Betty Crocker’s Candy Cane Cookies (gluten-free and wheat recipe)

When I was a kid, my mom was the Christmas cookie queen.  It seemed like she would bake for days (she probably did) and there would be mountains of cookies to share with friends and neighbors (and to sneak while she wasn’t looking).

Gotta love Betty…

My favorite was always the Candy Cane Cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.  If you made cookies in the 60’s and 70’s, then you know this book well as it was the definitive cookie cookbook when it was published.  I have my mom’s copy now (complete with all her notes for the cookies we used to make), and I thought it was high time to see if I could make a gluten-free version (I already know that the ones made with wheat flour are super tasty!).  I loved these cookies because I thought it was so cool that you got to twist the dough and form the cookies into a candy cane shape (plus, I liked that you got to dye half the dough too!).

I used the Co-op Bakery’s gluten-free baking mix from the bulk department (made with Bob’s certified GF flours) and the cookies turned out delicious and didn’t taste like they were gluten-free at all!  They were a lot more delicate than I remember from my childhood, but that was the biggest difference I could see between using wheat flour and gluten-free flour.  You have to be really careful when shaping the cookies (using too much flour to roll them out makes it too hard to get them to form a cylinder, and not enough causes them to stick to your work surface), but after the first few I started to get the hang of it – it just takes a little patience.

As for the food coloring, I used India Tree natural food color (made with concentrated vegetables) which we sell around Easter at the Co-op (you can get it at the Greenhouse or at The Market in Fairhaven or on Lakeway), but you can also make your own red food coloring very easily with fresh or canned beets – you can find the recipe here.  I’ve done it before and it is very simple, it just takes a few hours for the color to concentrate.

I hope you enjoy!  Next Friday and Saturday I’ll be at the Cordata Co-op sampling some products for the holiday weekend, so stop by and say hello!

Candy Cane Cookies © Sassy Sampler 2011

Candy Cane Cookies

adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book


  • 1/2 c shortening (we sell organic non-hydrogenated shortening at the Co-op made by Spectrum)
  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 1 c sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 c flour (gluten-free blend* or unbleached white flour), sifted
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ~ 1/2 t red food coloring (more or less depending on how rich of a red you want, I used about 40-50 drops of the natural food coloring)
  • 1/8 c crushed peppermint candy (such as candy canes)
  • 1/8 c granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix shortening, butter, powdered sugar, egg, and the almond and vanilla extracts until they are thoroughly combined (this is most easily done in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
  3. Mix flour and sea salt together, and stir into the shortening mixture.
  4. Divide dough in half, and blend the food coloring into one of the halves.
  5. Roll a 4” strip (using 1 t dough) from each color on a lightly floured surface.  Too much flour and the strips won’t roll, too much and they will stick, so adjust as necessary.  (see photo below)
  6. Place strips side by side and press them together lightly and gently twist into a rope shape.
  7. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and curve the top down to form the handle of the candy cane.  Don’t worry if they don’t come out perfect—you’ll get better at shaping them as you work through the dough.
  8. Repeat until you are out of dough.
  9. Mix crushed candy and sugar together in a small bowl.
  10. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until they are lightly browned.
  11. While still warm, remove cookies from baking sheet to a wire rack with a spatula and sprinkle with the peppermint sugar mixture.

The gluten-free version of the cookie will be delicate but shouldn’t break apart too easily once they are cooled.

Carefully store cookies in an airtight container for up to four days.

*make sure your gluten-free flour blend includes xanthan gum – if not, add 1t to the recipe to help the cookies hold together.

Candy Cane Cookies PDF


2 thoughts on “Betty Crocker’s Candy Cane Cookies (gluten-free and wheat recipe)

  1. You forget a very important ingredient, Xanthum gum. I made these on Saturday and followed your recipe exactly as stated and they crumbled apart and didn’t stay together. I think the addition of Xanthum gum might have made a difference.

    • Oh no – I hope they were at least tasty crumbles! You’re right Linda – xanthan gum is an important ingredient in GF cookies. I’ll note that the gluten-free baking mix made by our Bakery that I use in all of my baking has xanthan gum in it (from Bob’s Red Mill so it is also non-GMO!) – if you aren’t near one of our stores and can’t purchase this flour blend, the recipe for it is linked on the recipe/resources page of my blog – it’s a really great blend that our bakery spent months perfecting and I rarely have any issues with it (I’ll note it doesn’t work well for most breads). Most GF flour mixes contain xanthan gum which is why I didn’t include it as a separate ingredient in the recipe, but I’ll add a little note to remind that it is necessary. This is an incredibly delicate gluten-free cookie (the wheat version is much sturdier due to the gluten in the flour, but still delicate until fully cooled) so I also added a note to the recipe that it may be best to sprinkle the peppermint sugar on the cookie while still on the sheet and allow them to fully cool before moving them. Happy baking!

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