Gluten-Free & vegan Pistachio Shortbread
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Gluten-Free Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Rosewater Icing

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These Gluten-Free Pistachio Shortbread cookies with rosewater icing (also known as sugar cookies) are such a beautifully well-rounded combination of flavours. With aromas reminiscent of pistachio baklavas, these gluten-free treats will warm your soul and please any palate. A real delight!

Pistachios are by far my favourite nut. They are just so addictive that you’ll obsessively eat until the bag is empty. They have a wonderfully mild yet sweet, earthy taste that combines so well with the essence of rosewater.

Making Vegan & Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

These Gluten-Free Pistachio Shortbread cookies are quite easy to make. They take very little time in the oven and are such a delicious treat to enjoy with the kids. However, the. recipe was not an easy recipe to develop.

Shortbread cookies are another one of those cookies that I used to just loved to eat without feeling too guilty before I went gluten-free. So, I wanted to make a gluten-free version. However, the vegan & gluten-free recipes that I had online found were just horrible and ended up with me biting into a pile of baked flour molded into the shape of a cookie. Not an enjoyable experience. The gluten in the flour is the glue that makes these cookies stick together, and so the gluten-free versions just didn’t work. So, I began experimenting to find an ingredient that will replace that glutinous binding agent without changing the flavour or texture.

Baking with Agar

Many recipes that you find online that are both gluten-free and vegan will use xanthin gum as a binding agent essentially replacing the gluten in the cookies. However, many people also have sensitivities to xanthan gum and so I prefer baking without it when I can.

Agar is usually used as a vegan replacement for gelatine. It usually makes great jellies but surprisingly, it also makes for a great binder as a gluten replacement. I had some leftover agar from another recipe that I wanted to try, and it worked beautifully giving that perfect texture that you’re looking for when biting into a shortbread!

The results

I gave one to my step daughter, who is quite difficult when it comes to everything, and she couldn’t even tell the difference from version that contained gluten. So, I can proudly say that this recipe is pretty close to the original version.

Here are a few other recipes using agar that worked really well:

Vegan Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Basil Coulis

Pomegranate & Grapefruit Gummies

I hope you really enjoyed this post as much as I did. Feel free to post your questions, comments and feedback in the comments section. These comments are so important to help me grow as a blogger and help others experiences as well.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Rosewater Icing

These Gluten-Free Pistachio Shortbread cookies with rosewater icing (or sugar cookies) have aromas reminiscent of pistachio baklavas make for a delicious combination of flavours.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Gluten-Free, gluten-free & vegan dessert, gluten-free & vegan shortbread, Gluten-free shortbread, gluten-free sugar cookies, pistachio, pistachio shortbread, pistachio sugar cookies, vegan & gluten-free sugar cookies, Vegan Shortbread, Vegan sugar cookies
Servings 15
Calories 263kcal
Author Happy as a Yam Recipes


  • Cookie cutter


  • ½ cup Unsalted vegan margarine, room temperature
  • ½ cup Coconut oil (solid format)
  • ¾ cup Confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 ½ cups Brown rice flour, sifted
  • ½ cup Pistachios (ground and sifted)
  • ½ tsp Agar powder

Vegan Rosewater Royal Icing

  • 3 Tbsp Aquafaba (chickpea water)
  • 1 ½ cups Icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp Rose water
  • 1 cup Pistachios Chopped


Cookie instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.
  • In a medium sized bowl, cream coconut oil and margarine with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Slowly add sifted powdered sugar to the mixture one tablespoon at a time. Stir in your vanilla, ground pistachios, and flour and mix until incorporated. Stir in your agar, then cover the bowl with saran wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
  • Remove dough from the fridge and divide it into two parts. Keep on of the parts in the fridge, covered with the plastic wrap. Roll the other half on a counter lined with parchment paper until it's 1/4" thick. You can work your dough into your hands to warm it up if it's too hard to work with. The dough will become very sticky so I recommend using a saran wrap on top of your dough to roll it out. Use your cookie cutter shape of choice but watch out for any stuck-on cookie dough. I suggest that you rinse off excess cookie dough with hot water between cuts to make a nice clean shape.
  • Place your cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake trays anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies you are making. Watch them until the edges turn a golden-brown colour.

Royal Icing Instructions

  • Whisk the chickpea brine with an electric mixer until foamy and then add the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time to the mixture until fully incorporated and thick. Add in rose water.
  • Dip your cookies into the icing and place them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle on your chopped pistachios.
Pistachio Shortbread Cookies Nutritional Facts

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