Thumbprint Cookies with Buckwheat Flour + Brown Sugar

Gluten-free thumbprint cookies made with buckwheat flour + brown sugar.

'Tis the season for baking cookies. So I feel no guilt at all tempting you with my latest gluten-free baking success. What kind of gluten-free goddess would I be if I didn't keep conjuring up cookie recipes? I ask you. Not a goddess worth her salt- er- sugar. So I am not going to apologize for the calories, or the fat or the organic golden brown sugar in this recipe. Goddesses do not apologize for their cookies. Not during cookie season, anyway. And besides, Sweetcakes, a treat should be a treat. Life is short. Daylight is dwindling.

Live a little.

If you're craving vegan health food, you can scoot on over to my Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, break out the carrot sticks and party on Dude. Or rustle up some of my Warm Quinoa and Spinach Salad with Grape Tomatoes. Both recipes are guilt-free and tasty and by all accounts oh-so-good for you.

But if your sweet tooth has a hankering, or if you're gazing out the window watching snowflakes sift from the sky wondering what to bake this week for your gluten-free darling or your GFCF angel, try these old fashioned homestyle cookies.

I predict sweet things- and smiles- will ensue.

Fill these brown sugar thumbprint cookies with fig, apricot or raspberry jam.

Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies Recipe with Fig and Apricot Jam

I used fig jam (so fabulous!) and apricot fruit spread in my thumbprints, but seedless raspberry jam would be killer, too. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer to beat the dough (it's quite a sturdy dough) but you could also beat this by hand using a wooden spoon and some muscle power.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients:

1 cup GF buckwheat flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt

Beat in:

1 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening
1 1/2 cups organic light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey (or raw agave nectar to keep it vegan)*
2 tablespoons Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water till frothy

*If you prefer using eggs, use 2 free-range organic eggs, beaten

Add in:

3-5 tablespoons vanilla non-dairy milk, as needed, to make the dough smooth and malleable


Cover and chill the dough for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

You'll need:

Fruit jam to fill the thumbprints.

I used fig jam and apricot fruit spread. Raspberry jam would also be delicious.

Roll the chilled dough into balls and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Gently press down on the ball of dough to slightly flatten- not too much! Note* Some readers report the cookies flatten too much, so don't press down hard, it may make the cookies spread too thin.

Gently press your thumb on the center of the dough to form an indent.

Fill each thumbprint with jam.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 to 23 minutes, until the cookies are golden and firm. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

As with most gluten-free dessert treats, these cookies are best eaten the day of baking. Freeze extra cookies by wrapping individually in foil and bagging. Thaw before enjoying.

Makes roughly 24 cookies.

Recipe Source:

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More cookie goodness from food bloggers:

Kalyn's Kitchen low sugar Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies- with almond meal
Elana's Pantry Black and White Cookies
Gluten-Free Cooking School's Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Ginger Lemon Girl's Gluten-Free Christmas Cookie Recipe Round-Up
Sally's Gluten-Free Vegan Thumbprint Cookies at Aprovechar

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


Kalyn said...

These cookies sound fantastic. I'm realizing I haven't had buckwheat, but I'm guessing I would like it. The photos are awesome too! Drooling here.

I've been on a cookie-baking spree around here too and just about to head into the kitchen and bake some more!

Linda said...

I used to love making thumbprint cookies, but for some reason I've never tried to make them gluten free. These look wonderful, and I love the buckwheat and sorghum in them.

Rach said...

Oh yum!

Jessica said...

Hi Karina,

These cookies look scrumptious!

Quick question about one of the ingredients...I cannot tolerate sorghum flour. Do you have a suggestion for an alternative?

On a side note, I've never commented before and feel a huge Thank You to you is overdue. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac's and other endless food allergies, I felt hopeless - and hungry! I am thankful every day I stumbled across your website when I did. It's proven to be a lifesaver for over 2 years now. So, THANK YOU!!!

Thanks so much!


VeggieGirl said...

'Tis the season indeed - looks delish!

Pam said...

oh so lovely!


Tasty Eats At Home said...

OH I would so love these. The fig and apricot jam would be the perfect compliment to the nutty buckwheat. Yum. said...

They look awesome!! YUM!!

Jennifer said...

I am SO making these!!! I love the fig center especially!

For the Love Of My Bugs! said...

Have you been reading my mind, again???????

I can't WAIT to make this for my kids! I've been looking for a gf vegan sugar cookie but this one sounds much more fun!

Thanks again for another rice & egg free yummy recipe!!

Veggiesmack said...

I love jam thumbprint cookies! These look wonderful!

Sonsie said...

Thanks for the recipe. It's refreshing to find gluten free - egg free - dairy free cookies. You have accommodated all of my allergy needs.

Susan said...

Yet another wonderful recipe! I am in the midst of the holiday bake-a-thon here; my 4 little boys popping into the kitchen to sample and judge.

