Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares
Easy, gluten-free yum. Chocolate chip cookie squares.

I needed a chocolate cookie bar recipe STAT. We were invited to coffee at neighbor Joey's this morning. And Babycakes, you don't go empty-handed to such a generous hunky guy's casa, now do you?

So I got busy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares Recipe

I'm always experimenting; these little temptations arose from a desire to have a chocolate chip cookie without having to stand there for an hour rolling balls of dough and babysitting batches of baking cookies. I happen to like coconut (and the way it moistens crumbly gluten-free dough) so there is flaked coconut in this recipe. I know. Not very traditional for a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe.

But do we care?


3 large free-range organic eggs
1/2 cup safflower oil or Spectrum Organic Shortening
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1 cup firmly packed organic light brown sugar
2 cups Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix* or other self-rising gluten-free pancake and baking mix
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut*
1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for the top


Preheat oven to 350ºF [if you live above 5,000 feet, set your oven temp to 375 ºF]. Lightly oil or line with parchment a 10x13-inch baking pan.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat by hand.

Using a rubber or silicone spatula, spread the dough evenly in the baking pan. Add extra chips to the top and lightly press into the batter.

Bake on a center rack until the bars are set and golden brown - about 21 to 25 minutes, depending upon your oven and altitude - and do not over-bake - you want them a bit chewy.

Allow the bars to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Makes 18 squares.

I wrap the squares in foil when cool, and freeze them in a large zip-lock freezer bag.

Recipe Source:

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Enjoy sugary treats in moderation. Gluten-Free Goddess advises consuming no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day.

Karina's Notes:
  • Make these GF/CF with a dairy-free self-rising flour mix and dairy-free chips.
  • If you do not have Pamela's try using another all-purpose leavened gluten-free baking and pancake mix; or substitute your own personal favorite g-free flour blend and add a teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum.
  • If you don't want the chewy texture of flaked coconut but desire the extra moistness it imparts to gluten-free baking, try processing the coconut into a fine crumb.



Garrett said...

you don't go empty handed to such a generous, hunky guy's casa, now do you?

Very very good advice, if I do say so myself.

Anonymous said...

If you wanted to omit the coconut completely but leave in the moistness, could you put in some overripe banana? How much would you suggest?

jenniferhighley said...

Ah, Karina,

Once again you give us the gift of a gorgeous photo coupled with sumptuous prose. I am driven almost to tears, since I can't eat dairy or sugar in addition to gluten and soy, relegating nearly all your culinary delights to the Forbidden List.

I still like to look, though.

Thanks for giving us all this beauty....

Don said...

Karina --

Thanks for the site. My wife (of almost 28 years) has been on the gluten-free diet since March, and my 26-year old daugther was diagnosed with celiac a few months ago.

My daughter has been using your site and inspiration and has been doing a great job.

No TV; we raised our children TV-free. Now they're grown and out, and we are tossing our TV this week so we can concentrate on stuff we need to do around the house for our winter (here in Pennsylvania). We'll get a new TV in the spring.

Again, thanks.

-- Don

Christan = ) said...

I can't wait for your sweet potato and black bean enchilada recipe. Sounds sooooo good!! A good belly-filling fall recipe.
We can't do dairy either, but most of your recipes are pretty easy to change a bit for our diet. I like that!!
Can't wait to try your squares, but I've learned we can't do the Pamela's cause of the buttermilk powder in it. I'm going to try to replicate her flour mix w/out that and hoping it works.
Any idea what I might sub for the buttermilk as I know that is a moisture thing??

k a r i n a said...

Hi Christan ~ Hmmm. My impulse would be to not worry about it. I might make one of the flours in the mix a sweet rice flour, though. Sweet rice is more 'sticky'.

Claire said...

Your food always looks so good. I have a cousin whose son is autistic and they have him on a gluten free diet. I may have to bake up some of your treats for our next get together.

Kathy said...

Hi Karina,

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! Thanks for sharing the recipes -- the photos make everything look amazing!


Alicia said...

Dear Karina,

I must say you have inspired me so! I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am a 28 year old female, who loves to cook and am trying to bring out my artistic genes. They are in there somewhere I know it! Of course I do realize I have so much to learn still. Like you, I am still trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life! I feel as if I should know by now, but um, I don't really think it matters. Someday I may figure it out. Just take every day as it comes, and keep cooking!

