Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


And here I thought I knew almond flour. Early on in this diabetes thing, I bought a bag of almond meal from Trader Joe’s, and used it in a couple of recipes. It performed admirably and so I thought I was all set. I knew there were other brands out there, some made with blanched almonds, and all of them more expensive. But I figured that there couldn’t be that much of a difference. A finely ground almond is a finely ground almond, after all. I even sometimes went so far as to make my own at home by grinding them in a food processor. Sure, my baked goods were not of as fine a texture as those made with wheat flour, but I figured that was just par for the course, something I’d have to live with as a low carb baker. I made my peace with it and went on my merry way.

And then I received some lovely samples from Oh! Nuts. You may remember the Cashew Ginger Granola Bars I made with their gorgeous cashews. Well, they also sent me a bag of their blanched almond flour and when I finished off the last of my Trader Joe’s almond meal, I opened it up. I instantly noticed a difference. It was much, much finer and since it was ground without the skins, it was paler in colour. And when I baked with it, I was more than a little impressed. It baked differently and the final product had a much finer, more flour-like texture. Since it doesn’t have gluten, I still had to compensate for that and add more binders and leaveners, but ultimately, it made a huge difference to the quality of my baked goods.

Now that I finally see the difference, I decided to tackle chocolate chip cookies again. The thing about baking without sugar is that it is difficult to mimic some of sugar’s qualities. Replicating the sweetness is the easy part. In that holy trinity of baking, flour, sugar and butter, there is something magical that happens that allows cookies to spread and become crispy and chewy at the same time. I just haven’t found a way to to make anything low carb and gluten free that even compares. Until now.

These were originally conceived to be breakfast cookies, and I thought that the dried cranberries and walnuts would make them more hearty. But I tasted the batter partway through and it was wonderful but rich, so I thought I should make them smaller and more dessert-sized. This is not to say that you couldn’t eat them for breakfast, because I will confess that I did. It’s just that they seemed more like dessert to me. I also used some grain-sweetened chocolate chips I found at the grocery store as I didn’t have the time or the patience to make my own low carb chocolate chips and these had about half the carbs of regular semisweet chips. And at the last minute, I decided to make them with coconut oil in place of the butter.

The Results: These cookies are phenomonal (or were phenomenal, because they didn’t last long). I would be lying if I said they were just like conventional flour-and-sugar chocolate chip cookies. They don’t have the same texture at all, and they don’t spread and get all crispy/chewy. But they are rockin’ their own special thang and it is a very delicious thang indeed. Because of the coconut oil, they almost melt away in your mouth as you bite into them. And the cranberries give a sharp little tartness that offsets the richness of the almond flour, walnuts and chocolate.

If I had more than two thumbs, I would give these more than two thumbs up. They aren’t just great low carb cookies – they are great cookies all around! I will be making these again for certain. Now, the tough part is that unsweetened dried cranberries are hard to come by. You can make your own, as I did before Christmas, with the recipe HERE. And I had some left over, which is what I used in these cookies. But in place of that, consider using fresh cranberries chopped in small pieces. The juice may run a little but I think it would work just as well.

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 drops stevia extract
1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries (or fresh, finely chopped)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup low carb chocolate chips (or chopped high % cacao chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, erythritol, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. Stir in egg, oil, vanilla and stevia until thoroughly combined. Stir in cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chips.

Form by hand into 1-inch balls, and place on baking sheet. Flatten with palm. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until just starting to brown on top.

Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 18 cookies. Each cookie has 8.2 g of carbs total, but only 5.2 g if you subtract erythritol.

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  1. Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food says

    I still haven't tried baking gluten-free cookies, but this scrumptious looking recipe will definitely be where I'll start. Thank you so much for sharing your detailed knowledge of and experience with the subject … and for including cranberries here!

  2. Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} says

    Carolyn – I am SO excited for this post! It is FABULOUS!! And you really captured some beautiful shots. I am a new user of almond meal and I have enjoyes it. Now I'm interested in trying this brand! Thank you! ♥- Katrina

  3. Fresh and Foodie says

    These look excellent. I love the vibrant pop of red. A neighbor of mine growing up used to make me similar cookies and I always loved them.

  4. The Mom Chef says

    They do look very, very good. I'm a big fan of cranberries in cookies. I'm interested in that almond flour. I've never purchased any but there is a recipe for macarons in my Fine Cooking issue that calls for it. Do you recommend I get my hands on that brand for these?

