These gluten free vegan homemade Samoa cookies are heavenly. A shortbread base, topped with homemade vegan caramel, toasted coconut and a dark chocolate drizzle…what more could you ask for? We’re all about healthier Girl Scout cookies that everyone can enjoy!
Our Samoas vs. the Original
I can’t even remember the last time I had Girl Scout cookies. It’s probably been at least 10 years, maybe more! My all-time favorite was Tagalongs, but Samoas were a close second. I love the chocolate + caramel + coconut combination!
I just took a quick look at the ingredient list for Samoas, and yikes. The first few ingredients are sugar, vegetable oil, enriched flour and corn syrup. Later on in the list, we get glycerin, invert sugar, caramel color, dextrose, and something called sorbitan tristearate.
I’m all for food freedom. I think it’s perfectly fine to indulge in “unhealthy” foods. However, isn’t it just so much better to make things homemade? No weird ingredients, no artificial flavors/colors, and you certainly don’t need 4 variations of sugar. I’d so much rather enjoy a cookie (or two…or five) made from home or a great bakery!
That’s why we opted for natural and lower glycemic sugars for this recipe as much as possible. We rely on pure maple syrup, coconut sugar and dates for most of the sweetness in these homemade Girl Scout copycat cookies.
Ultimately, you get a batch of nostalgic snacks that are healthier, tastier and just so happen to be gluten and dairy free.
How to make Homemade Samoa Cookies
This gluten free & vegan take on the classic Samoa cookie definitely strays from the original concept, but it’s equally delicious. We start with a buttery, crispy cookie base. It’s our version of shortbread, made with five simple ingredients.
5 Ingredient Gluten Free Shortbread
To whip up a batch of creamy, golden vegan and gluten free shortbread only takes five simple ingredients.
- Coconut oil gives the classic coconut flavor that we all love Samoas for. Plus, it hardens when cool, which helps the gluten free shortbread keep its structure.
- Gluten free flour. For this, you can use our homemade all-purpose gluten free flour blend. Or, pick some up at the store. We like King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free All Purpose blend. It works for gluten free cookies, cakes and even waffles.
- Pure maple syrup. and sugar provide the sweetness. With maple syrup, we can limit the amount of refined sugar in these cookies. And, of course, enjoy the maple flavor.
- And finally, a bit of vanilla extract rounds out these gluten free and vegan shortbread cookies.
You’ll combine all of these ingredients using the creaming method for these cookies. All that means is you’ll whip the coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) with the sugar. This incorporates air and lightens the shortbread dough. Then, you’ll gradually add the remaining ingredients until everything comes together in a ball.
Finally, roll, cut and bake your shortbread cookies. Now, you’re ready to assemble the rest of these vegan Samoas.
Also, good to know: this shortbread base is delicious and versatile. We’ve used the same recipe in these Chocolate Pecan Caramel Shortbread Cookie Bars.
Chocolate + Caramel + Coconut
We recommend letting the shortbread cookies cool a bit before you assemble the cookies. Otherwise, the chocolate and caramel won’t set well.
To finish making these homemade gluten free vegan Samoa cookies, you’ll need melted dark chocolate, toasted coconut and the all-important caramel.
How to Melt Dark Chocolate
To melt dark chocolate for these Samoas, turn to the mike.
- Simply dump your chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave in 30 second increments until it’s about 75% melted. Stir the chocoalte every 30 seconds to avoid burning. The residual heat in the chocolate will melt the remaining lumps when you take it out. It’s best to stop melting earlier than later, since chocolate can burn easily in the microwave.
When it comes to choosing the best chocolate for this recipe, go for dark over milk chocolate. Even if you’re not dairy free, milk chocolate does not melt well. All the milk solids also prevent it from hardening nicely after it’s melted. We like Enjoy Life vegan and gluten free dark chocolate chips.
Finishing your Gluten Free Vegan Samoa Cookies
In addition to melted dark chocolate, you’ll need a quick batch of our 4 ingredient homemade caramel. (Side note – we added a few extra ingredients to this version to help thicken the caramel.) This vegan caramel is so creamy and sweet no one will believe that it’s made with dates.
And finally, have some toasted coconut flakes and flaky salt on hand for finishing. We recommend the fine shredded coconut for these Samoas, rather than the large flakes. They fit better on top of each cookie without overwhelming them. Just be sure to get unsweetened flakes.
Here’s how to assemble each vegan and gluten free Samoa:
- Dip one side of each shortbread in melted dark chocolate. Let cool to harden the chocolate.
- Spread the non-chocolate side with homemade date caramel.
- Drizzle with more melted chocolate.
- Finish off with a kiss of toasted coconut and flaky salt.
Skip the hole – save your dough!
We decided to keep the vegan gluten free cookies whole. Instead of cutting a hole in the center like a classic Samoa. It’s just easier, and you don’t have to waste any precious dough!
More Gluten Free & Vegan Cookie Recipes
Looking for more gluten free & vegan cookie recipes? Here are a few of our favorites:
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Tahini Thumbprint Cookies with Date Caramel Filling
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
- Double Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
We hope you enjoy these gluten free vegan Samoa cookies – tag us on Instagram @crowded_kitchen if you give them a try!
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These gluten free vegan Samoa cookies are heavenly. A shortbread base, topped with homemade vegan caramel, toasted coconut and a dark chocolate drizzle…what more could you ask for?
- 3/4 cup coconut oil (solid, but softened)
- 1/3 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 cup coconut cream (don’t use any of the liquid in the can – just the solid layer of cream)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- 8 oz dark chocolate, melted (see post for how-to)
- Optional: flaky salt
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to another container to cool completely. It will thicken as it cools.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium bowl, cream coconut oil and sugar with hand mixer or stand mixer. Add maple syrup and vanilla and mix until well combined.
- Add flour and mix for 10-15 seconds, or until a crumb texture forms.
- Knead dough until it forms into a ball and you can pinch the dough without it crumbling.
- Roll out the dough to between 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies using a small circular cookie cutter. Repeat until all dough is used. Place cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until slightly browned. Let cool completely.
- Reduce oven heat to 325 F. Spread coconut flakes on a sheet pan in an even layer.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring once, until toasted and browned. Be careful – it burns easily!
- To assemble cookies, dip shortbread base in melted dark chocolate. Let harden for a few minutes, then spread a layer of caramel on top of cookie. Sprinkle with a layer of coconut, then drizzle with more dark chocolate. Let the chocolate set before eating.