These gluten-free gingerbread cookies capture the essence of the holidays with their soft and chewy texture and fragrant holiday spices. The dough is easy to work with and requires no chilling. It doesn’t get easier or tastier than this! This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosures.
Christmas isn’t the same without aromatic gingerbread cookies wafting in the air. And my version of these classic gluten-free holiday cookies is 100 percent gluten-free.
That’s right. My super easy gluten-free gingerbread cookies are made without gluten, a sticky protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats. This means you don’t have to miss out on this beautiful holiday cookie just because you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Despite the absence of gluten, these cookies hold their shape well. You’ll love that they’re soft-baked, chewy, perfectly spiced, and sweetened with rich molasses and brown sugar, all without any gluten in sight. Plus, these cookies keep their shape without wasting time having to chill the dough.
Regardless of how you use this gluten-free gingerbread cookie recipe, it will make your Christmas festive and fun!
Making gluten-free gingerbread cookies require a few key ingredients:
Gluten-Free Flour: I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour blend for this recipe. It works well and already contains xanthan gum. If your gluten-free flour blend doesn’t contain xanthan gum, add 1/4 tsp of it.
Molasses: Molasses is a syrup sweetener that offers a sweet and sometimes bitter. It’s made by crushing sugarcane and boiling the sugar into a liquid syrup. Unlike refined granulated sugar, molasses is unrefined and contains vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, vitamin B, potassium, and iron. Molasses is generally gluten-free. Read Is Molasses Gluten Free? for a list of brands that are labeled gluten-free.
Light Brown Sugar: Brown sugar ensures the cookies come out soft and chewy because it contains molasses, which adds extra moisture to the cookies. Because brown sugar is denser than white sugar, it entraps less gas when creamed with butter. Less gas means less rise and spread, which is ideal when making cookies that you want to hold their shape.
Butter: The butter will ensure the cookies are rich and tender in flavor. It adds a little structure to the cookies too.
Egg Yolk: Many gingerbread cookie recipes call for an egg; however, I use just the yolk to give the cookies a slightly chewier texture. Without the egg whites, the cookies are less likely to rise and spread.
Spices: Gingerbread cookies must contain a slew of wonderful holiday spices. My gingerbread cookies include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Baking Soda: Baking soda is alkaline, and when it’s mixed with molasses, which is acidic, it releases carbon dioxide, which can give rise to a baked good. In this case, the baking soda will help round the edges of the cookies without causing them to rise excessively or spread.
How to Make Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set them aside.
Cream the butter and brown sugar for about 1 minute using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the molasses and egg yolk and mix for another minute until incorporated.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt together and add it to the wet mixture. Mix on medium-high until the dough comes together and a sticky ball forms, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides as needed. The dough will look dry at first, but as it’s mixed and the butter incorporates, it will form a sticky ball.
Add the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for a minute or until it’s easy to handle and no longer sticky. Form the dough into a ball.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch (2-3 mm). Cut the cookies into the desired shapes using any cookie cutter(s) you like. Think gingerbread men, snowmen, Christmas trees, and snowflakes.
Place each cut-out cookie on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Re-roll the leftover dough and continue to cut the dough into the desired shapes. Depending on how large you make the cookies and how thin you roll them out, you should be able to make about 20-24 cookies.
Bake the cookies for 6-8 minutes for chewier cookies or 10 minutes for crispy cookies that you can use to decorate your Christmas tree.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet(s) for 10 minutes to firm up before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Make Royal Icing
Royal icing is made with egg whites and confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar). It’s ideal for gingerbread cookies because it has a pourable consistency but then hardens with time.
To make royal icing for your gluten-free gingerbread cookies, combine two egg whites (from 2 large eggs) with 4 cups (480 grams) of powdered sugar. Mix for about 4 minutes, then add 2-3 tbsp of tap water to adjust the consistency as needed. You want it to be smooth and pourable but not too liquidy.
You can use the royal icing as is (white) or divide it and add food coloring.
Add the royal icing to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and decorate the cooled gingerbread cookies as desired.
Let the icing set on the cookies for 2-3 hours at room temperature before transferring them to a sealed container. The cookies will stay chewy for one week. Unused icing can be saved in an airtight container for one week at room temperature.
