gluten-free pine nut cookie

pine nut cookies

When Danny and I tried to decide all the cookies we would bake for the cookie-baking extravaganza here, we pulled down all our baking books and cookbooks with baked goods. We ran our fingers down the index of each one, looking for baked goods that appealed to us both. Quickly, we realized we had a problem.

There were too many cookies to make. Gingersnaps, butterscotch cookies, Florentines with ginger, Spingerle cookies, rum balls, sand tarts, lemon bars, brown sugar shortbread, Swedish nut balls, buckwheat cookies, almond-lemon macaroons — they all sounded appealing.

And those were just some of the choices from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century alone.

I’ve written about how much we love this cookbook already, so I won’t repeat myself. But between this book and the Gourmet cookbook, we were tempted to not crack open any other books. Then again, that would have left out Dorie and Melissa, readers’ grandmothers’ recipes, and the work of many talented people we know.

So we had to limit ourselves to one choice out of this cookbook.

How did we choose? We had a jar of already toasted pine nuts on the counter, left over from a cooking project from the night before. I saw this recipe, seized the moment, and started baking.

What is truly wonderful about these delicate, subtly sweet cookies is how easy they are to make. Look at that list of ingredients — 8 in total, with 2 of them xanthan and guar gum. If you have the flour mix already made up, and your ingredients laid out in a miss en place, you can put together these cookies in four minutes flat. Truly.

They have a shatter-thin layer of crunch on the outside, with a soft crumb inside. The pine nuts make such a lovely taste — yes, they are nutty, but more there’s a subtle sweetness and a bit of salt. Again, with so few ingredients here, you want to make sure you have the best of each one you can afford. (We’re kind of crazy about organic cultured butter right now.) The dough lasts in the refrigerator, so you can make one batch and make another the next day.

Or, invite over your friends and go crazy making cookies together.

Just don’t burn the pine nuts when you toast them! That would taste nasty.

After we made these, we left the rest of the cookies in this cookbook alone. After all, there’s always next year.

Who am I fooling? We’re making these pine nut cookies next year too.

GLUTEN-FREE PINE NUT COOKIES, adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century

4 ounces (1 US stick) unsalted butter, softened
140 grams all-purpose gluten-free flour mix
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 cup baking sugar (that’s the one that’s ground fine)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a a baking sheet with greased parchment paper or a Silpat. Mix the flour with the xanthan gum and guar gum. Whisk them all together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vailla extract. Mix for 1 minute. With the stand mixer running, add the flour mixture slowly until it is fully incorporated into the dough. Mix in the pine nuts with a rubber spatula.

Drop a teaspoon of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, leaving 2 inches between the between each cookie. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake the cookies, as they will turn crumbly and dry. Pull the cookies the moment they begin to turn golden.

Remove the hot cookies from the baking sheet with a metal spatula and lay them on a cooling rack. Let them cool before eating.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Would you like to win a copy of our cookbook? We have a feeling you’ll find a huge list of foods you’ll want to make in that one too. Simply leave a comment about how you choose which treats to make this time of year.

60 comments on “gluten-free pine nut cookie

  1. Pam

    I have to make my Mom's shortbread & my Grandma's sugar cookies. It's just not Christmas without them!

    I think it's awesome that you're giving away copies of your cookbook. Thank you :).

  2. Tracy Chastain

    Oh man. We just mixed up a batch of your flour and have the next to the last batch of snickerdoodles in the oven. They are SOO great. We can't wait to make these. We love pine nuts and can really see what a great texture and flavor addition they would add to a cookie! YAY Shauna and Danny! and Lucy!

  3. Brie

    These sound incredible! I tend to choose which holiday treats to bake based on how unique the ingredients… these cookies will definitely be on this year's list!

  4. Erin

    One word: gingerbread. It's not really a cookie, but I must have it at Christmas time (or anytime there is snow I guess).

