Here’s how to make vegan gingerbread cookies for the holidays! Bonus: they’re also gluten-free, which means you’ll have a treat that everyone can enjoy.
Whether you're looking for the perfect edible gift for the holidays or you want something healthier and allergy-friendly to add to your Christmas dessert spread, these gingerbread cookies are all you need.
Though they're dairy-free and gluten-free, these gingerbread men have the same spiced, caramel flavor and snappy texture you expect from classic gingerbread. They make a perfect gift for coworkers, friends, family, and anyone else with taste buds!
Unlike other cookies where you scoop and drop them onto the baking sheet, with gingerbread you have to be able to roll it out. To make sure that this dough was easy to roll out even without any gluten or eggs, I had to make a few adjustments to the usual gingerbread cookie recipe.
Why This Vegan Gingerbread Recipe Works
Taking out the flour, butter, granulated sugar, and eggs from traditional gingerbread means we’re basically starting from scratch with this recipe. Here’s how we get it to work perfectly:
- A blend of gluten-free flours. This allows us to choose specific flours for their unique characteristics—the characteristics we want in these gingerbread cookies. You won't need any special ingredients like xanthan gum for this recipe!
- Flax egg. This is my favorite vegan egg substitute for baking. Ground flaxseed combined with warm water makes a perfect replacement to bind the dough together and give it structure.
- Oil instead of butter. I swap in olive oil for the butter, giving these cookies a light, crisp texture.
- Sweetness without white sugar. Molasses is the traditional choice for gingerbread recipes, but too much is overpowering. That’s why I round things out with maple syrup.
What You’ll Need
Here are all of the ingredients you’ll need when making these vegan gingerbread cookies. Make sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see the exact quantities for each ingredient.
- Gluten-free flours – Almond flour for richness, quinoa flour for nuttiness, and coconut flour to help bind.
- Tapioca starch – This gluten-free starch helps the dough bind and hold its shape. I haven't tested it without tapioca, but if you don't have that in your pantry, you should be able to use potato starch or arrowroot starch.
- Warming spices – I use the classic combination of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Baking soda
- Flaxseed meal – Our egg replacer. You’ll need ground flax, not whole seeds.
- Maple syrup – You could use honey if you're not vegan. Coconut sugar will also work.
- Olive oil – Feel free to use another oil, such as coconut oil or avocado.
- Vanilla extract
- Frosting – Made with powdered sugar and non-dairy milk.
Which Molasses Is Best for Gingerbread?
When it comes to baking with molasses, there are many different varieties. The best kind for gingerbread cookies is unsulfured light or dark molasses—dark has a more distinct taste, while light is a better option if you prefer only a mild molasses flavor.
How to Make Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
Here’s what you’ll need to do to make these vegan and gluten-free gingerbread cookies.
- Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the dough. Whisk the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the flax egg, syrup, oil, and vanilla until a dough forms.
- Roll the dough. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined surface. Place another sheet of parchment on top and roll the dough until it's about 1/8″ thick.
- Cut the cookies. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough and place the cut shapes onto the baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and continue to cut out your cookies until the dough has been used up.
- Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Whisk together the sugar and milk in a small bowl and transfer the mixture to a piping bag or squeeze bottle.
- Frost. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cookies, then serve or store.
Tips For Success
Follow these hints and pointers for perfect vegan gingerbread cookies:
- Spoon the flours into the measuring cups. Be sure to measure out your flours carefully by lightly spooning them into the cups rather than scooping. If you use too much, the dough will be dry and crumbly.
- No mixer needed! You don't need a stand mixer or an electric mixer to make these cookies. Just a good old-fashioned medium bowl and a whisk will do the trick.
- Use gentle pressure when rolling. The dough here is a little stickier than traditional gingerbread. When you're rolling it out, definitely use a piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin with gentle pressure.
- Keep the dough from sticking to the cookie cutters. A sticky dough can also make the cutting process a teeny bit challenging. When you're cutting out your gingerbread cookies, you can either lightly grease your cookie cutter, dip it in flour, or do what I do and simply use your fingers to push to dough out of the mold.
Instead of frosting the cookies, you can dip them into melted dark chocolate for some extra decadence. Cut the cookies into simple circles, then dip half of each cookie into the chocolate. You can also sprinkle crystallized ginger or candied orange peel over the wet chocolate if you’d like.
How to Store
Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
For longer storage, keep the baked vegan gingerbread cookies in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months. You can let the cookies come to room temperature on the counter for a few hours before serving.
The unbaked dough will also stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the fridge overnight, then roll and make your cookies as directed.
More Healthy Christmas Cookies to try
- Gluten-Free & Vegan Sugar Cookies
- Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies
- Healthy Chocolate Orange Cookies
- Gluten-Free Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- 1 1/4 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup quinoa flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 flax egg 1 T flaxseed meal + 3 T water
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of choice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
- 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add flax egg, syrup, oil and vanilla to the bowl and mix together until it forms a thick, pliable dough.
- Transfer the dough to a parchment lined surface. Place another sheet of parchment on top and roll the dough until it's about 1/8″ thick. Using a gingerbread man cutter, cut out the shapes and place them on the baking sheet. Reroll the dough and continue to cut out your cookies until the dough has been used up.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, whisk together the sugar and milk. Transfer to a piping bag or squeeze bottle.
- Once the cookies are cool, pipe the frosting onto the cookies in whatever design you like. Enjoy!