These gluten free ladyfingers are light and delicate. They are slightly crisp on the outside with a spongy, tender center. Layer them in a tiramisu or use them to make a gluten free charlotte.
My favourite way to eat these sweet little sponge cookies? With a cup of tea!
What is a ladyfinger?
A ladyfinger is a light, spongy cookie that’s shaped, well, like a finger. The outside should just be a tad bit crisp, with an inside that’s delicate.
It’s like a mini sponge cake, in cookie form.
Are ladyfingers gluten free?
Ladyfingers are small sponge cookies that are made with wheat flour, so they are NOT gluten free.
In order to enjoy gluten free ladyfingers, you’ll need to make your own using a gluten free recipe or buy a gluten free version at the grocery store.
Can you buy gluten free ladyfingers?
Prepackaged gluten free ladyfingers are available at some grocery stores. The only brand I’ve been able to find is the Schar version. They contain eggs, sugar, cornstarch, rice flour, guar gum and vanilla flavouring.
If gluten free ladyfingers aren't available at your local grocery store - don’t worry! Making them is much easier than you think.
Desserts that use ladyfingers
I enjoy eating plain ladyfingers as much as the next person, but you can also use them to make fabulous, fancy desserts!
Probably the most famous use for ladyfingers is in a tiramisu. Ladyfingers are stacked between layers of mascarpone and whipped cream and topped with cocoa powder. It’s a super indulgent dessert that looks elegant, but it’s ridiculously simple to put together. Want to make your own? Try this Gluten Free Tiramisu!
Another way to use them is in a charlotte. Ladyfingers are the mold that surrounds a fruit puree or custard. A charlotte russe (Russian Charlotte) uses ladyfingers as the outer mold with Bavarian cream in the center.
Get creative and use ladyfingers in trifles, as part of cheesecakes, or make a pudding parfait! Anywhere you would use a sponge cake - try using this gluten free ladyfinger recipe instead.
In order to make homemade gluten free ladyfingers, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Gluten free flour: I use a homemade blend that contains white rice flour, tapioca starch, and sorghum flour. It does not contain xanthan gum. You can certainly try a different brand, but not all gluten free flour blends are similar so results may not be as you expect.
- Baking powder
- Xanthan gum: added separately as the flour blend I use doesn’t contain it. If you use a commercially prepared blend of gluten free flour that contains xanthan gum, omit this from the recipe.
- Eggs: 3 of them, separated - the key to getting that spongy texture!
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Icing sugar: for dusting these sweet little cookies.
Tools needed to make this recipe
To make gluten free ladyfingers, you’ll need the following tools:
- Kitchen scale: not essential, but highly recommended in order to make your gluten free baking as consistent as possible.
- Three bowls: one for whipping the egg whites, one for whipping the egg yolks and one for the dry ingredients.
- Electric mixer: a hand mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Piping bag with tip or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off: to pipe the finger-shaped cookies
- Sifter: optional, but highly recommended to minimize clumping of the flour mixture. It can also be used (after washing) to dust the cookies with icing sugar before baking.
- Spatula: to gently fold the ingredients together
- Baking sheet(s) lined with parchment paper: you can prepare one and use it multiple times, or use multiple baking sheets.
How to make gluten free ladyfingers
Making gluten free ladyfingers is an easy process once you break it down. Separating the eggs seems like a pain, but the little bit of extra effort is definitely worth it.
In a bowl, mix together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder. In a second bowl, whip the egg whites with 2 tablespoons (26g) of granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. In the third (and final) bowl, whip together the egg yolks and remaining granulated sugar until they are thick and pale yellow.
Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and gently fold until combined. Then you’ll add this mixture into the bowl containing the egg whites and gently fold, again, to combine.
Using a piping bag, pipe the ladyfingers onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Right before baking, thoroughly dust the cookies with icing sugar.
Bake at 350°F for 10-13 minutes until firm, but spongy.
The texture of the batter
As you go through this gluten free ladyfingers recipe, you’ll notice there are a few mixtures and batters that are made. Here’s a breakdown of what each one should look like:
- Egg white mixture: when whipping just the egg whites, they will become foamy. After adding the sugar, the egg whites should be beaten until they form stiff peaks - when you remove the beaters (or paddle), the egg whites should stay in a peak shape and not droop or sink.
