These gluten-free rugelach are perfect with a cup of coffee for breakfast or as a healthy after-school snack. Naturally sweetened with apples and raisins, they are delicious and low sugar! My kids love them so much, that I always have lots of volunteers to help with fillings and rolling the crescents.
There is very little sugar (only 2 Tbsp) in this gluten-free rugelach recipe. It’s even fine to completely skip adding sugar to the dough. So the pastry is fairly different from its sweeter counterparts.
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, feel free to swap the raisins for brown sugar and sprinkle the rugelach with icing sugar after baking.
A few baking notes:
Gluten-free rugelach is really EASY to make. It’s the perfect activity for a rainy fall morning. My kids always love to get involved in making the dough and rolling the rugelach.
Here are a few extra notes to help you along if this is your first time.
- The rugelach are formed by rolling 1/3 of the dough out into a circle around 10-inches (25 cm) in diameter and 1/4-inch (5mm) thick. If the dough was in the refridgerator, warm it slightly to make the rolling easier. Then roll the dough out on a well floured surface.
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese across the circle, then sprinkled with 1/3 of the filling.
- Cut the circle in quarters. Then cut each of the quarters, either in half for 24 rugelach or into thirds for 36 rugelach.
- Forming the rugelach is a bit tricky at first. I usually start by folding the fat end of the triangle over once, then pushing the top point of the triangle over top of the fat end.
Fermenting the dough
Gluten-free baking always is better if the flour is allowed to fully hydrate. Letting the dough rest for at least 30 minutes will ensure a nice smooth dough.
Store-bought blocks of cream cheese, usually don’t contain any live bacterial culture. However, if you are using homemade, cultured cream cheese, then your rugelach dough can be fermented!
It’s also a good idea to let the dough rest and ferment if you are using homemade cream cheese or kefir cheese because they tend to be softer than store-bought blocks of cheese. Letting the dough rest for 2 to 6 hours will give the flour time to fully hydrate, making it less sticky when rolling out.
Freezing Gluten-free rugelach
Gluten-free baked goods go stale really quickly. I think it’s because of the starches that are used as binders. While most of my bread recipes avoid added starches, they really do help with the texture of baked goods. Fortunately, GF baked goods, like gluten-free rugelach, freeze really well.
This recipe is based on a standard block of cream cheese, so they make a LOT of pastries. Here’s how to freeze your rugelach so you can enjoy them for as long as they last.
- Freeze the baked pastries on a cookie sheet.
- When they are frozen solid, store them in a zip-top bag or airtight freezer container. They should remain fresh for up to 4 months in the freezer.
- We like to defrost ours in the microwave until they are warm. Alternately, leave them to defrost at room temperature, then warm them slightly under a low broiler.
Gluten-free Apple, Walnut Rugelach
This healthy rugelach is made with apples, walnuts, and raisins for a naturally sweet snack. It’s also gluten-free and delicious!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 24–36 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: Jewish
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1 cup of butter (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup of cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar or date sugar (see notes)
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour blend (see notes)
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 4 medium apples, grated
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup raisins, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped
- Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar together until smooth and soft. Add in the orange zest and eggs, and beat until well combined. Mix in the flour until a dough is formed. This may require a bit of kneading.
- If you want to ferment the dough, leave it to rest at room temperature for 2-6 hours. See the section above for more details on fermenting the dough. Otherwise, leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes while you put together the filling. The dough can also be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To make the filling, mix the grated apple with lemon juice, cinnamon, and chopped raisins. Then stir in the walnuts.
- To form the rugelach, divide the dough into three balls. Roll one ball out into a large circle, it should be about 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick.
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese over the circle, then sprinkle on 1/3 of the filling.
- Cut the circle into 8 or 12 triangular wedges (depending on if you want large or small rugelach.)
- Carefully roll the rugelach into a crescent shape. Place on a cookie sheet. They can be packed quite closely as they won’t rise very much. See the section above for more details, including photos, to help you form the rugelach.
- Repeat the process with each of the other two balls of dough.
- To get a puffier pastry, chill the formed rugelach for 30 minutes in the fridge before baking. For a crisp brown pastry, glaze with a beaten egg. (I haven’t done that for the photos).
- Bake for 20-30 minutes at 375F, rotating halfway through to ensure even baking. Serve right away, or freeze for longer storage. (See the section above for details).
- Using brown sugar or date sugar is the easiest way to cream the butter and cream cheese. Date sugar is not the same thing as chopped dates or date puree. It is a dry, sugar-like powder made from dates. I have made this with date sugar a number of times. The dough will be slightly drier, but still delicious!
- Feel free to use your favorite gluten-free flour. Or try making your own gluten-free baking flour mix.
- For a sweeter pastry replace the chopped raisins with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. If the pastries still aren’t sweet enough, then sprinkle them with icing sugar before serving.
Keywords: sugar-free, gluten-free, healthy, treat, snack, breakfast, naturally sweetened, spring, summer, fall
Made these and they are nice and tender.
Great! Glad you liked them.
Made these a few times for snacks. Kids dug it. Reminds me of Turkish desserts I’ve had before.
I have saved and finally made your recipe! I made the apple walnut filling and they came out really good. I was able to divide the recipe down to 1/3 easily. I made the dough and refrigerated it for 3 days. I got 16 nice sized, soft yet flakey and perfectly sweet cookies. Made up a second filling with homemade fresh cranberry/ orange/ date filling with dark chocolate shavings in the middle. Made for a nice Hanukkah treat in a Thanksgiving week! Thankful for your recipe! – Jennifer Vigo MS, RDN
Ooh, your filling recommendation sounds amazing! Definitely going to try that variation. Cheers!