  5. Parsley Sage says

    These cookies are gorgeous. I love that they're just plain good cookies, regardless of being anything else. Well done and thanks for sharing!

  6. sheila @ Elements says

    Your cookies look beautiful and I'm sure they taste wonderful! I've never used almond flour before but I'd love to give it a try one of these days. :)

  7. In and Around Town says

    They look great, low carb or not! Great recommendation for the almond flour and nice to know you do not have to settle :)

  8. Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy says

    I cant believe these are low carb.These look scrumptious.You are a really talented baker.I can never dare to bake with stevia.Have a nice weekend my friend.

  9. Steph says

    I am fascinated with your substitutions! All of your post, and goodies, just leave me in awe, and this one is leaving me hungry :)

  10. Nami @ Just One Cookbook says

    It's so hard to believe this is a low carb. I like the fact that you can still eat these delicious treats while you choose the right ingredients to make it healthier. I really need to work on that philosophy and take an action. Thank you for the recipe. I enjoyed your pictures as usual!

  11. baking.serendipity says

    I love cranberries in cookies and these do not look like they would disappoint! PS: I have a fun giveaway going on right now…stop by and check it out!

  12. Kari says

    They look amazing – and thanks for the information on different sorts of almond flour. I guess some things do come at a cost 😛

  13. Marcia says

    This looks so good! I make my own almond meal (it is what is left when I make almond milk). I'd love to find more ways to use it.

    This is the first time I've seen your blog. Great writing! I'm sending it on.

  14. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    What gorgeous cookies! These have all of my favorite flavors rolled into one cookie. :)

  15. Lizzy says

    You are such a fabulous resource for those who need gluten free/low carb food! I'm always amazed at what I find here…your treats are extraordinary!!! This cookie looks so yummy…brava~ Happy Easter wishes to you~

  16. sara @ CaffeIna says

    I had the same experience with almond meal. I tried TJ and I liked it a lot so I thought there was no reason to try a more expensive one but there are indeed huge differences. I still like TJ's one but if you want a less rustic texture you have to go for the finely grounded. You did an amazing job with these cookies. I need to go and buy some of that almond flour.

  17. kitchenarian says

    I have some almond flour left over from another recipe and I love baking with coconut oil. I can't wait to try these. Thanks for the recipe.

  18. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    These sound great! I can see how the finer almond flour would perform better. I've made cakes with almond flour that was a little course, it really affected the texture.

  19. Diane says

    I tried them…and they were really good! I think I skimped on the sweetener so next time I'll make sure to be exact…My DH really liked them and that's something! I even dried my own cranberries so it was pretty cool…I will definitely make them again but up the sweetener. This was my very first time using Almond Flour so YEAH! and Thank you!

  20. Foodiva says

    These cookies look incredible! I always, always scroll down your ingredients list because I still can't quite comprehend how your baked goodies are always low-carb and gluten-free… They look totally sinful!

  21. Marsha @ The Harried Cook says

    Beautiful cookies! :) I love the little red cranberries peeking out through the brown cookie… gorgeous! Thank you for sharing! :)

    Thank you for stopping by my blog! :)

  22. Jeanette says

    Yum! These cookies look amazing. Love almond flour, dried cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chips. What a treat!

  23. Audrey Ellen @ My Scene and Herd says

    Cranberries and walnuts make me think healthy, could I get away with eating one for breakfast?

  24. Cake Duchess says

    Beautiful photos! Your cookies look so good. I love cranberries and walnuts. I wish you and your family a Happy Easter.

  25. Karen says

    I love that you used real chocolate here instead of white chocolate! These look almost light and airy, but the chocolate must make them so decadent.
    Good luck on your training!

  26. Terra says

    I love learning about almond flour, I keep learning about it from all your lovely recipes!!! Thank you for this beautiful recipe, it really does sound fantastic:-)
    Hugs, Terra

  27. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says

    I'm going to have to try the almond flour you recommend. I've been using one I find at a restaurant supply store near me and it's from blanched almonds but the grind just isn't fine enough for me, especially when making macarons.

  28. Cara says

    I've been loyal to TJ's almond meal for a while, but thank you for the tip on Oh Nuts – I'll have to try it! I've enjoyed their other products.

  29. Kicking Carbs says

    I am going to make these without Xanath Gum as I don't have any. Either tonight or tomorrow. They look so delish!

    I have Honeyville almond flour, I wonder how it compares?


