These Gluten Free Holiday Toffee Squares are easier to make than stovetop candy, and they are dairy free! My kids call this recipe “cheater toffee” since it’s so easy to make and tastes like toffee
For the last few years around Christmas, I’ve been trying to make a dairy free English toffee recipe. Since I’ve been re-making favorite holiday recipes this month for the blog, I’ve been working on making a toffee recipe the past week or 2… without much success.
Candy making is hard, y’all, especially if you’re trying to make it dairy free!
I *almost* had success with one batch of toffee, it would have been great if it didn’t scorch a little. I misplaced most of my dairy free toffee notes from several years ago, so I had to start from scratch again and make the same toffee mistakes (hint: never use coconut oil in a traditional toffee recipe!).
I also discovered that my candy thermometer wasn’t reading anything above 215 degrees. That alone explained several failed batches till I figured out my thermometer was a dud.
After about 8 sad attempts at making dairy free toffee, I decided to take a break for a while and do something different. I found an old recipe card in my binder for Yuletide Toffee Squares that was originally featured in the November 2005 issue of Cottage Living (now out of print), so I decided to remake that recipe instead.
I made a couple versions of this toffee square recipe and decided I loved the second version best, and that’s the one I’m sharing here. My kids and I call this recipe “cheater toffee” because it was my last dairy free toffee attempt for the season. I’ll try again next year – and hopefully keep my notes so I can start where I left off!
Making dairy free toffee squares (aka cheater toffee)
For this modified version of the toffee squares, I used quick oats instead of old fashioned oats, I used coconut oil and dairy free natural margarine instead of butter, and I replaced the corn syrup with honey.
To replace the butter in the original recipe, I used the Earth Balance Soy Free margarine in the first batch and dairy free butter-flavored coconut oil in the second batch. Both of those options worked great in this recipe and tasted delicious!
If you use coconut oil, just be aware that it tries to separate a little from the sugar when you’re mixing the melted coconut oil with the brown sugar and honey. Melted coconut oil does not mix well with much of anything I’ve found.
There may also be a little bit of coconut oil that separates from the toffee squares in the bottom of the pan, but in spite of the coconut oil’s tendency to separate a little bit, this toffee square recipe is still great made with coconut oil 🙂
I also used oiled foil to line a metal pan for my first recipe, and an parchment paper lined glass baking dish the second time. Both methods of lining the pan work great, so you can choose whichever method makes sense for you, just don’t skip lining your pan at all or the candy will be hard to remove.
Check out our other dairy free and gluten free cookie roundup for more holiday recipes!
Gluten Free Holiday Toffee Squares (Dairy Free)
Gluten free, dairy free; Free of: peanuts, soy, eggs, dairy
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Soy Free margarine OR dairy free butter-flavored coconut oil **
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (you can use coconut sugar instead if you want, but this will slightly change the texture)
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-1/4 cup gluten free quick oats
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup allergy friendly semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon palm oil shortening (optional, helps chocolate spread easier)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with either well-greased foil OR parchment paper that covers all sides (both options work well). Set aside pan.
- Melt Earth Balance (or coconut oil) in a medium sized microwaveable bowl for about 30 seconds at a time in the microwave until it melts.
- Stir into the melted Earth Balance the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, oats, and salt.
- Mix well and spread into the prepared pan. It’s okay if the mixture isn’t spread to every corner because this will spread out and into the corners and edges of the pan as it cooks.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes until golden in color and crisp on the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Once the base is cooled, melt the chocolate chips with the palm oil and spread over the base completely. Sprinkle with your favorite holiday sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or drizzle with melted dairy free white chocolate.
- Set in the fridge until the chocolate has set. Cut into 24 or 30 pieces (4×6 or 5×6) and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist