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These gluten free gingerbread cookies are easy to make, and have all the spice and bite of traditional gingerbread cookies but without the gluten. A perfect festive holiday treat!
There are few things that say “December!” quite like the smell of gingerbread cookies, amiright?!
There is just something about the rolling, cutting, baking and decorating that is sure to get me in a festive mood.
But equally, there are few things more disappointing than making cookies that crumble and break when you try to decorate them.
If you’ve ever made and decorated gluten free gingerbread cookies before, only to be disappointed when the cookies fell apart, you may be disinclined to believe me when I tell you that these gluten free gingerbread cookies will not do that. But they won’t. Really!
They’re The Best gluten free gingerbread cookies to decorate. Yes, I said what I said and I stand by it.
I’m going to tell you a bit about these cookies and some tips for making them successfully, but as always, if you want to skip to the recipe, hit the jump button above 👆🏻
These cookies are so sturdy that a few years back, I sent a box full of little gluten free gingerbread men and ladies to my friend who is in the army and was stationed overseas at Christmas.
I’m not going to lie – despite the fact that I know these cookies are easy to handle and decorate without breaking, I was still a little apprehensive about shipping them halfway across the world.
But with the cookies bagged in pairs, plus some careful bubble-wrapping and boxing, I was over the moon when they arrived and she sent me a picture of them looking just as perfect as when they left my kitchen.
So not only are they perfect to decorate, they’re perfect to post friends and family!
Let’s quickly round up what makes these The Best gluten free gingerbread cookies:
- Rich gingerbread cookie flavour
- Smooth flat surface for easy decorating
- Crunchy edges, but slightly softer middles
- Are super sturdy – no crumbly broken cookies here!
- Hold their shape, without spreading much
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Ingredients:
Gluten Free Flour: You’ll want to use a good quality gluten-free all-purpose or baking flour blend to make these cookies, whether it’s a homemade mix or a store-bought gluten-free flour mix. I could go on about the science of gf flours, but I won’t, I’ll just say – a good blend is important. I now use the same homemade gluten-free baking flour blend for almost all of the recipes on Sweetness & Bite, so of course, that’s going to be the one I recommend if you want to get the same results as mine. If you’re using a store-bought blend, your end results may differ from mine, depending on what flours and starches are in the blend. If you have any issues with crumbling or grittiness in your cookies, then your flour is the first place to start troubleshooting.
Ground Ginger: Make sure you check the best-before date on your ground ginger, if it’s out of date then the flavour won’t be as good. Having said that, you can also adjust the level of ginger and spiciness in these cookies to suit your own tastes. I happen to be a big fan of ginger (so I put plenty in, but if you like things a little mellower then you can always reduce the ginger.
Cinnamon: Ditto everything I just said above about the ginger ^.
Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is what binds the cookies together and stops them crumbling. If you’re using a store-bought gluten-free flour blend, check the ingredients to see if they include a gum ingredient (usually xanthan or guar gum, but sometimes just labelled “thickener”). If it includes one of these, leave out the Xanthan gum from the recipe.
Molasses (or Golden Syrup): Molasses gives that classic gingerbread rich flavour with a slight hint of bitterness that counteracts the sweetness. If you don’t happen to have molasses on hand, you can use golden syrup instead. It gives the cookies a slightly lighter colour and flavour but they’ll taste just as good. And if you can’t find either then leave it out. Your dough may just be slightly drier, and the cookies may be crunchy rather than soft.
Egg + Egg Yolk: The egg helps bind the dough together, but the extra egg yolk adds smoothness to the baked cookies.
Gingerbread Cookie Making Tips:
The dough is super easy to make, the dry ingredients just get sifted together, then you beat the butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and molasses or golden syrup just until they turn creamy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, then you can add in the dry ingredients. I like to do all this in my stand mixer, but you can use an electric handheld mixer. If doing that, it’s best to stir in the flour by hand to avoid making a mess or making your mixer motor angry.
You can roll this dough out straight after making it – it’s easier to roll at room temperature. I like to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper (aka parchment paper), as it means it doesn’t need to be dusted with more flour, which can make the cookies dry.
