Easy Vegan Sugar Cookies with Pink Frosting

56 comments

Happy Saturday, friends! It’s been a while since I posted a recipe on the weekend, but many of you seemed eager for these festive cookies after I gave a few sneak peeks on Insta Stories. I figured since I had the recipe all tested and ready, why wait until Monday to share? No one should have to wait for Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day dessert, I say! Plus, if snow is keeping you at home this weekend, these are a fun treat to whip up with the family indoors. My kiddos love cutting shapes into the dough and piping frosting into their mouths onto the cookies—they also know how to have a hoot with those sprinkles, as you might notice in the very last photo below!

I first started testing vegan sugar cookies several years ago, but I never quite landed on a final recipe that I was perfectly happy with. I recently had a couple requests for cut-out cookies leading up to Valentine’s Day, so I dug up my previous trials (thank you, Google Docs!!), and started again. Well, as it turned out, I didn’t end up using my old notes one bit. I did a complete 180, using my trusted Gluten-Free Vegan Graham Cracker recipe as a base. After some major recipe tweaking, I’m excited to finally have a go-to vegan sugar cookie recipe in my repertoire. This version is so much more wholesome than my previous attempts, too! #winning

I like to use a combination of almond flour and light spelt flour in this recipe—almond flour yields a tender crumb and lends the cookies a boost of moisture and buttery flavour, while light spelt flour gives a nutty, complex taste overall. You can swap the light spelt flour for regular all-purpose flour if you’d prefer, just be sure to see my tip in the recipe beforehand as you’ll need to adjust the measurements slightly. I’ve also provided a tip for using whole-grain spelt flour instead of light. If you try any other swaps, please be sure to let me know in a review below! I love hearing from you, and your comments are so helpful for others who might have similar questions. 

PS: A shout-out to these heart-shaped cookie cutters…I’m seriously in love with them!! You can find them on Amazon. Happy baking :)

5 from 5 reviews
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Easy Vegan Sugar Cookies

Vegan, soy-free

By

These wholesome vegan sugar cookies come together in a snap—there’s no waiting for the dough to chill before you roll it out, so you can have a batch of tender cookies out of the oven in less than 30 minutes! With lightly golden bottoms, crisp outer edges, and soft, delicate centres, these cookies are a perfect light-tasting base for my festive, naturally coloured pink frosting. If you aren’t planning to frost your cookies, you may want to add a touch more cane sugar to sweeten the dough. The cookies aren’t overly sweet as-is, but the frosting really makes them pop!

Yield
25 to 35 cookies
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the wet ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) grapeseed oil or other light-tasting oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown rice syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the dry ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (82 g) almond flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 g) light all-purpose spelt flour*
  • 5 tablespoons (40 g) arrowroot starch**
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the Pink Frosting:
  • 1/2 teaspoon beet powder/crystals***
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) hot water
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) vegan butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (165 g) powdered icing sugar, sifted if necessary
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons (7.5 to 10 mL) almond milk, or as needed
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line one very large baking sheet (or two medium-sized sheets) with parchment paper.
  2. To a small bowl, add the wet ingredients: grapeseed oil, maple syrup, almond milk, brown rice syrup, ground flaxseed, and vanilla. Whisk until combined.
  3. To a large bowl, add the dry ingredients: almond flour, spelt flour, arrowroot starch, cane sugar, salt, and baking soda. Whisk until combined.
  4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir until it comes together as a heavy dough. Knead the dough a few times with your hands until no patches of flour remain on the bottom of the bowl. Be careful not to overwork the dough. If the dough is too dry, add almond milk one teaspoon at a time and knead until the desired consistency is reached. If the dough is too wet, add more spelt flour and knead again. Shape the dough into a large ball, then break it so you are left with two even halves.
  5. Place a nonstick mat or large piece of parchment paper on the counter. Place one ball of dough in the middle and cover the ball with a second piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Be careful not to roll the dough too thinly or the cut-out shapes will break as you transfer them to the baking sheet. Cut the rolled-out dough into shapes using your desired cookie cutters. Carefully transfer each cookie onto the prepared baking sheet(s), placing each an inch apart. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all of the remaining dough.
  6. Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes until their bottoms are very lightly goldened (the cookies should not bake to golden brown or they’ll become too crisp after cooling). Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the Pink Frosting: In a small bowl or mug, combine the beet powder along with 1 teaspoon of very hot water. Whisk until the beet powder is dissolved. Set aside.
  8. Add the vegan butter to a large bowl. With electric beaters, beat the butter until smooth, then add the powdered sugar, milk, and salt as well as 1/2 teaspoon of the prepared beet juice. Starting on low speed, beat until smooth, gradually increasing the speed as the ingredients combine. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it with a bit more almond milk and continue beating until smooth. If it’s too thin, you can add a little more powdered sugar and beat again until smooth.
  9. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cookies and top with sprinkles (if using). Serve and enjoy! Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, or tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 4 weeks.

