Dairy-Free Frosted Sugar Cookies

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A delicious dairy-free sugar cookies recipe plus tips on how to freeze Christmas cookies – both the dough and finished cookies!

dairy-free sugar cookie pingraphic

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Many families have their favorite traditional Christmas cookies. For our family, it is Frosted Sugar Cookies. It’s the first recipe I remember helping my mother make  – assuming eating cookie dough and spilling flour is helpful. We made them every year growing up. Sometimes we made eight dozen at a time for parties and family gatherings.

Frosted Rolled Sugar Cookies

Now with my own kids, we still make them. However, we adjusted the recipe as we learned more about real food and healthy eating. Don’t worry – it’s still a cookie. We use sugar and powdered sugar, flour, and all the normal stuff. But with a few simple swaps, you can make frosted sugar cookies with simple real food. 

Scroll past the recipe to get our simple real food substitutions and tips!

If you’re looking for a frosted sugar cookie that has all the classic elements of a rolled Christmas cookie, just made a little better, this is it. 

Dairy-Free Cutout Cookies

We were dairy-free for many years, so I’m sharing our dairy-free sugar cookie recipe here. There are a lot of expensive dairy-free products on the market. This is what use to make these Christmas cookies as budget-friendly as possible and still delicious.

If you are not dairy-free, don’t worry! I’ll share the classic ingredients in the recipe too.

Palm shortening for dairy-free sugar cookies

Organic Palm Shortening

Think Crisco but vegan and trendy. Palm shortening is the best substitute I found for butter in cookie recipes. You can find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and here on Amazon.

Dairy-Free Milk

Instead of milk, we use almond milk, but you can use any of your favorite dairy-free milk in this recipe. Try homemade rice milk or oat milk for a budget-friendly alternative!

Dairy-Free Icing

For icing, we mix powdered sugar, almond milk, and vanilla. It is simple and delicious!

BONUS TIP: If you use organic sugar, turbinado, or evaporated cane juice for your granulated sweetener, try this quick homemade powdered sugar recipe. You may find it’s cheaper than buying premade organic sugar!

How to Freeze Cookie Dough:

Watch the video for a demo of this!

  1. After mixing the dough, lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter.
  2. Pour the dough onto the plastic wrap, using the rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough (kind of like wrapping a gift), until it is completely encased in plastic wrap.
  4. Label a gallon-size freezer bag with the contents and date.
  5. Place wrapped sugar cookie dough in the freezer bag and squeeze all the air out of the bag before sealing it.
  6. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  7. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, thaw overnight (might take up to 24 hours), then bake as directed in the recipe.

How to Freeze Christmas Cookies

  1. After baking the cookies, allow them to cool completely (this is really important or they will form ice crystals and won’t thaw well). Overnight is ideal.
  2. Label a gallon-size freezer bag with the contents and date.
  3. With the freezer bag lying flat on the counter, place the cookies in a single layer in it – I can usually get 8-9 to fit.
  4. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the cookies (sometimes I skip this step and just risk them freezing together. I’m edgy. And cheap.)
  5. Place another layer of cookies on top of the first layer.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until the bag is full but you can still seal it. I can usually fit 3-4 layers ina gallon-size bag.
  7. Store flat in your freezer (so the cookies don’t move around and break) for up to 6 months.
  8. When you’re ready to frost them, thaw overnight, then frost the cookies.
Dairy-free sugar cookies on a plate

Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies

Get the recipe below (I won’t make you scroll through paragraphs of backstory you don’t care about). But check below it for REAL FOOD tips, substitutions, and ways this recipe helps us save money and eat healthy!

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo #cheapskatecook and @cheapskatecook on Instagram. 

Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies

A delicious dairy-free sugar cookie recipe plus tips on how to freeze Christmas cookies – both the dough and finished cookies!

Check the post for REAL FOOD TIPS and substitutions for the ingredients.

Author: Steph
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup palm shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Dairy-Free Cookie Icing:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • food coloring (optional)
Instructions
Make the Cookie Dough:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat until mixed.

  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

  3. Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and stir.

  4. Add the milk next, and stir until mixed.

  5. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir well, then mix in the vanilla.

  6. If the dough is very wet, you can refrigerate it for an hour or overnight. Alternatively, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, just until it's dry enough to work with. You will add more flour during the rolling out process, do you want it to be kind of wet.

