figure out why some cookies spread! Thank you for your awesome info!

  34. Crisco products are most definite NOT free of the top eight allergens. One of the top allergens is soy, and all Crisco products are made from soybean oil. That does make me question the accuracy of the answers Crisco is giving about their products.

    Since we are soy free, I'll have to experiment with coconut oil, Spectrum and Earth Balance.

    Thanks for all your hard work, Carrie. I'm new to this world of special diets, and I'm thrilled to find kid-friendly recipes.