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The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

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The ultimate cookie is a very personal matter with some people preferring crunchy, others chewy, while some prefer theirs to be soft and more cake-like.

This guide will step you through everything you need to know to make your perfect keto cookie.

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites for products we genuinely use and recommend.

The Role of Ingredients in Keto Cookies

Nut & Seed Flour vs Nut & Seed Butter

Most keto cookies will require you to use nut or seed flour, or nut or seed butter as the main component of the recipe. Both provide the base of the cookie, and the choice here will impact not only the flavor of the cookie, but also the texture.

Almond flour is usually the go-to for most low-carb cookies, however some recipes will use a combination of almond flour with coconut flour to create a softer cookie. Recipes that rely solely on one type of flour substitute generally tend to be a little denser.

Nut butters make lovely chewy cookies (think almost fudgy!) or crumbly cookies depending on which kind of nut butter you use and whether you use homemade or store-bought. For instance, cashew butter will make very smooth and chewy cookies while pecan butter will result in a crumblier texture.

Store-bought nut butters often contain additional ingredients, mostly oils which tend to make denser cookies, while homemade nut butters prepared with raw or toasted nuts will typically make a crumblier cookie.

Seed butters such as tahini and sunflower seed butter are more suitable for making a less crumbly and more chewy nut-free cookie.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour can be used in conjunction with either almond meal or nut butter to create a more traditionally textured cookie and also help balance out the flavor of almond flour cookies which can have a strong flavor for some palates.

Note, however, that coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid and recipes using coconut flour need to have additional liquids and/or fats. Coconut flour alone can also be used but will create a relatively dense, dry cookie (if no enough liquids are used) or a cakey cookie (with sufficient liquids).

Eggs

Eggs are used to bind the cookie dough. Eggier doughs can also be used for a more cakey cookie. Egg substitutes will help bind the ingredients but will not result in the same rise and fluffy texture as cookies made with chicken or duck eggs. Egg substitutes will create more dense, less risen cookies.

If using an egg substitute such as flax egg or chia egg, make sure to use ground the chia or flax seeds. Mix them with water and let sit for at 10 to 15 minutes before using. To substitute one large egg, use 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds or ground flax seeds, plus 3 tablespoons of water.

Sweeteners

There are many different options for sweetening your keto cookies, each resulting in different textures and flavors.

In terms of white sugar replacements, Erythritol is best if you want a crispier cookie, as well as Erythritol blends like Swerve. Cookies straight from the oven will be soft. To get a crispy cookie, you do need to wait a few hours after baking for maximum effect. Also keep in mind that cookies made with Erythritol-based sweeteners will have a cooling aftertaste. This can work well for some recipes but may not be suitable for others.

If you’re after a chewier cookie, Xylitol or Allulose are good options. Make sure you keep Xylitol well hidden if you have a pet as it's toxic to dogs, cats and other animals due to its effects on blood sugar.

Allulose, which has zero effect on blood sugar and is typically better tolerated than Xylitol, and has no cooling aftertaste. Allulose also has the ability to caramelize and depending on the recipe, this can add more flavor.

There’s also the option of using sweetener blends with Monk fruit or Stevia, though these tend to be less suitable for cookies. The only exception are blends that are made with Erythritol.

For a brown sugar replacement, your best bet is a brown sugar substitute like Sukrin or Swerve, or alternatively try combining some white sugar replacement with a small amount of blackstrap molasses.

Another option for sweetening is using pumpkin puree or our Low-Carb Apple Butter (which is already sweetened). Both are perfect for fall-inspired cookies and will result in a chewier, softer cookie.

For a very chewy, gooey cookie, use Allulose syrup. Clear or brown maple-flavored Allulose syrup make soft and super chewy Keto Granola Bars, and will work just as well for cookies.

There are a few options available on Amazon. The brand I use and like is RxSugar. If you live in the US you can get RxSugar 20% off by using this link or by using the code KETODIET20 at checkout.

Also see our Guide to Low-Carb Sweeteners which includes a sweetener conversion chart to help you substitute one sweetener with another.