Tips:

* Instead of light spelt flour, you can use 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) white all-purpose flour. The flavour won’t be as complex or nutty as the spelt version, but it’ll work in a pinch. Alternatively, you can use 1 1/4 cups (200 g) whole-grain spelt flour. If using whole-grain spelt flour, I suggest shaving a minute off the bake time. This version produces the most wholesome and earthy flavour of the bunch, and yields a denser cookie, too. Another option is to sift the whole-grain spelt flour before using to refine its texture. In order, my preferred flour variations would be: light all-purpose spelt flour, regular all-purpose flour, and whole-grain spelt flour last.

 

** You can probably sub the arrowroot starch with cornstarch, but I haven’t tested it.

 

*** If you don't have beet powder on hand feel free to use your desired red food colouring. Beet juice may work, too!

 

To keep this recipe soy-free, be sure to use a soy-free vegan butter in the frosting.

Any guesses who decorated this one above? ;) Cookie goals! 

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kat February 10, 2018
Recipe Rating:

These sound so good and simple! I’m going to have to try these out!

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2 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2018

I’d love to hear how it goes, Kat :)

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3 Anna Lee February 10, 2018

These look fantastic! I needed a recipe for a Valentine’s Day cookie swap, and I believe these are the ones. :D

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4 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2018

Thanks Anna, I hope you enjoy them!

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5 Ushmana February 10, 2018

The perfect cookie recipe for a healthy Valentines! The pink frostings look just perfect,
Thank you for sharing! All the love from Nepal

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6 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2018

Thanks Ushmana! :)

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7 Vanessa Cassani February 10, 2018

Very nice! What a lovely Valentine’s activity to make with the kids. We enjoy baking together and then eating the wonderful treats with the family. Thanks!

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8 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Thanks Vanessa! Happy baking :)

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9 Laura ~ Raise Your Garden February 13, 2018

That’s our family too! But these cookies have literally melted my heart and I haven’t even had any caffeine yet! As to who decorated that cookie……I’m going with your husband! Haha. My husband LOVES to take over the cookie decorating here, he literally pushes me out of the way and tells me to find something else to do! Silly man.

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10 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 13, 2018

lol that’s too funny your husband likes to take control of the cookie decorating…sounds like Adriana! ;)

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11 Sue J February 11, 2018

Would a gluten free flour work with the almond flour for these cookies? They sure look good!

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12 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Sue, I think another blog reader mentioned that she used a GF flour. You may want to check out the comments for an idea. I haven’t tried it before with this recipe, but will update if I do in the future!

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13 Karen February 11, 2018

Hi. These look so amazing! I was wondering if you had tried them with a nut and gluten free flour? I’m wondering if gluten free all purpose might work? Thanks!

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14 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Karen, I think another blog reader mentioned that she used a GF flour…you may want to check her comment for the details. I’d love to hear how it goes if you try anything!

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15 Ameeta February 11, 2018

Happy Sunday! These look amazing and I am going to give them a shot this week! Do you have any sub recommendations for brown rice syrup? I don’t have that and don’t really want to buy it for one recipe. Thanks :)

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16 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Ameeta, I think another blog reader mentioned that she used maple syrup instead of BRS. You may want to check out her comment for the specifics! I’d love to hear how it goes.

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17 Michelle February 11, 2018

Love love your recipes! What can I substitute for brown rice syrup? More maple syrup? I have all of the other ingredients. Thanks,

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18 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Michelle, Another blog reader mentioned that she swapped the brown rice syrup for more maple syrup (you may want to read her comment for the specifics), but it would likely take a bit of experimentation. I haven’t tried it yet. Please keep us posted if you try anything out!

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19 Heather February 11, 2018

Any suggestions for how to make these gluten free? I’d love to have a great gluten free sugar cookie recipe!

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20 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Heather, I haven’t had a chance to test gluten-free versions yet (actually that’s a lie…my first trial was gluten-free as I followed the flours used in my gluten-free graham crackers), but unfortunately the buckwheat flour was overpowering in these delicate-tasting cookies! An oat and almond flour cookie base might be the solution…they’d be “heartier”, but still tasty I bet. If I try anything I’ll be sure to add a note in the recipe, and please let me know if you do too!

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21 Jessica February 11, 2018

These look amazing. I’m going to make them for my SO for Valentine’s Day. Thanks!

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22 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Thanks Jessica! I’d love to hear how it goes. :)

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23 Lauren Prufer February 11, 2018

They look fab! Any ideas for gluten free? Maybe oat flour…I may just have to try and report back!

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24 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Lauren, I haven’t had a chance to test gluten-free versions yet (actually that’s a lie…my first trial was gluten-free as I followed the flours used in my gluten-free graham crackers), but unfortunately the buckwheat flour was overpowering in these delicate-tasting cookies! An oat and almond flour cookie base might be the solution…they’d be “heartier”, but still tasty I bet. If I try anything I’ll be sure to add a note in the recipe, and please let me know if you do too!

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25 dc February 11, 2018

Bonjour Angela,

This recipe delivered a gold medal performance. Can you tell that my eyes are square from cheering Team Canada from the comfort of my home?!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I made the following substitutions (thank you, pantry, for not being as recipe-friendly as I would have liked):
subbed 1.5 tablespoons of maple syrup for the brown rice syrup
used all-purpose gluten-free flour rather than spelt flour
added one more tablespoon of coconut palm sugar, as frosting wasn’t in the plans
poured unsweetened cashew non-dairy beverage into the mix

One more thing – due to habit, I sifted all dry ingredients. Perhaps the notion of “to sift or not to sift” could be a topic of one of your future Friday musings, which, like many, I enjoy.

The result was delightful – the kitchen smelled yummy and the cookies were delish.

Merci beaucoup,
dc

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26 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

haha love this review!! Thanks so much. I’m amazed that they turned out so well with all the tweaks…don’t you love when a recipe is versatile? Great point about to sift or not to sift. I’ve found that whisking the dry ingredients with my mini OXO whisk does a great job of incorporating the dry ingredients.

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27 Sam February 11, 2018

Do you have a recommendation for an almond flour subsitution? I’d like to make these for my kids’ school Valentine’s Day party but they need to be nut free. Thanks!

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28 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hey Sam, Great question. I haven’t tested anything yet unfortunately. You might be able to add a touch more spelt flour instead, but you definitely wouldn’t need to use as much (almond flour doesn’t absorb liquids like regular flour does). If you try anything out, I’d love to hear how it goes!

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29 Angela February 11, 2018

Oooh these look amazing! Love the beet powder to make the icing pink. I just made a batch of your true love freezer fudge. So delicious!! Didn’t have granola on hand so I left it naked and served it with some coconut whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate. It was a hit. Love trying your recipes, I know they are fool-proof!

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30 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Oh so glad to hear you made the true love freezer fudge! One of our faves. Thanks for your kind words about my recipes…makes me so thrilled to hear you trust them so much!

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31 nathalie February 12, 2018

Hi Angela,

I want to make these as a surprise for my vegan husband for Valentine’s :)
Instead of electric beaters, do you think I can blend the pink frosting in a food processor?

Thanks!
Nathalie

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32 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Hi Nathalie, Aww what a cute surprise for your vegan husband! I wouldn’t have thought to make frosting in the food processor…such a fun idea! I can’t see why it wouldn’t work?

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33 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 13, 2018

Update: I’m happy to report that it worked quite well! I tried adding the butter to the processor first to “whip” it, but I found it just stuck to the sides, so I’d recommend adding all of the ingredients into the processor at the same time. I also found that I needed to add a bit more almond milk than usual and I had to stop to scrape the bowl down a few times. I hope this helps and that you have pink frosting success!

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34 Maria Koutsogiannis February 12, 2018

These are too cute. Perfect for this week! Thanks for sharing :D

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35 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2018

Thanks Maria! :)

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36 Olga February 12, 2018

What is vegan butter and how can I make it at home?