  30. Kicking Carbs says

    I made them! They are good. I had to adapt the recipe as I didn't have coconut oil (used butter) or xanthan (sp?) gum. I was worried they wouldn't turn out, but they did and they held together well.

    I posted a pic and how I made them on my blog if anyone wants to see.

    Thank you for the recipe. This is going to see regular use at our house!


  31. Kicking Carbs says

    Oh, wanted to add, I made them bigger ( I think) which may have helped them hold together.

    No 1" balls, more like 2".


  32. Elle says

    I want these! They look spectacular, seriously. Great flavors, too! I need to use more almond flour and coconut oil in my baking!

  33. janet says

    Ahhhhhhhh.mazing!!!!!! These are hands down the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made, regardless of ingredients…totally the best ever! I used Honeyville almond flour, Truvia for the erythritol, and 1/2 tsp Stevia plus for the stevia drops. Dough seemed dry so I added 1 TBSP almond milk…glued it all together perfectly. Your recipes are my favorites – please keep them coming!

  34. Catherine H. says

    Total agreement with Janet and Kicking Carbs–fantastic low carb cookies, the best I've ever made. I love wanuts, I love cranberries, and I love dark chocolate, and they all come together perfectly in this tender little cookie. These rarely last two days in my house since I can't keep away from them. Thank you!

  35. Robin says

    Any idea about calories/cookie? I may just put it into my cookbook on FatSecret. The site figures it out.

  36. Robin says

    I’ll check out the different almond flours. I’ve always used Bob’s Red Mill, but maybe that’s too heavy. I made a recipe last night that called for 8 oz. of almond flour…NOT 1 cup. It makes a HUGE difference in the amounts.

  37. Victoria Olson says

    I’m a gluten-free, sugar-free baker for almost a year at this writing, who’s used both TJ’s skins-on, and Bob’s Red Mill blanched almond flours. I prefer TJ’s, I like the ‘whole meal’ feel, its dryness and lightness. I think blanched almond flour is too dense and damp for baking, but that’s my opinion. I don’t think one is better than the other, it’s a matter of preference.

    I would like to say it’s important to pack a dedicated-amount dry measure cup (1/4, 1/2, 1/3, etc.), with nut meal flour, vs. not packing it down or using a single, multi-amount single-cup wet measure. To not do so, especially with Paleo baking (honey is used), will get you a soggy finished product. TJ’s absorbs moisture better. You may need a Tablespoon or so more TJ’s almond flour than the blanched almond kind in a recipe.

    Modern baked goods are based on centuries of experience with sugar and wheat flour. Sugar tenderizes baked goods by pulling in more moisture than the wheat flour (when that’s used), preventing the creation of gluten. Gluten adds density, structure. The presence of sugar means less gluten, thus softer cookies. Sugar in combination with a fat (butter/margarine/shortening) will melt away, leaving spaces in the fat that become filled with CO2 during baking. This adds an ‘airiness’ to the final product. That’s why we ‘cream’ the butter and sugar together, to get that holes-filled-with-CO2 result. Sugar also caramelizes when baked, creating a browner, crispier product with more ‘eye appeal’.

    The impact of sugar flies out the window when you don’t use it with wheat flour, or at all, or if you use honey (Paleo), which adds liquid. Without gluten and sugar we’re destined to have spongey cookies. I’m not upset by that.

    I don’t care for the taste of Stevia, so I use a Splenda-type (store brand), dry, granulated, no calorie sweetener. I’m very pleased with the results, and appreciate all the pioneering work people like the original poster here are doing to raise awareness of gluten-free, sugar-free baking.

    • Sue Bender says

      Victoria Olsen, I learned a lot from your comment. I never knew before why we cream butter and sugar for example. If you ever do cooking classes or demonstrations online (you-tube) I would be interested in knowing about it! Thanks

      • Victoria Olson says

        Sue – thank you for your kind comment. I do love to bake and the Internet is full of helpful info. Happy baking to you!

  38. Victoria Olson says

    ChocoPerfection brand makes a dark chocolate bar that is sugar free (milk chocolate, too). It must be chopped but melts nicely when heated, stays firm at room temperature, tastes like the real thing and will melt in your mouth. I love it in low carb chocolate chip cookies. It’s available at health food stores. I think the bars are 3 or 4 ounces. ChocoPerfection used to make chips, not any more. Maybe they’ll do so again.