Thickeners and Binders

  • Xanthan gum acts as a thickening agent in keto cooking, and also helps to bind ingredients in gluten-free baking, resulting in a less crumbly cookie. Xanthan gum is almost always required in recipes that don't use eggs.
  • Similar to xanthan gum, guar gum is a thickening agent that can be used to help bind the cookie mixture.
  • Glucomannan (konjac) powder is a pure soluble fibre which contains no starch or sugars. It’s a great alternative to corn starch and adds a lovely chew to cookies.
  • Gelatin powder is another great addition to keto cookie batter if you are after a chewy cookie.
  • Arrowroot powder can be used as a grain-free substitute for cornflour, and can be used to help lighten cookie dough so that it isn’t as dense. However, this ingredient is high in carbs and we don't recommend using more than 1-2 tablespoons per recipe.
  • Cream cheese can be used in keto cookies to help bind the cookies. The resulting cookie has a soft texture and slight tangy flavor from the cream cheese.
  • Flax meal and ground chia seeds are great for binding and creating less crumbly cookies. You won't need to use more than a few tablespoons per recipe.
  • Psyllium powder can make cookies softer and more cakey as long as you use enough liquids. It can also be used in crunchy cookies and crackers as a binder when fewer liquids are used and the cookie is baked on low temperature for longer.

Sunflower Seeds for Green Effect

Are you after a natural way to color your cookies? Sunflower seeds and sunflower seed flour contain chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that gives the seeds the ability of turning green under certain conditions. Cookies like those would be perfect for St. Patrick's Day or Halloween! When chlorogenic acid mixes with alkaline baking ingredients such as baking soda, it turns green. Chlorogenic acid is beneficial because it may slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal.

These 5 Ingredient Keto Green Cookies are an example of how you can use sunflower seeds and create green cookies which are also nut-free and dairy-free.

Allergy-Free Keto Cookies

All of our keto cookies are gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb and keto-approved. If you have any further dietary restrictions, here are some tips.

Nut-Free Keto Cookies

Keto cookies can potentially be a challenge for those that don’t include nuts in their diet as a lot of keto cookies use nut butter or flour as the main ingredient. Luckily, there are quite a few options for nut-free cookies.

The most obvious way is using seed butter or flour as a base instead. Seed butters such as sunflower or tahini produce a really lovely chewy cookie, making them a great base ingredient option.

Coconut flour can also be used. However, when used on its own it can produce a drier, crumblier cookie, and needs to have adequate liquids and fats to ensure that this doesn’t happen. An alternative to coconut flour is coconut butter (aka coconut manna) which will work similarly to nut and seed butters but will result in a crumblier cookie.

Another option for a nut-free cookie is to use cream cheese combined with other ingredients such as cacao powder. Cookies made with cream cheese will be quite soft and delicate and have a subtle tart flavor — think cheesecake in cookie format!

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Dairy-Free Keto Cookies

Most keto cookies are either dairy-free to start with, or can easily be made dairy-free by substituting butter with virgin coconut oil or palm shortening (in case of palm shortening, use sustainable sources). Keep in mind that the resulting texture of your cookies will vary. Coconut oil cookies seem to flatten out (spread) more than those baked with butter. Also, since there's no milk solids, the cookies made with coconut oil won't brown up as easily to give those lovely golden edges.

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Egg-Free Keto Cookies

Egg-free cookies are a little trickier, although still doable! While eggs can be substituted for chia or flax eggs (see conversion here), the result may not be exactly the same.

To ensure that the ingredients still bind together, it can be a good idea to include a binder such as xanthan gum or ground psyllium husks. Using nut butter or coconut butter can also help bind all the dry ingredients.

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Coconut-Free Keto Cookies

While a lot of keto cookies contain coconut flour, coconut oil or coconut butter, it's easy to make coconut-free keto cookies. Coconut oil or palm shortening can be substituted 1:1 for butter. However, this substitution will have an impact on the texture of your cookies so make sure to check the Dairy-Free Cookies section too.

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Sweetener-Free Keto Cookies

For cookies without any added sweeteners, think of including ingredients which are naturally sweet — pumpkin puree, sweetener-free vanilla extract, vanilla powder, coconut butter or coconut oil, cinnamon and berries. You can just skip the sweetener in any cookie recipes although it will affect the texture which may get more dense, less crispy (if you skip Erythritol-based sweetener) or less chewy (if you skip Allulose).

You can always make a savory cookie instead. Check out our Savory Add-ins section.

How to Get Your Desired Cookie Texture

Chewy Keto Cookies

For a chewy cookie, almond meal (almond flour) works best. You can also use nut or seed butters which will result in a really nice chew. Just make sure not to confuse regular almond flour (ground blanched almonds) with fine defatted almond flour which is much finer and absorbent and would produce dense cookies.