Roll Out & Bake the Cookies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  2. Generously flour the counter or table, and a rolling pin. Take half of the dough and roll it out gently (starting in the center and rolling out to the edges) using more flour if necessary, until it is 1/8 inch thick. Dip the cookie cutters into flour (so the dough doesn't stick to them) and cut out the dough with the cookie cutters. Removed the cookies to a greased baking pan.

  3. When you can't cut any more cookies out of the dough, gather the shreds together into a ball and roll it out again. Do not overwork the dough. Repeat with all the cookie dough. Smash the final shred of cookie dough into an ugly circle cookie.

  4. Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges are just barely turning gold. Do not overbake.

  5. Cool for one hour before icing them.

Make the Icing & Decorate the Cookies:
  1. Combine all icing ingredients in a large bowl, only using 2 tbsp of milk at first. Stir until mixture is smooth and creamy, adding the extra tablespoon of milk if necessary.

  2. If coloring, divide the frosting into bowls and stir in the colors.

  3. To ice the cookies, use knives or cake decorating bags. If you don't have decorating bags, you can scoop the icing into quart-size freezer bags and snip off a very small corner of the bag. Use that for icing.

  4. Store cookies, covered, at room temperature, for up to one week.

Recipe Notes

Not Dairy-Free?

Simply use butter instead of shortening and regular milk instead of dairy-free.

Also, our favorite icing for these cookies is buttercream frosting!

How to Freeze Cookie Dough:

Watch the video for a demo of this!

  1. After mixing the dough, lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter.
  2. Pour the dough onto the plastic wrap, using the rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough (kind of like wrapping a gift), until it is completely encased in plastic wrap.
  4. Label a gallon-size freezer bag with the contents and date.
  5. Place wrapped dough in the freezer bag and squeeze all the air out of the bag before sealing it.
  6. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  7. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, thaw overnight (might take up to 24 hours), then bake as directed in the recipe.

How to Freeze Christmas Cookies:

  1. After baking the cookies, allow them to cool completely (this is really important or they will form ice crystals and won’t thaw well). Overnight is ideal.
  2. Label a gallon-size freezer bag with the contents and date.
  3. With the freezer bag lying flat on the counter, place the cookies in a single layer in it – I can usually get 8-9 to fit.
  4. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the cookies (sometimes I skip this step and just risk them freezing together. I’m edgy. And cheap.)
  5. Place another layer of cookies on top of the first layer.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until the bag is full but you can still seal it. I can usually fit 3-4 layers ina gallon-size bag.
  7. Store flat in your freezer (so the cookies don’t move around and break) for up to 6 months.
  8. When you’re ready to frost them, thaw overnight, then frost the cookies.

Here is Part 1 of our Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies! I share 6 simple Real Food tips and you can watch the hot mess called baking cookies with your kids, haha.

Part 2 focuses on dairy-free tips and rolling out, baking, and icing the cookies!

Decorating Christmas Cookies with Real Food

Over the years, we used several Christmas sugar cookie decorating methods:

1. Boring Mom Stuff

When the kids were really little, we decorated their sugar cookies with raisins, dried cranberries, and other boring, healthy mom things. They kinda liked them.

2. Frosting-Free Cookies

When the kids got bigger, they just ate plain cookies without frosting. Because who likes raisins in cookies anyway? Apparently only me.

The children helped roll out and cut the sugar cookies, so we made a fun, special memory without the added sugar.

3. White Frosting

Before we could find natural food coloring, we decorated our cookies with plain white frosting. As parents, we get to define our kids’ “normal” so I think it’s okay if they don’t know that cookies can come in different colors for the first few years of their lives.

Natural food coloring for dairy-free sugar cookies

4. Natural Food Dyes

Now that our kids are older, we use natural food coloring. This year, we even found artificial dye-free sprinkles from Aldi!

Bonus Tip:

If you make gingerbread cookies, try our maple syrup sweetened cream cheese frosting from this recipe! It’s awesome (obviously not dairy-free).

Dairy-free sugar cookies

Healthier Christmas Cookies

We make a few swaps in the dairy-free sugar cookie to make them a little better for us. It’s still a cookie. If we want something actually healthy, we’ll eat an apple. But here’s how you can make nearly any cookie recipe a little better!

Keep in mind that every time you substitute ingredients, it changes the results slightly. If I make super healthy cookies with all the real food substitutions, they don’t taste like cookies anymore – at least not to my family. Try a few of these substitutions and find what works for you!

Shortening & Butter

If you aren’t dairy-free, consider using all butter instead of shortening in your recipe. Butter is more of a natural, whole food, and it’s fairly inexpensive, so we prefer it. But if you’re dairy-free, we love organic palm shortening.

