Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies (Gluten-Free)

by Dorothy Reinhold on May 22, 2012

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Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies are caramely, butterscotchy, oaty, chewy, gluten-free cookies that are waaay better than the standard oatmeal cookie.

This cookie is missing what is usually a key ingredient in most cookies – wheat flour – but no one will be the wiser. In fact, you may actually like these better than your standard version oatmeal cookies. At my house, we now prefer them.

These were an unqualified hit at the Mother’s Day brunch I attended and baked for!

Dough from Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies plopped onto parchment paperOne other attribute about this recipe is it goes together very quickly, and makes a small batch. So when you simply must have a homemade cookie, you can whip these out pretty quickly.

Gluten-free, appropriate for Celiacs

The fact that they have no flour will appeal to those who cannot tolerate or are sensitive to wheat in their diets. They also may be appropriate for those who have diagnosed Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the membrane of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It is triggered by eating the protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. Think of it this way: Gluten is the elastic protein in wheat, barley and rye, and that elasticity is what holds bread together, why cakes rise high, and what gives bread products a wonderful chewy, doughy texture. Gluten is the glue.

12 Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies on a white piece of parchment paperWhen people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine, and then the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.Closeup of 2 Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies on white parchment paperCeliacs will want to search out certified gluten-free rolled oats for this recipe (Bob’s Red Mill is a nationally available brand).  Even though ordinary oats don’t contain gluten, most oats produced in this country are contaminated for a couple of reasons — because they are made in factories that also produce wheat (from flour on the conveyor belts, which will cross contaminate), or they are stored next to wheat grains, and they are grown in fields next to wheat (this allows wheat spores to float over and contaminate the oats with their gluten). In fact, if oats are grown in the same field that grew wheat the season before, that might be a basis for contamination as well.

Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies piled in a plastic containerSo those who must should seek out certified gluten-free oats. (As always, consult your physician if appropriate.) The rest of us can use regular old-fashioned rolled oats.

Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 14 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 24 cookies

Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Recipe source: Adapted from a recipe by Marcy Goldman, a professional baker and food writer based in Montreal.


  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking variety) Be sure to buy certified gluten-free oats if it is important to you
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg


  1. Melt the butter. Place all ingredients in a medium-size bowl and mix gently by hand, or at lowest speed with an electric mixer. Mound into a ball of dough. Chill the dough 25 minutes (this is an important step) or overnight if more convenient. Cookie won't hold together if you don't refrigerate it.
  2. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350F degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. (Parchment paper is a must, or the cookies will fuse onto the baking sheet.)
  3. Form the chilled dough into 1-inch scoops or balls (a small cookie scoop works well for this), and place on baking sheet. The cookies won’t rise, but will spread out very slightly.
  4. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges are browned and the tops of the cookies are medium golden. (Both sheets may be baked at the same time; switch racks and turn sheets back to front at the halfway point.)
  5. Remove from oven and cool well on the baking sheet (about 10 minutes) before removing using a spatula. The cookies should peel off the parchment easily.
  6. Makes 2 dozen cookies.
  7. TO MAKE COOKIES FOR CHRISTMAS OR ANOTHER HOLIDAY: Before baking, sprinkle with appropriately colored nonpareils or other oven-going sprinkles, bake as directed, and voila!


Parchment paper: Please use parchment paper on your cookie sheets for this recipe. This is different than waxed paper (which isn't meant to be baked). The wax on waxed paper will melt in the oven and you'll have a mess, so please buy parchment paper, which is often shelved near the waxed paper in the grocery store. You can reuse parchment paper several times. You'll know it is ready to be trashed if is stained and scorched. If not, just brush it off and use it another time!


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Photo collage of Flourless Caramel Oat Cookies on ShockinglyDelicious.com

If you’d like to make these Christmas cookies, simply sprinkle with festive nonpareils or another type of sprinkle that can be baked. You can change up the color of the sprinkles for whichever holiday you’re celebrating, or use school colors or a birthday celebrant’s favorite colors.

Hand holding a single oat cookie with a plate behind

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess March 17, 2015 at 6:59 am

hi made these today so quick! they are tasty only they are very sweet, I think I’d put less sugar if I make again thanks


Dorothy Reinhold March 17, 2015 at 8:31 am

Thanks for the feedback. I think my family found these just about right. Let me know if you try them again, and what amount of sugar works for you.


Safiyyah November 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm

These cookies are so yummy!!!! The first time I made them they didn’t stick together very well but the second time I pulsed half of the oats in the food processor to make a more flour like consistency and it worked perfectly. My family loved them! I didn’t even tell them they were gluten free.