  39. heather says

    These cookies look amazing! I am excited to try them but I am not a fan of sugar substitutes and would rather just use sugar (or honey) (yes, I know this defeats the “lowcarb” purpose but my purpose is good gf cookie and I am not too concerned with the carbs per se). How would I sub sugar or honey in for the erythritol?


    • Carolyn says

      Okay, definitely don’t use honey. If sugar, use in the same amount as I use Swerve. If you can get coconut sugar, even better.

      • heather says

        Wow–thanks so much for your prompt reply! And for even addressing what I now realize may be a rude question given the point of the recipe to avoid actual sugar–I am sorry about that! I hope to experiment with these this weekend.

        • Carolyn says

          It didn’t come across as rude at all! Sorry, I am in a bit of a rush this morning so my reply might have been abrupt. Don’t use honey because it will add too much liquid and your wet/dry ratios will be off. You’re much better off with granulated sugar or coconut sugar.

  40. Victoria Olson says

    I made these today and they came out salty, tasteless and dry. I do pack my almond meal into the measuring cups, maybe that’s why.

    I measured out level Tablespoonsful and got 25 cookies, so it’s not that mine were bigger. I flattened them out to 1/2″ height.

    I added slightly more ‘extra ingredients’, 1/3 cup each (chopped) instead of 1/4 cup. That seemed more like the right amount.

    I would suggest doubling the sweeteners. The cookies came out like crackers. My DH calls them ‘Stalinist cookies’ because they are bereft of sweetness, more like fat crumbly crackers than cookies.

    More vanilla extract might help, too.

    I HAD to bake them for 20 minutes. At 15 minutes they were still wet in the center, and I didn’t like the underdone mouth feel, because half the cookie was fall-apart crumbly and half was soggy. Maybe more xanthan gum?

    Anyway, I think this recipe needs work, sorry. YMMV.

    • Carolyn says

      I am sorry, Victoria, but this recipe does not actually need work, if you make it as written. I’ve made it several times. I do not pack my almond flour…if I did, I would specify that in the recipe. You have come here with your ideas of what constitutes good low carb, gluten-free baking. I have my own very extensive experience and I do things differently. Many other readers have made these and loved them so I know it’s not the basic recipe that is at issue here.

      As with much in gluten-free baking, if you do things a little different, the results can vary greatly. You mentioned in another comment that you use a different sweetener. Again, that is a huge part of the issue. Please understand that you are more than welcome to experiment with my recipes. However, unless you follow them to the letter, I cannot guarantee the outcome. That goes without saying, I would think.

  41. Cindy says

    Hi – can’t wait to try these. But, I have every ingredient except for the erythritol. Can I use sucanat, coconut crystals or cane sugar? Thx!

  42. heather says

    These cookies were, hands down, THE BEST cookies I have ever made with almond flour! The result was tender and even a bit chewy (I mixed grass-fed butter with the unrefined coconut oil for the same amount for a slightly different taste). They are gorgeous to look at and even non-gf eaters loved them. In full disclosure, I did sub sugar for the sugar substitutes (1 tbsp fine cane sugar and 4 tbps brown sugar, regular dried cranberries and regular mini semi-sweet choc chips) but in the scheme of things, that is so much LESS sugar than a “”normal” cookie recipe and they were still perfectly sweet. I am addicted! Thank you for this innovative recipe.

  43. Cindy says

    Have you tried freezing half the dough and baking at a later date? I’m wondering how to go about that? Form into cookies first or slice them frozen? I’m guessing they would take longer to bake…any thoughts?

  44. Linda says

    I followed your recipe for making my own dried cranberries (halved the sweetener), as well as your “homemade chocolate chips”. Then, I went to work at stirring up a batch of the above cookies. I used ground xylitol and a little stevia as sweeteners all the way around. My husband (20 yrs w type 2) and I agree that these are the best gf/sf cookies ever. He will watch his sugar levels closely to make sure these darlings do not raise his glucose readings. He is pretty sensitive. He is strict w diet and is only on 1000 mg metformin & 5 mg onglyza daily. No insulin =) Do you have an opinion on the outcome?

    • Carolyn says

      Well of course I have an opinion…my opinion is that I bet they won’t raise his blood sugar much at all and I hope that you will come back and let me know :)

      • Linda says

        Well, two batches later, and no noted blood sugar increase. He is so happy =)
        By the way, I used the link above for the dried cranberries, the 8 hour version. They are wonderful! And so are you!
        Thank you for your dedication to improving the health, and quality of life of diabetics & their families. We are all healthier and happier because of you.


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