  5. Sarah

    I try NOT to do too much baking this time of year since I'm the one who ends up eating most of it. πŸ˜‰

  6. Beth

    I tend to stick to either old favorites or something new that catches my eye on a cooking blog. I love getting inspired by the people I read!

  7. Jennifer Jo

    I read. I ponder. I make lists…

    And then I go and make something totally different from what I set out to make!

  8. Devon

    This is my first year really making something big for the holidays. We are making chocolates and decided by flipping through the pages of a few amazing chocolate books we have. We've already made Buckeyes and I am looking forward most to making Dark and Stormy Truffles.

    Growing up my mom always made Stollen. She still does to this day. She takes a whole day to back several dozen loaves and sends them to friends and family.

  9. Cynthia Nicole

    This year I'll be making gluten free cookies with all your wonderful recipes.

    I usually make a family cookie called chocolate mink sticks. They're brownies (I now make gluten free brownies) with a thin layer of powdered sugar minty frosting, then semisweet chocolate & mint poured on top. Cut in small squares and kept cold (outside on the porch in the snow if you have it!)

    Happy Holidays and thanks for all you share!

  10. Hannah

    First, something dairy-free for mum, gluten-free for grandma, not too sweet for me, and with chocolate for my dad. Luckily, there are still a lot of tasty baked goods to make after I've taken all that into consideration πŸ˜›

  11. Golden Bryant

    How do I chose? Hm. It's hard this year. I have been strictly avoiding all sugar for months. Only since Thanksgiving have I been having it hear and there as it passes by.

  12. Ellen

    AH i am so excited to see these! simple pignoli (pine nut cookies) were always my favorite bakery treat when i was studying in italy. i will be making these for sure.

    when narrowing down my lists, two things i always try to think about are a) what would i miss if it didn't get made, and b) what other people would enjoy. i can't make (or eat) it all, so i have to pick and choose!

  13. Sara Pugh

    I tend to share treats that complement each other – a bit of a chocolate with some lemon squares and then something that can easily carry around with something that needs to be eaten with a fork. Love holiday baking!

  14. joyful

    It's the first year in a long time that I'm doing much baking. I've been diagnosed with CD for almost four years now, and I have only recently started doing much gf baking.

    I'm having a hard time figuring out how to narrow things down and choose what to bake this season….

    I'm open to suggestions on that. lol.

  15. joyful

    It's the first year in a long time that I'm doing much baking. I've been diagnosed with CD for almost four years now, and I have only recently started doing much gf baking.

    I'm having a hard time figuring out how to narrow things down and choose what to bake this season….

    But I'm open to suggestions. lol.

  16. Tricia

    I love to take traditional holiday tastes (gingerbread, snickerdoodle, chocolate, pumpkin) and marry it with my cultural background. (And since a year ago, I've moved all my recipes to Gluten-Free.) I'm Mexican, so I like to add in dulce de leche, spices to chocolate, or mango/coconut flavorings. It gives me a doubly warm and cozy feeling — it reminds me of my family and of the history of the season.

  17. Tricia

    I love to take traditional holiday tastes (gingerbread, snickerdoodle, chocolate, pumpkin) and marry it with my cultural background. (And since a year ago, I've moved all my recipes to Gluten-Free.) I'm Mexican, so I like to add in dulce de leche, spices to chocolate, or mango/coconut flavorings. It gives me a doubly warm and cozy feeling — it reminds me of my family and of the history of the season.

  18. brenda

    Well I try to take something from different food groups: butter, nuts, sugar/sweet, chocolate and spices. Okay, maybe those aren't food groups but at Christmas they should be. πŸ˜€ Hmmm…these pine nut cookies may slide into the "nut" choice for this year. My other challenge is to try some new GF recipes as well as convert some of my old favourites to GF.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing amazing recipes as well as invaluable information.

  19. Jenna B.

    I have to have Mexican wedding cookies every Christmas–my Grandma has made them every year as long as I can remember, and we gave them as favors at our wedding in August.