I came across your site almost a year ago, and am addicted now! I am not celiac, or at least the test came back with nothing to report, but have found taking wheat and as many gluten containing foods out of my diet as possible, has been the best thing I could have ever done. My husband told me last night I never have to make him a "regular" chocolate chip cookie again, thanks to your fantastic cookie bars! I have added ground flax to them and chopped up some organic turkish apricots. Quite tasty!

One thing I am sad about is how we can't get really fantastic chillis. The canned, does not do justice.

I can't rave enough about your beautiful site and how you make me laugh! Thank you.

Well it is almost dinner time, and I have to find something in my fridge.

Thank you again for your inspiration. Looking forward to more fabulous recipes.



Karina said...

Thanks, Kathy, and Ivonne, too! xoxo

Karina said...

Thanks so much, Alicia. I appreciate it.

And I love your idea about adding the flax and apricots - thanks for sharing that tip with our Readers.

Take care! :-)

Slacker Mom said...

Umm. YUM!!!!!!

These were great. Easy. Thank you!

And since we LOVE nuts here, we just added slivered almonds on top.


Anonymous said...

More than tiny amounts of coconut milk and shredded coconut have been leaving me with stomachaches :( I really appreciate it when you leave alternatives for the coconut product, but it would be very helpful if you could be a little more precise about the amounts.

Here, how much almond flour (blanched or regular?) would you substitute with the T of brown sugar? I love almond meal. In the coconut carrot cake, could I add another fruit or vegetable like shredded zucchini or crushed pineapple - if so, in what amounts?

In recipes calling for coconut milk, I would consider substituting a few drops of coconut extract and soy milk if you think that would work since I think part of my coconut problem may be due to its high fat content. I appreciate it!

Karina said...

Hi Anon,

I'm sorry coconut has been giving you trouble. It's usually soothing to digestion. I wonder if it is the added guar gum [guar gum can act as a laxative in some] so often found in canned coconut milk.

As for subbing the coconut here, in this recipe, I did not give a specific amount because honestly, I have never subbed it. It would just be a guess.

My first experiment might be to simply leave it out. And if the dough looked too wet [it shouldn't be too wet - it will effect volume more than anything - so watch your pan size: think smaller], add a little almond flour, or more flour mix, a tablespoon at a time.

You could also sub it with chips, or raisins, or other chopped or shredded fruit.

I wouldn't recommend soy milk, as soy is problematic for celiacs. I'd try a vanilla gluten-free rice or almond milk instead. And I'd not add any coconut flavoring [to this recipe, anyway].

As for the Coconut Carrot Cake - you can sub any of the carrot or fruit called for in that recipe [it's not in front of me here in this thread so I don't have the specifics] with equal amounts of whatever fruit or shredded veggie you like, I imagine.

Just make sure you don't change the liquid amounts - say, by adding something packed in juice [drain it well].

Gluten-free baking benefits from trial and error. Don't be afraid to experiment. My advice? Change one ingredient at a time and keep a sense of humor handy!


Take care!

Anonymous said...

Yummy!! These bars were my first attempt at gluten-free baking and I was not disappointed! My non-celiac husband and young children loved them as much as I did. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

Brandy said...

If you only had unsweetened coconut to use, how much extra sugar would you add?

(I'm making this soon for a friend with Celiac's who doesn't get too many sweets - I hope he likes it!)


Karina said...

Hi Brandy!

How sweet of you! He'll love these.

I would add two tablespoons more brown sugar.

April said...

I just want to say thanks a million for the great recipes and amazing pictures. The recipes ARE as good as they look!
I tried this recipe using the banana substitute and it was great! I used a whole banana, which was equal to a little more than half a cup.
I"ve been gluten-free for about three months, and you have the best recipes I've found. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I tried this with my own g.f. flour combo and the baking powder, soda and xanthan gum. It came out way too fluffy. Would you just go without the baking powder and soda?

Karina said...

Hmmm. Perhaps. I probably need the extra oomph because we're at high altitude. Try it with less and see.

So you mean they turned out more cakey? Flour choices make a difference, too.

Pamela's has almond meal in it, and buttermilk, so it makes a more chewy, buttery bar.

Karina said...

Thanks, April! That's very sweet of you!


Splatter said...

I want to make these for my gluten-free friend...but what does CF/GF mean?

Karina said...

Hi Splatter,

GF means gluten-free and CF means casein-free. Casein is one of the proteins in dairy products. Many celiacs avoid both gluten and dairy as 50% of those with celiac disease also react to milk proteins.