- Egg yolk mixture: this batter will be thick and pale yellow.
- Egg yolk + flour mixture: after sifting in the flour mixture, the egg yolks will become even thicker and may appear lumpy.
- The final batter: the ladyfinger batter may appear a bit lumpy, with some yellow and white streaks. Fold the batters until they are combined. This will keep the batter as fluffy as possible.
Tips for using a piping bag
Gluten free ladyfingers are piped into a 1” by 3” (2 ½ x 7 ½ cm) cookie on the baking sheet. Here are a few tips when it comes to using a piping bag. Because no one likes batter all over the place!
- Use a piping bag with a ½”-1” (1-2 ½ cm) tip OR use a freezer bag with the corner cut off. Seal the top of the bag, so your batter doesn’t squirt out the top!
- Use a tall cup and place the piping bag over top, with the tip at the bottom. Spread the bag over the edges of the cup, so it opens the bag and makes it easier to fill.
- Use a large cookie scoop to fill the piping bag. The ladyfinger batter is light and fluffy, so it can be a pain to handle with a regular spoon. I use a large cookie scoop to make it easier to fill the piping bag without a huge mess.
- Have a cloth or paper towel handy to dab off any excess in between the piping cookies, if needed.
Why are my ladyfingers flat?
If your gluten free ladyfingers have fallen a bit flat, there could be multiple reasons why. Let’s troubleshoot together!
- The eggs (yolk or whites) were not mixed enough. In order to produce a light cookie, we need whipped up eggs. Whip the yolks until they are thick and light yellow. The egg whites should form stiff peaks - stiff enough that they don’t move when you remove the beaters or paddle from the bowl.
- The batter was overmixed. Whipping the egg yolks and whites separately and then combining them should make a light, airy batter. If you mix them both together too vigorously, it will lose the aeration that gives the ladyfingers their light, spongy texture.
- Not enough icing sugar was dusted on before baking. Believe it or not, a generous coating of icing sugar actually helps with the rise of these gluten free ladyfingers. Dust the icing sugar on right before baking. Cover the cookies completely - the icing sugar will also be all over your parchment paper and baking sheet, but that’s ok. (And if you’re like me, it will also be all over your shirt, your pants and the dog will be licking some off the floor...)
Keep gluten free ladyfingers stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
They will dry out the longer they sit. If you are using the ladyfingers in your tiramisu, this will work in your favour! Drier ladyfingers will absorb more coffee flavour. That equals a delicious dessert!
Gluten Free Ladyfingers
- 1 ¼ cup (150g) gluten free flour blend (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum if using a commercially available gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum, omit this from the recipe
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs separated
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Set aside for a moment.
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy using an electric mixer (stand mixer or hand mixer with both beaters).
- After the egg whites are foamy, add in 2 tablespoons (26g) of the sugar and the vanilla extract. Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (about 2 minutes of mixing).
- In another medium-sized bowl, beat the yolks and the remaining sugar together using the electric mixer. The egg and sugar mixture should become thick and pale yellow (about 2 minutes of mixing).
- Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and gently fold in. The mixture may look thick and lumpy.
- Fold the egg yolk + flour mixture into the bowl containing the egg whites. Handle the mixture gently and as minimally as possible to not ruin the aeration. The dough may look lumpy (and that’s ok).
- Using a pastry bag, or a large sandwich bag with the corner cut off, and a ½”-1” (1-2 ½ cm) tip: pipe cookies that are 1” wide by 3” long (2 ½ x 7 ½ cm) on the parchment paper. Spread the cookies about 1” (2 ½ cm) apart so they don’t touch during baking.
- Bake one sheet of cookies at a time. Immediately before baking, dust the cookies with a generous amount of icing sugar. They should be completely covered in icing sugar (as will the parchment paper).
- Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes until they are slightly firm but still spongy.
- Cover remaining cookies on second cookie sheet with icing sugar and bake as directed.
- Cool cookies on a wire cooling rack.
- Gluten free flour: I used a blend of 50% white rice flour, 30% tapioca starch, and 20% sorghum flour. You can blend your own by following this recipe: Gluten Free Flour Blend (All Purpose). Another blend can be used; however, results may not be the same.
- Storage: store ladyfingers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. They will dry out the longer they are stored, but drier cookies will work perfectly in a tiramisu!