These healthy sugar cookies are made with whole wheat flour and are naturally sweetened with maple syrup. They have a delicious, buttery flavor and the perfect texture for making cut-out cookies!
Sugar cookies are so nostalgic to me! Growing up, I had so much fun making and decorating them each Christmas and now I’m keeping the tradition alive in my home. I can’t wait to involve Liv this year – I know she’s going to love helping me decorate!
Why You Need to Make These Healthy Sugar Cookies
They’re made with whole wheat flour so packed with fiber and nutrients… an upgraded cookie!
This is a classic recipe that will stand the test of time.
These cookies will bring you right back to your childhood!
whole wheat pastry flour – whole wheat pastry flour works better than regular whole wheat flour if you’re looking for the light and fluffy bread that regular all-purpose flour provides, but still want the nutrients of whole wheat flour. My go-to brand is Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour you can also use white whole wheat flour, a blend of all-purpose and regular whole wheat flour or just regular all-purpose flour.
baking powder – helps the cookies rise.
sea salt – brings the flavors together and also helps the cookies rise a bit!
unsalted butter – butter helps create light and fluffy cookies. Make sure you let the butter soften to room temperature before using in this recipe.
maple syrup – again, make sure this is at room temperature before using in this recipe.
egg – helps structure the cookies by holding the fat and liquid components together.
vanilla extract – a flavor enhancer.
icing – a simple mixture of powdered sugar, vanilla extract (or almond extract) and almond milk.
How to Make Healthy Sugar Cookies
Start by mixing the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer and a large bowl, beat butter (that’s softened to room temperature) and maple syrup on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing on medium speed until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Make sure you don’t over-mix or the cookies will be too dense. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If the dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or just place the entire bowl in the fridge and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or overnight. This step is super important so the dough is firm enough before making cookies. If you skip this step, the cookies could turn out too flat.
When the dough is chilled and you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to let it soften just slightly. You can roll your dough out on a clean, flat surface or place parchment paper down on your counter for easy clean up. Sprinkle a little flour on the surface and the rolling pin to prevent sticking. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin until it’s about 1/4-1/3 inch thick. The thicker your cookies are, the softer they will be.
Use your favorite cookie cutter shapes to cut the dough out and place them 1 inch apart on your prepared cookie sheet. After cutting out the first round of shapes, gather the dough scraps, and re-roll the dough scraps and cut again. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Add additional flour to the surface and rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges and bottoms are lightly golden. Let the cookies cool a few minutes on the sheet pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once they are cool, you can frost and decorate the cookies!
If you like soft cookies, roll the dough a little thicker (about 1/3 inch thick) and bake them closer to 8 minutes. If you like harder, crunchier cookies roll the dough 1/4 inch thick and bake them closer to 10 minutes. The thicker the dough is and less time the cookies bake, the softer they will be.
Variations & Notes
Vegan – I haven’t tested these with vegan substitutes but you could try swapping the butter for vegan butter and the egg for a flaxseed egg.
Grain-free or gluten-free – looking for a grain-free or gluten-free sugar cookie recipe? Try my coconut flour sugar cookies instead! It’s so delicious but made with coconut flour instead of whole wheat flour.
Sugar – I have tested these cookies with cane sugar and they turned out delicious! I personally liked them better with maple syrup, but if you want to use cane sugar use ½ cup cane sugar and add 2 Tablespoons of milk (I used unsweetened almond milk).
Almond extract – For a flavor twist, you can swap the vanilla extract for almond extract or use 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond.
How to Store Leftovers
There are two options when it comes to storing sugar cookies! You can frost and decorate them and then store or you can store unfrosted and frost/decorate when you’re ready to serve. If you choose the first option, I recommend layering the cookies in an airtight container with parchment paper. If you choose the second, still store in an airtight container.
For longer storage, you can refrigerate or freeze these cookies. If you are freezing them, I recommend freezing unfrosted, letting them thaw when you’re ready to enjoy and frosting right before serving.
In a medium bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter and maple syrup on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, mixing on medium speed until combined.
Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix on low speed, until just combined. Dough should be soft, but not sticky. Add a little more flour if it seems too sticky, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap or place the entire bowl in the fridge and let dough chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight.
When dough is chilled and you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF, line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove dough from fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly. On a clean rolling surface (or a parchment lined surface) sprinkle 1-2 Tablespoons of flour on surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough, using a rolling pin, until it's about 1/4-1/3″ thick. The thicker your cookies are the softer they’ll be.
Use your favorite cookie cutter shapes to cut out the dough and place them about 1 inch apart on your cookie sheet. Gather and re-roll the dough scraps as many times as needed until all the dough is used. Add additional flour to the surface and rolling pin as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges and bottoms are lightly golden.
Allow cookies to cool a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cookies are cool you can frost and decorate them. To make homemade icing, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and almond milk in a small bowl. Whisk until all lumps of sugar have dissolved and icing is the thickness you desire. You don't want it to be super thick, but also don't want it to be too runny where it melts off the cookies. Frost cookies with icing and add sprinkles right away, before the icing has a chance to set.