Pistachio Vegan Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free)
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Pistachio Vegan Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free)

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These Pistachio Vegan Shortbread Cookies have such a beautifully well-rounded combination of flavours. With aromas reminiscent of pistachio baklavas, this gluten-free shortbread cookies recipe is a Christmas favourite of mine or for any other festive occasion.
A real delight!

Why make these pistachio vegan shortbread cookies?

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 and earthy taste that somehow just adds a little festive to the flavour. Pistachios are definitely that little twist to the traditional recipe that makes this treat extra special. Every time I make these, im always surprised as to how easy they are to make. Enjoy this as an easy-made shortbread cookies recipe for Christmas, a delicious dessert for a dinner party or even as an everyday treat.

Making these Shortbread Cookies Vegan

The only element from the traditional shortbread that is not vegan would be the butter. Thankfully, there is a whole slew of buttery options that are suitable replacements. I personally really like the Miyokos and Spread buttery sticks brands. What’s great about the Spread brand is that it comes in an already proportioned wrapping that makes it so simple to bake with. Just make sure to buy a salted brand for a more authentic flavour.

Making these Shortbread Cookies Gluten-free

Shortbread cookies are one of those cookies that I used to just love to eat before I went gluten-free. I have memories of eating those cookies at my grand-mothers during the holidays accompanied by the smell of fresh pine and a roasting turkey. So, making these shortbread cookies gluten-free into an authentic-tasting recipe was really important to me.

binding element to shortbread cookies

The original trials I had baked were just horrible and ended up tasting like 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. I began experimenting to find an ingredient that would replace that glutinous binding element without changing the flavour or texture.

Agar works so well as a binding element. I have also used it in several other recipes before and since it is a flavourless element, it makes for a great replacement. Alternatively, you can also use xanthan gum if its what you have in your pantry (have tried it both ways), but personally, I prefer the agar version.


  • Cookie sheet
  • 3” cookie cutter of choice
  • Rolling Pin


  • Vegan butter, room temperature
  • Coconut oil, room temp
  • Confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Brown rice flour, sifted
  • Pistachios (ground and sifted)
  • Agar powder
  • Aquafaba (chickpea water)
  • Icing sugar
  • Rosewater
  • Pistachios Chopped

Making Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

In a medium-sized bowl, cream vegan butter while slowly adding the sifted powdered sugar to the mixture one tablespoon at a time while mixing until fully incorporated (see image below).

Creaming the butter with icing

Stir in your vanilla, ground pistachios, flour, agar, and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for an hour while covered with a plastic wrap. Do not over mix. This will make it so the ingredients fully combine and that the dough is solid enough to work with.

Combining the dough

Rolling out the Dough

Preheat oven at 350˚F (176˚C). Remove dough from the fridge and divide it into two parts. Keep one of the parts in the fridge while working with the other. Line your surface with parchment paper and cover dough with plastic wrap. Roll out until it’s about 1/4 – 1/2″ thick.

Rolling out the dough

With your 3″ round cookie cutter, you should be able to cut out 6 shapes. Gently remove the shapes with a knife and transpose them to your baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If there is left over dough, simply roll it out again and cut out new shapes. Repeat with the other batch refrigerated batch.

transfer onto cookie sheet

Baking the Cookies

Place your cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake anywhere from 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies you are making. Watch them until the edges turn a golden-brown colour.

baked shortbread cookies

Making shortbread cookies icing

While your cookies are baking, you can start working on your icing. This is an optional step depending on how you prefer your shortbread. I decided to make these pistachio shortbread cookies icing with rosewater which goes so well with pistachios simply because it just feels a little more festive. However, these are so delicious as is without any icing on them.

Whisk the chickpea brine with an electric mixer until foamy and then fold in the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time to the mixture until fully incorporated. Add in rose water.

Making the shortbread cookie icing

When cookies have sufficiently cooled, dip them half way into the into icing and place them on a cookie rack.

Dipping the cookies into the icing

Before the icing dries up, sprinkle on chopped pistachios. Make sure the icing has sufficiently dried before eating. Enjoy!

Pistachio Vegan Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free)

Alternatives and replacements

Shortbread cookies with almond flour instead of brown rice flour

If you are following a keto diet and would like to make your shortbread cookies with almond flour, you can just replace the brown rice flour and sifted pistachios with almond flour. Use

Shortbread Cookies White Rice Flour

For a lighter tone cookie or if you simply don’t like pistachios, you might want to try to make this recipe shortbread cookies white rice flour instead of brown rice flour. Alternatively, you can just substitute the pistachios with the white rice flour as well.

Substituting agar with Xanthan Gum

Agar is a much needed ingredient to bind the gluten-free dough together. However, agar can sometimes be difficult to find and is a little pricey so alternatively you can use xanthan gum as a replacement. Simply replace the agar with 3/4 tsp of xanthan gum.

Making a non-vegan Royal Icing

If you are not vegan, alternatively, you can use meringue powder as a substitute for the aquafaba (chickpea brine). Use 1 1/2 tbsp of Meringue powder and combine with 4-5 tbsp warm water and follow the steps as instructed.

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.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Vegan Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free)

These Vegan Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free)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, pistachio shortbread, Vegan Shortbread
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 263kcal
Author Happy as a Yam Recipes


  • 3" Cookie cutter
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cookie rack


  • 1 cup Vegan butter Room temperature
  • 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 alternatively you could replace with 3/4 tsp xanthin gum. I personally prefer the agar.

Vegan Rosewater Royal Icing

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


  • In a medium-sized bowl, cream vegan butter and sifted confectioner's sugar with a fork until they have softened and is fully combined.
  • Stir in vanilla, ground pistachios, flour, agar, and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for an hour.
  • Preheat oven at 350˚F. Remove dough from the fridge and divide into two parts. Keep half in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. Line your surface with parchment paper and cover the dough with plastic wrap to not stick on the rolling pin.
  • Roll out dough until it’s a 1/4″ thick then use cookie cutter and shape as many cookies possible. Take the leftover dough and roll it into a ball and roll out again. Repeat this process until you don’t have any more dough left over.
  • Place your cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Depending on the size, bake 17-20 min or until the edges turn a golden-brown colour.

Shortbread cookies icing (optional)

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

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  1. 5 stars
    i made these for a friend that’s vegan but had to try one for myself for testing purposes – as a total non vegan – I was shocked at how good these were! definitely a winner!

  2. 5 stars
    I never knew vegan shortbread was a thing but these look AMAZING! I wouldn’t miss the animal products in these cookies at all, and I love pistachio! Can’t wait to try them!

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