Wonder Cookies! Vegan, Grain-Free & Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 7 votes

Wonder cookies are vegan, grain-free, date-sweetened, and are easily made nut-free. Truly delicious and feel-good chocolate chip cookies.

An overhead shot of about 20 chocolate chunk Wonder Cookies on white parchment.
A side angle of chocolate chunk wonder cookies. One of the cookies is split in half to reveal the moist interior.
A photo of the open shelves in my kitchen with the cookie ingredients and a grey food processor on the butcher block counter.
An overhead shot of ingredients for cookies on a white/grey marble background.


I honestly can’t stand baking, and I really should just be eating/sharing big plates of summer tomatoes, peaches, corn, basil etc. at this point, but I had the idea of these wonder cookies in my head and I couldn’t stop working on it!

There’s a lot of paleo (and paleo-vegan) chocolate chip cookie recipes with coconut sugar/honey/maple syrup. I wanted to go totally unrefined though. Using dates as the sweetener for a cookie brings a whole host of challenges. Dates don’t caramelize like refined sweeteners. They don’t contribute to the structure of the cookie because they’re naturally gummy. They aren’t as sweet as sugar and maple syrup, so you have to ensure that you’re bringing it flavour-wise with the other ingredients. I’m also considering: no dairy, eggs, or grain-based flours. Also a built-in goal to make a nut-free option!

Seven tries later and we have a very good cookie made with ten core ingredients that are common for the health food store-dwellers among us. I’m proud of this one! I also don’t really want to see a chocolate chip cookie for a while!

These cookies are slightly tender, gooey with chocolate, perfectly sweet, and they have a golden-brown edge. Refined sugars make for those toffee-like, crisp edges typical to chocolate chip cookies. Not gonna happen here, but we get really close! My earlier attempts were more like thin muffin tops.

Along with the dates, a combination of almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, and almond butter make up the body of these wonder cookies. If you’re into grain-free treats, you might also like these ginger molasses softies or this jumbo single serve tahini chocolate chunk cookie.

For the nut-free version, I make sunflower seed flour in the blender or food processor. I also replace the almond butter with sunflower seed butter. I actually liked these ones better. Because I made the flour fresh for them, I found the cookie to be a touch more moist. Just be aware that the dough/finished product for the nut-free version will have a green-ish tinge. Sunflower seeds contain chlorogenic acid, and when they’re combined with baking soda and heat, it makes for baked goods of varying green shades. Still perfectly safe to eat!

While these cookies are “all the free’s” (as my bud Jess says), these are still a sweet treat with a good dose of natural fats. They are filling! Anyway, let me know if you try them. I tried to be EXTRA thorough with the instructions in anticipation of questions.

4 photos: hot water being poured over dates in a white bowl, an overhead shot of the food processor with nut butter and dates, another overhead shot of the food processor with almond flour in it, and the last one is an up close shot of the chocolate chunks on top of the cookie batter in a bowl.
A side angle shot of chocolate chip cookies piled on top of each other against a white background,
2 photos: one shows sunflower seeds in a blender from overhead. The next one shows those sunflower seeds ground up into a “flour.”
An overhead shot of chocolate chip wonder cookies on a white parchment paper background.

Wonder Cookies

Wonder cookies are vegan, grain-free, date-sweetened, and are easily made nut-free. Truly delicious and feel-good chocolate chip cookies.
5 from 7 votes
Wonder Cookies! Vegan, grain-free, date-sweetened chocolate chunk cookies (with a nut-free option) - The First Mess
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings 20 Cookies

Ingredients

  • cup pitted dates, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons of water
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon MELTED AND COOLED coconut oil, measured in its liquid state
  • ¼ cup roasted, smooth almond butter (or sunflower seed butter for nut-free version)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond flour or sunflower seed flour (see note)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 scant cup vegan chocolate chunks/chips

