These gluten-free Chinese almond cookies are crisp, buttery, and delicious, and you don't have to be gluten-free to fall completely in love with them! Mildly sweet and full of almond flavor, you'll think they're "regular" cookies and it will be hard to stop at just one!
Just the mere sight of these beautiful golden crackled cookies evokes such joy.
Part of it is because I love love LOVE beautifully baked goods!
But more relevant to this post is the fact that my mum used to bake almond cookies a lot!
It has been a very long time since I've had her almond cookies and unfortunately, her recollection of the recipe details isn't very accurate. But I've taken what she has said, cross-referenced with a few other almond cookie recipes, performed some baking tests, and have come up with, what I think, is mighty close to what she used to bake.
And as a bonus, my recipe is gluten-free!
As my taste-tester friends can attest to, though, these cookies are SO ridiculously good that you think they're actually "regular" cookies! What better endorsement can there be?! Let's get baking!
The Dry Ingredients
I have never been a fan of using prepackaged gluten-free flour blends because they often contain ingredients I do not want. So I prefer to create my own blend from scratch, but I keep it REALLY SIMPLE.
The flour blend for these cookies is simply brown rice flour and tapioca starch. THAT'S IT. The brown rice flour gives the cookies their structure or "foundation", so to speak, and the tapioca starch adds tenderness so it's not completely dry.
Add to that the almond flour, baking soda, and salt and you are done. Sift these dry ingredients together and set the bowl aside while you get working on the wet ingredient mixture.
The Wet Ingredients
The wet ingredients start with butter and the almond paste, and it doesn't matter if your almond paste comes from a tube, container, or block. I like to cut the butter and almond paste cold and let them come to room temperature in the mixing bowl because it is far easier to measure those items when they're cold.
Once they're room temperature, it's time to start beating them together, and this can be done with a hand mixer, stand mixer, or even by hand with a wire whisk.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula (so you don't miss mixing in any bits) and add the sugar. Beat that in until you get a nice fluffy texture and then it's time to add in the egg and almond extract and beat again. Wet ingredients done!
How to Make the Cookies
Making the Cookie Dough
Remember that bowl containing your gluten-free dry ingredients? It's time to mix it all into the creamed butter mixture.
I do this mixing by hand using a wooden spoon, but you can do this step using your mixer, too. Just make sure that the flours and butter mixture are all well incorporated until you have a cohesive cookie dough.
Measuring Out the Cookie Dough
I use a #70 sized cookie scoop (affiliate link), which is just less than a full tablespoon. You don't have to use a cookie scoop...a simple spoon will also work.
However, I find that this cookie scoop does a really good job scooping out about the right amount that I want...which is 20 grams...and it helps speed up the process.
Take each 20 gram scoop of dough and roll it between your hands and shape it into a ball. I do this step all at once for the entire batch of dough and place them aside on a plate or cutting board and cover them so they don't dry out while another batch is baking.
Shaping and Baking the Cookies
Roll the cookie dough into balls and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten them slightly with the flat bottom of a measuring cup, drinking glass, or even your fingers will work just fine!
Then comes the final almond touch to these cookies...the sliced almond! It isn't necessary, but it's a small thing that makes the cookie look that much cuter and more complete!
Last step is to beat an egg with about 1 teaspoon of water to create an egg wash to brush over every cookie. The egg wash will help the cookies brown to that lovely golden color we're so accustomed to.
Bake the cookies in a 325F/160C oven for 20 minutes. The oven temperature is lower than typical cookie recipes since we don't want these to bake too fast or brown too much before they're done. So a bit lower temperature for a slightly longer time works perfectly.
To achieve the nice crisp texture, let the cookies cool on the baking pan for another 5 minutes after you take them out of the oven. Then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish and stand back and admire your handiwork!
Commonly Asked Questions
My mum used margarine which is made from vegetable oils and something that probably isn't used very often any more. However, it is still an option to replace the butter if you want to avoid dairy (just make sure the margarine clearly states that it is dairy-free if you are lactose intolerant). You can also try substituting lard 1:1 for the butter which will make a slightly crisper cookie, but it will not have as much flavor.
You can try using a pre-packaged gluten-free flour blend in place of the brown rice flour and tapioca starch in my recipe, but I cannot guarantee how the cookies will turn out.
No. But weighing them out so that they are all about the same weight means you are going to get the most consistent batch of cookies you've ever seen.
No, almond paste and marzipan are not the same. While they are both contain ground almonds, the other ingredients they contain are different and they are used for different applications. They are not interchangeable. Read a more detailed description of their differences from The Kitchn.
Check out my post on How to Halve An Egg for Baking Recipes! I've actually made A QUARTER of this cookie recipe using the technique described to "divide" an egg and the cookies came out great!
More Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes
Here are some other gluten-free cookie recipes you might like!
- Double Chocolate Cookies
- Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Coconut Almond Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
My mum used to make almond cookies in large batches and give them away, often at Christmas. She would fill a 4-litre (1 gallon) ice cream bucket full of them and give them to my husband's parents and they would happily devour them...just the two of them!
I didn't appreciate them as much back then when she made them all the time. However, I got inspired recently and am thrilled to have created ones that remind me of hers.
AND I'm very psyched that they are gluten-free so anyone and everyone can enjoy these delicious jewels!
Watch How To Make It!
Gluten-Free Chinese Almond Cookies
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- Sliced almonds for topping cookies
- Preheat oven 325F/160C.
- Combine dry ingredients: brown rice flour, tapioca starch, blanched almond flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk together. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the room temperature butter and almond paste. Beat until well combined (this can be done with a mixer or whisking by hand).
- Scrape down the butter from the sides of the bowl and add the sugar; beat well.
- Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and use a wooden/mixing spoon to combine until a cohesive cookie dough comes together.
- Using a scoop or a spoon, portion out the cookie dough into 20 gram pieces and roll into balls. (Or skip the weighing completely and scoop out dough balls roughly about the same size.)
- Cover cookie dough balls with a cloth or plastic wrap until you are ready to bake so they do not dry out.
- Place cookie balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten each ball slightly with your fingers, the bottom of a drinking glass, or the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Top each cookie with a sliced almond.
- Beat together the egg and water for the egg wash and brush onto each cookie.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden. Remove promptly because they will start to darken quickly.
- Remove baking sheet from oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes (this will help them crisp up as they cool). Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Store in a sealed container for approximately one week.
- ¾ cup of butter = 168 grams
- 100 grams of almond paste is approximately ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons packed
- Marzipan is not the same as almond paste and it cannot be used as a substitute in this recipe.
- I like to measure out the butter and almond paste while cold and put them in the mixing bowl to let them come to room temperature before beating. It is easier to handle/measure them when they are cold than when they are soft.
- Tapioca starch = tapioca flour.
- Butter mixture can be creamed/beaten by hand using a wire whisk.
- Weighing out the dough to 20 grams each is optional, but it makes for more "perfect" looking cookies!
- Lard is used in some almond cookie recipes instead of butter and would make this cookie dairy-free and more crisp. But it will not give as much flavor as the butter.
- If you use margarine to replace the butter, be sure the packaging clearly states that the margarine is dairy-free if you are lactose intolerant.
- If your oven has uneven hot spots, turn the baking sheet around halfway through baking.
- Store cookies in a sealable container or bag for a week.
- Recipe inspired by my mum, developed and adapted to gluten-free from several sources including Jessica Gavin, The Spruce Eats, and The Woks of Life.
**This post was updated September 22nd, 2023 with the addition of Commonly Asked Questions and updated writing.