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These gluten free Russian tea cakes are everyone’s favorite cookies, made using almond flour and warm chai spices. They’re always a hit!

10 Healthyish Holiday Cookies | A Couple Cooks
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Ready for the tastiest Russian tea cakes out there? These gluten free Russian tea cakes are seriously tasty, made with cozy chai spices. Growing up, my mom made Russian tea cakes as a treat, especially since my sister and I were always throwing tea parties for our dolls (ha!). This version is a little more nutrient-dense than our family recipe, and even tastier! Adding chai spices gives them a warmth, and they totally melt in your mouth. Even better, they’re totally gluten free so work for lots of eaters! Here’s how to make these tea cakes—also known as snowball cookies.

Gluten free Russian tea cakes

The secret to gluten free Russian tea cakes

Gluten free cookies can be challenging, since gluten is so important in making the standard cookie structure. What’s the secret to these gluten free Russian tea cakes? Almond flour. Almond flour is just finely ground blanched almonds, and it’s popular for using in gluten free baked goods.

The problem with almond flour is that it can be super dense. After all, it’s just almonds! So getting the right texture in a gluten free cookie is important. Here Alex and I used cornstarch along with the almond flour to help these cookies have a lighter texture. Because Russian tea cakes are generally denser than most cookies, the cornstarch is enough to come together into that signature crumbly, melt-in-your mouth texture.

Gluten free Russian tea cakes

Adding chai spices…why not?

For our version of gluten free Russian tea cakes, Alex and I decided to add a little spin. Because we love Chai spices so much, we decided to throw them into these cookies! They turn out irresistibly good by adding just a few simple spices. Here are the spices that make up chai spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Cardamom

Where to find cardamom

Ground cardamom can sometimes be hard to find, though it should be available in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it in the store (or it seems overly expensive), you can buy cardamom online here. Cardamom is absolutely essential to chai spices: it’s what gives chai it’s signature flavor! So we’d recommend finding it for this recipe.

Chai spices

Almond flour: not almond meal!

One important note about these gluten free Russian tea cakes: make sure to use almond flour, not almond meal! What’s the difference? Both are made from ground almonds. Almond flour is made from blanched almonds (almonds with their skins removed) and is ground very finely. Almond meal contains the almond skins, making it brown in color instead of off-white, and has a coarser grind than almond flour.

To get the right texture in these tea cakes, almond flour is required. Almond meal would be much too dense! Read more about the differences here: Almond Meal vs Almond Flour.

Where to find almond flour

It’s easy to find almond flour in many grocery stores these days. If you can’t find it, you can order almond flour online.

Gluten free Russian tea cakes

More gluten free cookies!

Looking for other gluten free cookies outside of these Russian tea cakes?

This gluten free Russian tea cakes recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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10 Healthyish Holiday Cookies | A Couple Cooks

Gluten Free Russian Tea Cakes

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3.5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x


These gluten free Russian tea cakes are everyone’s favorite cookies, made using almond flour and warm chai spices. They’re always a hit!


  • ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons brown or coconut sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour (not almond meal)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix together butter and sugar until fully combined. Add the remainder of the ingredients (except for the powdered sugar) and mix again until a cohesive dough forms. Turn out onto plastic wrap and shape into a ball; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (make sure the temperature is true; adjust if your oven runs hotter than normal). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll into approximately 20 1-inch balls, pressing together the dough as necessary where it is crumbly. Important: Work quickly to avoid the butter softening, which results in a melted cookie in the oven. We recommend refrigerating half of the dough while rolling out the first half of the cookies.
  4. Place the cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, turning the pan halfway through for even baking, until the cookies are light golden brown but still soft. (Be careful not to over bake or the cookies may start to lose their shape.) Remove the cookies from the oven and cool them on the pan for 10 minutes (avoid touching; the cookies will solidify as they cool). Once hardened, transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  5. When completely cool, dust the cookies with the powdered sugar.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Cookie

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This looks super easy (and it is) it looks yummy! Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Ally T says:

    Was so excited to try this recipe. Followed the directions exactly and ended up with a crumbly, powdery mess. Couldn’t create a dough with it, even after adding more butter and sugar.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m so sorry it didn’t work!

  3. Juanita says:

    I made these and initially just enjoyed them as freezer balls because I was too lazy to bake. I baked the last few in the oven and they were so much better! This recipe is easy and delicous. Thanks!

  4. Mark says:

    These look and sound amazing. Really looking forward to trying them. Thanks!