Whole Living Daily

G-Free Friday: Sesame-Orange Anise Gluten-Free Cookies

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Perfect for a dinner party with friends, these gluten-free and vegan cookies have a soft and chewy center with a crisp exterior. And they're not just tasty: sesame tahini bulks up their protein and calcium counts.

I used coconut sugar in these cookies, which I like to use in most baking. It's low-glycemic with a GI of 35 (compare that to honey of 75, agave nectar of 30, pure maple syrup of 54, or sugar of 95).

Also called coconut palm sugar, coconut sugar is made from the dried sap of coconut palm blossom. The taste is mild with molasses undertones, and the flavor pairs well with most spices. Coconut sugar can be substituted for brown or white sugar 1 for 1 in baking.

Orange flavoring is different from orange extract; it's simply orange essential oil diluted in a carrier oil. It can be found in the baking section at your local health food store. I use Grade B pure maple syrup because it's less processed than Grade A, richer in nutrients, and cheaper, too!

Sesame-Orange Anise Gluten-Free Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen

1 ½ cups brown rice flour, spooned and leveled
½ cup tapioca flour, spooned and leveled
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp anise seeds
1 cup sesame tahini
½ cup grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil
½ cup Grade B maple syrup
½ cup coconut sugar, organic cane sugar, or maple sugar
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tsp orange flavoring

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and anise.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the tahini, oil, maple syrup, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and orange flavoring.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until the dough thickens. Form dough into balls and place onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Gently flatten with the bottom of an oiled drinking glass.

5. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serve with spiced tea, such as this favorite from Yogi.

Tip: The cookies become soft after a day stored in an airtight container. Crisp them in an oven for a few minutes.

Ali Segersten and her husband started a nutrition business, Whole Life Nutrition, to assist people in achieving greater health through nutrition counseling, meal planning, cooking classes, and health food store tours. Their bestselling cookbook, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, has helped thousands of families eat a healthier, gluten-free diet. Ali started a gluten-free, whole foods recipe blog, Nourishing Meals, to share healthy, gluten-free meal ideas for families. Ali, Tom, and their four children live in Northwestern Washington and enjoy hiking in the mountains, gardening, yoga, and harvesting wild herbs and berries.

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Comments (27)

  • Beautiful cookies! I can only imagine how delicious they are. ;-) Love all the nutritional info you've shared on them, too. I'm a big fan of coconut sugar these days. Such a great gluten-free recipe--love this series! Many thanks to Ali and Whole Living. :-)


  • These remind me of an italian cookie we had around the holidays at my grandmother's house. I remember their slight licorice flavor and that unique blend of crunchy and chewy. I love the tip about maple syrup...did not know that. Beautiful photo!

  • Quality article..

  • Another winning cookie recipe! Orange flavor in cookies is one of my favorites, especially as we head into spring.

  • This is wonderful. These cookies would be such a wonderful treat. I have everything except the orange flavoring. I'm off to get some so I can start enjoying these cookies. I know they'll be good because I have their cookbook and it's wonderful.

  • Wow! These cookies look unbelievable. And like Nancy, these remind me of a cookie that my grandma (and then my mother) made all of the time while I was growing up! I use coconut palm sugar all of the time in my baking and I just love the slight rich nutty/molasses-like flavor that it adds to the recipe.

  • So many good tips and information in a post about cookies. That's why I love your cookbook and your blog. I learn something and I get something yummy to eat that's good for me. Can't wait for your new book.

  • Wow, those cookies look amazing. I can't wait to make them!

  • These look and sound great. Like Shirley, I'm all about coconut sugar these days...

  • Yum! And nut-free too, which is good for my family! I love using maple syrup as a sweetener.

  • Wow, I am so excited to try these cookies! They look and sound amazing. Thank you so much for this feature - G-Free Fridays, I really enjoy it.

  • Lovely cookies! And, I didn't know that about the maple syrup, either. Thanks! Now I can save a few dollars. And, I also love coconut sugar. I use it all of the time, too. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Lovely cookies, need to get into the kitchen this weekend to try these. Great to see the Gluten-free column on Fridays.

  • Thank you for an "easy, delicious recipe!" :) I can hardly wait to try it!

    What is Grade B maple syrup?

  • These look like a lovely little sweet.

    I am so pleased to find glutenfree recipes here. I'm a long time subscriber to EveryDay Food. Still hoping one day Martha will make a monthly magazine focused totally on gluten free cooking.

  • I love the tahini in these cookies. They sound wonderful. Great timing, because I just bought coconut sugar at the health food store. I might have to use it to make these wonderful cookies! Do you think I could substitute sorghum flour for the brown rice flour? I think I was eating too much rice and it started to bother me a bit... Thanks so much!


  • I love anything with anise seeds, so these will be on my list to try. And I totally agree with you on the grade B maple syrup. It's richer and much tastier (IMHO). I love it when I run across a gluten free cookie that has some nutritional punch to it. These look awesome. Can't wait to try them.

  • so wonderful to see ali and her always wonderful recipes featured here! planning on making these cookies this weekend for an early spring picnic and i know they'll be a hit.

  • loving the gluten-free fridays! i can safely say that ali's blog is one of my favorites.

  • These look great,I can't wait to try them! I haven't seen coconut sugar. Do you know if you can buy it online??

  • [...] hoping one day Martha will make a monthly magazine focused totally on gluten free cooking. … gluten-free cooking – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in Gluten-free Cooking and tagged Anise, Cookies, Friday, GFree, [...]

  • Wow, these sound amazing. I love tahini. I love anise. (REALLY love anise). What a unique, awesome blend of flavors.

  • These cookies look great - can't wait to try them!

    I would love it if there were an index or button for G-Free Friday recipes on the site - I've liked the ones I've seen so far and would like to be able to browse through them easily when I'm looking for ideas. When I search the site using g-free fridays as a search term, I get 176 results, not all of which are gluten-free.


  • I absolutely love the taste of coconut sugar and can only imagine the divine flavor the tahini and anise add to these cookies! Brilliant.

  • I like the idea of using sesame tahini and coconut sugar in this recipe. I like experimenting with original recipes like this one. Thanks!


  • I've never tasted a bad recipe from Ali. These cookies are no exception. I so appreciate the Gluten Free aspect.

  • Good day it was a joy visting your site.

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