Paleo (AIP-Friendly) Maple Shortbread

And just like that — BAM! — it’s the Christmas season. Time to shake off the turkey hangover, put away the pumpkin, and start thinking about holiday cookies. Or maybe that’s just me.

But in case that’s you, too, I’ve got a treat for you: a stupid-simple, very delicious cookie recipe from the ebook Christmas Dessert Freedom by Leanne Vogel of Healthful Pursuit.


If you’ve been following along with our Adventures in Functional Medicine, you know that Dave and are on an even more restricted eating program than usual. For past holidays, we’ve eaten super clean all year so we can enjoy our favorite cookies and lasagna — the real thing, gluten and all — on Christmas Eve.

But this year is different. This year, we can’t play around with gluten or refined sugar, so I’m exploring the world of grain-free desserts.

That’s why I’m glad that Leanne popped into our holiday planning. Christmas Dessert Freedom features 10 holly jolly dessert recipes that are just about as “clean” as you can get and still make something you want to eat. The list of lusciousness includes Tiramisu, Rum Balls, and Pecan Bars!

But I zeroed in on the Maple Shortbread for two reasons: (1) I really love shortbread; and (2) the recipe has only 5 ingredients — you probably have all of them in your pantry right now — and it’s AIP friendly, too. I have deep empathy for food lovers on a restricted diet, so I wanted to share something that everyone can enjoy.


Paleo Maple Shortbread

Adapted from Christmas Dessert Freedom by Leanne Vogel of Healthful Pursuit

Makes 16 cookies | Prep 5 minutes | Chill 30 minutes | Bake 50 minutes

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee, room temperature

  • 1⁄4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (my addition)

  • pinch sea salt


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Set aside.


Place all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and blend on medium-high for 1 minute. Don’t have a stand mixer? A hand mixer will work, too.


Pat the dough into a square and cut it into 16 even pieces. Pat each piece into a bar shape with your fingers and place on the baking sheet. Poke lightly with a fork in whatever design you like. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200F. When the shortbread has chilled, transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until just lightly golden.


Remove baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Shortbread can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or freezer for up to 1 month (if they last that long). Eat at room temperature.

NOTE: I added vanilla because I’m kind of a vanilla junkie. These were delicious as-is, but if you can eat ghee, I think they’d be super rich and buttery if you replaced the coconut oil with ghee.

ALSO NOTE: Dave is pretty picky about desserts, and after taking a bite, he said, “These would be really nice with a cup of tea.” So there you go.

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  • Oh my goodness, thank you for your amazing review! So very happy that you enjoy my book and that the two of you liked the shortbread! Great idea on using ghee. I’ll have to give that a try with the next batch 😉

  • Monique says:

    Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! I’ve been cleaning up my diet in prep for a belly dance show — I like a little jiggle in my wiggle, key word being “little” — but I still crave treats like everyone else at this time of year. And there’s few things more appealing to me when it comes to baking than a short list of ingredients.

  • Lorena says:

    I try to avoid desserts–too easy to get sucked into the sugar habit (even paleo)–but it’s hard this time of year. Might have to give this a try and pick up the cookbook, too, as soon as I pay rent 🙂

  • Krisha says:

    Can I use butter? I don’t have ghee, but want the buttery taste. If yes, should it be room temp soft or melted?

    • Mel says:

      Ghee is butter that’s been clarified. If you want them to be paleo compliant, you need to clarify the butter to get rid of the dairy protein and just have the fat.

      You should use grassfed butter, too. Here are instructions for how to clarify:

      Then after it’s clarified, let it cool to room temperature and use it in the recipe at room temp.

  • Heather says:

    I have all of the ingredients in my pantry! Can’t wait to make these. Am I the only one who can’t fit a baking sheet into the freezer?

  • Shannon says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I was looking for something gingerbread-ish for St. Nicholas Day and when I found this recipe I figured I could substitute some molasses for some of the maple syrup and add fresh ginger. They were pretty tasty!