The autism diet for autism spectrum disorder is also GF/CF.



Anonymous said...

I made these last night for our family friday night movie night snack and they were wonderful! So moist and chewy! Thank you so much for the idea. I have CD and love the fact that I can still taste wonderful desserts! :)

Jordan said...

MMMM...made these tonight, SO good. they don't even taste gluten free!! i used Bob's Redmill baking mix for this (i know some non-bean eaters can't do it, but it's a pretty decent mix)and put toffee pieces on top instead of more chocolate chips. next time i'm going to use chopped Toblerone bar (if it's gluten free...dont' know yet). thanks for such a good recipe!!

mfurnell said...

Can you replace the brown sugar in this with Stevia or something else? Thx!

Karina Allrich said...

mfurnell- I honestly don't know about using stevia instead; it can be done, I imagine, but I have not tried it. Cookie bars are tricky when you remove the structure of the sugar from the recipe.

If you experiment, let us know what works.


Lisa said...

Hi! Every year I let my husband pick any baked goody he wants for his birthday. This year he asked for some chocolate-nut-coconut cookie thing so I went looking for a recipe. I was just going to make a regular recipe but floated the idea of GF past him so that I could eat it too (I was diagnosed with wheat allergy in April but he is allergy-free). He was more than happy to be able to share, so I made half this recipe and added 1/4c chopped toasted macadamias. I baked it in an 8x8 pan and used Trader Joe's GF pancake mix. It was great! It is quite rich, though, so I think we'll still end up with about 20 servings, but that just means we'll enjoy the yumminess longer! Thanks for the recipes and the inspiration to keep going when food can be frustrating.

Tina said...

Thanks so much for this recipe. It's unbelieveably good, not just for gf/vegan. I just had my third bar. I'll have the give the rest away because I can't be trusted to enjoy them moderately. I used virgin coconut oil--otherwise followed recipe to the letter. I also made your carrot cake recipe as cup cakes for my Thanksgiving dessert. Huge hit with all gluten-normal folks. Your recipes have been the highlight of my gluten-free experience. I am still struggling to figure out what is bothering me, but at least deprevation is no longer going to make the experiment depressing. Happy holidays and thank you so much for all you share.

jeannerunning said...

I am venturing on a gluten-free/sugar-free diet. I am a baked good queen, so I was hoping that I could find a substitute that will still satisfy me (especially because when I start running and exercising more, I have a huge appetite!)

I attempted the Choco-chip squares. I used 1/4 sunflower oil since I did 3/4 cup of honey instead of brown sugar. My grain-sweetened chips sunk to the bottom of the pan. I did not use coconut. I added cacao nibs, but they sunk to the bottom too. The bars came out very spongy. :(

Any suggestions to fix my first attempted failure?

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks to everyone above for your thoughtful comments.

Lisa- Macadamia nuts are a brilliant addition!

Tina- Thanks so much for your kind words.

jeannerunning- With so many substitutions, it's going to take some tweaking on your part to come up with a cookie bar you like.

I might try a tad less honey, and you'll need to replace the coconut with something (it provides volume and structure) such as ground almond meal, or a flour mix, perhaps.

The sugar itself also provides structure and volume, so when you remove that you'll need to compensate.

If the chocolate sank, try adding the chips on top after you've spread the batter in the pan.


jeannerunning said...

Thanks Karina! Ok, Take 2:

I used unsweetened coconut. I used the shortening. My only substitution was not using sugar. I used honey and reduced from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup and 2 TBS. I also used an electric mixer this time since the shortening was difficult to hand-mix.

Results before baking: The dough was actually thick! It seemed like proper cookie dough.

Results after baking: I was fine with the flavor, but it was a bit cakey and maybe a bit dry (not horribly though). I cooked for 21 minutes at 325 degrees. Next time I will bake it for less time.

But, I don't think it is supposed to turn out cakey? I keep reading about 'chewy' and it definitely was not chewy and moist melting in my mouth like the cookie bars I am used to (of course those have sugar and regular flour :p). Thoughts?

Sorry to be a pain :)....But I am determined to figure out how to make a tasty baked good without wheat and sugar...and with your skills in the kitchen...hopefully you have some ideas! :)

Karina Allrich said...

jeannerunning- I'm glad it was more dough-like this time. Without actually being there, I'd guess you need to bake it for less time. Cookie dough is more chewy and moist if baked less- and drier if baked longer. Touch the top of the surface to determine how the center is baking; and take it out sooner, while it is still has a little give to it.

