Paula Deen's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies {Vegan}

During the month of December, the Food Network sends out a 12 Days of Cookies newsletter with recipes. Last year they all looked so delicious and this year I decided to try to make all of them. One flaw in my plan was having to eat all those cookies. Well, I at least did the first recipe, but I decided to healthy it up a bit. Honestly, I was a bit nervous… Okay, I was terrified they weren’t going to be edible, but all doubts aside I was determined to make Paula Deen’s Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies vegan and gluten-free.

The original recipe has 6 ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Before I tell you my “weird” changes, I want to say these cookies tasted exactly like little bites of chocolate cake. I even fed them to people who had no clue anything was suspicious about them. That being said, these were my *substitutions:

  • 8oz vegan tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup non dairy margarine
  • 1/3 cup+ applesauce (egg replacement)
  • Gluten free and vegan chocolate cake mix


Cream the cream cheese and butter together. Then, mix in the egg and vanilla, followed by the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.** Roll the chilled dough into little balls and roll them in confectioners’ sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, for 12 minutes at 350° F.

**When I made these I ended up falling asleep while they were in the fridge. I made half the dough about 12 hours later, and the rest of the dough I rolled into a log, saran wrapped it, and stuck in the freezer for 2 weeks. The freezer dough tasted just as good as the fresh(er) one.

I started off with about a 1/3 cup of apple sauce to replace the egg, but I didn’t think the chocolate mixture was sweet enough so I added more until I was satisfied. I was nervous the batter wasn’t very sweet, but when baked and coated with powdered sugar (or icing) they taste just like moist chocolate cake.

I also made chocolate chip cookies with Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix and chocolate chips. These were sweet enough and didn’t really need powdered sugar, but it didn’t hurt them either.

Price Difference: The normal extra moist boxed cake mix I would’ve use was ~$2 (even though they had store brand on sale for about $1), the Betty Crocker gluten-free was $3.50. The normal Philadelphia cream cheese was $2.29 and the Tofutti brand was $3.79. I normally buy Smart Balance buttery spread (~$3.29) vs regular butter (~$2.99), so not much of a price difference there. I also already had applesauce in my fridge, but it was about 97 cents for a big jar of store brand “All Natural” applesauce. For me, it was about $3 more to make 3.5 dozen cookies “healthier”.

I supposed I should’ve made a control batch of normal cookies to taste test against, but these came out surprisingly amazing. If you give them a try, let me know how they came out.

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