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The Perfect Low-Calorie Sugar Cookies

Are sugar cookies the best kind of cookie out there?

Yes, of course they are.

I mean, what’s not to love about cookies that are mostly butter & sugar?

Well, the calories, for starters.

Let’s take ALL of the flavors you’d expect from a classic sugar cookie and pack them into a buttery cookie with only 40 calories.

Protein sugar cookies

These cookies are every bit as soft, buttery, and sweet as you’d want a sugar cookie to be. Yet these cookies are low-calorie, gluten-free, high-protein, and keto-friendly.

Each cookie is small, which is why they’re only 40 calories. But don’t let that deter you from making these! If you want to make larger cookies, you definitely can.

Double the size to have soft sugar cookies that still only have 80 calories each.

Soft sugar cookies

Sugar cookies are my favorite way to ring in the Christmas season, but these are great any time of the year!

If sugar cookies aren’t your cup of tea, I’ve got plenty of other Christmas cookie recipes here on my site to keep your spirits high and your stomach full.


How to make low-calorie sugar cookies

We’re going to mix up all of our ingredients to make the sugar cookie dough, but we are going to add the protein powder LAST.

Similar to my No-Bake Sugar Cookie Bars, adding the protein powder as the final ingredient is absolutely pivotal. While it may work out just fine if you add your protein powder in early, it will often lead to a sticky result.

By adding the protein powder last, it absorbs most of the liquid and brings everything together to form a workable cookie dough.

With that being said, this cookie dough is still going to be soft and slightly sticky, so we’re going to refrigerate it for one hour to allow the dough to firm up and become easier to work with.

Using a small cookie scoop (or tablespoon) scoop your sugar cookies and roll them into balls using your hands.

Evenly space out your sugar cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

I was able to create 12 small cookies, but if you prefer larger cookies, I would aim for about 6 total cookies.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 6 minutes. Since these sugar cookies are small, they don’t need very long in the oven. If you make larger cookies instead, you’ll want to bake them for closer to 8 minutes.

When you remove these sugar cookies from the oven, they’re going to appear very cakey and soft. Don’t worry!

As you’ll see with most of my healthy cookie recipes, the magic happens as the cookies cool. As the cookies sit, they will sink and firm up inside, creating the perfect cookie consistency that we are after:

20-30 minutes should be all you need for these low-calorie sugar cookies to firm up inside and be ready to eat.

If you decided to make larger cookies, you may need an extra minute or two in the oven to fully cook these. However, since this cookie dough is completely safe to eat raw, you can safely underbake these healthy sugar cookies to enjoy a delicious half-baked cookie.

Full disclosure: I tested this recipe by making 6 cookies instead of 12, but kept the bake time the same. While they still turned out, they were incredibly soft (probably too soft). I definitely recommend a few extra minutes in the oven if you go that route!


How to store these low-calorie sugar cookies

If you have leftover cookies from this recipe (which is unlikely based on how good they are) they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

To make these healthy sugar cookies firm up even further, you can store these in the refrigerator. When chilled, the cookies will very closely resemble sugar cookie dough.

Closeup of sugar cookies


Enjoy some edible sugar cookie instead

Sometimes you just don’t feel like baking, and that’s totally fine.

If you’d rather enjoy some edible sugar cookie dough, I’ve got two perfect recipes for you. And don’t worry, they are both packed with protein!

First up, we have a cut-out sugar cookie dough that tastes nearly identical to the pre-cut Pillsbury sugar cookies we all love to eat raw.

Edible sugar cookie dough

This recipe is perfect if you’re worried about portion control since you can easily grab a single slice of cookie dough as a quick snack.

Each cut-out sugar cookie contains just 70 calories, has 5 grams of protein, and tastes just like the real thing.

But if you’re not too worried about over-indulging, you can also whip up an entire bowl of edible sugar cookie dough, which is my personal favorite.

Protein sugar cookie dough

If you’re trying to keep things low-calorie, this recipe may be less appealing (since it’s tough to stop yourself from eating the entire bowl) but it is delicious.

A serving of this protein cookie dough (about half a bowl), contains 200 calories and 20 grams of protein, so it’s basically like eating a protein bar… but significantly tastier.


Protein sugar cookie recipe

Low-Calorie Sugar Cookies

Yield: 12 Small Cookies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 11 minutes

For me, nothing says Christmas like a batch of delicious sugar cookies, but these are great at ANY time of the year. Plus, these are gluten-free, keto-friendly, & packed with protein, so they'll help keep you on track all year long no matter what your dietary preferences are.



  1. Mix together the sugar, butter, pumpkin, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add all of the dry ingredients except for the protein powder and sprinkles.
  2. Mix the protein powder in last until it forms a dough ball (protein powder is very absorbent so it will thicken into a dough). Fold in the sprinkles, then refrigerate the dough for one hour. While you can get away with not chilling the dough, I find that it leads to a significantly better cookie overall.
  3. After one hour, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop (or tablespoon), scoop out your cookies and roll them into balls in your hands. I opted for small cookies and was able to scoop 12 total cookies out, but it may vary depending on how large you choose to make your cookies.
  5. Add to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees F for 6 minutes. Note: these cookies are quite small, so 6 minutes works well. If you make larger cookies, 8 minutes will be perfect.
  6. Let cookies cool for about 20 minutes. When you remove the sugar cookies from the oven they will seem a little bit cakey, but they will sink and firm up into a great texture as they cool.
  7. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.


If you do not have canned pumpkin, or do not want to use any, you can omit it and this recipe should still work out great. The pumpkin just helps keep these soft without requiring extra butter (and thus more calories), but the recipe works without it.

I don’t count sugar substitutes in the carb totals since they do not contribute to the overall calories. If you are super strict about carbs, make sure you take the sugar substitute into account.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1 Small Cookie
Amount Per Serving Calories 40Total Fat 2gCarbohydrates 2.5gProtein 2.5g

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Sunday 13th of August 2023

Have you experimented with leaving the cookie dough sit in the fridge overnight before baking?


Monday 24th of April 2023

Could you please put tablespoons and or cups in your recipes please? See


Tuesday 25th of April 2023

Hey Lory, I've been trying to add measurements more often, but I use a food scale for exact weight measurements with my recipes. Since low-carb & high-protein baking requires being precise, the food scale eliminates a lot of that margin for error vs using cups or tablespoons. But there are a lot of resources online to convert grams to cups if you need to in the meantime!


Friday 16th of December 2022

Do I let them cool down on the cookie sheet I bake these in or take them off after removal from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool?


Friday 16th of December 2022

Great question- leave them right on the cookie sheet. They'll be pretty soft right out of the oven so you'll risk them falling apart if you try to transfer them before they set


Saturday 3rd of December 2022

Can I sub the almond flour for extra oat flour or coconut flour?


Thursday 8th of December 2022

They won't come out quite the same, but I'd stick with extra oat flour. Coconut flour is very absorbent so it would mess with the final product too much


Tuesday 29th of November 2022

Would liquid sweetener work as well? Or is the solid sugar substitute needed also for the right texture and not just for the sweetness?


Tuesday 29th of November 2022

The sugar itself provides some structure to the cookies, so if you used liquid, the dough would be veerryyyy sticky and likely impossible to form. If it's truly all you have, you can try to eliminate the pumpkin & vanilla extract in hopes that the total liquid balances out a little bit, but you'd likely need to add some extra oat flour to compensate.

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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