Vegan Vanilla Cookies: 1 Dough, Many Kinds

Vegan Vanilla Cookies

Fran Costigan's Vegan Vanilla CookiesI tested vegan cookies last week, vegan vanilla cookies to be precise, and I did so with such determination it was as if I was practicing for a Great British Bake Off competition. I made vanilla cookies using vegan butters, both Brooklyn Buttah and Miyoko’s Kitchen Cultured Butter, and with extra virgin olive oil. These trials were ok, more than ok really, but not great, and I found the results were inconsistent. I actually liked the olive oil cookies better than the vegan butter ones. Believe me when I tell you that cutting recipes in half or a quarter when testing is the smart thing to do. I had lots of cookies now to dunk, drizzle with chocolate, and share with my friends who welcome ‘rejects”, but the bottom line for me is that I didn’t like any of them as well as the Vanilla Wafer Cookies in More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally (2006). This dough is fast and easy, no granulated sugar is used, unless you choose to finish with the optional sprinkle, and the dough can be stored in the freezer, even cut out as cookies, until you are ready to bake.  So now, 10 years later I have revised the recipe by reducing the vanilla extract, baking the cookies longer, and adding a nut cookie option. Now, if only I could learn to take better photos! These really don’t do the cookies justice but I hope you get the idea.


Vegan Vanilla Cookies - TestingWhen I test recipes, I don’t mess around. Making tape and taking photos are your friends. A notebook, too. Here are variations, different shapes, nuts and no nuts, and different baking times. I always check the bottoms of some of the cookies.

How did these taste? My Polish friend Ula doesn’t really like sweets. She tasted one and said, “What?!! You made my grandma’s cookies?!” She took another. I said, “Well I’m glad you like them but I’m sure these are not your grandma’s cookies, or my grandma’s either!” There’s no crisco, and no white sugar.

The dough comes together fast but you must allow time at least 2 hours for the dough to chill in the freezer before rolling and cutting It will not freeze rock hard solid. Keep the dough in your freezer, as long as it’s well wrapped, for up to a month or longer.

Tip: If the dough softens while you are cutting the cookies, freeze briefly and continue.

Vegan Vanilla Cookies


  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons mild tasting extra virgin olive oil or another neutral oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, Grade A dark or dark amber
  • 1 tablespon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar for sprinkling, optional, or as needed


Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the flour, arrowroot, baking powder, and salt to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. Whisk to mix.

Whisk oil, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl until well combined. Pour into the dry mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until dough is smooth and shiny. The dough is soft.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap. Pat into a disk

Freeze 2 hours, or until the dough is cold enough to roll and cut.

Make the Cookies

Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Rolling the Dough
The mass of dough on the right is just out of the freezer. It had been scraps from first rolling.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Cutting the Cookies
Use any size cutter you like. To make linzer cookie tops, press an icing tip into some of the cookies.

Work with one piece of dough at a time. Unwrap the dough and cover with another piece of wrap. Roll the dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Press a cookie cutter into the dough, making the cuts as close together as possible. (If you are making Linzer cookies, press a round piping tip into the center of some.) Press the dough that remains after the cuts together. Roll and cut more cookies. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar, if desired.

Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Cutting the Dough
Practicing for Valentines Day?

Use a wide spatula to lift the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet, placing them 1/2 inch apart. If the cookies have become too soft to move, refrigerate for about 15 minutes until chilled and firm.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies look dry and slightly puffed and the bottoms are lightly browned. Thinner cookies will be lightly browned around the edges.

Place the baking sheet on a rack and cool for 3 minutes, or until the cookies are firm enough to move. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely before you finish them.

Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Assembling the Cookies
Assembling the cookies– I love this part.

Nut Cookies:

Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Hazelnut Flour
2 tablespoons hazelnut flour mixed into 3 ounces of dough. I measured so I could have a formula.

Mix 2 tablespoons nut flour into 3 ounces cookie dough. That’s the formula.


Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Rolling Hazelnut Dough
The hazelnut dough rolled out.

Roll and cut.

Roll into balls, press down to flatten slightly, make center depression.

Vegan Vanilla Cookies – Hazelnut Variation
Experimenting with other shapes and it worked a charm.

Roll 1/2 teaspoon pieces dough into logs. Press down lightly to flatten.

Crescents: Roll into rope, shape into crescent. Press down lightly to flatten.

Linzer Cookies: Spread a bit of jam on the bottom of one cookie. Top with one of the cut outs and press lightly.


Baked Vanilla Cookies with Chocolate and Jam

Sandwich Cookies: Spread ganache or melted chocolate over the bottom of one cookies, press a cookie, bottom down on the filling. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.

Modern Art Cookies: Place cookies close together, drizzle with melted chocolate.

Nut, Coconut, Sprinkles Cookies: Dip some of the cookie in melted chocolate and before it sets, into chopped nuts, coconut or spinkles.

Now tell me please, are you a cookie person? I am most definitely and I prefer crunchy, not too sweet cookies. These are irresisitible. Do you have a favorite cookie? 






  • Hi Fran, I love the idea of an all purpose vanilla cookie dough, so many options! To answer your question, I prefer soft cookies, and chocolate has to be somewhere close 😉 But I can not eat gluten so that sometimes adds another obstacle to baking. I am currently on the search for a soft, vegan, gluten free, pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. Any suggestions?

    • Yes, baking gluten free is not as simple as swapping out the flour- not always in any case. I have a very nice gluten free Chocolate Chip cookie on a previous blog. You can do a search. Pascha allergy free chocolate just posted that recipe too. I have it on my Facebook page, they have it on their website. GIve it a try.

  • These look delicious! How many cookies does it make? Also, do you think I could replace Arrowroot with corn starch or potato starch? I don’t have arrowroot 🙁

    • Hi Alexz,
      The cookies are delicious. The recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies. You can use cornstarch but it’s worth getting arrowroot for these for the best flavor.

      let us know how it works out!

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