Sugar

This recipe doesn’t rely on a lot of sugar in the actual cookie. Most of the sweet comes from the frosting.

Right now, we use organic sugar we buy in bulk from Costco. In the past, we have also used turbinado, sucanat, and evaporated cane juice. For more tips on natural sweeteners, watch the video!

Powdered Sugar

If you use organic sugar, turbinado, or evaporated cane juice for your granulated sweetener, try this quick homemade powdered sugar recipe. You may find it’s cheaper than buying premade organic sugar!

Flour

Instead of white flour, use unbleached flour. This is the easiest simple step. You probably won’t even notice a difference!

Next, try substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat flour. We’ve found substituting 1/3-1/2 of the flour is a good balance. So if the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, use 1/3 cup whole wheat and 2/3 cup white. Or 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white. Any more than that, and it starts tasting too healthy. I know you know what I mean.

More Options:

I can go on and on about flours and better baking. Check the video for some simple tips!

spelt flour for real food dairy-free sugar cookies
Our favorite sprouted spelt flour

This Dairy-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe Is:

  • Simple
  • Fun
  • Kid-Friendly
  • Real food
  • Dairy-Free option!
  • Christmasy
  • Freezes Easily
  • Delicious

Not Dairy-Free?

Simply use butter instead of palm shortening and regular milk instead of dairy-free.

Dairy-Free Sugar Cookie Step-By-Step:

dairy-free sugar cookies ingredients

You Will Need:

  • 3/4 cup palm shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
dairy-free sugar cookies dough in the mixer

Make the Cookie Dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat until mixed.
  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and stir.
  • Add the milk next, and stir until mixed.
  • Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir well, then mix in the vanilla.
  • If the dough is very wet, you can refrigerate it for an hour or overnight. Alternatively, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, just until it’s dry enough to work with. You will add more flour during the rolling out process, do you want it to be kind of wet.
dairy-free sugar cookies rolled out

Roll Out & Bake the Cookies:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Generously flour the counter or table, and a rolling pin. Take half of the dough and roll it out gently (starting in the center and rolling out to the edges) using more flour if necessary, until it is 1/8 inch thick. Dip the cookie cutters into flour (so the dough doesn’t stick to them) and cut out the dough with the cookie cutters. Removed the cookies to a greased baking pan.
Dairy-free sugar cookies with a bowl of flour nearby
Keep a bowl of flour handy so you can use it as needed for rolling and cutting out the cookies
  • When you can’t cut any more cookies out of the dough, gather the shreds together into a ball and roll it out again. Do not overwork the dough. Repeat with all the cookie dough. Smash the final shred of cookie dough into an ugly circle cookie.
Dairy-free sugar cookies on a cookie sheet
  • Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges are just barely turning gold. Do not overbake.
Dairy-free sugar cookies baked
Dairy-free sugar cookies with sprinkles
Sprinkle some with sugar and sprinkles before baking if you don’t want to frost all of them!
Dairy-free sugar cookies being decorated by kids
Dairy-free sugar cookies piled high
  • Cool for one hour before icing them.
Dairy-free sugar cookies frosted by kids

Make the Icing & Decorate the Cookies:

  • Combine all icing ingredients in a large bowl, only using 2 tbsp of milk at first. Stir until mixture is smooth and creamy, adding the extra tablespoon of milk if necessary.
  • If coloring, divide the frosting into bowls and stir in the colors.
Dairy-free sugar cookies finished and frosted
  • To ice the cookies, use knives or cake decorating bags. If you don’t have decorating bags, you can scoop the icing into quart-size freezer bags and snip off a very small corner of the bag. Use that for icing.
  • Store cookies, covered, at room temperature, for up to one week.
Dairy-free sugar cookies on a plate with a mug

How this Recipe Helps Us Save Money & Eat Healthy

Because it uses pretty simple ingredients, it is easy for us to tweak it to make it a little healthier. Palm shortening is a little expensive, so in that way, it helps us make fewer desserts overall.

You can make it as expensive as you like or need! And this recipe uses less sugar than many pre-made cookies and mixes.

Navigating junk food over the holidays can be hard – especially when you have allergies and are on a budget. I hope these simple, delicious, dairy-free sugar cookies become a part of your traditions too!

What You Can Do Now:

What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?

If you found this post helpful, let us know! Leave a comment, share it on Facebook or Pinterest, and follow us on Instagram or YouTube for more!

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Dairy-free sugar cookies pingraphic 2




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