Nutty, buttery, chewy noels bars, a classic Christmas cookie, have been updated to be flourless with the addition of almond flour. A great non-chocolate addition to your holiday cookie plates!
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Growing up my mom always made cookies at the holidays to go on plates that we would deliver to our neighbors.
Helping her make and deliver them was one of the traditions I always looked forward to at Christmas.
She would make different cookies, but there were always a few staples - peanut butter balls and peanut butter swirl bars were usually included (we're definitely a peanut butter-chocolate family!), as was some type of cut out cookie my sisters and I would decorate.
The other staple cookie I remember making the most was a simple bar cookie called Noels.
I'm not sure why they were called such a holiday name when there isn't anything really holiday-ish about their appearance.
But these simple bar cookies had two things going for them:
- They took about 10 minutes to make and 20 minutes to cook, so a lot less time consuming than other holiday cookies.
- They had a wonderful buttery, nutty flavor with a nice chewy texture.
It has been years since I made them, but I recently pulled out the recipe I copied from my mom's and decided to update them to be flourless since the original recipe only used 1/3 cup of flour.
Since they are basically a nut bar, replacing the flour with almond flour seemed the best way to go.
I had to adjust some of the cooking techniques because the bars are a bit more crumbly, but they still have the buttery flavor and great texture we loved in the original.
And now I have a new cookie bar for my holiday treat bags that will work for the gluten free people in my life!
Flourless Chewy Noels Bar Cookies
You only need 5 ingredients along baking basics of salt, baking powder and vanilla:
- Chopped nuts, either pecans or walnuts
- Brown sugar
- Almond flour (fine ground flour, not almond meal)
And powdered sugar for dusting the tops of the bars for the traditional Noels bar look.
Though the powdered sugar can be optional, the bars are only slightly sweet (I decreased the sugar, too - I just always do with older cookie recipes!), so a dusting of some type of raw sugar would be nice if you didn't want to use powdered sugar.
This is where I had to adjust the original technique - the bars are stickier and too fragile to be dumped out warm on a cooling rack.
Instead, you coat the pan with spray or oil and then line the bottom and two sides with parchment.
Add the butter to the prepped pan to melt in the oven while mixing the dough together.
Then it's simply a matter of mixing the dry ingredients together before adding the wet ingredients.
You do need to mix really well after adding the eggs and vanilla - at first it seems dry, but keep mixing until everything is incorporated well.
Then carefully pour evenly over the melted butter in the pan and bake for about 20 minutes until nicely browned on the top.
Dust with powdered sugar while warm. Then let cool in the pan.
Use the parchment edges to transfer the bars to a cutting board and cut into 16 bars, dusting with more powdered sugar if you'd like.
All that's left is to enjoy that vintagey-Christmas goodness, updated so everyone can enjoy them!
Chewy Noels Bars FAQs
Yes, you can freeze the cut cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
I haven't tried doubling the recipe to bake in a 13x9 pan - I prefer to make a couple batches of the 8x8-inch pan recipe to make them easier to handle. If you successfully double it, let me know in the comments!
No, other than decreasing the original brown sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup I kept it the same. I find that coconut sugar acts very similar to brown sugar, so that may work. I don't think honey or maple syrup would without further adaptations.
Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange
For a number of years, I've been happy to join a group of food bloggers who share cookie and candy recipes during the holidays, called The Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange.
You can check out the other 42 cookies right here on this page - it's a great resource for finding new cookies to make!
Flourless Chewy Noels Bars
- 8x8-inch baking pan
- Parchment Paper
- Medium mixing bowl & spoon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1/2 cup almond flour, fine ground (not almond meal)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with oil, then line with parchment paper so two ends hang over sides a bit.
- Place butter in prepared pan and place in oven to melt. Keep an eye on it and remove when melted.
- Meanwhile in a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, nuts, almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Add eggs and vanilla and beat very well until it's thoroughly mixed.
- Slowly pour batter evenly over melted butter in the pan - do not stir.
- Bake 18-22 minutes until the top is golden. Remove from oven and sift powdered sugar over bars.
- Let bars cool in pan and then lift bars from ban with parchment edges (loosening non-parchment edges with knife if needed) onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 bars, sifting more powdered sugar over if desired.*