I found your blog about a year ago when the whole family started our gluten free, nut free, casein free adventure. Your recipes always work! They taste great too. Thank you!

Christine Medifast said...

Delicious idea once again. You always seem to have good recipe ideas coming about... can't wait to try these ones too.

Christine M.

Dia said...

Mmm - these do sound good! I love both buckwheat & sorghum flours, I've been using coconut oil for all my baking n cooking (sometimes 1/2 butter) & find that works so well in recipes - with phenomenal health benefits. I also use ~ 1/4 C coconut flour in many recipes (& yes, coconut milk for the liquid) -
I'm attending a holiday brunch (potluck) this weekend, & plan on taking GF scones - these would be a hit as well! Thanks :)

Melanie said...

Wow. These look really gorgeous. I love all that you do with buckwheat. It's such an underappreciated grain. I love its color and texture. Thumbprints seem like a great use for it. Thanks!

Karina Allrich said...

Sorghum flour is my favorite flour in gluten-free baking, but if you must substitute it, it is a medium grain flour- so your favorite brown rice flour should work as a sub.


Katie said...

These look delicious! I've recently discovered buckwheat and love its natural sweet nuttiness.

Maya said...

Don't know what I did wrong- this is the first recipe of yours that I have EVER not had success with! We followed all the directions, with the exception of using arrowroot and water instead of egg replacer or eggs. Ususlly that's just fine, but this time-no go. I'm sad because the dough was so tasty, and we filled them with homemade rasberry jam, orange marmalade and blackberry jam. We chilled the dough and everything. But they turned into a thin, hard gooey, oily mess once in the oven. Any idea what I did wrong???

Karina Allrich said...

Maya, I don't think arrowroot and water is a good egg replacement. It's simply starch, with no leavening. That's what the problem was.


maya said...

Well, I've gotten away with it before (we are corn and egg allergic, so can't use Ener-g or normal eggs) but I haven't tried this with cookies. I'll try again with tapioca and a bit more baking soda. Thanks for the troubleshooting help!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to a new cookie, but have a question before I fire up the oven.

...have you ever had problems with gritty buckwheat flour?

It seems as though everything I make with buckwheat flour has the occasional unwelcome "crunch," akin to getting a bit of sand or a piece of eggshell, only I'm not including either of those in my ingredients. :-)

I gag every time I get that unexpected crunch, and don't want to waste a single cookie to the cringe-inducing sensation.


Cookin' Canuck said...

What a wonderful recipe for the holidays. I always feel badly that my mostly gluten-free dad can't enjoy so many holiday treats. He will be very happy when I make these for him.

rachel said...

Hmmm...I didn't have much luck with this recipe either. They also flattened out considerably and instead of being dense, were puffy and strange. I followed recipe exactly except omitting rice milk as dough was moist enough.

rachel said...

though I must add they still taste great!

anne said...

I am a huge fan, and i just made these tonight, but like a previous poster, mine thinned out, and didn't look like your picture. But they do taste amazing. I did make some changes...instead of sorghum flour and tapioca starch, I used Whole Foods GF all-purpose baking mix, real eggs and butter. Could those changes be why?

And to add, I use a recipe from your site at least once a week, if not more!

Karina Allrich said...

Certain recipes do not respond to improvisation or changes. Especially gluten-free vegan baking recipes. While I encourage everyone to experiment, know that when you change crucial structural elements in a gluten-free vegan recipe, your results may vary.



Karina Allrich said...

One more thought I have regarding "spreading" cookie dough (even if you change ingredients) is:

1. Chill the dough, as the recipe states.

2. Use parchment paper to line your baking pan; this helps the cookies to heat up and bake more evenly.


christina said...

hi karina,

my family and i love you intensely! my dh and dd are not g/cf etc..., but they are so happy i'm baking again! thanks for helping to restore the "home" to our house.

as for this recipe, if i do use eggs (one of my last remaining non-sensitive foods!!), do i leave out the honey as well as the egg replacer or just the egg replacer?

also, as megan commented above, i had the same gritty, egg-shell like crunch phenomenon when i made your crustless pumpkin pie (which tastes spectacular, btw). could it be the buckwheat flour? i've never used it before.


Karina Allrich said...

First- as for buckwheat- the recipes call for buckwheat flour- not buckwheat groats (aka kasha), an unmilled "grain" (more like a seed). There is no crunch to buckwheat flour- it is soft, much like millet flour.

I use Arrowhead Mills buckwheat flour.

I have not made these cookies with eggs; that said, I would start with just replacing the egg replacer.

It's hard to know exactly how my recipe will turn out when you make substitutions.

Getting a feel for your own preferred ingredients comes with time and experimentation. After a while you will develop a "feel" for how your chosen ingredients respond and behave. You'll learn how your climate and your oven influence your particular baking environment.

