The holidays can be a really hard time for folks who have dietary restrictions or specific dietary preferences. Every holiday event you go to can feel like walking through a food minefield. Can I eat this? Will this make me feel sick? And that’s putting aside the total bummer that is having to avoid your favorite holiday treats. It sounds silly, but not getting to partake in all of the Christmas goodies can really put a damper on your holiday spirit—especially if you’re a food lover like I am!
The solution I’ve found here: embrace the restriction and get creative in the kitchen! No matter your food restrictions, you can head to the kitchen and craft your own version of your holiday favorites. It might not be exactly the same, but that doesn’t it mean it can’t be totally tasty and help add to your holiday cheer (good example: my grain-free stuffing). I actually find it fun and challenging to see if I can figure out how to game the dietary restriction system!
Last Christmas, when I was deep in the throes of the reintroduction phase of the AIP diet, I found myself supremely bummed out that I didn’t have a single holiday cookie that I could snack on. It just didn’t feel like Christmas without a frosted sugar cookie covered in sprinkles!
So I worked hard to make my own version. This version is gluten-free, grain-free, lactose-free (if you use ghee), refined-sugar free, and paleo– and it totally satisfies the sugar cookie craving!
Of course, eating AIP or paleo isn’t just about what you can’t eat. It’s also about making sure your diet is as nutrient-dense as possible. I’m not going to lie, there isn’t much nutrient density going on with these cookies. But I’m a big believer that food can nourish your body in more way than one—and for me, getting to eat these cookies during the holiday season is nourishing my soul. And isn’t that just as important?
These cookies are soft, tender, and just a tiny bit sweet. They use both coconut flour in the cookies themselves, and coconut butter in the frosting, so they have a touch of coconut flavor, which I find really nice!
Because they use honey to sweeten them instead of the traditional granulated sugar, they do tend to brown a little easier in the oven—so make sure to watch them like a hawk while they are baking. I’m not sure anyone out there actually likes crunchy cookies—soft, tender cookies are where it’s at! And you get that by watching these babies closely.
The frosting I use here is a wonderful healthified version of a buttercream frosting, using coconut butter and coconut oil to get that fluffy, creamy texture. Because coconut products do tend to melt at room temperature or above, it’s important to keep these paleo sugar cookies chilled (or at least, in a cool part of the house—don’t put them by the fireplace, k?) so the frosting stays intact.
If you’re looking for a frosting that works well at room temperature and above, the powdered sugar frosting I use on my traditional sugar cookies is a great one to have in your back pocket—but it is decidedly not on the healthy side of the food spectrum. You can also try the fluffy frosting from my Lofthouse Sugar Cookies recipe—again, not paleo. Not even a little.
I think these cookies look beautiful with just the plain, snow-white frosting as it is, but of course, you can also whip out your food coloring (natural or regular) and sprinkles and go to town! Just make sure to let the cookies cool completely before frosting or decorating—again, this frosting melts when warm, so it’s very important for your cookies to be cool before frosting. I would even recommend popping them in the fridge for a few hours to really make the frosting process go smoothly.
These cookies do use ghee or grass-fed butter to get that buttery, tender, sugar cookie flavor. But if you are completely avoiding dairy, you could also sub in pasture-raised lard or coconut oil (which would, obviously, give a more coconutty flavor). I tried all four versions, and the grass-fed butter was my favorite flavor-wise, with the ghee coming in a close second.
If you do end up swapping in the coconut oil, it’s best to just embrace the coconut flavor—maybe even add a touch of coconut extract. I tend to flavor my “normal” sugar cookies with peppermint around the holidays, but I didn’t love the combination of peppermint and coconut here. I’d recommend trying a batch without any extra flavorings before you go wild with the extracts.
Both the uncooked dough and the finished cookies freeze beautifully—so feel free to work ahead of time if you need to! To freeze the dough, just wrap the disc tightly in plastic wrap, and then place in a zip-top freezer bag. To freeze the cookies (frosted or unfrosted), let cool completely, then freeze between layers of parchment or wax paper in a zip-top freezer bag or freeze-safe glass container. Happy holidays!
These Grain-Free Paleo Sugar Cookies with Coconut Butter Frosting will satisfy your sugar cookie cravings and totally bring the holiday cheer.
- 1/2 cup unsalted ghee or grass-fed butter, softened
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups blanched almond flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
For the Frosting:
- 1/2 cup softened coconut butter
- 1/2 cup unmelted coconut oil
- 1/4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Food coloring, if desired
- To make the cookies, in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the ghee or butter and honey until smooth, creamy, and light in color.
- Add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until well-combined. Set aside.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, and sea salt until well-combined.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients in two additions, mixing well after each addition. The dough will be very thick!
- Using damp hands, remove the dough and divide into two parts. Form into flat discs, wrap each in plastic wrap, and then chill in the fridge for a hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes. The discs should be completely cold.
- When chilling time is nearly up, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place a large piece of parchment paper down flat on your counter, then remove one dough disc from the fridge, unwrap, and place in the middle of the parchment. Cover with another large piece of parchment.
- Roll the dough until it is about 1/4” thick. Remove the top piece of parchment, then cut out shapes using cooking cutters. Place cut-out cookies onto the prepared cooking sheets, leaving barely any space between (these won’t expand much).
- When you’ve finished cutting up the first batch, gather the dough scraps. Reform into a disc, rewrap in plastic wrap, and place back in the fridge. Proceed to make more cut-outs with the second disc—make sure to alternate between the two discs so that one is always chilling.
- Bake cookies in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the outside edges (near the bottom of the cookie) are just beginning to slightly turn brown. Remove from heat, and immediately transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- To make frosting, whisk together the coconut butter, coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Transfer to the freezer to solidify for about 10 minutes (it’ll be opaque). Then, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, whip the frosting on high until soft, fluffy, and light-in color. Dye using food coloring, if desired.
- Spread frosting on completely cooled cookies. Store cookies in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
- The frosting will begin to melt when the temperature gets around 72°F and above, so if you’re planning on serving these in a warm room, keep them chilled until just before serving.
- The frosting here is a wonderful, healthified frosting recipe, but my favorite sugar cookie frosting is the recipe in this post—it’s decidedly not on the über-healthy side of the food spectrum, but as an occasional treat, it’s just fine!
- You can add extra flavoring extract to the cookies (in addition to the vanilla). Peppermint, lemon, almond, maple and coconut extracts are all excellent! Use about a half teaspoon.
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
Keywords: desserts, cookies, paleo, grain-free, holidays, Christmas