Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Rosewater Icing

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Pistachios are by far my favourite nut. They are just so addictive that you’ll obsessively eat until the bag is empty. It’s got that aromatic after taste that keeps you coming back for more. You pair that with rosewater, and you have yourself a taste that is reminiscent of baklavas.

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. But the gluten-free recipes that I found were just horrible they ended up with me eating a cookie shaped pile of cooked flour. 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. Agar is usually used as a vegan replacement for gelatine. It makes great jello, pudding, jellies, but surprisingly, it makes for an efficient binding replacement for gluten. I had some leftover agar-agar from another recipe that I wanted to try, and it works marvelously.

I gave one to my daughter, who is usually quite difficult, and she couldn’t even tell the difference from the glutinous version. So, I can gladly say that this recipe is pretty close to the original version.

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Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Rosewater Icing

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cookies, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, holiday treats, shortbread, sugar cookies, Vegan


  • 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 3 Tbsp chickpea brine (left over juice from the can of chickpeas)
  • 1 ½ cups  1 ½ cups of icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp  1 Tbsp rose water 
  • 1 cup 1 cup of finely chopped pistachios


Cookie instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • 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.

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