Notes

  • This cookie dough will seem impossibly sticky/too wet when you’re trying to shape it. I recommend lightly oiling your hands to roll and flatten the portions of dough.
  • My dates were the dry, typically cheaper, ones that you can find in the baking aisle. If you’re using extra soft and fresh Medjool dates, I’d only soak them for about 1 minute or so (or forego soaking entirely).
  • I know that regulation chocolate chips/chunks/bars always have sugar. If you want to keep these TRULY refined sugar-free, go with Lily’s Baking Chips, which are sweetened with stevia.
  • I made the “sun-flour” (sunflower seed flour) in the dry blade container of my Vitamix. Just whole, raw sunflower seeds that I pulsed until they resembled almond flour. I tried to do this in the food processor, and the result was definitely more coarse. I think you can make it work if you keep scraping down the bowl and persevering, making sure that the mixture doesn’t overheat and clump up..
  • I list coconut oil for these wonder cookies, but versions that I tried with grapeseed and avocado oil were just as good.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Place the dates in a bowl. Cover them with boiling water. Let them soak and soften for 5 whole minutes.
  • In a small bowl, vigorously stir together the ground flaxseed, water, and apple cider vinegar. Set mixture aside for 5 minutes to thicken/gel slightly.
  • Once the dates are softened, drain and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade. Add the flaxseed mixture, coconut oil, almond butter, and vanilla. Run the food processor on high until you have a relatively smooth paste, stopping at one point to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, and baking soda to the food processor. Run the motor on high until you have a sticky and unified dough, stopping at one point to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Scrape the sticky cookie dough out into a medium bowl. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly mixed throughout the dough.
  • Drop heaped tablespoons of the cookie dough out onto the baking sheet. Once you’ve scooped all of the dough, lightly oil your hands. Roll and flatten each portion of dough and arrange on the baking sheet. These cookies will not spread as they bake, so they won’t need much space.
  • Bake the wonder cookies until deep golden on the undersides and lightly cracked on top, about 11 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheet. These cookies are optimally enjoyed the day that they are baked.
09/08/2017 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, dessert, gluten free, grain-free, nut free, refined sugar-free, snack, spring, summer, sweet, vegan, winter

52 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Kathy

    Can I use 1 cup tapioca flour instead of coconut flour? Can I also use oat flour instead of almond flour?

    • Laura Wright

      Kathy,
      I’m not sure about these substitutions unfortunately as I’ve never tested them myself. After all, there are infinite variations of flour combinations that one could substitute. My initial reaction is that oat flour subbing for almond might make this cookie too crumbly though. I do not have any personal experience working with tapioca flour. Might be best to use Google to find advice on substitutions or a different oat flour and tapioca flour-based cookie recipe that’s been tested. Wish I could be more helpful here.
      -L

  • Marijeta

    Hi Laura! Why is it important to melt the coconut oil first and then let it cool down again? Thanks!

  • Julie

    5 stars
    I was skeptical at first but let me tell you these are delicious!! I will definitely be making these again. I had to freeze them so I wouldn’t eat them all in 2 days!

  • erikaliz15@gmail.com

    Hi! These are amazing, but I saw below that someone commented and said they are not whole30? We are doing paleo, and I thought they were?

    Also- do you know the nutrition facts? Thanks for the recipe!

    • Laura

      Hi there!

      As far as I understand, these are definitely not Whole30-friendly. On the Whole30 program, you are not allowed to take Whole30-compliant ingredients (dates, almonds etc) and turn them into a sweet treat. You really are only permitted to eat meals made out of whole foods. Also, even a coconut sugar or stevia-sweetened chocolate chip would not be Whole30-compliant because sweeteners of any type are not allowed. If you use a coconut sugar or other alternative-sweetener chocolate chip, they are paleo-friendly as far as I know. I don’t follow this diet, so I do not know the specifics. You would be best to do some Googling just to make sure.

      I never post nutrition information on my site! I would recommend checking out one of the many free nutrition calculators online like My Fitness Pal :)

      -L

  • Kelly

    Excited to try.  Question: do you make the sunflower seed butter or buy it? wondering if it’s just sunflower seeds blended, or if there are additives i.e. sugar – THANKS! 

    • Laura

      Hi Kelly,
      I usually buy the unsweetened SunButter brand, which is just sunflower seeds.
      -L

  • Emma

    is there a substitute for coconut flour other than coconut flakes? would love to make these!

    • Laura

      Hi Emma,
      I think you could swing it with ground up coconut flakes if you have access to a food processor or spice grinder or something similar. The coconut flour helps to dry out the batter and help it set, so it does have its own function here.
      -L

  • Deb

    After 40 days on Whole30, my husband and I decided we needed a “quarantine” treat that may be a little “off plan” but not totally kill the Whole30 work. These cookies were perfect. I used medjool dates and made my own sunflower seed flour out of raw seeds. I didn’t have almond butter but used raw cashew butter instead. They are fantastic and we absolutely love them. After 40 days of Whole30, they tasted like HEAVEN!!!

  • Murielle Banackissa

    Hi Laura,

    Just wanted to say that I tried these cookies this month and they were absolutely DIVINE! They were so good that the entire batch I made was gone within minutes.

    I just wrote an article about my 8 May favorites and this recipe made it to the list as my favorite recipe of the month! If you would like to check out the blogpost, here it is: https://www.muriellebanackissa.com/blog/

  • Sherry

    Thanks for all the labour that went into this recipe, Laura! We’ve just sampled our first batch and concur that it probably won’t be our last. (I will be interested to know how long they will hold up, since even greedy types like us won’t be able to get through the batch on the day of! I see Meaghan has frozen them, which is worth considering.) After reading others’ comments I added 1/2t. cinnamon and reduced the chocolate bits to 3/4 cup: both worked well. I also used a spring-loaded scoop to dispense, which I can only imagine to be 100x easier than scraping out of a tablespoon measure, though my scoop is obviously slightly larger, yielding just 18 cookies instead of 20. I used water-moistened fingers to flatten and went on the thinner side, which I do recommend to others trying them for the first time, as we aren’t so much “baking” these in the traditional sense as drying them out. No wonder you’re proud of this one!!! I am so curious about one thing: what is the purpose of the cider vinegar? Is it just to help activate the baking soda, or does it have some chemical function in relation to the flax egg that I’m unaware of?

  • Gloria

    hello! They sound amazing and I would love to try them! Do you think I could omit the dates? Would they work without them – texture wise I mean?

    • Laura

      I don’t think these will work without the dates. They form a crucial structural and flavour component here. I have not tried it and would not recommend trying it.
      -L

  • Kelly

    I am so hooked on these cookies. I make them without the chocolate chips and they are a perfect dessert or post workout snack. Can you use another flour besides coconut flour and keep the same consistency. Thank you for this great recipe!!

    • Laura

      Hi Kelly!
      I’m not sure on how to replace the coconut flour here. It definitely has a function in that it dries out the dough just enough to make these cookie-like. I’m wondering if some kind of starch is the answer? Tapioca, potato etc.
      -L

  • Tara

    I have made these twice now and I am amazed how close to real thing these taste and yet so much healthier. The cookie dough is so good we just double the batch so we eat half as cookie dough Thank you for perfecting these and for letting us know about Lilys chocolates!!

  • Stasia

    I made these yesterday without chocolate chips, just a few handfuls toasted and chopped pecans instead and with a heaping teaspoon cinnamon. Winner! I so appreciate a treat without the usual syrups and sugars and these were yummy. Thanks Laura! :)

  • Harris

    Great recipe. Where did you get those beautiful jars?

    • Laura

      They were a lucky find at Home Goods/HomeSense. They have similar ones at The Container Store though.
      -L

  • Meaghan

    These truly are wonder cookies! I’ve made these three times in a two week period! I love the batter, i love them with or without chocolate, I love when they’re under cooked, I love when they’re over cooked! I subbed cashew flour and butter for the almond flour and butter and it works great. They also are great at room temp or right out of the freezer. Thanks for a great recipe (especially for those of us on a restricted diet)!❤️❤️❤️

  • Melanie

    These cookies sound incredible! I have a major sweet tooth but I’m trying to get more and more away from added sweeteners in my baking. Therefore I LOVE that these are made with dates! Also, yay for the vegan and gluten free aspect! They sound like wonder cookies for sure. I’ll need to update you when I try them!

  • Noelle

    This is was a fantastic cookie recipe, possibly the best vegan cookie I’ve ever had. I made the nut version and only added a tablespoon of maca powder. Thank you!!!!

  • Deanna

    Hi Laura, Do you think this recipe work with an egg replacing the flaxseed meal and water? I’m out of flax but do have eggs and all other ingredients. They sound amazing cannot wait to try!

    • Laura

      An egg will definitely work!
      -L

  • Kelly Mahan

    Hey, wasn’t easy but was certainly worth the effort – I could smell the cookies from here x.x

  • hailey farris

    are these good to freeze? if so how long? didn’t want to cook all of em tonight!

  • Britta

    Just came out of the oven and these are DELICIOUS!!!! I used butter instead of coconut oil and used 100% choco chopped up and they turned out so so perfect. Thanks for the recipe!!

  • Melissa

    Made these with the almond flour and almond butter and they are delicious! Very soft and chewy. Instructions were very detailed and made it easy to follow! Next time I will try with the sunflower seed flour!

  • Anneline

    The cookies are in the oven right now!
    I did find that 1 cup was a LOT of chocolate chips…! I threw them all in before I realized that, but I’ll probably use only half a cup next time.
    These are just going to be extra chocolatey!

    Can’t wait to taste ’em!

  • Brenna Bruce

    These babies are a stroke of genius. (Well, not really a stroke, more like hours of alterations and improvements) :-) They turned out great for me! These SHOULD be packaged and sold.

