Baking Gluten-Free Cookies: Expert Tips & Recipes from Chef Lena Kwak

updated May 2, 2019
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If you’re avoiding gluten, the usual Christmas cookie tin is off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on holiday cookies entirely. Lena Kwak started experimenting with gluten-free baking while working as the research and development chef at French Laundry, which led to the development of Cup4Cup, a line of gluten-free baking mixes. We turned to this gluten-free baking pro for a few tips and recipes for great holiday cookies — minus the gluten.

When adapting standard cookie recipes for gluten-free eaters, are there certain types of recipes to look for?

Just look for a good recipe from a reliable source. In the age of the Internet, there are so many recipes floating about and some of them just don’t work. Be sure the recipe is well-written and know that you can count on recipes from trusty culinarians such as Martha Stewart, Ina Garten and David Lebovitz.

If all else fails, read the reviews. The reviews can reveal whether or not there is an issue with the recipe before you even begin baking.

What is your advice for baking gluten-free cookies?

Many of the same basic baking rules apply when baking gluten-free cookies. For the most accurate baking, I suggest baking by weight. And don’t alter the ratio of wet to dry ingredients when using gluten-free ingredients in place of wheat flour.

A couple more small tips: only mix cookie dough until just combined; don’t over mix. Be sure to refrigerate your cookie dough before baking. The colder the dough, the less spreading will happen in the oven, making for softer, thicker cookies. And finally, don’t over-bake your cookies!

What are a few of your favorite gluten-free cookie recipes to bake for the holidays?

  • Holiday Sugar Cookies: These are a holiday classic. Easy, fun to decorate and great to share with your family and friends.
  • Everything But the…Slice-and-Bake Cookies: One of my all-time favorites! It’s a versatile brown sugar cookie dough base with macadamia nuts, white chocolate, cherries, and pistachios to make a more festive cookie. You can use any mix-ins that you have on hand. Plus, the slice-and-bake aspect makes them so easy to bake.
  • Chocolate Crinkle Cookies: A great holiday cookie recipe. This recipe utilizes gluten-free chocolate brownie mix as the base. Literally, all you have to add is baking powder, eggs and butter, then roll balls of the dough in powdered sugar and bake.

Thank you, Chef Lena!