Wrap and freeze leftovers to keep the bars moist.

Good luck!


Indigo said...

Well firstly, huge thanks for this site - I'm not gluten-free, but the plight of a celiac friend has led me to experiment with gluten-free baking.

I just made these squares, but -like a few people in the comments - they didn't turn out cookie-like. I wouldn't even say they were 'cakey'; I would say they were cake bars (which I think is what I'll call them when I give them to my friend). They are delicous (and I topped them with a layer of chocolate ganache) and look great, but I did have a cookie-type bar in mind. Do you think it's the GF flour I used (the only supermarket mix I could find)? Gahhh.

Thank you, nnyway!

Guest said...

Is bourbon vanilla different from regular vanilla extract?

I was just recently diagnosed with a gluten intolerance and am trying to figure our how and what i can still bake! Not baking would be like losing a limb for me!!! Love your site and i can't wait to try some of your recipies.

Karina said...

I like the depth of flavor you get with bourbon vanilla, but any gluten-free vanilla extract will do.

Recent blog:=- Coconut Carrot Cake

Lisa Marin said...

Doesn't semi-sweet chocolate chips have casein in them?

Karina Allrich said...

Lisa, This is not a casein-free recipe (Pamela's baking mix contains buttermilk).

If you see my notes in the recipe you'll see I recommend using dairy-free chocolate chips and a dairy-free baking mix to make the recipe casein free aka GF/CF. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips are GF/CF.

I have been GF/CF since June 2007; gluten-free recipes developed prior to that date may use ingredients that are not CF.


Elizabeth said...

I made these today - my first attempt at gluten-free/dairy-free baking. They turned out wonderful! So simple to make, and they taste fantastic. They're like a cross between a cake and a cookie. I used Trader Joe's brand gluten-free pancake mix. Thank you for doing the experimenting and sharing the successful recipes! I was so afraid I'd end up with hockey puck cookies. I'm not scared to try more gluten-free baking now with your recipes.

I reviewed these on my blog too:

Donna said...

Thank you for this great recipe. I have yet to make a great batch of chocolate chip cookies so I whipped these bars up tonight and they came out great! so much easier then making individual cookies!


Traci said...

Just wanted to pop on and say Hi! Love the site! I made a cookie cake for my gluten free, corn free, egg free husband today. :) I used 1/3 cup of apple sauce and 2 tbsp ground flax seed and 4 tbsp water to replace the 3 eggs. I also used parchment paper in a 1/2 sheet cake pan and spread it super thin. I baked at 325 (convection) for 22 minutes and it turned out fantastic. I served it at our party and people were surprised my husband could have it. :) Thanks for the great start!

dukeswalker said...

I made these today for my Birthday Girl. After 21 minutes they were still raw - cooked for another 10 minutes and they were still pretty darn gooey in the center. I pulled it from the oven anyway as the edges were getting crisp. It is SO rich and yummy! The center will be perfect for heating up and serving with a small scoop of ice cream.

Kathy D said...

Some friends came over today and brought cookies. I was drooling (I am Gluten/dairy/egg free). Right after they left, I hurried to your website and dove in, begging for a cookie recipe. AND one that I would have all of the ingredients for. I found the chocolate chip recipe. I won't go into all of my substitution errors, but I will tell you it definitely quenched the urge to dig into the bakery goods!

I can't thank you enough for your recipes. You have saved me on more than one occasion. AND my whole family (two kids and one hungry husband) LOVE everything I've baked and cooked from your website. As a matter of fact, my daughter turns 13 next weekend and she asked for the gluten/dairy/egg free vanilla cake with lemon icing that I've gotten from you. And she can eat whatever she wants! Progress, Karina!

You are a saint to do what you do.


Kate said...

Made these today with white choc. chips, dried cranberries and a little clementine zest - AMAZING!!!

Tammy said...

Mmmm, those look good. When I first went gluten free I couldn't find anything comparable to my beloved chocolate chip cookies. They all seemed to fall flat and didn't have that ooey gooey great taste I used to love. I finally found some I love and even my gluten eating husband can't believe are gluten free. Bars are good too, I think I may want to try these. I use Pamela's Baking Mix for chocolate chip muffins too, OOH SO GOOD.

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