Warm, sweet and slightly smokey – your kitchen will smell like a cozy, Winter candle with these gluten free gingerbread cookies! This is the perfect recipe to reach for if you’re eager to get baking as there’s no need to chill the dough first. Simply mix, roll, cut and bake! Make this your new go-to gluten-free gingerbread men recipe this holiday season. Tested for egg and dairy food allergies – check the notes for vegan options! (Make sure to check out my egg free royal icing to decorate with!)
Cookie Week – Day One
I hereby declare it Cookie Week!
For the next seven days I’ll be sharing new, gluten-free cookie recipes to kick off the holiday season. Inspired by Cookie Palooza over on Sally’s Baking Addiction – I figure us gluten free folk should be able to join in on all of the fun!
And what better recipe to kick things off with than with some classic gingerbread cookies? Sweet, spicy and simply iconic – Gingerbread spice and Christmas go hand in hand.
And now it’s time to place these cookies in your hands – let’s get baking!
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
Gluten-Free Flour Blend:
- This recipe was created and tested to be one that uses any generic gluten free all purpose flour blends.
- I live in the UK so I most often bake using Dove’s Free From Plain Flour and Schar’s Universal gluten free flour. Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 flour is always reliable if you can get it.
- I also have a homemade gluten free flour blend if you want a DIY option. That blend contains a mixture of white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch.
- Add xanthan gum to your dry ingredients if your flour blend does not already contain it. Xanthan gum is an important ingredient in this recipe because it really helps create structural support and binding that you’d normally get from gluten.
- If you’re averse to xanthan gum I recommend checking out my post on baking with xanthan. You might be able to try one of the recommended substitutes like guar gum or potato starch that works for you. I have also been playing around more with using psyillium husk as a xanthan substitute for binding. So far I’ve had a lot of good success in my gluten free pie crust recipe. I have not tested it with this gingerbread recipe yet, but I do think you could sucessfully add 1 tablespoon ground psyllium husk.
Gingerbread Spice (or Spices):
- Gingerbread spice is simply a sweet, spicy blend of warm and aromatic spices. You can use a premixed gingerbread spice blend (homemade or grocery store bought) or add the spices individually.
- You’ll need ground ginger, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe a pinch of ground cloves.
- Gingerbread cookies are made with baking soda (also known as bicarbonate soda) and not baking powder. Baking soda is a chemical base. Molasses and brown sugar are acidic ingredients. Baking soda will react with these acidic ingredients which allows these cookies to puff up slightly and rise.
Blackstrap Molasses (or Unsulphured Molasses)
- Molasses is another quintessential gingerbread cookie ingredient. It’s rich, slightly smokey and makes for a robust gingerbread cookie flavor.
- Unsulphured molasses has a clean, pure taste as opposed to sulphered molasses which can leave behind a chemical taste.
- Light brown sugar or dark brown sugar both work here. Dark brown sugar simply contains more molasses which just means that it tastes sweeter.
- Vegan butter or regular dairy butter can be used here. I have tested this recipe many times with both. The main difference I found is that gingerbread cookie dough made with vegan butter was usually a bit softer than regular butter.
Egg OR Aquafaba
- These cookies can easily be made vegan/egg free with aquafaba! Make sure to check the recipe notes for tips on how to do so. These step-by-step pictures below also demonstrate how to make these cookies with aquafaba.
Altogether this gluten-free gingerbread cookie recipe is simple and straight forward without too much work involved. That being said, there are a few tools you’ll need in place before you begin:
- A couple of bowls (plus a third bowl if making these cookies egg free). You need a medium bowl for whisking together the dry ingredients and a large bowl mixing it altogether.
- An electric mixer or stand mixer to beat together the butter and sugar on a high speed and to fully incorporate the molasses. Molasses is a thick and sticky ingredient that can be hard to mix in by hand.
- Rolling pin and cookie cutters for the cookie prep.
- Baking pans and baking paper. Grease or line each cookie with a sheet of parchment paper or silicone mat to keep the cookies from sticking.
- Wire rack for cooling the cookies.
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookie Dough Prep
- Cream butter & sugar followed by molasses and vanilla. In a bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on a medium speed for one to two minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Add the molasses and vanilla extract and continue to beat until creamy and combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to ensure the molasses is evenly mixed in.
- Add the egg (or aquafaba). If using aquafaba: mix in a smaller, separate bowl and then add to the butter.
- Combine dry ingredients then add to wet ingredients to make the dough. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl, then add to the wet ingredients. Mix on a low speed to incorporate. If you mix on a high speed too soon, you’ll end up with flour everywhere. In the end you should have a thick, slightly sticky dough.
Cut & Bake
Once the dough is prepared, move straight to rolling and cutting.
Rip out a large piece of parchment paper and place on a flat work surface. Sprinkle with a good amount of flour and add dough. Sprinkle the dough with additional flour and gentle run all over the sides. This will help manage the stickiness.
Roll dough out to be about 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out the dough and transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Leave about a 1/4 inch of space in between each cookie. They shouldn’t spread much but they will puff up slightly as they bake.
Finally, place your cookies in the oven and bake for about 9-10 minutes. Let them sit on the tray for a few minutes, before transferring them to a cooling rack to set.
The thinner you roll the dough the crispier your cookies will be. Roll the dough out to be about 1/8 inch thick for crispy cookies or 1/4 inch for softer, chewier cookies. Additionally, you can baking for an additional minute or two (10-11 minutes) for crispier edges.
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies FAQ’s
Can I use another type of flour?
- No. I have only tested this recipe using gluten free all purpose flour so I can’t (at this time) recommend other flour alternatives.
