Gluten-free, vegan ANZAC biscuits (cookies)

Gluten-free vegan ANZAC biscuits on a marble surface with a glass of milk.Wait – don’t turn away!! These gluten-free, vegan ANZAC biscuits (cookies for those of you in North America) are JUST as good as my original recipe (and, dare I say it, maybe even better?) and are the perfect way to commemorate ANZAC Day (today, April 25th)

What is ANZAC DAY ?

This day commemorates the anniversary of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) landing on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915.  Every year, ANZAC Day is day of remembrance where Australians and New Zealanders honour the memory of those who have served and died in all military operations.

Why do we eat biscuits (cookies) on ANZAC Day?

During World War I, mothers, wives and girlfriends would send food care packages to their men serving in the war, concerned for their nutritional welfare.  However, the ships carrying the packages would take months to arrive, so any food had to be edible after that long without refrigeration.  The ANZAC biscuit only contains a handful of ingredients, none of which spoil quickly (so, no eggs) so they were the perfect food to pack and send. During the war, eggs were scarce, so the binding agent is the golden syrup (although I’ve found sweet brown rice syrup works well if you cannot find golden syrup).  To make sure the biscuits stayed crisp on the long voyage, they were packed in tins such as airtight tea tins. These were dubbed ANZAC biscuits after the landing at Gallipoli and are one of the few products able to be legally marketed in Australia using the word ANZAC which is protected by Federal Legislation.

Gluten-free vegan ANZAC biscuits cooling on a baking tray.Crispy or chewy?

Thought the biscuits were packed in airtight containers so they stayed crispy on the long voyage,  MY favourite ANZAC biscuits are a bit crunchy on the outsides but mostly chewy so I wouldn’t have minded if my biscuits arrived not-so-crisp! You’ll find a lot of different recipes for ANZACS, some using brown sugar, some using regular granulated sugar and this does change the “crispy/ chewy” factor. All my recipes use regular granulated sugar in an attempt to stay chewy. Team “Soft & Chewy” for the win!

Gluten-free vegan ANZAC biscuits on parchment on a baking tray.Why gluten-free and vegan?

Can you say “loves a challenge?” LOL, what can I say? No, in all seriousness, I have a number of friends who are vegan or who can’t eat gluten and with a little more time on my hands these days (since, you know, we are still in a sort of “lockdown”), I’ve been experimenting a little bit with some of my recipes to see if I can adapt them for different diets (stay tuned for some of these recipes). When I saw April 25th on the calendar and knew I wanted to make some ANZAC biscuits, I figured this was the perfect time to see if I could make some changes to this beloved classic so that all my friends could enjoy them!

Gluten-free and vegan – how?

Of course, I knew I could easily replace the all-purpose flour with a GF flour blend but I wanted to try working with what I have on hand. Now, what *I* have on hand might not be what you have on hand but it’s not a huge long list of flours and ingredients. Here,  I used Oat Flour. and Coconut Flour from Nuts.com (note: these are affiliate links but I’d recommend these products even if I didn’t receive a small percentage of the purchase price – at no extra cost to you. These are excellent products, with fast shipping!).

I was worried about the structure of these cookies though – with no gluten and no real binding agent (it’s only got golden syrup and butter, remember?), I was concerned they would be too dry and crumbly (remember, we’re on Team Soft and Chewy here!). I used a small amount of Xanthan Gum, also from Nuts.com who offer this excellent explanation of what it does in gluten-free baking:

Because baked goods made with wheat flour depend on gluten for structure, those made with gluten-free flours will often require a thickener to keep them from crumbling. For this reason, many gluten-free baking recipes call for Xanthan Gum to replace the elasticity and texture of gluten.

I actually think they could work without the xanthan gum and will make a new batch and update this post accordingly.

UPDATE on May 4th 2021: YES, both my mum in Sydney and I made these without Xanthan Gum and they worked just as well. Perhaps *slightly* less “together” in terms of the pre-baked dough (it was definitely crumblier but if you make sure you pack it in the scoop, you’ll be ok). SO it’s not a make or break ingredient, if you have it, use it, if not, it’s ok too!

To make them vegan, I simply replaced butter with margarine – simple!

Check out Nuts.com for all your baking and cooking needs!

Buy bulk nuts, snack mixes, dried fruits, candies & sweets by the pound at Nuts.com!

Can you taste the difference?

Short answer? N0. Neil is my chief taste tester and he will always be on the alert for something that didn’t taste right (if it doesn’t pass the Neil taste test, it most likely doesn’t get blogged!). He declared these as tasting “just like the regular ones” with the soft and chewy texture we both love! Success! Even the day after baking they retain their chewy texture!

Yield: 36

Gluten-free, vegan ANZAC biscuits (cookies)

A pile of Gluten-free vegan ANZAC biscuits with a glass of milk and a red and white napkin.

Easy swaps make the classic Australian cookie gluten-free and vegan.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 36 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (90g) oat flour
  • 1/4 cup (30g) coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (125g) large flake rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (75g) unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 113g (1 stick/ 8 tablespoons) margarine (can use unsalted butter if you don’t need these vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup (or sweet brown rice syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
  2. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
    Place the flours, sugar, oats, coconut and xanthan gum in a large bowl. Mix to combine.
  3. Melt the margarine or butter and golden syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Mix the boiling water and baking soda in a small cup.
  5. Add the baking soda mixture to the margarine/ golden syrup (it will froth up a bit - don't worry!) and mix to combine.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Use a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop out approx. 36 cookies.
  8. Place the cookie balls on baking trays, roughly 5cm apart.
  9. Press gently with a fork, the back of a flat spatula or a small glass to flatten slightly (don't press too hard!).
  10. Bake for 11 minutes until golden. They will still be very soft to touch.
    Remove trays from the oven and allow the biscuits to sit on the trays for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer them (still on the parchment) to wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
  11. Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

did you make this recipe?

please leave a comment or review on the blog or share a photo and tag me on Instagram @eatlivtravwrite !

 

A pile of Gluten-free vegan ANZAC biscuits with a glass of milk and a red and white napkin.

For my Poppa and my Uncle Andrew, who both served with the armed forces (Holland and Australia).

Lest we forget.

 

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8 thoughts on “Gluten-free, vegan ANZAC biscuits (cookies)”

  1. Very nice post, Mardi. I have to say I (kind of) grimaced at the thought of “everything free” Anzac Biscuits but if the pic indicates the texture and taste you may well have pulled it off. Nice bit of history too. Some of your readers may not know what Golden Syrup is – you might explain it.

    Reply
  2. Yes, these are astoundingly good: and even though I’ve not served in the Australian forces, am not even of Australian heritage (does having walked near Gallipoli in modern times count?) – consider myself an ANZAC Biscuit Snob.

    Don’t tell anyone these are “free” of anything, as their preconceived notion may be to turn their nose. No need – just delish.

    Reply
  3. Just might have to give these a burl – I made GF Anzac Muffins with Caramel Centre this year using home made golden syrup, GF plain flour and dulce de leche…..they were soooooo good.

    Reply
  4. Hi- Help! I don’t see the promised update about how they work without the xanthan gum. Can you point me to it, please?

    Reply
    • Hi Leah, I only posted that recipe a short while ago, I haven’t had a chance to remake and update the recipe. However, my mother in Australia made this without the gum and it turned out perfectly fine. I will update the post to reflect my own experience once I have had a chance to make them.

      Reply

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