Lemon (No) Sugar Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Lemon (No) Sugar Cookies

For my grandmothers birthday last year, my sister wanted to organise a high tea. If you don’t know what a high tea is, it’s going to a restaurant and drinking tea (obviously) and eating very fancy finger foods. For some reason or another, it didn’t get organised in time for last year and never happened. Ma (as she was known to us) passed away at the end of last year.

With her birthday coming up, my sister decided she wanted to go ahead with the high tea and still celebrate her birthday, but at home instead. We all baked different things, and these cookies were my contribution. And I dare say that Ma would have loved them.

Lemon Cookies

I have been baking with almond flour for a while now. I never like to use gluten free flour blends, or any other those weird tasting gluten free flours. A week or so ago, I went through my pantry and threw away all of the giant (and expired) gluten free flour collection I had. I experimented with the flours for awhile, but found gluten free baking hard – never the right texture and always a little off tasting (or in some cases a lot off tasting).

So I got back a whole shelf in the pantry, and now I only have a few remaining flours: almond flour/meal, garbanzo/chickpea flour, arrowroot powder and tapioca starch (which I rarely use). I like to keep things really simple, and I find almond flour and garbanzo flour produce the best results with the best flavors, and they are actually good for you. Arrowroot starch is amazing as a thickener in sauces, and to make a harder texture in baked goods.

Almond flour makes one amazing cookie. The same crumbly texture of a gluten cookie, but softer. Soft and sweet with barely the need for any other add ins. You’ll be amazed at how sweet these cookies are, considering they only have 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to sweeten them.

These are definitely a more sophisticated, adult cookie. My experience with my nieces and nephews has taught me one thing: kids like chocolate. But if you love soft, slightly sweet, with just enough lemon to smell divine cookies, then these are for you. Serve them up at tea or coffee with friends, and prepare for them to be impressed.

Lemon (No) Sugar Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Amazingly soft and sweet lemon cookies with a lemon scent that is divine. Serve them up at tea or coffee with friends, and prepare for them to be impressed. No refined sugar, gluten or eggs in sight!
Yield: 13
  1. Preheat oven to 175Β°C / 350Β°F.
  2. Combine almond meal, baking soda and salt in a food processor, and process until fine.
  3. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice and lemon zest, and process until a dough ball forms.
  4. Scoop out about 1-2 Tbsp of dough, roll into a ball and place on baking tray.
  5. Gently press down.
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes (mine took about 7 minutes), until just golden brown (after you remove them from the oven they will continue get darker).
  7. Let cool for 15-30 minutes (or they will fall apart).


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44 comments on “Lemon (No) Sugar Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

    • Hi Kristine, you could probably use olive oil, although I haven’t tried it. Just be aware it would change the taste of the cookie. Let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

      • Hi, Can you use coconut flour instead of almond flour and vegetable oil instead of coconut oil? Just trying to use what I have! Thanks!

        • Hi Kim, coconut flour can’t be used as a 1:1 replacement for almond flour, it needs to much liquid and yields a different texture and taste. I’m not sure if vegetable oil would work as I haven’t tried it, and it’s an unhealthy oil anyway so would be best to use coconut oil if you can. I think someone else had success with olive oil.

  1. Yum! I love anything lemon. I made similar cookies before but I don’t think I added enough lemon juice. Going o try your recipe next time. Do you think it will be the same if I use almond meal?

    • Hi Katy, these are just lemony enough! Yep almond meal will definitely work, but make sure you combine the dry stuff in the food processor (like in the first step of the instructions). They will come out a bit darker if the almond meal is not blanched but will still taste awesome πŸ™‚

    • Hi Agata, Hmm I’m not sure. I don’t know how they would hold up against the cream. But maybe make the cookies, then take one cookies and add cream all over and see how it holds up. Let me know how you go with it, I would love to know if that does work πŸ™‚

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  3. I’m wondering if honey could be used in place of the maple syrup? Trying to make it more Paleo friendly and honey is more natural. πŸ˜‰

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    • Hi Dave, you could try palm shortening and it should come out very similar. Or perhaps even a liquid sweetener (like maple syrup), but I’m not sure if this one would work. Let me know how you go with it!

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    • Hi Ash, sorry I don’t think that would work exactly the same, although you can give it a go if you like. If you can eat flour I recommend looking on findingvegan.com or searching for a lemon cookie recipe.

  6. Hi Shae, I made these last night and my family loved them however they have a strong coconut flavor. We happen to love coconut but some folks don’t so just wanted to leave feedback. I also cut back on the maple syrup and added organic coconut sugar, Delish! The recipe also only made 11-12 cookies so I will double the recipe next time so family and friends can enjoy them over a few days time; we devoured half of them just last evening. Thanks for the great recipes. I’m making your Quinoa Tabbouleh tonight! We are not vegan but I try to make as many plant-based meals as possible. Also we are trying to cut back on gluten because my back always hurts from inflammation. If I cut out all gluten for just 2 days I can actually spring out of bed in the morning. Gluten bad!