Then chill the rolled out dough until it’s nice and firm – which makes cutting out the shapes and transferring them to your waiting baking tray infinitely easier. No warped and creepy gingerbread people here, please-and-thank-you.
The shapes should be chilled again to make sure they don’t spread too much in the oven. I know it’s an extra step, but it really does help. Once you get a system going, these cookies are really very easy and straightforward to make. You can re-roll the scraps of dough as many times as you need to, we don’t have to worry about overworking gluten!
Once chilled, the cookies should be baked until they’re slightly golden on the bottom. The exact amount of time will depend on the size and shape of your cookies. Keep an eye on the first tray as they bake, then make a note of that time for the following trays.
If you like crunchy gingerbread cookies, you can bake them for a little longer.
Decorating the gingerbread cookies
I used Sweetapolita’s royal icing recipe to decorate these little gingerbread people. Just don’t do what I did and add too much water and make the icing too thin, because it won’t be quite as pretty. A couple of the colours got a little blobby and weird, but hey, at least the cookies got made. And I’m ok with not being perfect sometimes.
Narrator: Natalie was lying. She was never ok with anything not being perfect.
I just tinted the royal icing in a few pastel colours + dark grey for the eyes, popped the icing into piping bags fitted with small nozzles (Wilton #1 and #2) and piped on the details. If you’re new to piping, you can always practice your design on a piece of baking paper first.
I’ve had these ‘bitten’ gingerbread people cutters for goodness knows how many years now. I’m 99% sure they were Wilton brand but I can’t seem to find them anywhere online now. Like they’ve completely vanished off the face of the earth.
So what should you do if you want this look, but can’t find matching cutters? Simply use your favourite gingerbread person cutters, then use a scalloped cutter to cut out a ‘bite’ from the top. Easy!
You can, of course use any of your favourite cookie cutters for this, it’s not just a gluten-free gingerbread man recipe, it can be anything you like! This past year I made Christmas trees and little stars as well.
There’s also no rule that gingerbread cookies are only for December and the holiday season. And if there was a rule that said that, I would totally break it.
Any time of year is a good time for bakers to make spicy, gingery cookies.
- 625g gluten free flour
- 2 & 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 200g butter, at room temperature
- 200g brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 100g molasses OR 130g golden syrup
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
- Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, xanthan gum and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine well.
- Place the butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and molasses or golden syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl, if you’re using an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed just until well combined and creamy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients. You may need to stir in the last bit by hand. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead briefly until the dough holds together. Split the dough in half. (If making the dough in advance, then pat each ball of dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Let come to room temperature before rolling.)
- Roll out each half between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, until about 5mm thick. (See post for tips). Chill until firm.
- Heat oven to 170°C (about 340°F). Lower the temperature by 10° if using a fan-forced oven.
- Cut out shapes using your favourite cookie cutters. Arrange them one inch-ish apart on baking paper lined baking trays. If you have the time, put the trays in the fridge for 15-20 minutes for the dough to firm up again before baking. This helps reduce spreading.
- Bake for 8 - 12 minutes or until very lightly golden on the bottom. The exact baking time will depend on the size and shape of your cookies, so keep an eye on them. Cool for 5 minutes on the trays, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate as desired, and once the icing is dry, store in an airtight container. They will keep well for several weeks.
I recommend using my gluten free flour blend for these cookies. If you're using a different gluten free flour blend, check the ingredients and if it contains a gum ingredient (usually Xanthan or guar gum) then omit the xanthan gum from the recipe.
If decorating with royal icing, make sure the icing/confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder you use are gluten-free. Same deal if you’re using a packaged royal icing mix. Time spent checking ingredients are safe is never wasted.
This dough freezes well, wrap well in plastic wrap and pop into an airtight container or resealable plastic bag before freezing. Thaw until the dough is a workable temperature, then roll and bake as usual.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 2 cookies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 264Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 4g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and is only an estimate. Please do your own research with the particular products you're using if you have specific health needs or are following a special diet.