In terms of sweeteners, Xylitol and Allulose are best for that perfect chewy texture. The addition of some binders like glucomannan (Konjac) powder and gelatin will also help create a chewier texture. If you want truly gooey cookies, you can add some Allulose syrup.

Finally, using only egg whites instead of whole eggs will produce a dense and chewy cookie like these Keto Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies.

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Soft and Cakey Keto Cookies

The addition of coconut flour to almond flour (rather than making 100% almond flour cookies) will help you create a more cakey texture, as well as the addition of xanthan gum. Adding in some arrowroot powder can also help to create a softer, less dense cookie.

Another ingredient essential for making cakey keto cookies are whole eggs. Egg yolks will produce a richer, softer cookie, and egg whites will help make your cookies lighter and airier.

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Crispy or Crunchy Keto Cookies

There are a few methods and ingredients that can create a crispier cookie.

Firstly, using Erythritol or Swerve as sweetener will yield a crispier cookie compared to other keto sweeteners. Keep in ind that the cookies won't be immediately crisp up but instead it can take a few hours for them to harden. To speed this process up, pop the cookies in the fridge or freezer for up to an hour.

Secondly, chilling the dough in the fridge before baking, and then rolling the cookies out flatter will also help with a thinner, crispier cookie.

Thirdly, cookies made with a combination nut butter and nut flour tend to yield a crispier cookie rather than using just one or the other.

Lastly, omitting egg whites or whole eggs will produce crunchier cookies. Shortbread cookies which are egg-free are some of the crunchiest cookies you can make. If you only use egg yolks, this will also produce a harder, crunchier cookie compared to cookies made with whole eggs or egg whites only. This 2-Minute Keto Chocolate Chip Cookie is an example of a cookie recipe that only uses egg yolks.

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Troubleshooting - How To Fix Cookie Recipes

Cookies Are Too Crumbly

Crumbly cookies are usually a result of the cookie dough not binding properly. To fix this, you can add an extra egg, or binders such as some xanthan gum or guar gum, psyllium powder or flax meal.

Too Sweet or Not Sweet Enough Cookies

Sweetness is always a personal choice. You may need to tweak any recipe depending on your own preference. We tend to use less sweeteners in our recipes but a lot of regular and keto recipes online tend to lean towards being overly sweet, so you may wish to reduce the sweetener content to fit your palate.

Also see our Guide to Low-Carb Sweeteners which includes a sweetener conversion chart to help you substitute one sweetener with another.

Cookies Are Too Flat

Cookies that are egg-free or have a high-fat content (or both) can spread out quite quickly. To prevent this from happening, they can be rolled into balls or scooped out using a cookie scoop and then baked in this shape, so they are not flattened out (we used this technique in our Keto Apple Cinnamon Snickerdoodles).

It can also help to refrigerate the dough before baking as this will solidify the fats. The type of fat you use can also impact the spread, with coconut oil spreading more than butter.

How To Avoid Burnt Edges on Cookies

Nut flours tend to burn at a higher temperature or if cooked for longer periods of time. The golden rule to keto baking is to bake your cookies low and slow. Most cookies bake best at 160-180 °C/ 320-360 °F (conventional), or 140-160 °C/ 285-320 °F (fan assisted) which is ideal for nut flour based cookies (note that this may vary depending on the oven as well as other ingredients in the recipe).

Also make sure to rotate the tray half way, or even twice if needed, as ovens that don't bake evenly can cause burnt edges on one side and under-baked cookies on the other.

Cookies Are Bitter

Stevia paired with chocolate can result in a bitter cookie, so if making chocolate cookies, it may be best to choose another sweetener. Pure stevia powder or stevia drops should always be combined with another low-carb sweetener.

Cookies Have an Aftertaste

Sweeteners are the main reason for cookies to have an aftertaste. Apart from stevia which can make your cookies bitter, there are other sweeteners that can cause an aftertaste.

Erythritol, Xylitol and sweeteners containing these ingredients will add a slight cooling effect (same as the one in sugar-free chewing gums despite containing no mint). This cooling effect doesn't necessarily have to be unpleasant and can in fact work in some recipes like these Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies.

If you don't like the cooling aftertaste, use other sweeteners. Allulose tastes just like sugar with no aftertaste and it is by far the best low-carb sweetener option. Just remember that it will make any cookies chewy, not crunchy.