  • Cate says:

    Thank you for posting this! I love Leanne’s site for many reasons. My two year old son is allergic to eggs and it’s hard finding even paleo recipes without eggs. I still like for him to enjoy the treats of the season and these will be perfect!!!

  • laura says:

    Made these this afternoon. So Quick and easy to make. And so tasty. Will be making again and sharing the recipe with friends. Thanks so much Mel.. BTW loved your interview on The Paleo View.

  • Ann says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I haven’t had any baked goods for over a year. Most recipes have eggs, which I can’t have. It will be such a treat to have a cookie with my tea.

  • Hannahc says:

    These are amazing! I have modified the recipe to suit my needs and it works. I used the coconut flour, the coconut oil, then used raw local honey instead of maple syrup and a pinch of himlayan salt. I left out the vanilla. They seem a little sloppy when forming the bars but get them in the fridge quickly and they harden up ready for the oven. Best left to cool right down before eating. Really have a good crunch and shortbread feel. Even my bf who isn’t a coconut fan likes them! Such a good recipe for us AIP’ers!! Thanks!

  • Eszter says:

    Hello!! I’m a big fan of your blog & cookbook, but this is the first time I’ve mustered the courage to comment… I made these as directed, and they were pretty tasty, and now I am wondering how they’d be if I used almond flour instead since I’m not following any AIP? Thank you so much for all you do!!

  • Micki says:

    Hi, I am in the Uk and your recipe says 200F, that is an incredibly low temperature – do you mean 200 F or 200 C please? I have gas and wonder what gas mark it is. At 200F that would be less than 1/4 gas mark which can’t be right. Please help, they are ready to go into the oven now and am starving!

  • Micki says:

    Blimey that’s low, I thought it was a misprint. I have just done them for 10 mins at 4 and they melted! Anyway of rescuing them?! Oops, thanks for your quick response 🙂

  • Super yummy and crunchy just like shortbread! I’ve made these a few times without fail so my last batch I decided to add some bicarb soda – half a teaspoon and they turned out even more crunchy and less dense. I’ve also added ginger and cinnamon for different flavours and they still turn out yummy.

  • Grace says:

    These were the BOMB!! I used cultured Ghee. I may try to make cookies out of them with jam ( thumbprint style)

  • Andrea says:

    These are fantastic. I make them whenever I have a family event. Last night I dipped them in melted chocolate (enjoy life). I know this is no longer AIP. But if anyone has successfully reintroduced chocolate, it is to die for!

  • Jenrose says:

    I think I don’t have the hang of coconut flour. The texture just grosses me out. Maybe I’m using the wrong brand? What is your preference? It’s just too sandy for me. My kids loved the cookies, I thought the flavor was good but the texture was just not something I could get past, and the level of sugar threw me into a flare almost immediately.

    • No, you’re right. Coconut flour is pretty sandy. It’s one of those things you either like or don’t — and if the sugar was too much for you, it sounds like you should probably steer clear of sweets. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news 🙁

  • Yum yum, these sound lovely, thanks for uploading this recipe.


  • Christine says:

    Instead of using coconut oil/ghee I used Nutiva’s Red palm/coconut oil shortening mix and they turned out wonderful.Thanks for posting the recipe!

  • Haydee says:

    I was just making this up when I found the dough was grainy and had small lumps. Am I doing anything wrong?

  • Chrissy says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! It was really easy to make, and the cookies didn’t crumble – hurray! I’ll definitely double the batch next time. 🙂

  • Summer says:

    Made these exactly as the recipe goes & while super yummy they crumbled into dust right out of the oven!, is their a special trick to getting these right cause they were so dry that I’d be tempted to add more liquid but wish I could figure out what went wrong! Will make a yummy “crust” for cheesecake cups though!

    • Without being in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking, there’s no way for me to know what might the issue might be. Sorry I can’t help you out! This isn’t my recipe, so I’m doubly in the dark. You might try shooting an email to Leanne Vogel at since she created the recipe.