Twas the day before Christmas Eve and I didn't have the first gluten free cookie baked for Santa! Both kids have been sick this week, so I got a late start to our holiday baking this season. I didn't want to start making cookies and candies until everyone was fever-free for at least 24 hours. Today was the day!
This year, I thought it would be fun to test a couple of sugar cookie mixes in addition to a new recipe. Surely Santa would love at least one of the three batches! I bought Pillsbury Gluten Free Sugar Premium Cookie Mix at Walmart and Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix at Kroger. I found a recipe for gluten free sugar cookies on momables.com that listed ingredients I already had at home. I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour that I found at Sam's Club. I've only used the flour to make banana bread and it didn't turn out well, but I don't think the flour is to blame.
I quietly made peppermint patties and chocolate covered pretzels while everyone was still sleeping, so that happened without incident. No fighting, crying or messes. Baking is a chore for me and it tends to bring out my OCD tendencies which isn't always a good thing. It also brings back old memories of me fighting with my sister because I wanted everything to be perfect. Why do it if you're not going to do it right? I decided to get started while the kids were still sleeping, but right after the first batch came out of the oven, they awoke and the sugar cookie drama began.
Pillsbury Gluten Free Sugar Premium Cookie Mix
I only had to add butter, water and egg to Pillsbury mix, combine ingredients, and drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto a baking sheet. Super easy! The dough was easy to handle and held together nicely. The instructions did not say I could roll and cut the dough with cookie cutters, but I had some leftover after filling two baking sheets as instructed, so I cut out a snowman and a bell. Honestly, the cut-out cookies turned out just fine. These cookies did not stick to the pan and after they cooled, I sampled one and it was soft and chewy. I really liked it! Way to go Pillsbury! This mix was a great price ($2.50 at my local Walmart), had great taste and texture, and was easy to prepare. (Ingredients: Sugar, rice flour, tapioca starch, canola oil, potato starch, salt, baking soda, cellulose, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavors)
I guess the sweet aroma of these cookies woke my 12-year-old daughter and she came into the kitchen ready to help. We had our usually fight about pulling her hair back and washing her hands. By the time that was done, I had already mixed up Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix.
Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix Roll & Cut
I only had to add butter and egg to Pamela's gluten free sugar cookie mix. To make these cookies dairy free and egg free, the instructions state that butter alternative and egg replacer can be used. We don't have allergies to dairy or eggs, so we used both. This dough was stickier than the Pillsbury dough, but instead of following directions and refrigerating the dough for a few minutes before handling, my daughter was ready to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies. She didn't need or want my help, so I set everything out on the table and walked away. She usually has to make mistakes on her own to learn instead of taking my word for anything. She was on a mission to prove me wrong, so I just let her be. In the meantime, her brother entered the kitchen ready to cut out cookies. I politely told him that he could do the next batch. He was fine with that answer and went back in his room to play a video game. Whew! That was a disaster waiting to happen.
The dough became stickier and sticker and my daughter couldn't get the cut-out dough from the table to the pan without tearing and she wouldn't listen, and told me that they didn't have to be perfect. So, I took the dough and finished cutting out the cookies myself. There was flour all over the kitchen and I was ready to get the cookies into the oven so I could get the third batch complete. I didn't want to bake all day. There's still a lot I need to do since I've been home with sick kids all week.
She went to her room and I finally got the cookies in the oven. Ten minutes later, they were ready and I let them cool. These cookies didn't stick to the pan too badly, but I did have to work to get a couple of them off the pan. The Pamela's cookies were crunchier than the Pillsbury cookies. They had a good flavor, but were very sweet. I purchased this mix at my local Kroger for $4.69. The Pamela's mix contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and uses a wider variety of flours and organic ingredients which explains the higher price. I have always been pleased with Pamela's flours and mixes, and this is no exception, but if I needed to pick up a mix to make a quick batch of sugar cookies, I'd probably go with Pillsbury. I prefer a softer cookie and the lower price. (Ingredients: Evaporated cane sugar, brown rice flour, cassava flour, organic powdered sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, natural vanilla flavor, sea salt, guar gum, grainless and aluminum-free baking powder)
Homemade Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
Using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour which claims to replace wheat flour in your favorite recipes for baked goods, I made the last batch from scratch. The recipe at momables.com wasn't any more difficult than the mixes. In addition to the butter and egg that I used in the mixes, I actually had to measure the rest of the ingredients (gluten free flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and milk), but it really wasn't a big deal. I refrigerated the dough for an hour and it handled beautifully when it was time to roll it out and use the cookie cutters. After I cut out the first half, I called my daughter back into the kitchen and explained that this dough was easier because I followed the directions and refrigerated it. She agreed that it was easier and more like the non-gf dough she uses at her grandmother's house. I let her finish the job while I started cleaning up the mess. I baked these cookies for 10 minutes and let them cool before removing from the baking sheet. They did stick to the pan worse than the mixes. I had a few gingerbread men and snowmen with missing parts after they broke while I was removing them from the pan.
The taste and texture was exactly like I had hoped. The cost for this recipe wasn't bad either! I used about $1.60 worth of flour, then the amounts of the other ingredients, which I already had on hand, were just a few cents each. Baking from scratch using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour was the most cost-effective option. The dough was the easiest to work with and tasted just like the cookies I made for Santa when I was a child! That's the way sugar cookies are supposed to taste!
So, if I was in a pinch and needed to make sugar cookies in a hurry and had the Pillsbury mix on hand, I would definitely use it. I really like how soft these cookies turned out and they were seriously easy to make. Adding just a couple of minutes of prep time to measure ingredients for homemade sugar cookies isn't that bad and I would totally make these again. The Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour produced excellent cookies with great taste and texture. I'm glad I can finally buy this at Sam's Club!
The Sugar Cookie Taste Test
In a blind taste test, the kids selected the homemade sugar cookies as the winner. I gave them one cookie from each batch. Nathan, age 11, said they were all good, but Cookie #3 (Homemade) was his favorite. He liked the texture and sweetness of that one. He said Cookie #2 (Pamela's) was too sweet for his taste and Cookie #1 (Pillsbury) was too buttery. My big kid (aka my husband) actually preferred the Pamela's cookie. He liked that it was sweeter than the others. He agreed that all three cookies were good, but he preferred Pamela's.
Santa will be our ultimate taste tester tomorrow night, so be sure to follow GFree Genius on Instagram to see which cookie the big guy likes the most. Now I have to decide whether to give him regular milk, almond milk, coconut milk or rice milk...on second thought, maybe Santa can just fix his own drink when he gets here.
What kind of gluten free treats will you be making for Santa?
Disclaimer: This IS NOT a sponsored post. I selected and purchased all mixes and ingredients for the three batches of cookies mentioned in this post. I have not received compensation for this post and opinions are my own.