There are a few options available on Amazon. The brand I use and like is RxSugar. If you live in the US you can get RxSugar 20% off by using this link or by using the code KETODIET20 at checkout.

Melted Chocolate Chips

Nobody wants melted chocolate chips in their cookies! If using homemade chocolate, you need to add a stabilizer (such as soy or sunflower lecithin) if you want to use the chocolate for baking. Alternatively, store bought chocolate made from cacao solids contains a stabilizer and will hold its shape well. Dark chocolate such as Lindt 85% or Lindt 90% are great options and can be roughly chopped and used as chocolate chips.

Keto Cookie Add-ins

There is a number of ways to jazz up a keto cookie based on your personal flavor preferences.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds will add a delicious crunch to any keto cookie. Almost any nut or seed can be added to a cookie batter. Larger nuts can be chopped into smaller pieces or pressed on top of each unbaked cookie.

Recipes to try:

Chopped Chocolate and Chocolate Chips

You can add chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate to your favorite cookie dough. While chocolate chips are more of a traditional way to go, you can use chocolate bar chopped into pieces as the odd shapes and smaller edges means that the chocolate is better dispersed through the cookie, giving you a bigger chocolatey hit with each bite.

Our favorites are chopped dark chocolate such as Lindt 85%, Lindt 90%, Lily’s sugar-free chocolate and chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate.

Recipes to try:

Herbs, Spices & Aromatics

Fresh or dried herbs can make a lovely addition to cookies. Think rosemary, thyme, mint or lemon verbena. Try adding some cinnamon for warming subtle sweetness and zest of your favorite citrus fruit for a tangy flavor boost.

Recipes to try:

Savory Add-ins

Cookies don’t need to be sweet! Whether you're avoiding sweeteners or don't simply have a sweet tooth, we've got you covered! Try adding in crispy bacon, herbs or spices such as garlic or onion powder, cumin, curry powder, paprika or turmeric.

Recipes to try:

Cookies with Filling

What's better than one cookie? Two cookies sandwiched together with a cream, ice-cream or fruity jam filling!

Recipes to try:

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Low-Carb Cookies

Keto Cookies From Our Test Kitchen

As part of our research in putting together this guide, we wanted to test a few different ingredients and techniques.

First we tested using the same recipe but with three different sweeteners (Sukrin Gold, Xylitol, Erythritol blend and Allulose). The look of the cookie didn’t change too much (other than a darker cookie for the one made with the Sukrin Gold), however, the flavor and texture was impacted (See the tips for sweeteners in the section above.)

Next, we mixed up the ingredients and techniques. The main focus was the difference between nut butters and flours, butter vs coconut oil, and how cooking them at room temperature compared to refrigerated impacted the end result. Cooking from a refrigerated dough (rather than room temperature) will make more of a crust and lead to a crispier cookie.

For a crispier cookie, the best results were achieved with a combination of nut butter and almond meal, refrigerated cookie dough before baking, then pressed flattish (these will spread while cooking). All crispy recipes were made with Erythritol-based sweeteners. These cookies also had a more “café-style” domed top so if you’re after an aesthetic cookie, this is your best bet.

For a chewy, more cakey option we used almond meal only. However, we found these were a little too dense, and preferred the slightly softer cookie made with a combination of almond meal, coconut flour and xanthan gum combination. For a truly soft and chewy cookie, Allulose was our best bet.

My personal favorite cookie overall? Perhaps number 2 — this one was almond meal, coconut flour, xanthan gum, Xylitol (or Allulose), egg and butter. This was the perfect cookie slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside without being too dense. A small addition of coconut flour also helped with the flavor, balancing out the almond meal so that it wasn’t too overpowering.

The bottom line is that after having tested all of these cookies, we found that everyone prefers a slightly different flavor and texture. Some of our testers liked cookie number 4, some liked cookie number 6 better. We hope that this guide helps you find your perfect cookie!

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Martina Slajerova
Creator of KetoDietApp.com

Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (4)

Fantastic guide and the perfect Christmas present from you. I love your shortbread cookies (the best I've tried!) and I'm making the linzer cookies and Italian amaretti cookies this week. Can't wait!

Thank you Theresa, the Linzer cookies are my absolute favorite Christmas cookies!

Thank you so much for this. I just finished making your Czech egg nog. It is amazing!

I love that liqueur! Every Christmas we make 2 batches 😊