    • Hi Michelle, Thanks for the feedback :). When I make this it doesn’t have a strong coconut taste. Maybe the extra maple syrup helps cover that flavor as it has a strong taste. So glad you liked the recipe!

  7. Hi Shae! I really want to try your cookies to top off a berry cobbler, but I’m trying to go lower fat. Do you think I’d be able to sub the almond flour with garbanzo flour? Thanks! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Yvonne, sorry I don’t think garbanzo flour would work in this recipe as the texture of almond flour is vital to getting a crumbly, cookie texture. Although I have seen some other recipes that do use chickpeas or garbanzo flour, so those might work instead. Sorry I can’t seem to find the recipes I saw, but you might try searching findingvegan.com for cookie recipes. Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  8. Just made these. I eyeballed most of the ingredients (really everything but the almond meal) and made sure to add extra lemon juice. I zested the entire lemon which didn’t get me nearly as much as the recipe called for, but that’s fine. They just came out of the oven and they smell really good, and taste even better! They were very crumbly though, due to just being fresh out of the oven. I’m sure they’ll be really kickass once they’re cooled. Thanks for the recipe, I’m keeping this one.

  9. I made these, and they didn’t turn out AT ALL. The only thing i can think of was that my almond flour was not processed fine enough, but it did not form a dough ball, it seemed like there was way to much oil in the dough. they were hard to roll into a ball, and came slightly apart when i pressed them down. they took almost twice the time in the oven and did not look ANYTHING like your picture, and don’t taste sweet, or lemony. I can’t figure out what went wrong, I followed the directions EXACTLY!

    • Hi Page, I am so so sorry to hear that! The only thing I can think of is you maybe used almond meal instead of almond flour? You need blanched, finely ground almonds like this brand. Almond meal will come out differently. If it wasn’t that, I’m really not sure sorry, its hard to say without being there and seeing how you make them! πŸ™

      • I bought Bob’s red mill almond flour/meal. it said both so i figured it would be ok, especially if it gave it a couple whirls in the food processor before adding the other ingredients, but i guess not πŸ™ i was pretty bummed about it because I can see that clearly it’s not a problem with the recipe if you and so many others have successfully used it!! Hopefully my next “from scratch” wheat free baking adventure will be more successfull… I made some yummy wheat free brownies this weekend but they were from a package mix. I still can’t figure out how it would have affected the taste so much though… oh well.

        Thanks anyhow, I’ll have to come back to this when I find almond FLOUR and try again πŸ™‚

        • I know, you would think they could be used interchangeably! Its quite annoying (and confusing!). I have used almond meal in recipes before successfully, but sometimes it just doesn’t work, I think because these cookies are a little bit ‘delicate’ it wouldn’t work here. I have read a lot that Bobs Red Mill almond meal is especially bad for baking, it just doesn’t hold up. Gluten free baking can be tricky, I know I had my fair share of disasters (and still do sometimes). It gets easier, you just gotta learn the tricks ;). I hope it goes better for you next time! πŸ™‚

          • yes. ESPECIALLY when the package says “flour/meal” you’d think that means you could use either.. or that it’s the same… but clearly not. good to know the bob’s red mill isn’t the way to go! thanks again πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Shae,
    Thanks for the simple, sugar-free, healthy yet tasty cookie recipe.
    I loved everything about this recipe except for a slight bitter after-taste my cookies had. I imagine this was from the baking soda. Any tips on counter-acting this bitterness or do you know if I could omit the soda altogether?

    Also, just wanted to let you know that I accidentally used almond meal but it worked fine – probably because I blended them for quite a while. They came out a bit less smooth than yours but still awesome!


    • Hi Jane, hmm I didn’t have any bitterness so not sure I can help there. You could try it without baking soda but it will come out slightly different, but you won’t know if it will work till you give it a try! Good to know almond meal works too! πŸ™‚

  11. Hello Shae,

    I would love to try this recipe but I can only use Stevia as a sweetener right now, do you think the Stevia would work in place of the maple syrup?

      • Nikki, I don’t know what your reasons are for using stevia, but another healthy option would be to make a date syrup using hot water and dates, soak in hot water, then rub between your fingers and a syrup will form πŸ™‚

        • Page, I’m on a Candida diet which is why I us Stevia. Right now it is the only sweetener that I have been advised to use. I will have to inquire about the date syrup.

  12. Hey, just made these with bobs red mill almond meal! Came out great just dosnt look like your in picture thanks! We’re delic

  13. Just made these and they are so yummy.I did modify it a bit. I had a namaste pancake mix that i needed to use and it is made up of rice flour and other non wheat flours. I used 1 cup of this and 1 cup of the almond flour. Also used honey and a sprinkle of sugar. I also rolled the cookies in sugar before baking.
    My cookies were very small, like a thumbprint cookie but yummy all the same.

    • Hi Maria, Hmm not sure – it might need a bit of reworking to do that. You could try adding some more almond flour or maybe a little bit of arrowroot or tapioca? But I haven’t tested it so couldn’t say for sure. Let us know if you try anything!

  14. Just a thought on the bitterness, it may be the lemon you used if it was older or just got a bit too much pith in the zest as I’ve had that happen to me with citrus before.

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