- However, if you’d like a paleo gingerbread cookie recipe I do have one you can check out. They’re made with ground almonds, coconut flour and tapioca flour and are lightly sweetened with honey and molasses.
Can I make a Gingerbread House with this Dough?
- Yes you can! Stay tuned for next week as I am going to be sharing a recipe/tutorial on how to make a gluten free + vegan gingerbread house.
Freeze for Later
To freeze the dough: Wrap the dough up tight in plastic wrap and then seal the wrapped dough in a freezer safe bag. Dough will keep well in the freezer for 3 months. To defrost, leave the dough in the fridge overnight to thaw. Once thawed, roll out the dough and proceed with the recipe normally from there.
To freeze the baked cookies: I recommend freezing the cookies unfrosted. Once fully cooled place the cookies on a baking sheet you can fit in the freezer. Place in the freezer until solid and then transfer the cookies to a bag or Tupperware container – place a small sheet of baking parchment in between each cookie to prevent cookies from freezing together. Cookies will keep up to 3 months in the freezer.
Use a Kitchen Scale
For best results I recommend you use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients.
Have your ever tried a cookie recipe that had tons of positive reviews and feedback only to end up with flat and greasy, pancake-like discs? The usual culprit: your ingredients weren’t properly measured.
When it comes to baking (especially gluten-free baking) it is crucial that you measure out your ingredients as precisely as you can for best results. This is a pretty easy task when it comes to measuring out liquids, but it can be tricky with dry ingredients like flours and nuts. This is because the density of your measuring cup will change depending on how you measure it. A tightly packed cup gluten-free flour will hold more mass than a lightly packed cup.
You can easily avoid this problem altogether by investing in a kitchen scale. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just accurate. Bonus: you’ll have less equipment to clean if you don’t need to use measuring cups.
No Kitchen Scale? Measure Your Flour Properly
The next best solution: measure your flour using the spoon and level method. Instead of scooping out the required flour directly into your measuring cup, you spoon the flour into the measuring cup until full and then use the back of a knife to level off the excess flour.
More Cookie-Week Recipes:
- Rosemary Lemon Christmas Tree Cookies
- Gluten Free Red Velvet Cookies and
- Paleo Red Velvet Cookies
- Salted Honey Tahini Cookies (Vegan Option)
- Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms (Vegan Option)
- Buttered Pecan Meltaways (Vegan Option)
- Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (Vegan Option)
- 7 tablespoons | 100 g softened butter (dairy or non dairy)
- 3/4 cup | 160 g light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup | 80 g blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoons | 10 ml vanilla extract
- 1 egg OR 3 tablespoons (45 ml) aquafaba + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 1/2 cup | 355 g gluten free all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 tablespoons gingerbread spice mix (see notes for individual spices)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F/176°C. Place one of the oven racks to be in the middle of the oven. Line a couple of large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter (7tbsp/100g) and brown sugar (3/4 cup/160 g) and beat on a medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Add the molasses (1/4 cup/80 g) and vanilla extract (2 tsp/10 ml). Beat on a medium-high spead until creamy and combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to ensure the molasses is evenly mixed in.
- For Egg Free Option: In a small mixing bowl: add the aquafaba (3 tbsp/45 ml) and cream of tartar (1/2 tsp). Whisk until frothy, about 30 seconds. This can be done by hand with a balloon with or with electric beaters.
- Add the egg (or aquafaba) to the creamed sugar mixture. Mix on a medium speed another minute.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: gluten free flour (2 1/2 cup/355g), xanthan gum (3/4 tsp), gingerbread spice (2 tbsp), baking soda (1 teaspoon) and salt (1/2 teaspoon).
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix on a low speed until fully combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough should be thick and slightly sticky at this point.
- Rip out a large piece of parchment paper and dust with a good amount of flour. Add the dough, sprinkle with a bit more flour to coat the outside and then roll out to be about 1/4 inch thick.
- Use cookie cutters to cut out dough. Transfer the cut out dough to the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 1/4 inch of space in between each cookie. Re roll and repeat with excess dough scrapes until all gone.
- Bake time will vary based on the size of your cookie cutters. Average cookie cutter sizes are: 2 inches (small), 3 inches (average), 4 inches (large). Bake small cookies about 8 minutes, average sized cookies 9-10 minutes and large cookies about 10-11 minutes. Keep in mind that cookies will get crunchier the longer they bake. For crispy gingerbread cookies, add a minute to your cook time.
- Let cookies cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, decorate if desired or enjoy as is.
- Store leftover cookies in an airtight container. These cookies keep best up to one week.
- To decorate: see my (egg free) royal icing recipe. FYI – one can of chickpeas typically contains enough aquafaba to make this icing and to use as an egg substitute in these cookies!
- If using vegan butter: Make sure to use a vegan block butter and not a spreadable butter from a tub.
Freeze for Later
- To freeze the dough: Wrap the dough up tight in plastic wrap and then seal the wrapped dough in a freezer safe bag. Dough will keep well in the freezer for 3 months. To defrost, leave the dough in the fridge overnight to thaw. Once thawed, roll out the dough and proceed with the recipe normally from there.
- To freeze the baked cookies: I recommend freezing the cookies unfrosted. Once fully cooled place the cookies on a baking sheet you can fit in the freezer. Place in the freezer until solid and then transfer the cookies to a bag or Tupperware container – place a small sheet of baking parchment in between each cookie to prevent cookies from freezing together. Cookies will keep up to 3 months in the freezer.
- If you don't have a premixed gingerbread spice, add the following spices: 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves