Apple Cider Spice Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

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I posted a photo of these cookies on my personal Facebook page several weeks ago and captioned them “cookie experimentation…” I haven’t posted the recipe until now, because it really was a first time experiment, and I wanted to try it out more than once to make sure it really does work. Here it is, just in time for Thanksgiving, or for a fall treat as the weather gets colder!

What was I so concerned about? The ghee. In many situations when you might use butter, if you are wanting to be dairy-free, you can replace the butter with ghee. To make ghee, butter is cooked at a low temperature until the milk solids are cooked off, and what you are left with is pure butterfat. In some cases, people are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar. In Natalie’s case, she is sensitive to both casein and whey, which are both proteins. All three of these are cooked off in the butter clarification process. Ghee is very similar in taste to butter, but has a slightly nutty taste to it. It is excellent for high heat cooking, but Natalie butters her gluten-free toast with it, puts it on baked and mashed potatoes, and in pretty much any other “topical” way one would use butter…such as the occasional bowl of air-popped popcorn.

I cook with ghee often, but I generally don’t bake with it. Why is that? Cooking is kind of like throwing things in the pan, and it’s really a matter of taste what goes in the pan. Baking, however, is science.  Butter is 80-82% fat, but ghee is 100% fat. If you bake very much, you might guess swapping one for the other, with their different fat percentages, could result in baking disasters that get tossed in the trash can. Trust me. I know. But this time, I hoped that since it is a soft cookie that gets chilled before baking, ghee would work. And oh boy, it does! These are delicious!

I also used sucanat in this recipe, like I did in these muffins, because the molasses flavor of sucanat goes perfectly with the other flavors. However, if you want to use sugar, that will work, too.

These cookies are soft, spicy, appl-y, molasses-y bites of fall. Enjoy!

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Apple Cider Spice Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

1/2 cup ghee (or softened butter if you tolerate dairy)

1 cup sucanat (or organic sugar), plus more for rolling cookies

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup apple cider

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla (make sure it is gluten-free)

2 1/3 cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment or Silpat liners.
  2. Cream together the ghee (or butter) and sucanat (or sugar) in a mixing bowl on high-speed until light and fluffy. Add the applesauce, apple cider, molasses, egg, and vanilla, and mix until combined. The mixture will likely look curdled, and that is OK!
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients then add to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least two hours, or up to overnight. The dough will still be soft, even after chilling.
  4. Scoop the cookie dough by the tablespoon, rolling it gently into balls.  Place the dough balls in a bowl of sugar, rolling to coat each. Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then let cookies cool for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.



2 thoughts on “Apple Cider Spice Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

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