  • Jessica

    Am I the only one eating the dough right out of the bowl?! This is the best recipe I’ve tried. Hands down. You deserve an award for this. I wish I could shake your hand.

    *Side note* I used mini chips and found that 1/2 cup was more than enough.

  • Cassie Autumn Tran

    This looks like such an amazing recipe! Baking is something that I definitely need to nurture a bit more, because I’m just not the most skilled at it, either! It’s really hard for me to work with perfecting ratios. I’ve improved immensely simply by following other people’s recipes and incorporating substitutions accordingly. Doing so is pretty fun, actually!

  • Deborah

    I also would rather cook just about anything than bake (I am very respectful of good bakers!) but you worked so dang hard on these cookies I’ll have to give them a try. If I can do it….correct, anyone(!) can.
    Have you ever made coconut flour from raw flakes? I’ll research it but just curious if you’ve ever done this–I don’t use it much so I’d rather avoid buying it–I DO have lots of raw flakes—
    Thank you for your hard work–it really is appreciated.
    Aloha,
    Deborah

    • Laura

      Hi Deborah!
      I have made coconut flour from flakes in the dry container of my Vitamix, and it DID get the flakes quite fine. Although, when I did use them in a brownie recipe (that I had tested dozens of times), I found that the results weren’t quite the same. Typically coconut flour dries a very moist batter out a bit, and when I made the brownies with the homemade coconut flour, the result was noticeably more moist. Just something to consider!
      -L

      • deborah

        Thank you Laura–I’ll invest in a bag after all–I like to make a new recipe exactly as written first, then mess it up myself–I mean make it my own–later :)

  • Kristin

    Just made these last night (the nut version)! But I have to admit, the dough didn’t make it into the oven. It might be the best cookie dough I’ve ever had! I can’t wait to make them again and hopefully this time the dough will make it to the oven. Thanks!

  • Katie

    Hi Laura! These look fantastic! For the slightly greenish tinge of sunflower (I *totally* know what you’re talking about!) for baked goods I either thrown in 1-2c. of spinach to really go for the green or I throw in 2-3T. of dark cocoa powder(subbing out some flour). The dark cocoa powder really goes over well with the ‘non health nut’ crowd – they can’t tell the cookies are all the free’s. And when is more chocolate a bad thing? For me, I do both :)

    • Laura

      Katie, I love the idea of adding cocoa to cover the green! Double chocolate wonder cookies yessssss. Thanks for these awesome tips :D
      -L

  • Amanda Maguire

    This recipe! Kudos to you for even taking on the challenge of “all the frees” cookies (love that phrase btw). These look awesome and now I’m very sad I tossed my coconut flour last week during a cleaning binge. :( I had so many specialty flours taking over my freezer and no clue what to make with them. Gah!

    • Laura

      I totally get that! My extra freezer in the basement is full of weird flours (and vegetable stock popsicles that I make for my dog hehe). If you have a decent blender, you can always make slightly coarser coconut flour with shredded coconut (if you have that on hand)!
      -L

  • Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    I have major appreciation for this. I’ve been working on the recipe for a single-serving vegan chocolate chip cookie, and it’s no joke. But then again, I do love the process and I love chocolate chip cookies. Can’t get enough!

  • Erin at Pure Feast

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for persevering and bringing these cookies to life! I’m not a baker either, but all I want to do right now is make these (or rather, eat these).

  • Rika

    would these cookies be sweet enough without any chocolate chips?

    • Laura

      When I was sampling them, I took bits without chocolate chips on purpose to see if the cookie was sweet enough, and honestly I think they are! Just sweet enough.
      -L

  • Natalia

    I do love sunflower seeds based cookies and this recipe sounds gorgeous! Have been always using dates in place of other sugar as I find them the cheapest healthies way to sweeten tarts/cookies so can’t wait to try them asap! Thank you, Laura!

  • Anna

    I can’t wait to try these, they look so good! Just curious Laura whether you’ve decided to go grain free?

    • Laura

      Hi Anna! Nope, just grain-light these days :)
      -L

  • Elizabeth

    I was so hoping you’d be sharing this recipe after I saw your instagram stories. I have searched for a date-sweetened chocolate chip cookie recipe online before but never found one. So glad you persevered! Thank you for the recipe – can’t wait to try these!

  • Kris

    Can’t wait to try the nut-free version, Laura! This is super exciting.

  • Olivia

    Ommmmgggg yes! This same thing has been on my mind lately too and I’m so excited to try your creation. Great job Such a tough thing to perfect. Ahh I need these cookies in my belly like now. Thanks lady!