Make a Gluten-Free Starbucks Cheese Danish right at home with a few simple ingredients in less than 30 minutes! These danish pastries are a perfect brunch option or easy sweet treat for breakfast! Made with Schar gluten-free puff pastry, cream cheese, lemon, vanilla, and sugar; topped with a simple powdered sugar glaze.
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and Easy: Traditional danish dough can take a long time to make. With the help of store-bought puff pastry sheets, this cream cheese danish is a quick and simple recipe to make! It's a new spin on the classic gluten-free danish pastry recipe.
- Cost Effective: This Starbucks copycat recipe is a much cheaper option than Starbucks, even considering the price of gluten-free puff pastry!
- Small Batch: This recipe makes 6 cheese danishes from one roll of puff pastry.
- Easy to Reheat: You can refrigerate the leftovers and reheat about 10 seconds in the microwave to enjoy throughout the week!
- Perfect with a Cup of Coffee: Enjoy this pastry with your favorite homemade Starbucks drink, like an Iced Shaken Espresso or Iced Chai Latte!
- No complicated ingredients: Baking gluten-free can get exhausting. Ditch the gluten-free flour blend, xanthan gum, and psyllium husk just this once and take a little help from your local grocery store!
If you're gluten-free, check out my full guide to dining gluten-free at Starbucks!
- Puff Pastry: Since I have celiac disease, I used Schar gluten-free puff pastry. If you're not gluten-free, feel free to use regular puff pastry for this recipe.
- Other options to look for: Jus Rol Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheet or GeeFree Pastry dough. (I have not tried these products.)
- Cream Cheese Filling:
- Egg Wash: One beaten egg for brushing on the pastry. This helps with browning.
- Powdered Sugar Glaze: A simple mixture of powdered sugar and milk. The Starbucks cheese danish does not have a glaze, so you can leave that off if you prefer a more savory treat. I enjoyed the extra touch of sweetness the glaze added.
*Refer to the recipe card for full ingredient information.
Other Cheese Danish Variations
- Sugar Plum: I am working on the Starbucks Sugar Plum Danish recipe, so stay tuned for that variation!
- Chocolate Chips: If you like chocolate, add some mini chocolate chips to the cream cheese.
- Fruit: Add a small bit of your favorite fruit jam on top of the cream cheese for a fruity option. For the best results, swirl about ½ teaspoon of jam into the cream cheese mixture on top of each pastry before baking. Otherwise, the jam will just melt and run off the sides.
- Lemon Zest: If you love lemon flavor, also add some lemon zest to the cream cheese mixture. You could also make a lemon glaze as seen in these gluten-free lemon poppy seed muffins.
- Homemade Puff Pastry: The idea I had was to create a super easy recipe, but if you have your own puff pastry recipe that you love to make from scratch, feel free to use that here instead of the store-bought version. A gluten-free crescent rolls recipe might also work here as well.
How to Use Schar Gluten-Free Puff Pastry
If you're unfamiliar with Schar gluten-free puff pastry, it is a frozen product available in many grocery stores or online. The product sets out to mimic that flaky pastry we all miss! While this product is great, it is not without its faults.
I find that the pastry cracks no matter how you defrost it; it's essentially unusable as is, which in my opinion somewhat defeats the purpose of this type of convenience product.
The good news is, you can re-roll the dough and you will still have flaky puff pastry, it's just more work than I would prefer. Here's how I use the product:
- Defrost the puff pastry dough. You can do this in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or at room temperature until soft. Once defrosted, unroll the dough. You will likely find that it is cracked.
- If your dough is cracked, you can try to pinch it back together with wet or greased hands, but I have found it is easiest to just stack it up and roll the dough out again on a flat surface with a rolling pin and a dusting of flour. I also do this on the piece of parchment paper it came in to prevent sticking.
- Next take your rolled-out dough and use a sharp knife, pastry wheel, or pizza cutter to shape up the edges.
- Then cut into squares or whatever shapes needed for your recipe.
How to Make Easy Cheese Danish
- To prepare the cream cheese filling, with a hand mixer, blend together the softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
- Take one sheet of defrosted puff pastry and cut it into 6 squares or rectangles. Place the squares on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Poke holes in the center of each pastry.
- Spread a dollop of the cream cheese filling on each piece of prepared puff pastry.
- With a small pastry brush, brush the exposed edges of each pastry with egg wash before baking. Then, bake until golden brown.
- After baking, mix up the powdered sugar glaze and place it in a ziploc bag. Clip the corner and pipe lines of the icing on top of each pastry.
Enjoy the freshly baked pastry slightly warm or at room temperature. Any leftover danishes will last for several days. Place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat them briefly in the microwave or air fryer.
Recipe Testing Notes
*A quick glance at some of the methods and variations I experimented with before landing on this final recipe.
- I tried making a variation on the filling which included egg yolk. The idea was that the egg yolks may help the filling set. While it worked, I felt it gave the filling a much more savory taste and yellow hue. After testing the filling without the yolk, I didn't feel the egg yolk really added much benefit to the end result.
- On the same note, I tried adding cornstarch to help the filling set, I found it wasn't necessary.
- One round, I forgot to poke the holes in the pastry. The entire pastry puffed up and in turn the filling slid off as well.
Top Recipe Tips
- Re-roll the dough if needed. As mentioned above, the Schar gluten-free puff pastry may be cracked and need to be re-rolled in order to create these pastries.
- Don't forget to poke the holes! If you don't poke the holes in the center, the center will puff up and your filling will run off the pastry.
- Score the perimeter if desired. If you wish, you can score a rectangle in the dough about 1 inch in from the edges of each pastry to further control how the pastry puffs up. Take care not to cut through the entire pastry. I didn't score my pastries, I just poked the holes. I found it a bit tricky to score without going all the way through because the pastry was thin.
- Use frozen puff pastry, not gluten-free pastry or pie dough. I've noticed Target is currently selling a frozen gluten-free multipurpose dough. This is not the same as puff pastry and more similar to gluten-free pie dough, so I do not recommend that for this recipe.
- Use a mixer. If your cream cheese is extremely soft, you can probably mix the filling with a wire whisk. If it is firm at all, a stand mixer or hand mixer will make the filling a breeze to whip up.
Traditional puff pastry typically contains gluten because it is made with wheat flour.
Gluten-free puff pastry alternatives are available from Schar or GeeFree. You can find these products in the freezer section of some grocery stores, online specialty food stores such as Gluten-Free Mall, or directly from the manufacturer.
The Schar puff pastry does have a tendency to crack when unrolling it, but you can re-roll the dough and still get considerable flakiness from the product.
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Easy Gluten-Free Cheese Danish (Starbucks Copycat)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 sheet Schar gluten-free puff pastry, defrosted and brought to room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt.
- Unroll the puff pastry sheet and patch any cracks or re-roll if needed.
- Cut the pastry into 6 equal rectangles and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Prick the centers of each pastry with a fork.
- Spread a dollop of filling in the center, avoiding the edges.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg. Brush the exposed edges with the egg wash.
- Bake at 400°F for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before adding the glaze.
- For the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. Place the icing in a small zip-top bag. Cut a small corner for piping.
- Pipe lines of icing across each danish. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.