  20. Entwined Vines Jewelry

    In my home we make just about every cookie one can imagine. Some people laugh but when you have a household of 12 and run an in-home daycare increasing the meal times to closer to 20 it is not like anyone is going to get so many sweats that it would be a huge bad thing. Also all of my older children love to help out in the kitchen (Or try to take it over ) that we start the big baking ohhh something like January 1st and end right about 9pm December 31st with smiles all around. We do not HAVE to go gluten free but I like a lot about cooking this way. It helps my sugar levels as a diabetic and with the slightly hight protine levels of the food energy in all of us seems to be more stable. The children follow recipies and I do a combination of follow the list and oh lets toss things in the bowl and set of on an adventure.

  21. Stephanie

    these look fantastic. i choose what desserts to make by whatever sounds good to me on baking day πŸ™‚

  22. Lea

    I just ate the first of the cranberry-macadamia cookies (I substituted), YUM! I suppose choosing what to make has a lot to do with going gluten-free, and thanks to you, it's been easy to bake cookies this year πŸ™‚
    The other things I have to make are family traditions, Finnish "pulla" (sweet bread) and "torttus" (pastry with prune filling).
    Thanks again for the delicious recipes!

  23. D Louise

    I look for low sugar recipes because I'm diabetic but substitutig for the sugar usually has as disastrous a result as just substituting rice flour for white flour does. Most baking simply requires dome sugar for browning and texture.

  24. Becky

    I just got my allergy tests back last week, so this is all new and I have NO idea how I am going to incorporate this into my holiday. Normally I make my beloved grandmothers bon bons…but I don't know how that will work just quite yet, so I am GLUED to your recipes to see what I'm going to chose. Loving how easy you make this.

  25. Sasha

    When I come home for Christmas, my mom and I usually spend the first day or two baking together. We always make hazelnut blackberry thumbprints, chocolate cut out cookies and ginger shortbread, and then try a few new recipes too. Last year they were toffee and meringues. Then we package them all up and bring them to friends and neighbors I haven't seen all year.

  26. Fuji Mama

    My problem is that everything seems to always look good and I make super long lists of things I'm DYING to make….sigh. Why can't there be 48 hours in a day instead of 24? I could really use the hours!! These look fabulous–I'm a total sucker for pine nuts!

  27. Lauren

    These sound wonderful :). We tend to make the same stack each year, with a few variations based on our whims of the season.

    This year, I had thought about having a cookie party – making them and decorating sugar cookies. I'll have to put it on the list for next year or maybe just ask a few of my friends to come over and do the baking. I'm still building on the whole stamina thing.

  28. sat kaur

    I love to do something spicy like gingerbread cookies or hermits to bring warmth to the chilly days. And every year I have to do my grandma's fruit cake for my dad. Believe it or not, my 6 year old loves the fruit cake so this year we have to figure out how to make it gf! And of course there has to be something with chocolate. Yum! Thanks for sharing your cookie favorites.

  29. sheila d

    I have learned I absolutely cannot leave the kitchen to do anything else if there are pine nuts in the oven. No multi-tasking. And, I have to set the timer that keeps beeping until I pay attention and remember the "PINE NUTS!" Because I have even let them burn while I did a few dishes between things wondering what that smell was.

  30. Pamela

    Growing up in a 1/2 Italian 1/2 Germen home we have a large list of holiday traditions and of course recipes. Over the years I've been converting the family recipes over to GF DF so my allergy challenged family enjoy the traditional foods I grew up with. Also, I try-out a few new recipes every year from magazines, cook books or blogs that have inspired me. πŸ™‚ I'm going to be trying out your GF pine nut cookies, with the alteration of Earth Balance. I really miss the flavor of butter but I think these will still taste YUMM! Thanks for sharing your recipes! Happy Baking!

