Aunt Lisa's Sugar Cookies

Aunt Lisa's Sugar Cookies

Santa came early this year with a surprise: gluten-free, gum-free, and dairy-free sugar cookie recipe! Our Niece-Nephew Squad begs for this bake every Christmas, and now we're sharing it with you and yours. Be of good cheer, friends!

By, variation of Lisa Chalkley's sugar cookies

Aunts hold a special place in our hearts here at the Beach Ranch. Five years ago to this very week (December 22, 2013), our Aunt Lisa shared a family treasure with My Mr. Wonderful and moi: her sugar cookie recipe! This is the only sugar cookie that we both love. For him, it has the chewy middle and crisp edges of a perfect cookie. For her, it has the lemony zing that cuts the sickly sweet of most cookies. And our Niece-Nephew Squad is a huge fan of these cookies; we bake them every Christmas Eve for Santa.

The original version is already dairy-free. I've updated it to be gluten-free and more naturally lemony with the replacement of lemon flavoring with fresh lemon zest. To make these cookies with traditional flour (like we do for the kids), simply add one more egg to the mix (I can't tell you how long it took me to realize my gf version was failing because of one too many eggs!!!).



    For Night Before
  1. Into bowl of standing mixer fitted with traditional attachment, add shortening and sugar. Beat at medium speed for 4 minutes or until mixture is creamy.
  2. Add to mixer egg, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. Into large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture to the mix in the standing mixer. Mix until just combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Do not overmix.
  4. Using hands, form dough into ball. Slice ball in half using knife. Work with one half at a time. Wrap each half and place in refrigerator overnight (I mean it, friend. This dough is way too soft to roll out today.).
  5. For Day of
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Remove dough from refrigerator and place onto plate on stove top while oven preheats for up to 10 minutes.
  8. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicon baking mat. Set aside.
  9. Place a long sheet of plastic wrap over your work surface. Remove one half of dough from stove top and place onto plastic wrap. Cover dough with another layer of plastic wrap. Roll out dough between the two sheets of plastic wrap until it is â…“ inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap.
  10. Using your cherished holiday cookie cutter, press onto dough to cut shapes. Place each shape onto prepared baking sheets, allowing a little space between each shape.
  11. Place baking sheets with shaped raw dough into refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes before baking. This is a crucial step to be certain that the cookies hold their given shapes.
  12. Once chilled, remove sheets from refrigerator. Place baking sheets into preheated oven; bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  13. Remove sheets from oven and transfer to a heat-safe counter top. Allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes on sheet pan so that they will bake a little more, then transfer cookies to cooling rack and allow to come to room temperature before decorating.
  14. If baking multiple batches, allow sheet pans to cool for 10 minutes before adding more chilled, raw dough. Repeat steps for remaining dough, and when finished, turn off oven.
  15. Decorate cooled cookies. For intricate details, use our Supremely Royal Icing; for a delicious base coating for sanding sugars and sprinkles, how about our Vegan Buttercream Frosting? Kids love smearing on Martha Stewart's basic sugar cookie icing (our Niece-Nephew Squad makes it with lemon juice for a citrusy kick!).


  • This recipe yields approximately 30 cookies (4-inches).
  • Baked cookies may be stored at room temperature in a lidded container for several days (if your household Cookie Monster(s) don't eat them all before then!).
  • Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Roll dough into sphere, then wrap in plastic wrap and place into freezer-safe plastic ziplock bag; freeze. When ready to bake, defrost dough in refrigerator overnight.
  • Baked cookies (even those that are frosted!) do really well stored in the freezer. Plastic wrap each individual cookie and then plop all of the wrapped treats into freezer-safe plastic ziplock bag and freeze. Defrost before serving.
  • Migraine Warning: Citrus (lemon zest). If you are sensitive to citrus, then simply substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract for the lemon zest.