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37 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 13, 2018

Hey Olga, it’s a dairy-free alternative to traditional butter and is made with a base of oil. You can absolutely make it at home…it’s very easy! There are a lot of recipes online.

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38 amy February 12, 2018

I made these today with my two little girls…they had so much fun and the cookies turned out great. I also love that we can sample the cookie dough and not worry about raw egg :) :)

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39 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 13, 2018

Aww so sweet…I’m so happy you all enjoyed them!

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40 Me February 12, 2018

I am soooooo gonna need to try this!!!!

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41 Emily February 13, 2018

These look amazing and I’m excited to try them! I’m wondering what can be substituted for the brown rice syrup? Has anyone tried something else? Thank you!

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42 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 13, 2018

Thanks Emily! I haven’t tried anything else, but I think a blog reader mentioned swapping some extra maple syrup in place of the brown rice syrup. If you try anything we’d love to hear how it goes!

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43 Eve-Marie February 13, 2018
Recipe Rating:

These turned out beautiful and delicious! And the sub of cornstarch for arrowroot worked just fine.

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44 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 13, 2018

Hey Eve-Marie, Oh that’s fantastic to hear! Thanks so much for your feedback :)

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45 Charmaine February 13, 2018

Any suggestions for flour replacement for nut allergy sufferers?

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46 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 14, 2018

Hey Charmaine, Such a great question…I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you as I haven’t made a nut-free version yet. If I was going to attempt it, I would probably try adding a bit more spelt flour (not nearly as much as spelt will absorb more moisture than almond flour)…adding a bit at a time and mixing it in. And of course swapping the almond milk with a nut free milk. If you try anything I’d love to hear how it goes!

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47 Erin February 13, 2018

I couldn’t find beet powder, so instead I used 1 tbsp of raspberry puree in replace of the beet + milk and reduced the icing sugar by 1/4 cup. It worked like a dream and adds a nice raspberry flavour to the cookies.

For the raspberry, you puree a container of raspberries and then pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and pulp. It can also be done with black and blueberries for slightly different colours – see Smitten Kitchen berry buttercream.

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48 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 14, 2018

Hey Erin, Such a fantastic tip!! I was thinking how wonderful raspberry would be in the frosting the other day. Yum! Thanks for sharing your method…can’t wait to try it.

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49 Amanda February 14, 2018
Recipe Rating:

WoW! Delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

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50 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 14, 2018

So happy you enjoyed it Amanda! Thanks for your review :)

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51 Kaylie February 14, 2018
Recipe Rating:

My cookies turned out great, but my batter was dark brown, like the color of brown sugar! I used light spelt flour and followed all ingredients and steps exactly… but my dough did not look the same colors as Angela’s awesome pics! And they were kind of a sad color to frost :-/ any thoughts, friends?!

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52 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 15, 2018

Hey Kaylie, haha oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. I did some trials with whole spelt and they were a darker hue…could it be that your spelt flour was actually more whole-grain than you thought? Other things that could darker the dough colour would be the oil…some oils are darker than others. Also if you used almond “meal” instead of almond flour that would darken it too. Just throwing some ideas out there! :) I’m glad they still turned out delicious even if they weren’t as light as you hoped!

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53 Alicia February 14, 2018
Recipe Rating:

OMG I just made these and they are so good! Way better than I was expecting. Definitely a keeper! I didn’t have beet powder so put a tiny bit of raspberry jam in the frosting and it turned out perfect.

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54 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 15, 2018

Hey Alicia, That’s wonderful news!! Isn’t the dough so tasty? (Or is it just me who can’t stop eating it…heh). I love the raspberry idea too.

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55 mary ellen February 19, 2018

These were great! Like many readers, I didn’t have the brown rice syrup, and substituted date syrup. I also used actual beet juice instead of beet powder for the icing. I had already added the almond milk, and the beet juice made the icing too liquid-y, so I added more powdered sugar and had more frosting! They were tasty and I didn’t even tell my non-vegan friends they were vegan! My cookies were also more brown than yours, but since I iced them, they were fine.

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56 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 20, 2018

Hey Mary, I’m so happy they worked so well even with all the tweaks! Thanks for your feedback. :)

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