Read through my FAQ and my posts on baking and substitutions for more detailed tips.

And don't forget to browse comments; readers often share their success with using eggs (or other substitutions).

And lastly, you might look up my other cookie recipes for comments; this dough was based on my very popular buckwheat chocolate chip cookie recipe.


Cathy said...

I made these last night and they are fantastic! I used raspberry jam and fig preserves. Next time I want to try cherry and peach. Thank you so much!!!

Barb said...

I made a batch yesterday with raspberry jam. They were beyond yummy. Thanks!

Cathy said...

PS... I have noticed if I push down too hard on gluten free cookie dough and make the cookies too flat before I bake them, they can thin out too much. I leave them more like a rounded ball shape and press down only a little bit.

I think using parchment paper as a liner (or a silicone mat) helps this, too.

emb photography said...

I just made these cookies and they were terrific! I didn't have to make a single subsititution for my little guy, which is just the greatest thing! I filled them with black cherry all fruit bc that is what he could have. I will say that just set them off! I think next time I will add even more, bc I wanted the fruit in every bite! My boy is in is chair enjoying them now! This was the perfect Christmas Cookie! Thank you thank you thank you!
PS, I had a bit of a spreading issue in my first batch, and I followed the recipe to a T, so the second batch, I just flattened with my thumb vs flattening with palm first, then doing the thumb print. This worked out great! Soft and chewy. Wouldn't even know how "free" they are! And someone today told me to feed my boy a "real" cookie! This is as real as it gets! Thanks again!

moonwatcher said...

Hi Karina,

Since I'm not supposed to have the shortening on my diet, I made a version of this dough using some homemade tofu cream cheese and pear sauce as substitutes for the fat. I chilled the dough and baked the cookies on parchment paper and they came out great. Just as I was rolling the first pan out, my son and his girlfriend arrived from Portland for the Christmas holiday. They are both vegetarian, and Kelly is also gluten free, so they dug right in and helped make the second batch. We used sedless blackberry jam I had made from the berries in my yard, and we couldn't stop eating them! They are definitely great warm from the oven. I sent my son's girlfriend the link, and she wants to try making them with peanut butter and chocolate in the thumbprints. Thanks for a recipe that made our holiday time special, fun and delicious!

many blessings to you and yours in the new year


Anonymous said...

Hey Karina...

These cookies are fantastic!!!! Only substitution I made was to use cornstarch instead of tapioca and to use a bit of water in place of the rice milk. The dough was a bit sticky, but I chilled it in the freezer for an hour and rolled the cookies fairly smallish, only pressing them with the thumbprint (thus, the recipe made 4 dozen). With black raspberry jam, they were DELICIOUS. Non-GF spouse and non-GF Dad ate half a dozen almost straight from the over while they were still warm and pronounced them "to die for". These are a winner!

Thanks so much for all you do.....

Carin in NJ said...

These are really delicious but I think I made two mistakes. Maybe it will help someone else if I put it in the comments. I think I should not have added that last bit of liquid (the dough was a bit too soft and spread incredibly) and I was a little too aggressive with my thumbprints. I pressed too hard and left too little dough beneath the jam. When the cookies cooled, I left much of the jam behind on the parchment paper! Doughnut shaped, yummy, jam-less cookies were the result.

I'll try this again. It is very delicious.

And I think this same batter, rolled into balls and rolled in sugar, would make fabulous buckwheat sugar cookies!

Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

Jess Kahele said...

These cookies turned out great. I used all purpose gluten free flour (Bob's) in place of the other flours and tapioca starch. I also used eggs. Not to mention I used my hands to stir/squeeze it all together! I will be making these very often. Thank you!

danielle said...

i just made these, and they came out like a perfect cookie should. funny thing is, i messed up while mixing the batter -

i was only planning on making half a batch. but while i was mixing half the batch, i accidentally put two eggs in (real eggs, but that wasnt the mistake). so i figured okay, well just make the whole thing.

after it was chilling in the fridge, i realized i put TWICE the amount of xanthan gum and baking soda in. i didnt cut it in half either of the times i was adding ingredients. upset i just shoved the ball in the fridge.

the next night, so this was a full 24 hr chill, i decided to bake it off. i made complete spheres and made a full normal thumbprint.
and they are perfect. im honestly not a GF baker.. my boyfriends mom was just diagnosed with celiac so now feeling bad i make something for her too when i bake.

so maybe the issue here is not enough of one or both? they came out completely awesome when i made them, thanks for the recipe. she loves them :)

Susabelle said...

Hi Karina,

If I were to sub butter for the shortening would I use the same amount? Or could I use light olive oil?

I made your sour cream chicken enchiladas last night and they were a huge hit!

Karina Allrich said...

Susabelle, Yes, you can sub shortening with butter- delicious in cookies. Olive oil is trickier. Glad you liked the enchiladas! xox Karina

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