Dorothy Reinhold November 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Great tweak! Glad you like them!


Elliott October 19, 2014 at 10:35 am

These came out delicious, but they stuck to the wax paper horribly! I’ve never seen cookies stick so bad.


Dorothy Reinhold October 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

I’m so glad you liked them! But oh no…the recipe asks you to use parchment paper, which is a different thing than waxed paper. Waxed paper will melt (it is coated with wax) in the oven, and isn’t meant to be baked on. Parchment paper won’t stick. You can find parchment paper near the waxed paper at well stocked grocery stores. Try them again, oh please!


cynthia November 9, 2013 at 11:44 am

Made these today and they are delicious! Only thing…mine did not look anything like yours. They were dark around the edges and golden brown in the middle. They seem to have spread more then yours. I made 24 just like yours. Never the less…they taste incredible!!


denise larson February 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I tried this recipe and they are absolutely delicious! However, they don’t stay together very well, very delicate. I tried making them smaller and they seem to be better, but for my grandson I will go back to the peanut butter cookies. . . . they are also very good and held together well.


Dorothy February 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Interesting…I didn’t have any problem with them falling apart. Hmmmmm….


Julie February 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Another winner! I have had to make four batches in the last week. My husband is addicted!


Dorothy February 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Yay! Or maybe…I’m sorry!


Bubble Child January 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm

These cookies look fabulous. You are confirming my decision to bake gluten-free oatmeal cookies tonight.


Stacy December 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I used the wrong paper!!!! Don’t use wax paper! Lol. I made these again and they are little balls of perfection!!!! My new favorite cookie! Thank you!


Dorothy December 22, 2012 at 6:49 am

I am so glad you figured out the problem. Correct, do NOT use waxed paper! It was not meant to bake with in the oven. Parchment paper is a miracle, and makes cookie removal very, very easy. You can often use parchment paper more than once (depending on oven temp). If it still looks pretty white and clean after your first batch, brush it off and use it again! If it has caramelized sugar or has become scorched, toss it and get a fresh piece. Happy baking!


Stacy December 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I made these and they are delish but they stuck to my parchment paper!!!! All of them. Why?!


Carina December 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Would it be possible to add coacoa powder to these to make them chocolatey?


Dorothy December 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I have not tried that, but I like the idea! Do it and let me know how much you add and how it tastes!


Jul's December 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

These are awesome!!! I am allergic to wheat and have a hard time finding recipes my family enjoys. This was a huge hit. Thank you for such a great recipe!


holly December 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Just tried these cookies. I didn’t get a dough. The oats didn’t incorporate with the liquid. I used Imperial Margarine instead of butter and light brown sugar instead of dark. Chilling just made the oats on top dry because the liquid settled out of it. Is BUTTER rather than margarine the problem? I melted the margarine like it says, was that a typo?


Dorothy December 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Sorry you had an issue. The light brown sugar vs. dark isn’t the problem. I believe it is the margarine, which is an entirely different animal than butter. I just looked up the ingredient list in Imperial Margarine and it contains water. I have made this recipe a dozen or more times, and it always behaves the same way, so I am pretty confident in it. Try it once more, with butter, and let me know! I also want to make sure that you are using regular (rolled) oats, not the instant oats. Just checking.


facebook_jamisothergrotto November 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I found this on a search for gluten free Christmas cookies, They look delicious! I’m trying to avoid sugar as well as gluten… Do you think palm sugar would work as a substitute? Or perhaps raw maple syrup or honey? Can’t wait to try!


Stephanie, the Recipe Renovator May 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm

These look fantastic and I will definitely be trying a version of these. Thanks for offering gluten-free options!


Shoshana May 26, 2012 at 10:06 am

Yum! Just whipped up a batch and they are heavenly!


Dorothy May 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Thank you! So glad to hear you like them!


Christina May 22, 2012 at 7:13 am

These look very similar to a cookie I make, but are not gluten free-will have to try these for my gf friends! Thanks, Dorothy!


Dorothy May 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

If you are making these for a GF eater, be SURE to source the oats as certified GF. Just making sure. 🙂


Heather December 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm

OMG, these are delicious!! Thank you SO much for this recipe. My daughter can’t have most gluten free baked goods because she is also legume-free and these are absolutely perfect and both of us think they’re the best oatmeal cookies ever. I usually don’t like gluten free cookies, but these have no substitutions, so they don’t taste “different” at all. Just fabulous. Like candy coated pieces of cookie heaven!


Dorothy December 22, 2012 at 6:50 am

So glad they solved your problem! I think your description of them is PERFECT!


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