  31. mnmmom2k

    We always have brown rim cookies – my husband makes them and we eat ridiculous amounts! This year I am trying Brandy Snaps by The Pioneer Woman, I think they will convert over easily. These cookies do sound yummy, as well as the snickerdoodles – I guess we shall see what other cookies are baked.

  32. Alison

    It was hard to give up Nana's Sugar Cookies at Christmastime but we did when we got to the age where we couldn't recover well from eating dozens of cookies at the holidays. Still, there's one type of cookies that I can't give up: Russian Tea Cakes (a.k.a., Mexican Wedding Cakes).

  33. Catherine

    When my mother was alive we would make my Aunt's "famous fruitcake cookies". I haven't made them this year as the cost is a bit prohibitive and I'm the only who eats them. I also make nut balls from a recipe I got in the Seattle newspaper when we lived there almost 30 years ago (am I that old?). This year I am going to make some of the yummy recipes you have posted. Thanks!

  34. ange

    Each year we have certain treats that we make from all sides of our family. From my husband's side we have the Scottish shortbread that his grandmother brought with her when she left Scotland. From my side we have the pecan pie that my grandmother made us for years. I use her tattered recipe card thinking about her holding it in her hands. And of course I share the stories of these cards as they have as much hold on us as the treats. This will be my first gluten free Christmas so the bar is set high to make goodies that no ones knows are gluten free! Would love your cookbook to help me start the journey. πŸ™‚

  35. dbowden

    I have two young children, so this year the choice of what to make will be based largely on how much I can get them to help.

    They love to measure things, and mix things. I think it's time for a sugar cookie, or something similar that can be rolled out and cut into shapes, and then later decorated.

    Bonus points if it's something I can eat (I'm the only one with limitations so far!)

  36. zonecoach

    So what do you do if your allergic to gluten and tree nuts (and by the way also allergic to shell fish and believe it or not…….cold temperatures)My GF has allergies to all of those things. I have to choose the ingredients of what I make, very carefully. But she is not allergic to peanuts so we use peanuts in place of most tree nuts.

  37. The Golden Papaya

    How to choose? Mood, availability of ingredients, how much time I have, how much energy, what the kids are asking for…

  38. BoogaJ

    I made a batch of your flour and have already adapted a family recipe. This is easier than I thought! Thanks for posting the flour blend recipe — it's making our first gluten free holiday season much easier than I thought it would be!

  39. Rachel

    I've been enjoying baking with pumpkin–molasses & maple syrup sweetened buck wheat pumpkin bread. I always tend to go towards chocolate this time of year too…and all year πŸ™‚ But I try to do gingerbread & other yummies too.

  40. Courage Cooks

    I am so impressed with your ingenuity, that you can just take a gluten-filled recipe and turn it into a delicious gluten-free one! Truly, it's a gift (and an art AND a science).

    Every year when I'm finally done with exams, presentations, etc., I go full out in holiday cooking and baking. I love taking advantage of the wonderful flavors of the season – cinnamon and nutmeg, allspice, anything warm and comforting. I also search for recipes that involve things that I can buy at the local farmers market (if you ever come to the U-District market on Saturdays, let me know!). Right now there is an amazing variety of squash, apples, turnips, and more.

    And for cookies? Anything I can get my hands on πŸ˜‰

    Thanks, Shauna!

  41. The Bendy Tree

    I choose our "list" of cookies based on what the wee ones are craving. Granted, they would happily help me bake a hundred different ones but I usually help them whittle it down to a handful. Baking is so much apart of this season, and I love baking with my three little ones (5,3,1)! Our kitchen is our art studio that we can't seem to leave. I also agree with you about weighing your flours when baking. HUGE difference! Many blessings and happy, flowing energy to your family during this season!

  42. Cate Manning

    I've just discovered what all the fuss is about with sugar cookies. I've avoided them for years, assuming the gluten-free version would be bland and crumbly. That was until I tasted some crisp, buttery sugar cookie stars sprinkled with coloured cane sugar from a local gluten-free bakery. 5 ingredients on the label. So i found a recipe online with these same 5 ingredients in the correct proportions, and my kids and I had a baking session, colouring our own sugar – our sugar cookies have a Monet-look, with blended sugars. Made with ONLY rice flour. I'm the queen of flour-blending, but this is very exciting, since they tasted AMAZING. I always bake my Grandma's molasses cookies and coconut macaroons, fudge, etc – but now i can add the fundamental of most kitchens – sugar cookies. πŸ™‚

  43. Melissa Davlin

    Before this year, I made my list of what to bake for Christmas based on how long the recipe took to prepare. Pre-Celiac diagnosis, I couldn't stand for more than five minutes at a time without feeling exhausted. This is my first gluten-free Christmas, and I have enough energy to bake every night for the first time in my adult life. I have a real baking list now, and I'm making everything I want to make without worrying about having to take a nap in the middle.

    It's a beautiful thing, and something I'll never take for granted.

  44. tiff

    I started the tradition with my four little boys of picking a Saturday in December for our Treat Making Extravaganza. They each get to pick a special holiday treat to make. For weeks beforehand they browse through old and new magazines trying to decide what looks fun. I love it!

  45. Colaptes auratus

    A word to the cautious for anyone incorporation pine nuts into any cookies (and all other recipes for that matter), /especially/ when intending to give one's cooking to people you actually like. Beware of 'pine mouth' (it's a bona fide, poorly understood phenomenon – google it): a reaction to pine nuts that leaves a strongly metallic sour taste in one's mouth for days on end. The medical term for the effect of the nuts is metallogeusia. Everything you eat until it goes away tastes like a**.

    Pine nuts incorporated in dishes (cooked or raw, it doesn't matter) are a /particularly/ poor choice to give to any chefs who need to be able to taste what they're making as a routine part of their profession.

    And the kicker is that just because you've had a safe pine nut munching experience in the past doesn't mean it'll work out well next time around.

    Here's more info about this issue:

    Have a tasty, metallogeusia-free holiday, folks! πŸ™‚

  46. Heather

    I wish I could tell you that I had a sentimental or logical plan when choosing holiday treats to make. But inspiration strikes at odd moments. Sometimes it's while browsing my favorite gluten-free blogs, other times it's a middle of the night craving. And then there are moments when a certain ingredient JUMPS off the shelf as I'm passing by in the grocery store. "Use me," it begs. That's usually when the culinary beauty happens.

  47. Ms. Emery

    I decide based on what my students vote on–I give them a few choices, tell them I'll bake the weekend before winter break starts, and there you have it! So this year's choices are cardamom-gonger frosted sugar cookies and chocolate peanut clusters. They don't even realize they're gluten-free!
    Your cookbook is on my Christmas list, so maybe I'll get it before the big day πŸ™‚

  48. Victoria

    I tend to make something that's become a tradition of mine, like Amish cocoa-molasses cookies which last for ages and withstand travel, and enjoy making citrussy things too, to combat the general level of uuurgh that sets in with so many holiday calories.

  49. Joan

    With so many good gluten-free cookie recipes, it's always hard to decide. I like to try new recipes, so I'll definitely be baking several of the recipes from your blog, plus ginger cookies and the Chai-Kissed Chocodoodles by a fellow alumn from Hastings College who was featured on Good Morning America in their 12 Days of Christmas (

  50. Marathon Princess

    Just started GF eating so I am searching for new recipes to replace my old holiday treats, especially my grandmother's spice cookies.

  51. fallingintofavor

    I love pine nuts – mainly on salads. This is my first time coming across this pine nut cookie recipe!

  52. MK French

    I don't choose – my heart does. Whatever sounds good, whatever makes me think of the holidy season in a particular year or on a particular day – that's what I make!

  53. moonsword

    i don't really get to choose what I make each year…my family "chooses"…in other words they beg, bribe and cajole me until i make the same ones i always do which is fine. i love that they love them!

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