FAQs, Substitutions, and Troubleshooting
Here are answers to your most pressing questions:
Can I use a different gluten-free flour blend? You can use another gluten-free flour blend instead of Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free flour. Make sure it’s a blend of various flours and starches (i.e., you can’t just use rice flour or almond flour) and that you measure the flour by weight (260 grams). Also, the flour blend must include xanthan gum. If it doesn’t, add 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum to the mixture.
Can I use dairy-free butter? You can use dairy-free butter to make this recipe without dairy ingredients. I recommend Earth Balance Buttery Sticks.
Can I make this recipe egg-free? I haven’t tried making this recipe egg-free. The egg yolk adds structure and chewiness to the cookie. If you’re open to experimenting, I recommend using one flax egg (1 tbsp flax mixed with 3 tbsp of water until a gel forms). Also, I found this egg-free royal icing recipe online that you could try.
Help, my cookies spread! Really? I’ve made this recipe a lot, and it doesn’t spread. Did you make any substitutions (i.e., using a flax egg vs. egg yolk)? Also, is your kitchen really hot? If so, consider chilling the dough for 15 minutes in your fridge until you can handle it and cut out cookies without falling apart.
Help, my cookies are dry! These cookies are chewy and soft if you follow this recipe to a T. However, there could be a few explanations for dry cookies. (1) Did you measure the ingredients by weight vs. volume? If your cookies are dry, you could have used too much flour and too few liquid ingredients. Invest in a kitchen scale. Baking is science. (2) Did you use a different flour than recommended? Did you add xanthan gum? (3) Did you roll out the cookies too thin? If so, you may have needed to reduce the baking time. (4) Did you overbake the cookies? Oven temperatures can vary, and you’ll want to keep a close eye on the cookies, removing them from the oven once they start to brown lightly on top.
Can I use store-bought writing gel instead of royal icing? You can decorate the cookies however you like; have fun with them! The Betty Crocker writing gel icing would work well and all Betty Crocker decorating gel pens are gluten-free (check labels). Feel free to add sprinkles or other decorations too. Ensure all ingredients used in the cookie decorations are gluten-free, as many sprinkles are not. Read my article, Gluten-Free Sprinkles? I Tested 4 Brands of Sprinkles for Hidden Gluten. Also, you could skip the icing altogether and lightly dust them with powdered sugar for a wintery vibe.
You might enjoy these holiday cookie recipes too!
- Chewy Gluten-Free Molasses Cookies
- Gluten-Free Frosted Sugar Cookies
- Gluten-Free Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
- Standing mixer Paddle and whisk attachments
- Cookie cutters
- Piping bag fitted with round tip
- 75 grams butter, unsalted and softened about 5 tbsp
- 75 grams light brown sugar about 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp
- 100 grams molasses about 1/3 cup
- 1 egg yolk, room temperture reserve egg white for royal icing (see below)
- 260 grams Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend 1 3/4 cups (see notes)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 egg whites (large eggs)
- 4 cups powdered sugar (also known as icing or confectioner's sugar) sifted
- 2-3 tbsp water as needed
- food coloring optional
- Preheat the oven to 350º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set them aside.
- Using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar for about 1 minute. Add the molasses and egg yolk and mix until incorporated.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt together and add it to the wet mixture. Mix on medium-high until the dough comes together and a sticky ball forms, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides as needed. The dough will look dry at first, but as it’s mixed, it will form a sticky dough.
- Add the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for a minute or until it’s easy to handle and no longer sticky. Form the dough into a ball.
- Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until it's about 1/8 of an inch (2-3 mm).
- Cut the cookies into desired shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Re-roll the leftover dough and continue to cut the dough into the desired shapes. Depending on how large you make the cookies and how thin you roll them out, you should be able to make about 20-24 cookies.
- Bake the cookies in batches for 6-8 minutes for chewier cookies or 10 minutes for crispy cookies that you can use to decorate your Christmas tree.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes to firm up before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combine the egg whites and powdered sugar in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix the ingredients on medium-high for 4-5 minutes, adding water as needed to ensure the right consistency. You want the icing to be thick but still pourable.
- Add the icing to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe desired decorations on the cooled cookies. Allow the cookies to sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours to allow the icing to set. Store leftover cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week. Leftover royal icing can be saved in an air-tight container at room temperature for one week.