Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies – These soft gluten-free gingerbread cookies are the perfect holiday treat. Use this dough to make gluten-free gingerbread men, snowflakes, ornaments, trees, and more!
My kids LOVE decorating gingerbread cookies around the holidays, and a good gluten-free gingerbread cookie recipe can be a bit tricky to find. After a few years of experimenting, we’ve settled on a recipe that’s just what we’re looking for–soft, chewy gluten-free gingerbread cookies with just enough spice, a *tiny* hint of vanilla, and a simple fuss-free icing to top them off with.
You won’t want to miss the game-changing piping trick we’ve been using!
Here’s what you’ll need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED FOR GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES:
BUTTER OR VEGAN BUTTER. Butter or vegan butter helps give these gluten-free gingerbread cookies their tenderness and structure. I don’t recommend swapping in oils or shortening.
EGGS + To bind the dough together and keep it moist and soft, you’ll add an egg to the mix.
MOLASSES + SUGAR. For sweetness and that distinctive gingerbread cookie flavor, I use a mixture of molasses and brown sugar. (Did you know molasses is what makes brown sugar brown?)
SPICES + VANILLA. Then, you’ll add classic gingerbread spices, like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, along with a little vanilla, which I find softens the strong tastes a bit. I like my gluten-free gingerbread cookies spiced, but not spicy, so if you like yours even more punchy, feel free to increase the spices to your taste.
BAKING SODA + SALT. Standard cookie ingredients! These will balance the flavors, help your cookies puff, and keep them nice and soft while they’re at it!
A MEASURE-FOR-MEASURE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND. To keep things simple and consistent, I prefer using a measure-for-measure or 1:1 gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum. These blends tend to bake more consistently and can handle being rolled out multiple times to make cutouts. My favorite is this one from King Arthur Baking and this one from Bob’s Red Mill.
A SIMPLE ICING FOR DECORATING. The most iconic icing for gingerbread cookies is royal icing, which provides beautiful results, but can be a bit finicky and time-consuming. You can absolutely go that route if you like (I’d recommend Mary Berry’s recipe!), but I usually use a simple powdered sugar icing that comes together in minutes.
TIPS FOR GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIE ICING.
Pretty piped icing MAKE gingerbread cookies! Here are a few tips for icing your gluten-free gingerbread cookies…
WATCH THAT TEXTURE! When decorating these gluten-free gingerbread cookies, you’ll want icing that’s bright white and holds its shape. You won’t’ want it too runny or too stiff.
When you lift up your whisk and drizzle the icing back into the mixing bowl, you should be able to see the trail of icing clearly for a few seconds. If you can pipe a tiny bit on your finger without it losing its shape, it’s perfect!
(See the video for a really great visual on how it looks drizzled into the bowl when you’ve mixed it correctly)
- IF IT’S TOO RUNNY. If your gingerbread cookie icing is on the runny side, just add a bit more powdered sugar and mix until it stiffens up.
- IF IT’S TOO STIFF. Add a *tiny* bit (like 1/2-1 tsp.) of milk at a time until it loosens up. Make sure to whisk/mix well in between additions to make sure you don’t’ add too much!
AN EASY WAY TO PIPE ICING ONTO GINGERBREAD COOKIES. A piping bag can be easy-breezy for adults, but if you’ve got little ones helping you, a squeeze bottle like these accordion-style piping bottles or these silicone piping bottles can be much easier for little hands (or beginner bakers!). You do need some hand strength, so your tiniest bakers will still need some help, but most elementary-aged kids should be able to manage okay!
DON’T STRESS ABOUT GOING STORE-BOUGHT. I’ll also just say: ain’t no shame in that store-bought game. These pre-filled icing bottles are a great way to go if you need a shortcut!
CUTE WAYS TO DECORATE GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES:
1. CLASSIC WITH BUTTONS. Classic gingerbread cookies often have a smiley face a few buttons down their chest. Feel free to add cinnamon candies for buttons!
2. ADD SPRINKLES. Some small mixed-color sprinkles added to freshly iced cookies adds a fun layer of color. If you plan to do some of the decoration with sprinkles and some without, do the sprinkle decorations first so the sprinkles stick to the fresh icing. After applying your sprinkles, add your remaining sprinkle-free decorations!
3. LEDERHOSEN. I love the look of a simple lederhosen design. It’s so cute! Make some simple “overalls” with a few connecting lines.
4. ADD A SIMPLE BORDER. Tracing around the border of the gingerbread cookie adds a lot of dimension and looks so crisp!
5. TRY A SCARF. Warm up your gingerbread men by adding a little scarf. My kids love this detail!
6. ADD A BOWTIE. A cute little bowtie looks adorable. Cover it in sprinkles for a fun effect!
7. NINJABREAD MEN. If you’ve got a family full of karate-chopping ninjas at your house, or just want to add a bit of fun to your cookie plate, these “ninjabread” cookie cutters can be so fun!
8. SNOWFLAKES + TREES + ORNAMENTS + MORE! I’m just going to float out the idea that you can absolutely use this gluten-free gingerbread cookie dough to make gingerbread snowflake cookies, trees, ornaments, stars, candy canes, and more. The white icing looks so lovely on all different shapes, and it can be really fun to play around with. Don’t limit yourself to just gingerbread men!
FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES:
DON’T RUSH THE CHILLING PROCESS! Chilling the cookie dough before rolling it out is VERY important. Chilled dough will hold its shape better during baking so your cutouts will look crisp. It can be tempting to try to skip this step, but you’ll get the best results if you chill the dough as recommended. You’ll need at least 1 hour. 2 hours is better!
A TIP FOR EASIER ICING. In case you missed it above, we really love using a squeeze bottle like these accordion-style piping bottles or these silicone piping bottles. They’re easier for little hands and beginner bakers, and they require less skill to use.
CAN I USE THIS DOUGH FOR A GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD HOUSE? No. This dough will not be sturdy enough for a gluten-free gingerbread house. It’s made specifically for soft, chewy gluten-free gingerbread cookies.
CAN I MAKE THE DOUGH IN ADVANCE? You bet! If you want to make the dough up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator, that’s totally fine! It will likely need a few minutes at room temperature to soften a bit before you roll it out since it’ll be chilled so much longer, but the flavor and bake shouldn’t be impacted.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO STORE GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES? The less air exposure, the better, so your best bet is to store gluten-free gingerbread cookies in an airtight bag or container. They’ll be okay at room temperature for 1-2 days, about 3-4 days in the refrigerator, or a month in the freezer.
HOW TO FREEZE BAKED GINGERBREAD COOKIES: flash freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat until they’re no longer tacky. Then, transfer to an airtight bag or container, using parchment paper to divide each layer of cookies (this will prevent them from sticking together). This will work with decorated or undecorated baked gingerbread cookies. (So helpful if you want to bake them in advance to decorate or enjoy later!)
CRAVING MORE HOLIDAY TREATS? YOU MIGHT LOVE:
- Gluten-Free + Paleo Gingersnap Cookies
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Hot Chocolate Spoons (+Printable Gift Tags)
- Maple Candied Pecans (+Printable Gift Tags)
- Holiday Stovetop Potpourri (+Printable Gift Tags)
SHOP OUR FAVORITE TOOLS + INGREDIENTS FOR THESE GINGERBREAD COOKIES: