Just a few ingredients are needed for these delicious healthier shortbread cookies. Your taste buds will thank you for this one!
Shortbread is a popular cookie choice around holidays like Christmas and Easter, but these healthier shortbread cookies will have you feeling a whole lot better about indulging!
This was inspired by my other vegan shortbread recipe and these almond flour cookies to bring you a reader request for a healthier version.
While they’re a little different in texture and flavour when compared to classic versions, they’re 100% delicious. This shortbread cookie recipe uses simple ingredients to deliver BIG flavour.
What makes these shortbread cookies healthier?
- No butter! Unlike most shortbread cookies that start with butter, coconut oil, margarine, or another unhealthy fat, these cookies use almond flour. Not only is almond flour high in protein, and naturally gluten-free, but it’s also a FAR healthier fat source.
- Zero refined sugar: No artificial sweeteners are needed here. These healthy shortbread cookies are sweetened using pure maple syrup. (And far less sugar than classic shortbread.)
- Low in saturated fat: While not fat-free, or low in fat, these cookies are VERY low in saturated fat, being free from animal fat.
Ingredients + Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make these healthier shortbread cookies.
- Almond flour: Use superfine unblanched almond flour and not almond meal which contains almond skins. And if possible, use a kitchen scale to weigh the flour for the most accurate, and best results.
- Maple syrup: Use pure and unrefined maple syrup to keep the cookies refined sugar-free. You may try another liquid sweetener such as date syrup if you prefer.
- Vanilla: While optional, the vanilla adds a little extra flavour to the cookies.
- Salt: Also optional, but the pinch of salt will amp up the flavour of these delicious gluten-free shortbread cookies.
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl. (photo 1)
Mix until combined. (photo 2)
Transfer the ball of dough to a sheet of parchment paper over a cutting board. (photo 3)
Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and roll the dough to ⅛ inch thick. (photo 4)
Use a pizza cutter to make a grid shape or use cookie cutters of choice. (photo 5)
Then poke a few holes in each cookie with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. (photo 6)
Bake these healthier shortbread cookies until the edges are lightly golden, but do not overbake! They will feel soft, but let the cookies rest at room temperature to cool and harden.
NOTE: I’m using a lower temperature to prevent burning the edges, so don’t be tempted to increase the heat.
To change up the flavour of these healthier shortbread cookies, try one of these variations.
- Chocolate: Make these chocolate shortbread cookies by adding 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder to the mix.
- Chocolate dipped: Keep the recipe the same and then melt some dark chocolate chips (or other melting chocolate), and once the cookies have cooled, dip them halfway into the chocolate and leave them to set and dry. Or drizzle some melted chocolate on top of each one.
- Peppermint: Use pure peppermint extract instead of vanilla for mint-flavoured shortbread cookies.
- Cranberry: Make these ultra festive by adding ¼ cup of dried or fresh cranberries to the mix.
- Lemon: Add 1 tablespoon of lemon zest to the cookie batter or 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.
- Extra nutty: Add some chopped pecans or walnuts to amp up the nuttiness of these healthier shortbread cookies.
- Amp up the almond flavour by using almond extract instead of vanilla extract.
Or check out these other dairy-free shortbread cookies on the blog.
These almond flour shortbread cookies keep at room temperature for 2-3 days. Keep them in a sealed container to preserve freshness. Or store them in the fridge for 4-5 days.
You may freeze the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Use parchment paper to separate the layers and make sure the cookies have completely cooled to room temperature before placing them in the freezer.
- If the dough feels too sticky/wet, add a little more flour. If you weigh the flour using a kitchen scale, you shouldn’t need to add more.
- If the dough feels too crumbly (it should be slightly crumbly) and not holding together, add another 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup. (Again, if you weigh the flour, this should not happen.)
- Stretch the dough as evenly as possible. If some areas are thinner or thicker, the cookies won’t bake evenly.
- Do not overbake the cookies or they will have an unpleasant taste. Remove from the oven as soon as the edges appear lightly golden, approx. 10 minutes, depending on how thin or thick you rolled your dough.
- The cookies are baked at a lower temperature to prevent burning the edges. Don’t be tempted to increase the heat!
- The cookies will be SOFT when freshly baked, so let them rest at room temperature for AT LEAST 15-20 minutes before handling them. Then, you may transfer them to a cooling rack to continue cooling, as they will harden once cooled.
More delicious healthier cookie recipes
If you tried this recipe, please let me know about it in the comments below. I always love hearing from you! Don’t forget to Subscribe to This Healthy Kitchen to be among the first to get my new recipes! You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to see more delicious food and get all the latest updates.
- 190 grams superfine blanched almond flour approx. 2 cups
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract optional
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt optional
- Preheat the oven to 325°F/162°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and use a silicone spatula to mix until combined. You will have a slightly crumbly mixture that holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the dough feels too wet/sticky, add more flour.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cutting board, and the ball of dough on top. Then add another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to evenly stretch the dough until ⅛ inch thick.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into a grid shape, making rectangular, or square cookies. (Or use cookie cutters of your choice.) Then use a fork to poke a few holes into each cookie, if you'd like.
- Transfer the cookies to your lined baking sheet and arrange them in a single layer with a little space in between each one. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden, but do not overbake. These healthier shortbread cookies will feel soft fresh out of the oven and will harden once they cool to room temperature.
Yes, normally shortbread is high in sugar, but this healthier shortbread cookie recipe is not only free from refined sugar but also far lower in sugar than classic shortbread.
The short answer is yet, as they normally begin with butter or another unhealthy fat. However, this healthy shortbread cookie recipe, although still high in fat, is mostly healthy fats from nutrient-dense almonds.
These are very tasty! Very simple ingredients, easy to make, and perfect for some dietary restrictions we’re working around at our house. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
You’re welcome Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed! 🙂
These are really tasty and I can’t stop eating them! They were super easy and quick to make too.
Fantastic! So glad you enjoyed them Karen. 🙂
I was skeptical but WoW these turned out perfectly! The directions were spot on and you need to follow exactly but the end result is worth it!!!!
So glad you enjoyed Christopher. 🙂
Have you tried any of those variations? If so, what are your faves? Thanks!
My personal favs are the chocolate dipped and the lemon. 🙂
I didn’t think I could have Xmas cookies til I tried this. Hubby loves ‘em! Planning on giving away for Xmas!
I’m so thrilled you like the cookies, Irene. Thanks very much for taking the time to leave a review. 🙂
This looks fantastic! What brand almond flour do you use?
I grab mine from Costco, Kirkland brand.
Wow Rosa!!! 🤩🔥 There are no words. Thank you for everything you do for us. Made this immediately when I got your email and they are a huge hit!!!
Thrilled to hear that Debbie! Thanks so much for sharing.
Do these crisp up like standard shortbread?
Hi Lexy, yes they are crisp on the outside and softer in the middle. Enjoy!
Every try this with coconut flour or would that be too crumbly – maybe if I add an egg??? Just curious.
I haven’t tried this with coconut flour, so I really can’t say how it would turn out. But, normally you need more liquid when working with coconut flour.
Thank you! Just started following THK this season. I’ll be sure to comment when I make a few to let you know how they turn out. 😁