Nut-Free “Peanut Butter” Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you've never baked gluten-free before, we highly recommend using Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour Blend for this recipe. If you're using a different blend, double check the ingredients. If it doesn’t contain xanthan gum (or another binding ingredient like guar gum or psyllium husks), we recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to ensure success.

Note that the FDA does list coconut as a tree nut, though many people with tree nut allergies are fine with coconut. If you're not sure if the person or people eating your cookies has a tree nut allergy that includes coconut, check with them before making this recipe, or substitute another fat in place of the coconut oil (we recommend butter if there are no dairy allergies, or vegan EarthBalance if there are).

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Cooling time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 16 to 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (or ground flaxseed)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened at room temperature (but not melted or liquidy; see Recipe Note for allergy info)
  • 1/3 cup (72g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (104g) sunflower butter, store-bought or homemade (or another favorite nut or seed butter)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup (170g) all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (such as Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour Blend)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (165g) allergen-free chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)

Method

1 Prepare the flax "egg": Combine the flax meal with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Let stand for 7 to 10 minutes to thicken. This will be used as an egg replacer in this recipe.

2 Combine the oil and sugars: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using electric hand beaters), beat the coconut oil, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth and combined.

The mixture will be a little grainy and will flatten to cover the bottom of the bowl in a uniform layer; it won’t be light and creamy like more traditional cookie batters. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times and continue mixing until the sugar is well incorporated.

3 Add the sunflower butter, flax egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides as needed. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes—it’ll start to soften and look much more creamy at this point.

4 Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a small, separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt.

5 Beat in the dry ingredients: Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and beat on medium until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough will look like large pebbles at first, but keep beating and it will eventually become smooth and more uniform in about 2 minutes.

Turn off the mixer and knead the dough a few times with your hands to ensure all the dry bits come up from the bottom of the bowl and are incorporated.

6 Work in the chocolate chips: Incorporate chocolate chips with your hands by kneading and mixing them gently into the dough.

This dough isn’t sticky and creamy like some traditional cookie doughs, so hand-mixing like this is the best method to incorporate the chips. Don’t worry if a few chips are loose; they’ll make their way into the cookies when you scoop out the dough.

7 Chill the dough: Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

8 Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

9 Warm the dough slightly: After chilling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Because the dough is a bit crumbly, letting it sit out on the counter before forming it into balls will help ensure you have nice, smooth cookie dough balls to work with versus ones that may crack a bit if they’re too cool.

10 Roll into cookies: Using 2 heaping tablespoons (about 45g) of dough per cookie, roll the dough in between your hands until it forms a ball. It doesn’t need to be perfect—if the dough crumbles a little, just press it back together.

Place each ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart (they'll spread a bit). Using the palm of your hand, flatten each cookie slightly to about 1/2-inch thickness. If the cookies start to crack or break as you flatten them, just use your hands to form them back together.

11 Bake cookies: Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. The cookies will still feel soft but will firm up as they cool.

12 Cool and serve: Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

13 Store leftovers: Keep the cookies covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. Freeze in an airtight freezer bag or container for up to 3 months.

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Comments

  • Jana

    FYI… There is debate among the different groups that have authority, but the FDA classifies coconut as a nut. So saying “nut free” may not be true, depending on what people have been taught from their allergists. Personally, I don’t think coconut is a nut, but as a mom of a kid with a peanut allergy, i am in tune to these details. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Cindy

    The Bob’s Red Mill products are manufactured in a plant that also processes tree nuts. This makes their products unsafe for those with a tree nut allergy. I speak from experience that there can be cross contamination that may cause an allergic reaction.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi! Emma here, managing editor. We checked in with the folks at Bob’s Red Mill about this concern and they said, “We do produce tree nuts and soy in our gluten free facility. We use Good Manufacturing Practices to prevent cross contamination.” These Good Manufacturing Practices (GNPs) are a pretty stringent set of practices that companies have to develop and employ in their facilities to ensure cleanliness and avoidance of any cross-contamination. A company like Bob’s would be inspected for compliance with their GNPs regularly and rigorously, so we feel confident recommending them as our preferred gluten-free flour blend in this recipe.

      However, we know that some people with very severe allergies can be affected just with cross-air contamination. As always, you should buy and use what feels like the best fit for your family.

  • Pat

    So I made these and they are pretty crumbly and the sugar never truly dissolved, but still a good cookie. However something odd happened as the cookies reached a day old: their insides turned a fairly bright green like pistachios.

    • Megan Gordon

      Hi, Pat! Thanks for the comment. Hmm, strange about the sugar – I’m not 100% sure what could’ve caused that and I didn’t experience that when I baked them. However, you’re right that the cookies can turn slightly green! There’s a little science here and my cookies turned every-so-slightly green as well (but sounds like yours got greener). From the Sunbutter website (https://sunbutter.com/faq/):

      “My cookies turned green, what happened?
      When substituting SunButter in your existing recipe, you may have to reduce the baking soda/powder by about one-third. The chlorogenic acid (chlorophyll) in sunflower seeds reacts with the baking soda/powder when baked, causing the green color when the cookies cool. This is completely harmless! Depending on the recipe, a splash of lemon juice may also help.”

      The slight green didn’t bother me, but as the website notes, you could always reduce the baking soda here (I’d go ahead and try 1/2 teaspoon) and it sounds like that may help. Thanks so much for the comment, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies.